2 Winter Solstice Projects

2 Winter Solstice Projects

  • Cait Johnson

Each solstice falls upon the ecliptic midway between the equinoxes, when the sun reaches that midway point, generally about June 21 and December 21. Winter Solstice on December 21 is the shortest day of the year. After Winter Solstice each day becomes longer until the longest day of the year arrives around June 21st. The solstices have been observed and celebrated by cultures throughout the world.

A central aspect of the winter solstice rites observed by many Native American tribes includes the making and planting of prayer sticks. Prayer sticks are made by everyone in a family for four days before the solstice. On the day named as the solstice, the prayer sticks are planted – at least one by each person – in small holes dug by the head of the household. Each prayer stick is named for an ancestor or deity.Here’s how to make a prayer stick; they are usually:

  • Made out of cedar and are forked;
  • Are equivalent to the measurement from the maker’s elbow to the tips of
    their fingers; and
  • Are taken from a tree that the maker feels connected to.
  • Tobacco is offered to the largest tree of the same species in the area and
    permission is asked to take a part of its relative.
  • The bark can be stripped.
  • The bark can be carved on the stick.
  • One feather should be added to the prayer stick; traditionally this is a
    wild turkey feather.
  • A bit of tobacco is placed in a red cloth and tied onto one of the forks.
  • Fur or bone from an animal that the maker wishes to honor is tied onto the
    stick.
  • Metal or stones should not be tied to the stick.
  • It is also customary to say prayers silently as one makes the prayer stick.

Winter Solstice Project II: Discover Stones

All matter whirls at incredible speed, atoms in constant, breathtaking motion. But the rock people are seemingly still. We are all of us surrounded by the stillness of stone; if you dig in any patch of earth, you are likely to find bits and pieces that are unimaginably old and likely to outlast us by countless lifetimes.

Just as trees may be intuited to have individual spirits and personalities, so the humble rocks beneath our feet may be known and their energies felt in ways that have much to teach us.

Children are inveterate rock collectors, often seeing unique power and beauty in a rock that looks plain and nondescript to us. By seeing with the open inner eyes of our children, we can share their fascination for the magic of stone. And when we surround ourselves with rocks that are special to us, when we take time to hold one in our hands or stroke its weighty smoothness or striation, we make a bodily connection with the oldest matter on this planet and with the element of winter.

Particularly at this often harried time, building a relationship with rocks–allowing them to permeate our consciousness in quiet and stillness–is a great gift of peace for the entire family.

 

First, find some. This shouldn’t be hard to do, but you may be surprised at the variety of rocks you and your children can come up with, and you may notice that particularly varieties attract some children more than others. Take small trowels or large spoons outdoors with you to help pry things loose. After al of you have brought your finds inside and thawed your numbed fingers, you may want to wash the rocks in warm water to remove loose dirt and bring hem to room temperature.

Now spread them out so everyone can look at them. Pick them up one at a time and really examine them, turning them slowly to savor the complexity or simplicity of their shape and color. Do any rocks remind you of something else? Are there shapes hidden in the stone?

Try this simple exercise: Ask your children to close their eyes and choose a rock at random, and then hold it in their hands without looking. Allow them to sense the rock–does it feel light? dark? heavy? Does it make you feel anything in your body? tingly or slow? energetic or relaxed? Then put the rock aside; choose another and repeat the process, making sure to notice any similarities or differences. Then ask the children to open their eyes. Look at the two rocks and compare them.

Rocks that make your children feel a particular way may be utilized to help relax and ground them, or to energize them when needed. A rock that your child experiences as slow and soothing may be placed near her or his bed to be held before sleep. A small bright-energy stone may be worn in a pouch or carried in a pocket to school.

We have found that keeping special rocks all around the home is a wonderful way to stay balanced and grounded: simply seeing the stones becomes an inner reminder of stillness and serenity.

The stone project is an excerpt from Celebrating the Great Mother, by Cait Johnson and Maura D. Shaw.

Pumpkin-Praline Pie

Pumpkin-Praline Pie

1 3/4 Cups (397 grams) Cooked and Mashed Pumpkin (about 1 medium pumpkin) or
1 (16 ounce [450 gram]) Can of Pumpkin
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 Cups (360 milliliters) Evaporated Milk
2/3 Cup (151 grams) Packed Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 1/4 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
1/2 Teaspoon Grated Nutmeg
2 Large Eggs
9 Inch (23 centimeters) Frozen Piecrust
Whipped Cream

With a sharp knife, cut a circular top out of the pumpkin. Scoop out the seeds and scrape the inside of the pumpkin clean. Cut the pumpkin into pieces and peel it like a potato, using either a peeler or a knife. Boil the pieces like you would potatoes for mashing. When soft, drain and mash the pumpkin.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (220 degrees Celsius). Beat the pumpkin, salt, milk, brown sugar, sugar, and spices together until smooth, using the low speed on a hand mixer or using a wire whisk. Beat the eggs separately, then add them to the mixture. If you can’t get the mixture to blend smoothly by whisk or mixer, pour the ingredients into a blender and puree’ for 30 seconds. Pour the mixture into the piecrust. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius). Bake for 35 minutes longer.

Topping

1/3 Cup (76 grams) Packed Brown Sugar
1/3 Cup (76 grams) Chopped Pecans
1 Tablespoon (1/8 stick/15 grams) Butter or Margarine, at Room Temperature

To make the topping, mix the ingredients together. Sprinkle over the pie, leaving a circle in the center bare. Bake for another 10 minutes until a knife inserted into the center of the pie comes out clean. In order to avoid spilling, bake this pie by placing the pie pan on a preheated baking sheet. Refrigerate for 4 hours, until chilled. Garnish the center of the pie with a mound of whipped cream. Refrigerate any leftovers immediately after serving.

Baked Butternut Squash

Baked Butternut Squash

1 Medium Butternut or Acorn Squash
2 Tablespoons (1/4 stick/30 gramd) Butter or Margarine, at Room Temperature
1/2 Cup (120 milliliters) Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice (or juice from concentrate)
Dash of Ground Cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius). Cut the squash in half, and scoop out the seeds, scraping clean. Place the squash in a shallow baking dish. Dot each half with butter or margarine. Drizzle the orange juice and sprinkle the cinnamon over the squash. Bake, uncovered, for 30 to 45 minutes, or until you can easily put a fork in the squash. Slice each half into 3 equal portions and serve warm.

Apple Scones

Apple Scones

1 Medium-Sized Apple
2 Cups (280 grams) Flour
3 Teaspoons Baking Powder
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
6 Tablespoons Vegetable Shortening
1/2 Cup (112 grams) Raisins
1/4 Cup (60 milliliters) Apple Juice

Peel, core, and mince the apple. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius). Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. With a pastry blender, cut in the shortening. Stir in the apples and raisins. Add the apple juice to stiffen the dough.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Roll the dough to about 1/2 inch (1.25 centimeter) thickness. Cut into triangles or into shapes with cookie cutter. Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for 10 minutes or until light brown.

Hot Ginger Tea

Hot Ginger Tea

1 Large Knob Fresh Ginger, Sliced
1 Stick Cinnamon
Several Lemon Slices
Several Whole Cloves, Inserted into the Lemon Slices
4 Cups (1 liter) Water
3/4 Cup (170 grams) Firmly Packed Brown Sugar or Honey (180 milliliters)

In a saucepan, combine the ginger, cinnamon, lemon slices with cloves, and water. Bring to a boil. Decrease heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Sweeten with brown sugar or honey, to taste. Strain and serve hot.

Hot Cranberry Wassail

Hot Cranberry Wassail
­ 2 1/2 qts. cranberry juice
1 qt. grape juice
2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup rum
1/4 cup orange liqueur
orange slices

Heat juices, water and sugar to boil. Remove from heat. Stir in rum and liqueur and garnish with oranges. Serve hot to keep friends and relatives warm this holiday!

Yule Stollen

Yule Stollen
 
1 1/2 c Milk; scald/cool to lukewarm
3 1/2 Yeast; dry/envelopes
3/4 cup Water; lukewarm
3 cups Flour; sifted
1/2 cup Eggs; yolks/lightly beaten
3/4 cup Sugar
2 teaspoons Salt
1 cup Flour
1/2 cup Butter; softened
Flour; 10-11 cups, as needed
5 cups currants
1 1/2 c Almonds; chopped or slivered
1 cup Citron; chopped
1/2 Lemon; rind only/grated
2 teaspoons Rum
 
Milk should be cooled to about 100 degrees. Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water and add 1/4 cup of the
cooled milk and 3 cups sifted flour. Cover the sponge with a cloth and let it ripen until bubbles appear on the
surface and it is about to drop in the center. Pour the remaining milk over the sponge. Add the egg yolks, sugar
and salt and beat until the ingredients are well blended. Add 1 cup flour and beat well. Blend in the butter.
Add more flour gradually to make a smooth dough, or until 10 to 11 cups have been added. Some flours
absorb more liquid than others. Knead in the currants, almonds, and citron, along with the lemon rind which
should be mixed with the rum. Knead the dough until the fruits and nuts are dispersed well through it and it is
smooth. Dust the top lightly with flour and let it rise in a warm place about 45 minutes.
 
Punch it down and let stand for 20 minutes. Divide the dough in half and knead the pieces until smooth. Let them
stand for 10 minutes longer. Place one ball of dough on a lightly floured board, and with a rolling pin, press down
the center of the ball, and roll the pin to and fro 4 to 5 times, pressing all the time to make an elliptical shape 6
inches long and 3 1/2″ wide.
 
The center rolled part should be 1/8″ thick and 4 inches long. Both ends should remain untouched, resembling
rather thick lips. Place this rolled out piece of dough on a buttered baking sheet and brush the center part with
melted butter. Fold one lip toward the other and on the top of it. Press the fingertips down near and below the
lips, pulling somewhat apart. Give a pull away from each end, pointing them toward the lips. The shape should
resemble a waning moon.
 
Repeat the process with the second piece of dough. Let the Stollen rise, covered in a warm place until they double
in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. Bake them in a moderately hot oven (375 degrees) for 35 to 40 minutes. Do not overbake
them. Cool them on racks. Brush them with butter and cover with vanilla sugar.

Dancing in a Wiccan Wonderland

Dancing in a Wiccan Wonderland

by Alexander, Aarcher

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

 

Pagans sing, are you listenin’,
Altar’s set, candles glisten,
It’s a Magickal night, we’re having tonight,
Dancing in a Wiccan Wonderland.

Chorus:

In a Circle we can light a Yule Fire,
And await the rising of the Sun,
It’s the Great Wheel turning for the new year,
Loaded with abundance and great fun.

Blades held high, censer smoking,
God and Goddess, we’re invoking,
Through Elements Five, we celebrate life,
Dancing in a Wiccan Wonderland.

Queen of Heaven, is in Her place,
Triple Goddess, now the Crone Face,
Above and Below, She’s the Goddess we know,
Dancing in a Wiccan Wonderland.

Chorus

Now the God, is the Provider,
Supplying game for our Fire,
Above and Below, He’s the Horned One we Know,
Dancing in a Wiccan Wonderland.

Later on, by the fire,
Cone of Power, gettin’ higher
It’s a Magickal Night we’re having tonight,
Dancing in a Wiccan Wonderland.

Bright Solstice

Bright Solstice

by Irving Berlin, Willow Firesong

White Christmas

 

I’m dreaming of a bright Solstice,
just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten and children listen
and sing while the sun sets them aglow…

I’m dreaming of a bright Solstice,
just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten and children listen
and sing while the sun sets them aglow…

I’m dreaming of a bright Solstice,
with every loving card I write
May your days be merry and bright,
and may all your Solstices be Bright

I’m dreaming of a bright Solstice,
just like the ones I used to know
May your days be merry and bright,
and may all your Solstices be Bright

I’m dreaming of a bright Solstice,
with every loving card I write
May your days be merry and bright,
and may all your Solstices be Bright

May your days be merry and bright,
and may all your Solstices be Bright

And may all your Solstices be Bright (All your Solstices be Bright)
And may all your Solstices be Bright (All your Solstices be Bright)
And may all your Solstices be
(All your Solstices be bright)
(All your Solstices be bright)

Angels We Have Heard

Angels We Have Heard

by Blake TaylorMixon, Traditional

“(Gloria in Excelsis Deo (Angels We Have Heard On High)

 

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plains
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains.

Gloria, see the sun reborn today.

Angels know that winter’s nigh
Turning seasons of the year
See the old is passing by
Bring the new one in with cheer.

Gloria, celebrate the new year.

All Hail Ye, Simple Pagans

All Hail Ye, Simple Pagans

Author Unknown

“(Oh Come, All Ye Faithful)”

 

All hail ye, simple pagans
Gather round the Yule fire
Oh come ye Oh come ye
To call the Sun!
Fires within us
Call the fire above us:

Oh come let us adore him!
Oh come let us adore him!
Oh come let us adore him!
Our Lord, the Sun!

Yea Lord, we greet thee
Born again at Yuletide!
Yule fires and candle flames
Are lighted for you!
Come to thy children
Calling for thy blessing!

Oh come let us adore him!
Oh come let us adore him!
Oh come let us adore him!
Our Lord, the Sun

A Holly Jolly Yuletide

A Holly Jolly Yuletide

by Johnny Marks, Susan M. Shaw

Tune: “A Holly Jolly Christmas

 

Have a holly jolly Yuletide
It’s the best time of the year
I don’t know if there’ll be snow
But have a cup of cheer

Have a holly jolly Yuletide
And when you walk down the street
Say hello to friends you know
And ev’ryone you meet

Oh, ho, the mistletoe
Hung where you can see
Somebody waits for you
Kiss her once for me

Have a holly jolly Yuletide
and in case you didn’t hear
Oh, by golly have a holly jolly Yuletide
This year!

The Magick of Mistletoe

The Magick of Mistletoe
by M.L. Benton
Blessed be this mistletoe,
With all the charms it may bestow.
Cut the stem with the gold boline,
As energies rise, its magick is thine.
Never let it hit the ground,
Or evil shall within abound.
Herb of Apollo, Freya and more,
Their will be done as we implore.
With all thy healing properties,
Grant your Blessings; hear our pleas.
Legends and lore of old exist,
Under the mistletoe we still kiss.
Harvest at the Solstice and on time,
During the festival the bells will chime.
Bring us blessings from under the Sun,
As this is our Will, So shall it be done.

With all the mystical legends and lore of the herb mistletoe, unfortunately
the origin of its name is not so magickal. The common name of this herb is
derived from the belief that mistletoe comes from dung or bird droppings.
The principle of this ancient belief stems from the appearance of mistletoe
on branches where bird droppings had been splashed. “Mistel” is the
Anglo-Saxon word for dung and “tan” is the word for twig, so in translation,
mistletoe means “dung on a twig.”
Botanically, mistletoe is considered a parasitic plant, It grows on branches
or the trunk of trees and will bore and root into the tree for its
nutrients. Mistletoe is however very capable of living and growing
prosperously on it’s own accord and provide it’s own food and nutrients
through photosynthesis. As the plant spreads however it seems to be
perfectly content growing as a parasitic plant. There are two types of
mistletoe. The first is found in North America, (Phoradendron Flavescens)
this type is better known as the parasitic plant and is most common for
harvesting for the Christmas and Yule celebrations. These can be found on
the East Coast regions from Florida to New Jersey. The second type is found
in Europe, {Viscum Album} This version of mistletoe is grown as a green
shrub with tiny yellow and white flowers, and sticky berries which are
considered poisonous. It is known to grow on the apple tree but believed not
to grow on an oak tree.

The virtues of mistletoe come from the earliest of times and are just as
mystical and mysterious, as it is magickal. The Greeks believed that
mistletoe had mystical powers and through the centuries it became associated
with many folklore customs. In European history, mistletoe is one of the
most sacred plants. With the many properties of this sacred herb, it was
believed to bestow life and fertility would be prosperous. It was considered
a protector against poisons and a passionate aphrodisiac.

The ancient Druids considered the mistletoe their most sacred herb. They
believed that mistletoe growing on oak trees possessed magickal properties
and considered it an all-heal, which would protect against all forms of
evil. In Celtic traditions, on the sixth night of the moon white-robed Druid
priests would cut the oak mistletoe with a golden sickle or boline. They
would then sacrifice two white bulls while reciting prayers that the
recipients of the mistletoe would prosper. As time went by, the ritual of
cutting the mistletoe from the oak came to symbolize the emasculation of the
old King by his successor. Mistletoe symbolized both a sexual emblem and the
“soul” of the oak. Because of this sacred belief, the herb was gathered at
both mid-summer and winter solstices. The custom of using mistletoe to
decorate houses at Christmas is a survival of the Druid and other
pre-Christian traditions.

In the Middle Ages and later, branches of mistletoe were hung from ceilings
to ward off evil spirits. In Europe they were placed over the house and
stable doors to prevent the entrance of witches. It was also believed that
the oak mistletoe could extinguish fire. This was associated with an earlier
belief that the mistletoe itself could come to the tree during a flash of
lightning. The traditions, which began with the European mistletoe, were
rationalized with the North American plant with the process of immigration
and migrating.

Today the belief is, in order for the mistletoe to be effective in magickal
spells, the herb must be cut with a single stroke of a golden sickle or
boline on the Summer Solstice, Winter Solstice or the sixth day after a new
moon. However you must take care not to let the herb touch the earth or the
herb will lose its magickal potency.

Mistletoe is known to have several names including, “all heal, devil’sfuge,
golden bough, and Witch’s broom. This magickal herb also is believed to be
sacred to the gods and goddesses, Apollo, Freya, Frigga, Odin and Venus. The
mystical powers of mistletoe have long been at the center of much folklore.
One is associated with the Goddess Frigga. The story is told that Mistletoe
is the sacred plant of Frigga, goddess of love and the mother of Balder, the
god of the summer sun. Balder had a dream of death that greatly alarmed his
mother, for if he died, all of life on earth would end. In an attempt to
keep this from happening, Frigga went at once to the four elements air,
fire, water, earth, and every animal and plant seeking a promise that no
harm would come to her son. Balder now could not be harmed by any deed from
this world or below it. Balder did however have one enemy. Loki, the god of
trickery and confusion. Loki knew of one plant that Frigga had overlooked in
her excursion to keep her son safe. It grew neither on the earth nor under
the earth, but on apple and oak trees. It was the beloved mistletoe. Loki
made an arrow tip of the mistletoe, he then gave it to Hoder, the blind God
of winter, who shot the arrow striking Balder dead. The sky paled and all
things in earth and heaven wept for the sun god. For three days each element
tried to bring Balder back to life. Frigga, the goddess and his mother
finally restored him. It is said the tears she shed for her son turned into
the pearly white berries on the mistletoe plant and in her joy Frigga kissed
everyone who passed beneath the tree on which it grew. The story ends with a
decree that who should ever stand under the humble mistletoe, no harm should
befall them, only a kiss, a token of love. It is believed that this was the
core for the translation of the old myth into a Christianized way of
thinking and acceptance of the mistletoe as the emblem of that Love which
conquers Death. Its medicinal properties, whether real or imaginary, make it
a just emblem of that Tree of Life, the leaves of which are for the healing
of the nations and draws parallels to the Virgin birth of Christ.

Kissing under the mistletoe is first found associated with the Greek
festival of Saturnalia and later with primitive marriage rites. They
probably originated from the belief that it has power to bestow fertility.
It was also believed that the dung from which the mistletoe grew possessed
“life-giving” power.

In Scandinavia, mistletoe was considered a plant of peace, under which
enemies could declare a truce or warring spouses kiss and make-up. Later,
the eighteenth-century English credited with a certain magickal appeal a
device called a kissing ball. At Christmas time a young lady standing under
a ball of mistletoe, brightly trimmed with evergreens, ribbons, and
ornaments, could not refuse to be kissed. Such a kiss could mean deep
romance or lasting friendship and goodwill. If the girl remained unkissed,
she could not expect to marry the following year.

In some parts of England the Christmas mistletoe is burned on the Twelfth
Night lest all the boys and girls who have kissed under it never marry. If a
couple in love exchanges a kiss under the mistletoe, it is interpreted as a
promise to marry, as well as a prediction of happiness and long life. In
France, the custom linked to mistletoe was reserved for New Year’s Day: “Au
gui l’An neuf” (Mistletoe for the New Year). Today, kisses can be exchanged
under the mistletoe any time during the holiday season.

Bibliography:
Holiday Spot
Herbal Magick by Gerina Dunwich, New Page Books
A Modern Herbal by Mrs. Grieves

Submitted By Raven

Our Yule Log

Our Yule Log by Bendis

The Yule log is a remnant of the bonfires that the European pagans would set ablaze at the time of winter solstice. These bonfires symbolized the return of the Sun. The Yule log can be made of any wood. Each releases its own kind of magic:

  • Aspen: invokes understanding of the grand design.­
  • Birch: signifies new beginnings.
  • Holly: inspires visions and reveals past lives.
  • Oak: brings healing, strength, and wisdom.
  • Pine: signifies prosperity and growth.
  • Willow: invokes the Goddess to achieve desires.

On the night of Yule, carve a symbol of your hopes for the coming year into the log. Burn the log to release its power. Save a piece of this year’s Yule log for kindling in next year’s fire. You may also wish to decorate the log with greenery, flowers, ribbons and herbs for magickal intent. Some choices might be:

  • Carnations: protection, courage, strength, healing, increases magical power, vitality
  • Cedar: wealth, protection, purification, healing, promotes spirituality
  • Holly: dreams, protection
  • Juniper: Exorcism, protection, healing, love
  • Mistletoe: a catalyst, fertility, health, success, protection, banishing evil
  • Pine: healing, wealth, protection, purification, exorcism, exorcism, fertility, wealth
  • Rosemary: health, love, protection, exorcism, purification, increase intellectual powers, peace, blessing, consecration, very powerful cleansing and purifying
  • Roses: love, courage, luck, health, protection, beauty

Ribbons can be used according to their color magic correspondences. Each year my family gathers to decorate and burn the Yule Log. We have collected what we wish to use for days and we all have an assortment of colored ribbons, fresh sprigs of pine and holly, anything to make it merry! We have little slips of paper and once we have decorated our log, we each write down on those papers all of the things we wish to banish, let go of or remove from our lives; those things that are simply in the way or no longer useful. Then on more scraps of paper we write all of our wishes, all of our dreams, our hopes – what we want to manifest in the coming year. All of these tiny scraps of paper are then tucked in amongst the decorations to be offered to the fire. Then we turn on some good dance music, something that will induce trance and we all dance, keeping our focus on that which is yet to come, igniting the spark of creativity within us. When the music ends we gather around the Yule Log and together we toss it on the fire. My daughter has prepared a mix of powdered coffee creamer and glitter and all of us sprinkle or toss this onto the fire. It ignites into many sparkles of light. Shouting with glee we all stand transfixed as our log burns and as we see our dreams in the fire.

May your holidays be as blessed!!!