Twas the night before Yule, when all ‘cross the hearth,
not a being was stirring; Pagan, faerie, nor beast.
Wassail was left out & the altar adorned,
to rejoice that the Sun King would soon be reborn.
The children lay sleeping by the warmth of the hearth,
their dreams filled with visions of belov’d Mother Earth.
M’lady & I beneath blankets piled deep,
had just settled down to our own Solstice sleep.
Then a noise in the night that would leave us no peace,
Awakened us both to the honking of geese.
Eager to see such a boisterous flock,
When we raced to the window, our mouths dropped in shock!
On the west wind flew a gaggle of geese white & gray,
With Frau Holda behind them in her giftladen dray.
The figure on her broomstick in the north sky made it clear,
La Befana was approaching to bestow Yuletide cheer.
From the south came a comet more bright than the moon,
And we knew that Lucia would be with us soon.
As these spirits sailed earthward o’er hilltops & trees,
Frau Holda serenaded her feathery steeds:
“Fly Isolde! Fly Tristan! Fly Odin & Freya!
Fly Morgaine! Fly Merlin! Fly Uranus & Gaea!
May the God & the Goddess inside you soar,
From the clouds in the heavens to yon cottage door.”
Wishing You & Yours A Very Warm, Blessed & Joyous Yule!
December – The Cold Moon
December is the twelfth month of the year, its name derived from the Latin for “ten,” as it was the tenth month of the Roman calendar. Its astrological sign is Sagittarius, the archer (November 23 – December 22), a mutable fire sign ruled by Jupiter. Winter owns the land now. Snow covers the land, and ice silences the streams. Still, this is a month of joy and renewal. Holiday lights glitter and kitchens fill with spice fragrances from holiday season sweets and pastries. Yule, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas are the holidays of December . At Yule we celebrate the return of the Sun God and burn the Yule log to honor the strengthening Sun. As we decorate the Yule tree, we honor the evergreen as a symbol of eternal life. the decorations we use on the Yule tree are rich with symbolism. The lights represent stars, four shaped ornaments represent fertility, and the star atop the tree is a symbol of the divine spirit. December’s Full Moon, the first of the winter season is known as the Cold Moon. It is a white, distant Moon, that shimmers above the frozen landscape. Acknowledge her by lighting a single white candle in a window. As the wheel of the year makes its final turn, we arrive at New Year’s Eve, a time to honor our past and think of the future. The endless rhythm of the seasons continues.
The themes of light (literal, energetic and metaphorical), wisdom and goodwill are a common thread among many of the celebrations. This is a good time of year to remember that despite our differences, we have much in common with one other. In A Modern culture where many of us practice religious and spiritual pluralism to some degree. December presents more than one holy festival for each of us to nurture our spirit.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the winter solstice marks the official start of winter—a season of introspection. Though the land appear outwardly to be in a quiet slumber, we know that beneath the soil, down in the roots and in the dens of animals, there is a process of incubative growth occuring. Once again, the seasons of our soul align in harmony with the seasons of nature.
—Excerpt from LLewellyn’s 2017 Witches’ Spell-A-Day Almanac
Article Entitled “December” by Blake Octavian Blair
December – Cold Moon/Long Nights Moon
The last moon phase of the year is the Long Nights Moon in December, also called the Cold Moon or Big Winter Moon, depending on where you live. This is often a time of introspection and self discovery, as you evaluate the trials and tribulations that you’ve endured over the past year. However, this self analysis has a definite benefit – it gives you a chance to re-evaluate where you want to go and who you want to be in the coming twelve months.
This is a season of adaptation and change. In many magical traditions, and certainly owing to its proximity to Yule and Christmas, this is also a time of sharing one’s blessings with those less fortunate.
CORRESPONDENCES FOR DECEMBER’S MOON
Colors: White, red, and black are associated with December’s full moon, in part due to the darkness of the season
Gemstones: Obsidian, ruby, and serpentine
Trees: Pine, holly, and fir are connected to the winter solstice, and also to the full moon this month
Gods: Minerva, Osiris, Athena, Persephone, and Hades are tied to the darker half of the year and the season of long nights
Herbs: Ivy, mistletoe, holly and berries, and cinnamon
Element: Even though this is a season of darkness, with Yule, the winter solstice, comes the return of the light, so this full moon is often connected to the element of fire
As the days get shorter and Yule approaches with the longest night of the year, we force ourselves to get through the darkness, because eventually we will see the sunlight and warmth again.
Think about the things in your life that you’ve had to endure. Sometimes, a part of us must die in order to be reborn. Now is the perfect time for spiritual alchemy — time to evaluate your life, and know that you’ll survive the dark times. Get rid of that excess baggage you’ve been toting around.
If you’ve already put the darkness behind you, take your good fortune and share it with others.
When it’s cold outside, open your heart and home to friends and family. Reach out to people who might be suffering from the chill of winter, either spiritually or physically.
LONG NIGHTS MOON MAGIC
Because this is, for many of us, a fallow time of year, often the magic of December focuses on self-discovery and change. As we evaluate who and what we have become — and wish to be — we allow ourselves to share our blessings with those around us, and spread our good fortune and well wishes.
Take some time to examine the relationships you’ve had in your life over the past year — and not just romantic ones. Are you doing everything in your power to maintain healthy, happy connections? If not, what can you do differently?
If there’s something you need to let go of — something that’s been dragging you down for the past year — now’s the chance to release your baggage. Write your problem on a piece of paper, sit outside under the full moon, and burn the paper, scattering the ashes into the breeze. Alternatively, tear it up and throw it into a moving body of water. Either way, once it’s gone, you can start thinking about how to move forward with your life.
Set up and outdoor altar with seasonal items like holly branches and pine cones, and burn some cinnamon or winter solstice incense. Go outdoors at night with a bowl or cauldron full of water, and do some moonlight scrying. This is particularly helpful if you know you need to make some changes, but aren’t sure how to get started.
Go through all of your old stuff that you don’t use anymore. Some people take an approach in which anything that (a) doesn’t fit, (b) hasn’t been used in six months, or (c) no longer brings you happiness should be eliminated from your life. Clear out the physical clutter, donate it to an organization or individual that will repurpose it, and help someone else out in the process. You may want to include a blessing of donations ritual as well.
As the calendar year draws to a close, this is also a good time to start planning ahead. Think about what changes you’re going to want to make in the coming months. You know all those New Year’s resolutions you always make? Put some planning and forethought into them this time around, and you’ll be far more likely to keep them. Get ready to break your bad habits, and start forming some good ones, to become a new and improved version of yourself in the new year.
Lesser Sabbat – Winter Solstice, circa Dec 21
Jul (“wheel”, Old Norse), Saturnalia(Rome ~December 17 & 18), Yuletide(Teutonic), Midwinter, Fionn’s Day, Alban huan, Christmas (Christian~December 25), Xmas, Festival of Sol, Solar/Secular/Pagan New Year
Animals/Mythical beings: Yule goat (nordic), reindeer stag, squirrels, yule cat, Sacred White Buffalo, Kallikantzaroi-ugly chaos monsters(greek), trolls, phoenix, yule elf, jule gnome, squirrels, wren/robin
Gemstones: Cat’s eye, ruby, diamond, garnet, bloodstone
Incense/Oils: Bayberry, cedar, ginger, cinnamon, pine, rosemary, frankincense, myrrh, nutmeg, wintergreen, saffron
Colors: Gold, silver, red, green, white
Tools,Symbols, & Decorations: Bayberry candles, evergreens, holly, mistletoe, poinsettia,mistletoe, lights, gifts, Yule log, Yule tree. spinning wheels, wreaths, bells, mother & child images
Goddesses: Great Mother, Befana (strega), Holda (teutonic), Isis(egyptian), Triple Goddess, Mary(christian), Tonazin(mexican), Lucina(roman), St. Lucy (swedish),Bona Dea (roman), Mother Earth, Eve(Hebrew), Ops(roman Holy Mother), the Snow Queen, Hertha (German), Frey (Norse)
Gods: Sun Child, Saturn(rome), Cronos (Greek), Horus/Ra(egyptian), Jesus(christian-gnostic), Mithras(persian), Balder(Norse), Santa Claus/Odin(teutonic), Holly King, Sol Invicta, Janus(God of Beginnings), Marduk (Babylonian)Old Man Winter
Essence: Honor, rebirth, transformation, light out of darkness, creative inspiration, the mysteries, new life, regeneration, inner renewal, reflection/introspection
Dynamics/Meaning: Death of the Holly (winter) King; reign of the Oak (summer) King), begin the ordeal of the Green Man, death & rebirth of the Sun God; night of greatest lunar imbalance; sun’s rebirth; shortest day of year
Purpose: Honor the Triple Goddess, welcome the Sun Child
Rituals/Magicks: Personal renewal, world peace, honoring family & friends, Festival of light, meditation
Customs: Lights, gift-exchanging, singing, feasting, resolutions, new fires kindled, strengthening family & friend bonds, generosity, yule log, hanging mistletoe, apple wassailing, burning candles, Yule tree decorating; kissing under mistletoe; needfire at dawn vigil; bell ringing/sleigh-bells; father yule
Foods: Nuts, apple, pear, caraway cakes soaked with cider, pork, orange, hibiscus or ginger tea, roasted turkey, nuts, fruitcake, dried fruit, cookies, eggnog, mulled wine
Herbs: Blessed thistle, evergreen, moss, oak, sage, bay, bayberry, cedar, pine, frankincense, ginger, holly, ivy, juniper, mistletoe, myrrh, pinecones, rosemary, chamomile, cinnamon, valerian, yarrow
Symbols for the Month of December
December’s Festival: Yule(Winter Solstice, Midwinter). Symbols include Yule trees and logs, holly and mistletoe, gifts and candles.
December’s Sign of the Zodiac
Sagittarius (November 21 – December 20)
Capricorn (December 21 – January 20)
December’s Celtic Tree Astrology
Ruis (Elder) November 25 – December 22
The Secret of the Unhewn Stone – December 23
Beth (Birch) December 24 – January 20
December’s Runic Half Months
Is (November 28 – December 12)
Jara (December 13 – December 27)
Eoh (December 28 – January 12)
Turquoise and Onyx
December’s Birth Flower
Other: The longest night, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve
“The nearer the new moon to Christmas Day, the harder the winter.”
“If sun shines through the apple tree upon a Christmas Day, when autumn comes they will a load of fruit display.”
“A green December fills the graveyard.”
“If New Year’s Eve night wind blows south, it betokeneth warmth and growth; if west, much milk and fish in the sea; if north, cold and storms there will be; if east, the trees will bear much fruit; if northeast, flee it, man and brute!”
Folklore Courtesy – Hedgewitch Book of Days: Spells, Rituals, and Recipes for the Magical Year
Calendar of Events for December
3: Full moon — Long Nights Moon at 10:48 am. Now is a good season for spiritual alchemy — time to evaluate your life, and know that you’ll survive the dark times. If you’ve already put the darkness behind you, take your good fortune and share it with others.
5: Krampusnacht, celebrating Krampus, a Bavarian figure who is the opposite of Santa Claus
17: Beginning of Saturnalia, a Roman celebration honoring the god Saturn.
21: Yule, the winter solstice
21: Litha (Southern Hemisphere), the summer solstice
22: Celtic Tree Month of Elder ends
23: Celtic Tree Month of Birch begins
25: Feast of Frau Holle, Germanic goddess
25: Christmas Day
31: Festival of Hogmanay
The Twelve Days of Yule-tide
On the twelfth day of yule-tide, my kindred gave to me
twelve happy heathens
eleven rounds of sumble
ten bottles of mead
nine sets of runes
eight hammer pendants
seven hours of feasting
six songs to Sunna
five amber rings
four drinking horns
three ash spears
two viking movies
and a yule log carved with holly
© M C Daimler
Originally published on Odin’s Gifts
History of Yule
The Pagan holiday called Yule takes place on the day of the winter solstice, around December 21 in the northern hemisphere (below the equator, the winter solstice falls around June 21). On that day (or close to it), an amazing thing happens in the sky. The earth’s axis tilts away from the sun in the Northern Hemisphere, and the sun reaches its greatest distance from the equatorial plane.
Many cultures have winter festivals that are in fact celebrations of light.
In addition to Christmas, there’s Hanukkah with its brightly lit menorahs, Kwanzaa candles, and any number of other holidays. As a festival of the Sun, the most important part of any Yule celebration is light — candles, bonfires, and more. Let’s take a look at some of the history behind this celebration, and the many customs and traditions that have emerged at the time of the winter solstice, all around the world.
ORIGINS OF YULE
In the Northern hemisphere, the winter solstice has been celebrated for millennia. The Norse peoples viewed it as a time for much feasting, merrymaking, and, if the Icelandic sagas are to be believed, a time of sacrifice as well. Traditional customs such as the Yule log, the decorated tree, and wassailing can all be traced back to Norse origins.
The Celts of the British Isles celebrated midwinter as well. Although little is known about the specifics of what they did, many traditions persist.
According to the writings of Pliny the Elder, this is the time of year in which Druid priests sacrificed a white bull and gathered mistletoe in celebration.
The editors over at Huffington Post remind us that “until the 16th century, the winter months were a time of famine in northern Europe. Most cattle were slaughtered so that they wouldn’t have to be fed during the winter, making the solstice a time when fresh meat was plentiful.
Most celebrations of the winter solstice in Europe involved merriment and feasting. In pre-Christian Scandinavia, the Feast of Juul, or Yule, lasted for 12 days celebrating the rebirth of the sun and giving rise to the custom of burning a Yule log.”
Few cultures knew how to party like the Romans. Saturnalia was a festival of general merrymaking and debauchery held around the time of the winter solstice. This week-long party was held in honor of the god Saturn and involved sacrifices, gift-giving, special privileges for slaves, and a lot of feasting. Although this holiday was partly about giving presents, more importantly, it was to honor an agricultural god.
A typical Saturnalia gift might be something like a writing tablet or tool, cups and spoons, clothing items, or food. Citizens decked their halls with boughs of greenery, and even hung small tin ornaments on bushes and trees. Bands of naked revelers often roamed the streets, singing and carousing – a sort of naughty precursor to today’s Christmas caroling tradition.
WELCOMING THE SUN THROUGH THE AGES
Four thousand years ago, the Ancient Egyptians took the time to celebrate the daily rebirth of Ra, the god of the Sun.
As their culture flourished and spread throughout Mesopotamia, other civilizations decided to get in on the sun-welcoming action. They found that things went really well… until the weather got cooler, and crops began to die. Each year, this cycle of birth, death, and rebirth took place, and they began to realize that every year after a period of cold and darkness, the Sun did indeed return.
Winter festivals were also common in Greece and Rome, as well as in the British Isles. When a new religion called Christianity popped up, the new hierarchy had trouble converting the Pagans, and as such, folks didn’t want to give up their old holidays. Christian churches were built on old Pagan worship sites, and Pagan symbols were incorporated into the symbolism of Christianity. Within a few centuries, the Christians had everyone worshipping a new holiday celebrated on December 25.
In some traditions of Wicca and Paganism, the Yule celebration comes from the Celtic legend of the battle between the young Oak King and the Holly King. The Oak King, representing the light of the new year, tries each year to usurp the old Holly King, who is the symbol of darkness. Re-enactment of the battle is popular in some Wiccan rituals.
Winter Holidays Celebrating the Solstice
The Winter Solstice and Winter Holidays:
The Northern Hemisphere Winter Solstice, between December 20 and 23, is the time of year when the night is longest and the day shortest. What happened to the sun? If, in ancient times, you believed in gods and goddesses who take an active interest in human life, you might have thought it smart to do something to make the gods happy again so they might bring back the light.
Why not honor them either with a great festival to persuade them to bring it back or a kind of gift-giving birthday party for the sun’s annual rebirth? This may be at the origin of the winter solstice holidays.
The Saturnalia was a major holiday for the ancient Romans, with drinking, gift-giving, bonfires, candles, role reversals for slaves and masters. It lasted a variable number of days from 3-7 or more, depending on how successful the emperor was at legislating. Saturn (Cronus in Greek) was the original creator of man in the Golden Age, when there was no winter and everyone was happy. Saturn was ousted by his son Jupiter (Zeus) and life took a decidedly downward turn.
Hanukkah – Jewish Festival of Lights:
Hanukkah (Hanukah / Hanuka / Chanukah) is a festival of lights that is symbolized by the candelabrum known as a menorah. Hanukkah celebrates a lighting miracle when one night’s worth of oil lit candles for 8 days.
Special foods and gift-giving are also a part of Hanukkah.
Dies Natalis Solis Invicti :
Mithras was an Iranian god who was popular with Roman soldiers. Mithras was created by the chief deity, Ahura-Mazda, to save the world. The day of the virgin birth of Mithras was December 25 (the solstice) it was also referred to as Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, which means the birthday of the unconquered sun.
Brumalia was a Greek winter holiday associated with Dionysus and wine. By the time of the winter Brumalia, the wine was ready to be poured into jars for drinking. Although a Greek holiday, the name Brumalia is Latin, bruma being the Latin for Winter Solstice.
In A.D. 354, the birth of Jesus Christ was set on December 25. The date is not believed to be accurate and is the same as the birth date of Mithras. Like the other holidays, Christmas is celebrated with festivity and gift-giving. It seems to have taken over Mithras and Saturnalia traditions.
The Hindu Sankranti historically takes place on the Solstice, although the date is January 14, which gives evidence to how much time has elapsed since it started. It is believed that people who die on this day end the reincarnation cycle, for which reason it is very lucky. Gifts are exchanged, sweets and other special food are consumed, and bonfires are lit on Sankranti eve, which is known as Lohari.
Boar’s Head Carol:
Besides light and gift-giving, food is a big part of the millennia of holiday tradition.
The English Boar’s Head carol relates to the presentation of a boar’s head to royalty. In Norse mythology, a boar was presented to Freyr at the solstice.
by N.S. Gill
Published on ThoughtCo
We walk the path of the Old Gods
From this moment forth
We will not walk alone
Together, we will worship
Together, we will practice our Craft
Together, we will learn and grow
We vow to work, from this day forward
In perfect love and perfect trust
According to the free will of all
And for the good of all
Creating only beauty
Singing in harmony
Our song upon the Earth
Love is the law and love is the bond
In the name of the Goddess and the God
So do we vow, and so mote it be.
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