December the Twelfth Month of the Year of our Goddess, 2016

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“Timeless thoughts of a winter’s stare;
eyes gazing over a landscape bare.
Memories drift on a blustery breeze;
dying light ushers in the freeze.
Reaching out for a grasp on the present;
stillness sets in, alone, and desolate.
Future unknown, outcome uncertain;
brilliance shadowed by a drawn curtain.
Path now set, laid before me known;
closing light now emanating from home.
Enter my homestead, heart filled with glee;
two eyes of the future peering upward at me.
Trusting in him to forge forward until fulfilled;
Basis of strength, values I have instilled.
A wary mind at last permitted to rest;
reflecting on the realization of how I am blessed.

–  Michael A. Barron, Winter’s Epiphany  

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DECEMBER – 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 glitters 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, fruit-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 shines 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.

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The Cold Moon of December

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

    Colors: White, red, and black

Gemstones: Obsidian, ruby, serpentine

Trees: Pine, holly

Gods: Minerva, Osiris, Athena, Persephone and Hades

Herbs: Ivy, mistletoe, holly and berries, cinnamon

Element: 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.

—Patti Wigington, Paganism/Wicca Expert
Calendar published on & owned by About.com

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The Pagan Book of Days for the Month of December

December is named after the tenth month of the Roman calendar and the middle Goddess of the Three Fates, Decima, she who personifies the present. The Roman Goddess Vesta, patroness of fire, an archetypal symbol of the eternal present, was also said to rule this month. December’s Anglo-Saxon name was Aerra Geola, “the month before Yule.” Another version was Wintermonat, “winter month.” Because of its unusually large number of sacred festivals, the Frankish tradition called it Heilagmanoth, “holy month,’ but modern Asatru does not refer to the Yule/Christmas tradition, preferring Wolf moon. The Irish name of December is Mi na Nollag., Christmas month. The December full moon is the backwoods’ Cold or Hunting Moon. The Celtic tree month of Ruis runs until 22 December, when it gives way to the intercalary day of 23 December. The elder month signifies the paradox of a time of timelessness, youth in old age and old age in youthfulness, life in death and death in life. It is the end of the year’s cycle and the herald of a new beginning. Change is linked to creativity in the month of Ruis. It is followed by the single blank day in the Celtic calendar known as “the secret of the unhewn stone.”

From 24 December, the month of Beth begins. Beth is the first letter of the Celtic ogham alphabet, signifying the birch, sacred to the Great Mother Goddess and the prime tree of the tree alphabet, representing new beginnings, purification and the expulsion of all bad thoughts and influences. The Goddess calendar month of Astraea runes until 25 December, Yule Day. It is followed by the month of Hestia, which spans the New Year, ending of 22 January.

The major festival of December is the winter solstice, also called Yule, Alban Arthuan and Midwinter. The first of many solar saviors and dying gods is celebrated at this time, usually on 25 December. These saviors include Osiris, the Syrian Baal, Attis, Adonis, Helios, Apollo, Dionysus, Mithras, Jesus, Balder, and Frey. In the Roman tradition 25 December was Dies Natalis Solis Invictus, the Day of the Birth of the Undefeated Sun. All of these deities were given similar titles the Light of the World, Sun of Righteousness and Savior. The festival of Christmas is a wonderful analgram of many religious traditions, ancient and modern. Pagan, Zoroastrian, Jewish, Mithraic and Christian.

December 31 is the Scottish New Year’s festival of Hogmanay. Its name commemorates the solar divinity Hogmanay. Its name commemorates the solar divinity Hogmagog. As Gogmagog, this solar giant was formerly a chalk-cut hill figure at Wandlebury, close to Cambridge, while, divided into two giants, Gog and Magog, he is the spiritual guardian of the city of London. The traditions Hogmanay ceremonies involved dressing in the hides of cattle and running around the village, being hit by sticks. Hogmanay festivities include the lighting of bonfires, rolling blazing tar barrels and  ignited, producing a smoke that was said to be effective against evil sprites. The talismanic smoking stick itself was known as a Hogmany. Hogmanay has its own customary goods: bannocks, oarsmen, shortbread, black buns and ankersocks (gingerbread loaves made with rye meal). In former times, the shamanic tradition of dressing in animal skins and often wearing horns or antlers upon the head, was customary on New Year’s Eve, At the moment of New Year, the doors and windows of the house were opened to let out the old year and to let the new year in. Household utensils were rattled and banged, to drive away any remaining psychic vestiges of old year. In Wales, this is said to be done in order to drive away the Cwn Annwn, the phantom black dogs of the underworld that pass through the air on New Year’s Eve. The birthstone of December is the turquoise.

–The Pagan Book of Days, A Guide to the Festivals, Traditions, and Sacred Days of the Year
Nigel Pennick

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December’s Correspondences

Festival: Yule (winter solstice, Midwinter).

Symbols: Yule trees and logs, holly and mistletoe, gifts and candles.

Moon name: Cold Moon. Other names include Oak Moon, Frost Moon, Winter Moon, Faithful Moon, and Moon Before Yule.

Astrological signs: Sagittarius, November 21– December 20; Capricorn, December 21– January 20.

Birthstones: Turquoise and tanzanite.

Nature spirits: Wood spirits and trolls.

Animals: Deer and squirrel.

Birds: Robin.

Trees: Holly and evergreens.

Flowers: Mistletoe, poinsettia, and hellebore.

Herbs: Witch hazel, bay, and cinnamon.

Scents: Cinnamon, cloves, and frankincense.

Colors: Red, white, and green.

Goddess: Cailleach Bhuer.

Powers: Peace, light, and inner renewal.

Other: The longest night, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve.

===Hedgewitch Book of Days: Spells, Rituals, and Recipes for the Magical Year

Mandy Mitchell

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Symbols for the Month of December

The Goddesses of December

Cailleach Bhuer

December’s Sign of the Zodiac

Sagittarius – November 21 thru December 20

Capricorn – December 21 thru 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 thru December 12)

Jara (December 13 – 27)

December’s Birthstones

Turquoise and Tanzanite

December’s Birth Flower

Mistletoe, Poinsettia and Hellebore

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Pagan Calendar for December 2016

  • 5: Krampusnacht
  • 13: Full moon — Long Nights Moon at 7:06 pm
  • 17: Beginning of Saturnalia
  • 22: Winter Solstice or Yule
  • 22: Litha (Southern Hemisphere)
  • 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

—Patti Wigington, Paganism/Wicca Expert
Calendar published on & owned by About.com

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WITCHY WAYS TO CELEBRATE DECEMBER

Decorate your home and altar with white and green, and with all things festive. Use holly, ivy, and mistletoe as your Yule focus; bun cinnamon, clove, or frankincense incense.

Work with the family to create Yule decorations or a Yule log to add to your normal festive décor.

Cook with foods that boost your immune system. Include sunflower seeds in your Yule foods to represent the sun.

Connect with the returning light by burning a sun candle.

Celebrate all things of the season! Recognize the festival of Yule as well as Christmas, but celebrate this time of year as a whole. Make it a time for family and friends to gather and have fun.

Spend some time building up your knowledge and work on a plan to nurture your craft regularly.

Be kind to yourself and others. Be aware of the stresses of the season and send out blessings for all those affected. Take time to be good to yourself.

–Hedgewitch Book of Days: Spells, Rituals, and Recipes for the Magical Year
Mandy Mitchell

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YULE

A Little History

The winter solstice, also called the December Solstice, occurs exactly when the earth’s axis is titled the farthest away from the sun. In the Northern Hemisphere the sun’s daily journey in the sky is at its lowest point. Also, the sun’s noontime elevation appears to be the same for several days before and after the solstice, which explains the origin of the word solstice, meaning “sun stands still.”

In the Northern Hemisphere this festival occurs on the shortest day or longest night of the year, in the sense that the length of time elapsed between sunrise and sunset on this day is a minimum for the year. This marks the beginning of an astronomical winter. For Witches and Pagans it is a time to celebrate the rebirth of the sun. The winter solstice’s date moves around year to year, anywhere between December 21 and 22. Sometimes the winter solstice will fall on December 20 and 23, but that is more rare. Like the other sabbats that occur on a solstice or equinox, the winter solstice, or Yule, is generally celebrated at the time when the sun enters the zodiac sign of Capricorn. Following the date of the December or winter solstice, the daytime hours begin to grow longer and the nighttime hours shorter.

The pre-Christian holiday of Yule was the premier holiday in Scandinavia and Northern Europe. The Yule season, or tide, was a time for feasting, drinking, gift-giving, and gatherings while the people celebrated the light returning to the land. However, during these dark and cold days, folks were also aware and a bit afraid of the forces of the dark.

The popular name for the sabbat at the winter solstice is Yule, which comes from the Norse Jol, representing the winter solstice celebration. It is also linked to the Saxon word hweol, meaning “wheel,” similar to a German word meaning “the turning of the wheel” or “the rising of the sun wheel.” The ancient Romans celebrated the winter solstice between December 17 and 24 each year in a weeklong festival called Saturnalia.

 —Seasons of Witchery: Celebrating the Sabbats with the Garden Witch

Ellen Dugan

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Herbal Charm for Yuletide

Try this simple Yuletide charm as you hang up and arrange your Yuletide greenery in your abode this year. Deck your halls and mantles as you like; then, as you finish, repeat this charm with intention. This charm incorporates the four featured Yuletide plants of this chapter: pine, holly, ivy, and mistletoe.

When a Witch decks the halls with

boughs of holly

Expect that the Yuletide feast will

be jolly.

Green ivy for good luck and fertility

Add pine boughs and branches for

prosperity.

The Druid’s golden bough we

called mistletoe

Encourages kisses and make

cheeks to glow.

Now add a touch of magick and a

pinch of glee

Welcome renewal in Yuletide’s

season of peace.

Close up the charm with these lines:

By the bright magick of a

midwinter sun As I will, so mote it be, and let it harm none.

—Seasons of Witchery: Celebrating the Sabbats with the Garden Witch

Ellen Dugan

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Reflections of Yuletide

THE REAL REASON FOR THE SEASON

The sun and all its magick rules the Wheel of the Year, especially now. Sometimes in December it can be tough for a Witch to be bombarded with all the manger scenes and baby Jesus stuff. Instead of sulking or copping an attitude, focus on the Pagan elements that are still all over our popular culture’s celebration of the season.

Go ahead and cheerfully say “Good Yule” or “Happy solstice” in response to a “Merry Christmas,” or just say “Happy holidays.” First off, it is more polite and certainly thoughtful to say happy holidays to the public at this time of year. And if you say it with a smile, you will get a smile in return.

Go ahead and send out holiday cards. What’s stopping you? There are beautiful cards featuring nature themes, snowmen, and Santa Claus, and also there are Pagan greeting cards you can buy individually. This year I found a cute Santa in a wheelbarrow with a mini tree and a bird perched on the toe of his boot. It was gardenish, natural, and festive, all at the same time.

Personally I go for the cards that are blank inside and then write my own message. Or you can make your own cards. Head over to yon local craft supply store and have at it. My friend Ember makes her own cards every year, and they are stunning. I save the ones she makes every year and scrapbook it with my coven photos from our Yule celebration.

Feeling bombarded by all the holiday music? Maybe you need to listen with a whole new set of ears, my witchy friend. There are plenty of popular holiday songs that are less Christian and more celebratory. How about “Winter Wonderland,” “Let It Snow,” and every Pagan’s favorite, “Deck the Halls”? You could live on the edge and sing other carols and holiday songs, just substitute the word solstice for Christmas. It works out great.

I personally take a fiendish delight in singing the “Carol of the Bells” and switching out the word solstice for Christmas… I sang that song my senior year in high school. I was a member of the a cappella choir— you know, the choirs that sing without musical accompaniment? I love that song. Like most altos, I can still do piggyback harmony… but I digress. I mean, think about it: solstice and Christmas have the same amount of syllables, so it works out lyrically. The possibilities are endless. “It’s beginning to look a lot like solstice everywhere I go” or “I’m dreaming of a white solstice.”

This works as well with the more modern songs that we grew up with. How about that old song that was sung by Burl Ives, from the animated Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer? “Have a holly jolly solstice. It’s the best time of the year!” Improvise, adapt, and enjoy yourself and the winter holiday season. This is the time to celebrate the rebirth of the sun. The light half of the year begins, and our daylight hours get longer and stronger every day. The winter solstice truly is the reason for the season.

—Seasons of Witchery: Celebrating the Sabbats with the Garden Witch

Ellen Dugan

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Yule Incense

  • 3 parts Frankincense
  • 2 parts Sandalwood
  • 2 part Chamomile
  • 1 part Ginger
  • 1/2 part Sage
  • A few drops of Cinnamon oil

 

Winter Solstice Ritual Potpourri

Recipe by Gerina Dunwich

  • 20 drops musk oil
  • 25 drops pine oil
  • 1 cup oak moss
  • 2 cups dried mistletoe
  • 1 cup dried poinsettia flowers
  • 1 cup dried bayberries
  • 1/2 cup dried rosemary
  • 1/2 cup dried holly leaves and berries
  • 3 crushed pinecones

Mix the musk and pine oils with the oak moss, and then add the remaining ingredients. Stir the potpourri well and store in a tightly covered ceramic or glass container.

Yule Soap

  • 1 cup grated unscented soap
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 tbsp. apricot oil
  • 1 tbsp. chamomile
  • 1/2 tbsp. rosemary
  • 1/2 tbsp. ginger
  • 6 drops frankincense oil
  • 6 drops myrrh oil
  • 3 drops cinnamon oil

 

Place grated soap in a heat-proof non-metallic container and add the hot water and apricot oil. Leave until it is cool enough to handle, and then mix together with your hands. If the soap is floating on the water, add more soap. Leave to sit for 10 minutes, mixing occasionally, until the soap is soft and mushy. Once the soap, water, and oil are blended completely, add the dry ingredients. Once the mixture is cool, then add the essential oils (essential oils evaporate quickly in heat). Enough essential oils should be added to overcome the original scent of the soap. Blend thoroughly and then divide the soap mixture into four to six pieces. Squeeze the soaps, removing as much excess water as possible into the shape you desire, and tie in a cheesecloth. Hang in a warm, dry place until the soap is completely hard and dry.

Recipe adapted from Kate West’s The Real Witches’ Kitchen Sabbat Soap recipe.

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We are Witches
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.
–Circle, Coven, & Grove: A Year of Magickal Practice
Deborah Blake

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