May All The Peace, Love & Joy Be Yours This Season! Till tomorrow, my luvs….


Yule Comments & Graphics

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Wassail (Non-Alcoholic)


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Wassail (Non-Alcoholic)

2 quarts apple juice
2 1/4 cups pineapple juice
2 cups orange juice
1 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 (3-inch) stick cinnamon
1 tsp. whole cloves

Combine all ingredients in a Dutch oven; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Uncover and simmer an additional 20 minutes. Strain and discard cinnamon and cloves.Serve hot.

Yield: 3 quarts

Wassail Punch


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Wassail Punch

1 dozen apples; baked
1 cup water
4 cups sugar
1 Tbsp. freshly ground nutmeg
2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground mace
6 whole cloves
6 allspice berries
1 stick cinnamon
1 dozen eggs, separated
4 bottles sherry or Madeira wine
2 cups brandy

*Ancient England gave us the custom of “wassailing”. It is based on the tradition of friends gathering in a circle, whereupon the host drinks to the health of all present. He sips from a glass of hot punch or spiced ale, then passes the glass. A special bowl was used as the vessel. As each friend raises the vessel, before sipping he or she proclaims the Saxon toast, “Wass hael!” meaning “be whole” or “be well”. Although many versions exist, this one contains the symbolic ingredients: apples, representing fertility and health; spices, signifying riches and variety; eggs, a symbol of life and rebirth; as well as wine and brandy. This beverage is served hot, so plan on a heatproof punch bowl. this makes enough for a crowd. Just how large a crowd depends on your groups taste for rich, spicy wine drinks. Figure on at least 16-18 servings.*

**Cook’s notes: This also can be made with a combination of beer and wine, preferably sherry, with roughly 4 parts beer to 1 part sherry. The resulting flavor is authentic to the Colonial period, but far less familiar to contemporary palates.**

Prepare the punch: Combine water, sugar, and spices in a large stainless steel, enamel or glass saucepan. Bring to boil over medium high heat, and boil for 5 minutes. Meanwhile beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks until light in color. In separate pans, bring the wine (and beer, if used) and the brandy almost to the boiling point. Fold the whites into the yolks, using a large heatproof bowl. Strain the sugar and spice mixture into the eggs, combining quickly. Incorporate the hot wine with the spice and egg mixture, beginning slowly and stirring briskly with each addition. Toward the end of the process, add the brandy. Now, just before serving and while the mixture is still foaming, add the baked apples.

Presentation: Serve in heatproof cups or punch glasses. Guests are welcome to take part or all of an apple

Yule Ritual for Groups


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Yule Ritual for Groups

This is a Neo-Pagan rite that has been adapted for the Northern Tradition, honoring the Wheel of the Year, to be performed at Yule when the Sun is at its lowest point.

Make a Sun Wheel by lashing pieces of wood to a yard-wide metal hoop bought in a craft store, so as to form an eight-spoked wheel, cover the unsightly metal by wrapping it with colored yarn. More yarn is tied to the ends of the spokes and knotted together, about four feet up from the center of the wheel. A flat candle holder was affixed to the center. Then you bind (with more colored yarn) evergreen boughs onto it.

Light a short fat red candle in the center, where the strings were farthest away, but you can put candles on the edges as well. When it is covered in fresh evergreens, use cut oranges in half and hollow out the inside (throwing the orange bits into the Yule punch), and nestle the half-orange-peel cups in among the boughs holding votive candles. Be very careful that no candle flames are near enough to the supporting strings to burn through them, or the whole thing will come down in a flaming mess.

This rite uses at least nine people, so it’s a good one for an inside ritual where you’ve got a lot of folks who want to participate. Each person is dressed in the appropriate colors. One group’s sun symbol was trashpicked, someone’s thrown-away art project, a base with a big gilded metal spiral and a candle holder on top. One could just as easily be made from a toy horse and cart and a wooden disk, all sprayed gold.

(Eight people gather around the sun wheel, decorated and hanging from the ceiling. The ninth—the Sunna officiant—is clothed in colors of glittering flame and carries the sun symbol. The Sunna officiant lights the candle in the center of the sun wheel and says:)
Hail to the Sun who walks the way
Of dusty dawn, of golden glow,
Of glint of growing, turning Day.
Hail to the cycle and the flow.
Welcome to our hearth and home and tribe.
This is the darkest day of the year, the longest night, when the Sun is swallowed up and dies. In ancient times, the Sun was brought back to life with fire and light on the Solstice.
Let us imagine, now, those dark and ancient times. Go back six thousand years to a cold place. You are clad in clothing of rough wool and fur, and you speak a language unlike ours, yet with some words that will someday be passed on to us. Your people have lived in this cold place for so long that you remember the glaciers melting, the Ice Age receding. It is part of your creation myths.

Imagine that you are standing in a clearing in the woods, the scent of pine all around you, just before dawn. It is freezing cold, and for days uncounted you have huddled inside next to a fire, with the sky too dark to work or even to see outside. Yet on this morning your eyes are fixed on a single standing stone, or perhaps a pole driven into the earth, which will prove the rebirth of the Sun which gives all life.

Imagine that you watch the Sun rise, seeing it come up in its appointed place as it always does, and a hush of wonder falls over your tribe, crowded around you. It is the promise of the new year, the promise that the days will get longer, and eventually warmer, and the spring will come. You rejoice. You cheer. You weep with joy. You beat on drums and shout. You call this day Yeohwla, which means simply, the Winter Solstice.

Someday strangers will come, driving wagons, great numbers of them. They will settle next to you, and intermarry with you, and teach of things like wheels and horses, and you will give them the words “wife”, and “child”, and teach them the mysteries of “Yeohwla”, which their descendants—and yours—will pass on as Yule. You will teach the mysteries of Hope and Rebirth, of fire and light that resurrects the year. And they will stand in that cold place and learn to praise the coming of the Sun, and so will their children=s children. And so do we.

Take flame now, flame from the wheel of the Sun, and carry it close to you, for fire is precious. It means warmth and light and cooked food. Be careful with it, neither letting it spread nor go out. Each of you light a candle and hold it close.

(Everyone comes forth with small candles and lights them from the wheel’s flame. The Sunna officiant lights the Sun symbol. Then the first of the eight callers steps forth, dressed all in white and gold. The Sunna officiant moves to stand behind them, and holds up the Sun symbol so that it can be seen above their head.)

First Caller:
Hail to the sleeping Sun Maiden who awakes!
Hail to her first steps, like one newborn,
As she feels the change, the shift,
The turn from downward to upward!
On this the shortest day of all,
Odin leads the Wild Hunt in shrieking furor,
Bonfires burn and voices are upraised in song,
And Sunna blinks her sky-bright eyes
And blesses us on the frosty Yule morning.

(The first caller ties a straw pinecone to the end of one wheel spoke.

The second caller steps forward, dressed all in red and gold.)

Second Caller:
Hail to the Sun over the snowfields!
Hail to her light over the frozen land
As the lambs are born and the ewe’s milk flows.
Frau Holle shakes the snow from her pillows
Like clouds of feathers in the sky,
We hail the Disir of our ancestors,
The women who survived to watch in wisdom,
And Sunna lights the darkened sky
And blesses us on this frozen Oimelc morning.

(The second caller ties a snowflake to the end of one wheel spoke.

The third caller steps forward, dressed all in blue and gold.)

Third Caller:
Hail to the Sun in the time of Spring!
Dawn’s own moment, the in-breath of perfect air,
The time of wind and rain, fierce storms
And freshest of wet mornings. Hail Ostara
As she dances through the greening fields, hail Freya
With flowers blooming in her footsteps.
Hail Thor who brings the rain and washes clean,
And Sunna lights the equinox sky
And blesses us on this wet Ostara morning.

(The third caller ties a colored egg to the end of one wheel spoke.

The fourth caller steps forward, dressed all in green and gold.)

Fourth Caller:
Hail to the Sun in the time of Greening!
The trees spread their leaves, the flowers bloom,
The pole rises to touch the sky!
For deep in the darkness Odin the Wanderer
Who hung three nights in the embrace of the Tree
Has won the runes and broken free, and we rejoice!
Walburga walks the woods, the Hunt can never catch her,
And Sunna lights the green-leaved sky
And blesses us on this fair Walpurgisnacht morning.

(The fourth caller ties a bunch of colored ribbons to the end of one wheel spoke.

The fifth caller steps forward, dressed all in yellow and gold.)

Fifth Caller:
Hail to the Sun on her most perfect day!
We are torn between great joy and great sorrow
For the Sun is golden overhead, and abundant are the fruits
Of the earth, and yet Baldur’s blood soaks
Into that earth as well. It is the first sudden funeral
Of the year, and we dance for sorrow and for joy.
The first golden king walks the Hel Road,
And Sunna reigns over the tear-blue sky
And blesses us on this bright Litha morning.

(The fifth caller ties a tiny golden sun to the end of one wheel spoke.

The sixth caller steps forward, dressed all in amber and gold.)

Sixth Caller:
Hail to the Sun over the fields of grain!
On this day Frey, the second golden king,
Walks willingly to his doom. As the sickle cuts,
As the grain falls, as the harvest is begun,
The people are fed, and the Sun’s bounty is collected.
Hail to Frey and his willing sacrifice, no sudden thing
But measured, open, gentle-handed like Death
And Sunna lights the summer sky
And blesses us on this golden Lammas morning.

(The sixth caller ties a tiny wheatsheaf to the end of one wheel spoke.

The seventh caller steps forward, dressed all in orange and gold.)

Seventh Caller:
Hail to the Sun over the Harvest Fair!
We have worked and toiled on Jord’s fertile breast
And we reap the abundance that we deserve, or at least
That we have been lucky enough to get this year.
Hail to the scythe, the winnowing basket, the honey in the hive,
The grain and beer, the milk that flows and the flesh
That is sacrificed that we might live and thrive,
And Sunna lights the autumn sky
And blesses us on this cool Harvest morning.

(The seventh caller ties a straw horn to the end of one wheel spoke.

The eighth caller steps forward, dressed all in black and gold.)

Eighth Caller:
Hail to the Sun on Winter’s Gate!
The leaves fall like a carpet before Sunna’s fading path
And the barrows of the Ancestors call us, looming
Like dark shadows through the bare black trees.
Darkness is setting in, but we do not fear,
For all things turn again unto the light, as Sunna
Herself has taught us, in her dancing round of the year.
And Sunna lights the clouded sky
And blesses us this Winternight morning.

(The eighth caller ties a skull to the end of one wheel spoke. The Sunna officiant steps forth.)
Sunna officiant:
Hail to the Ancestors who lived that we might live,
Who watched the Sun’s round and praised her mightily.
Hail Sunna! Bless us all with your bright gaze
And bring the light of contentment
With all things that flux and change
And yet always come around
Into our questing hearts.

All:
Hail Sunna!

(A horn of mead is passed, and folk speak of some great difficulty that troubled them, but that they have now come to terms with, and how they came to understanding on a day-to-day basis. This is the sort of thing which Sunna excels at—aiding those who would learn how to cope daily with something hard that will not pass, and teaching them never to let it dim their light. The candles are not put out until everyone has left the room, unless they become a fire hazard.)

Solitary Yule Ritual


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Solitary Yule Ritual

The altar is adorned with evergreens such as pine, rosemary, bay, juniper, and cedar, and the same can be laid to mark the Circle of Stones. Dried leaves can also be placed on the altar.

The Cauldron, resting on the altar on a heatproof surface (or placed before it its too large), should be filled with ignitable alcohol, or a red candle can be placed within it. At outdoor rites, lay a fire within the cauldron to be lit during ritual.

Arrange the altar, light the candles and incense, and cast the Circle of Stones.

Recite the Blessing Chant

Invoke the Goddess and God

Stand before the cauldron and gaze within it.

Say these or similar words:
I sorrow not, though the world is wrapped in sleep.
I sorrow not, though the icy winds blast.
I sorrow not, though the snow falls hard and deep.
I sorrow not; this too shall soon be past.

Ignite the Cauldron (or candle), using long matches or a taper. As the flames leap up say:
I light this fire in Your honor, Mother Goddess.
You have created life from death; warmth from cold;
The Sun lives once again; the time of light is waxing.
Welcome, ever-returning god of the Sun!
Hail, Mother of All!

Circle the altar and cauldron slowly, clockwise, watching the flames. Say the following chant for some time:

The wheel turns; the power burns.

Meditate upon the Sun, on the hidden energies lying dormant in winter, not only in the Earth but within ourselves. Think of birth not as the start of life but as its continuance. Welcome the return of the God.

After a time cease and stand once again before the altar and flaming cauldron. Say:
Great God of the Sun,
I welcome Your return.
May You shine brightly upon the Goddess;
May You shine brightly upon the Earth,
Scattering seeds and fertilizing the land.
All blessings upon You.
Reborn One of the Sun!

Works of magic if necessary, may follow

Celebrate the Simple Feast

The Circle is released

By Scott Cunningham

 

Yule Activities

Yule Comments & GraphicsYule Activities

 

Sing pagan solstice carols. Appropriate ones are: Deck the Halls, the Holy and the Ivy, Joy to the World, Tannenbaum, Wassailing Song, Green Growth the Holly. And there are others that can be slightly altered to fit Yule.

 

Decorate the Solstice or Yule tree. Decorate pine cones with glue and glitter as symbols of the faeries and place them in the Yule tree. Hang little bells on the Yule tree to call the spirits and faeries and purify your space. Decorate with items symbolizing what you want in the new year. Hang gold, yellow and red balls to symbolize the God and the Sun.

 

Light an enclosed candle, and let it burn through the night.

 

Stay up until sunrise to welcome the strengthening Sun.

 

Make a wreath decorated with pine cones.

 

String popcorn and cranberries and hang them on an outdoor tree for birds.

 

Glue the caps onto acorns and attach a red string to hang on the Yule tree.

 

For prosperity, burn ash wood.

 

Symbolically act out the struggle between the Holly King (an older man) and the Oak King (a younger man).

 

Yule blessings: wreath on the door, mistletoe indoors, food and clothing donations, sunflower seeds outside for birds, ring the bell to greet the Solstice Morn, and perform magick for a peaceful planet.

 

Gather up Yule greens after 12th night and save. At Imbolc, burn the greens to banish winter and usher in spring.

 

Consecrate the Yule tree — asperge with salted water, pass smoke of incense through the branches, and walk around the tree with a lighted candle saying:
By fire and water, air and earth,
I consecrate this tree of rebirth.

 

Make wassail: 2 cups cranberry juice, 1/4 cup grenadine, 1 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup rum (optional). (taken from Green Witchcraft by Moura)

 

Make classic eggnog.

 

The Wild Hunt at Yuletide


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The Wild Hunt at Yuletide

During the Wild Hunt ancestral spirits are thought to come back to earth. The deity who ruled over this is Odin, who is actually the leader of the Wild Hunt. The Wild Hunt was traditionally a procession of spirits and heroes. In European traditions, during the twelve days of Yuletide (those last days of the calendar year), these spirits traveled in a procession to visit families and loved ones.

This may explain why, in Scandinavian lore, it is believed that the spirits of children were along for the wild ride on the night of the winter solstice for the purpose of coming back to earth to visit their parents. These children who had passed over were thought to be under the care of Frigga, so I suppose she turned them loose to travel with Odin so they could visit their loved ones.

I personally was surprised to discover that the Wild Hunt has more ties to Yule than any of the other sabbats we celebrate today. The Wild Hunt was traditionally a procession of spirits and heroes. After Christianity took over, in an effort to demonize the hunt, it began to be called the Parade of the Damned. It’s sad to me that they attempted to turn what was originally a joyous, mysterious, and powerful thing into something frightening. The Wild Hunt is also called Asgard’s Chase, Spirit’s Ride, and Holla’s Troop.

According to legend, if you were caught by the Wild Hunt, you had to keep going with them until they were finished. This was a type of spirit possession, and one where you were truly “along for the ride.” The only way to protect yourself from being swooped up and carried along on those wild winter nights was to consume the herb parsley. The folkloric treatment for the madness that follows having seen the hunt was also to eat fresh parsley.

On wild and windy nights the hunt is out. The procession of spirits led by Odin on his eight-legged horse is indicated by winter storms, howling winds, thunder, and lightning. Another of his cohorts along for the ride was the goddess Freya, a patroness of seers, a shapeshifter, and an all-purpose deity. Other deities along on the wild ride include Hulda (other variations are Holle and Holda). This is a northern German Mother goddess. Holland may have gotten its name from her: Holle’s land. Hulda/ Holle/ Holda was known as the Queen of Witches, and it was thought that Odin’s congregation of spirits traveled together with Hulda’s host of Witches.
In German fairy tales, Hulda is known as Mother Holly, or Mother Holle. She travels about in a long, snow-white hooded cloak. Hulda is a Snow Queen and is associated with Epiphany and fertility. It is thought that when she fluffed up her feather bed, the feathers fell to earth as snow. Hulda is thought to be surrounded by unborn babies. She is their guardian and releases them to be born into the world of men. It is not surprising to learn that she is a deity of fertility and birth.

From the Southern Alps we have Berchta. Offerings of dumplings and pickled herring were left to Berchta and put out on rooftops so she could “grab and go” as she flew by on the Wild Hunt. These wild, white ladies visited the home at Yuletide and were believed to be goddesses that could bridge the gap between the living and the dead.

Ellen Dugan, Seasons of Witchery: Celebrating the Sabbats with the Garden Witch

Here Comes the Sun


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Here Comes the Sun

 

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.

 

 

Ellen Dugan, Seasons of Witchery: Celebrating the Sabbats with the Garden Witch