The Witches Digest for Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Today is Tuesday, December 12
Tuesday is dedicated to the powers of the planet Mars, personified in Ares, Tiwaz, Tiw, Tuisco and Tyr. Tuesday rules controlled power, energy and endurance.
Zodiac Sign: Aries
Rune: Tyr (T)
The Celtic Tree Month of Ruis (Elder) November 25 – December 22
Runic Half Month of Is (November 28 – December 12)
Goddess of the Month of Astraea (November 28th – December 25th)
The Pagan Book of Days
On December 12th, We Celebrate the Goddess Frau Holle
In some Scandinavian traditions, Frau Holle is known as the feminine spirit of the woods and plants, and was honored as the sacred embodiment of the earth and land itself. She is associated with many of the evergreen plants that appear during the Yule season, especially mistletoe and holly, and is sometimes seen as an aspect of Frigga, wife of Odin. In this theme, she is associated with fertility and rebirth.
Her feast day is December 25, and typically, she is seen as a goddess of hearth and home, although in different areas she has clearly different purposes.
FRAU HOLLE IN FAIRY TALES
Interestingly, Frau Holle is mentioned in the story of Goldmary and Pitchmary, as compiled by the Grimm brothers. In this context — that of a Germanic Cinderella-type tale — she appears as an old woman who rewards an industrious girl with gold, and offers the girl’s lazy sister an equally appropriate compensation. Legends in some parts of Germany portray her as a toothless hag who appears in the winter, much like the Cailleach of Scotland. In other stories, she is young, beautiful, and fertile.
In the Norse Eddas, she is described as Hlodyn, and she gives gifts to women at the time of the Winter Solstice, or Jul. She is sometimes associated with winter snowfall as well — it is said that when Frau Holle shakes out her mattresses, white feathers fall to the earth.
A feast is held in her honor each winter by many people in the Germanic countries.
HULDA THE GODDESS
A number of scholars have pointed out that Frau Holle evolved from an earlier, pre-Christian deity, known as Hulda (alternately, Holle or Holla), who predates even the Norse pantheon. She appears as an old woman, associated with the darkness of winter, and watches over children in the coldest months.
Archaeologist Marija Gimbutas said, in Civilization of the Goddess, “[Holle] holds dominion over death, the cold darkness of winter, caves, graves and tombs in the earth….but also receives the fertile seed, the light of midwinter, the fertilized egg, which transforms the tomb into a womb for the gestation of new life.” In other words, she is tied to the cycle of death and eventual rebirth, as new life springs forth.
Like many deities, Holda/Hulda/Holle is a complex one with many aspects. She has evolved through the centuries in a way that makes it nearly impossible to associate her with just one theme.
Hulda was known as a goddess of women, and was connected to matter of the household and domesticity. In particular, she is tied to women’s crafts, such as weaving and spinning. This, in turn, has tied her to magic and witchcraft, and she is specifically called out in the Canon Episcopi, written around the fourth century. Those who honored her were required, as faithful Catholics, to do penance. The treatise reads, in part, “Have you believed there is some female, whom the stupid vulgar call Holda … who is able to do a certain thing, such that those deceived by the devil affirm themselves by necessity and by command to be required to do, that is, with a crowd of demons transformed into the likeness of women, on fixed nights to be required to ride upon certain beasts, and to themselves be numbered in their company?
If you have performed participation in this unbelief, you are required to do penance for one year on designated fast-days.”
In the Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft, Rosemary Ellen Guiley says of Hulda, “[her] nocturnal rides with the souls of the unbaptized dead led to the Christian association of her with the demonic aspects of the wild hunt… [she] was said to be accompanied by witches as well as the souls of the dead. They rode uncontrollably through the night sky… the land over which they passed was said to bear double the harvest.”
HONORING FRAU HOLLE TODAY
If you’d like to celebrate the spirit of winter by honoring Frau Holle, it’s a good time to focus on domestic crafts as part of ritual. You can spin or weave, knit or sew. There’s a lovely heathen spindle ritual by Shirl Sazynski over at Witches & Pagans that’s worth exploring, or incorporate other domestic tasks into a ritual context.
She is associated with the snowfall, so a bit of snow magic is always in order when you celebrate Frau Holle.
Patti Wigington, Author
Article Published On ThoughtCo.com
Tuesday–The Day of Tiu
Tuesday is the first day of the week which is named after a god of the Angles and Saxons–Tiu, the God of War. The Angles and Saxons, like the Greeks and Romans, worshiped many gods, and though these gods were in a great number of ways similar to those of the Greeks and Romans, we also find very great differences. These differences are due to the fact that the Angles and Saxons lived in a very different kind of country, led a very different kind of life, and consequently had different ideas. Their chief enemies were frost and cold, and they imagined the freezing winds to be caused by frost-giants who lived in a land of ice and waged continual warfare with the gods who befriended man and protected him as far as they could against the frost-giants and all the suffering which they caused. The chief of these gods was Woden or Odin, the All-father, of whom we read in the following chapter, and next to him in importance came Thor, the God of Thunder, the bitterest enemy of the giants. The god after whom Tuesday is named was known as Tiu among the Angles and Saxons, and as Tyr among the Norsemen. He was the God of War, and corresponds to Mars among the Romans, whose name for this day was Dies Martis, the day of Mars. The French have kept the Roman name in the form mardi.
Tiu was a great fighter and knew no fear, and was naturally always called upon in time of battle. He was usually represented as having no right hand, owing to a misfortune which befell him in the following way. From his lofty throne Odin, the chief of the gods, one day saw in the land of the giants three terrible monsters, which grew so rapidly that he was filled with fear lest they should invade the home of the gods. Accordingly he determined to get rid of them before they became any stronger. One Hel, an enormous giantess, he flung into the Underworld, where, as the Goddess of Death, she ruled over the kingdom of the dead. Another, Iormungandr, a serpent, he cast into the sea, where it grew so huge that it encircled the whole earth. The third was Fenrir, a wolf, whom Odin brought to Asgard, the home of the gods, hoping that he might eventually tame him. Fenrir, however, grew stronger and fiercer each day, until the gods, of whom Tiu alone was brave enough to go near him, decided at last to bind him in such a way that he could do no harm. A very strong chain was obtained, and the gods suggested to Fenrir, who often boasted of his great strength, that he should allow himself to be bound with it in order to prove whether he was really as strong as he claimed to be. Fenrir agreed, and then by merely stretching himself easily brohe his bonds. Again the gods put him to the test with a still stronger chain, but as before he succeeded in breaking it. Seeing that no ordinary chain would be strong enough to bind Fenrir, the gods sent one of their servants to the home of the dwarfs, a race of little people who lived underground, and who were very clever workers in metal. They also possessed great powers of magic, as we shall see in a later story. At the bidding of the gods, the dwarfs made a silken rope out of the voice of fishes, a woman’s beard, the roots of a mountain, and the footsteps of a cat, which was so strong that no power could break it! A third time the gods challenged Fenrir to show his strength by allowing himself to be bound with this new cord, but Fenrir became suspicious, and at last consented only on condition that one of the gods should put his hand in his mouth, and hold it there as a pledge that the gods were not deceiving him. This condition greatly alarmed the gods, who began to fear that their trick was not going to succeed, but the bold war-god Tiu stepped forward and, without any hesitation, placed his right hand in the wolf’s mouth. The gods at once bound Fenrir with the magic cord made by the dwarfs, and, in spite of all his struggles, the wolf was unable to free himself. Great was the delight of the gods at their success, a delight shared by all but Tiu, who had little cause to be pleased with the result of the trick, for Fenrir, finding he was trapped, immediately bit off the hand of the god. Thus Tiu was deprived of his sword hand, but so clever was he that he wielded his sword equally well with his left hand, and still remained invincible in battle.
On one occasion Tiu and Thor, the God of Thunder, set out for the land of the giants to obtain an enormous kettle, which the gods required for a feast. They came at last to the home of a giant, Hymir, who possessed a kettle a mile deep and a mile wide, and were hospitably received by the giant’s wife. When she learned the errand on which they had come, she warned them that her husband was very fierce and hot-tempered, and advised them to hide themselves when Hymir returned, lest he should kill them with a glance. No sooner had the gods taken refuge behind some kettles, which were kept on a beam at the end of the hall, than Hymir came in. When he heard that visitors had called, he flashed his eyes round the hall so fiercely that, as his glance lighted on the gods’ hiding-place, the beam split in two, the kettles came crashing to the ground, and Tiu and Thor were discovered. Hymir, however, was persuaded by his wife to receive the gods kindly; he prepared a meal of three oxen in their honour, but was astonished and dismayed to see Thor eat two of them himself. The next day the gods gave the giant many proofs of their great strength and skill, and Hymir consented to give them the kettle they were seeking. Tiu at once tried to lift it but failed; then Thor, after a mighty struggle, raised it from the ground, and, as he gave the final pull, his feet broke through the floor of the giant’s house. As soon as the gods had departed, Thor carrying the kettle on his head, Hymir called his brothers together, and pursued after them. Thor, however, attacked them with his famous hammer, and killed them one by one. Tiu and Thor then continued their journey, and brought the huge kettle safely to their own land.
There are few stories told of Tiu, yet he held a high place among the gods, as the name Tuesday shows. He is most famous for his share in the binding of Fenrir, whereby was put off the dreaded Ragnarok, the day of the final battle between the gods and the giants.
Colors: Red, Orange
Crystal: Garnet, Ruby
Incense: Myrrh, Ginger, Cardamom
The Witches’ Tuesday
Colors: Red, rose or scarlet
Power Hours: Sunrise, and the eighth, sixteenth and twenty-fourth hours following
Keywords: Business, sex, hunting, energy
A god, goddess or planet governs each day of the week. It is usually easy to spot the ruled of the day by its name. The word Tuesday, however, is not so easy, but if we look at the word in Spanish, Martes, we clearly see it connections to Mars.
On Tuesdays the hour of sunrise and every eight hours after that are also ruled by Mars, and that makes these times of the day doubly blessed. The four hours are the strongest one to do ritual in. Check your local newspaper, astrological calendar or almanac to determine your local sunrise.
Tuesday is the day to work any magick that falls in the category of increasing strength, courage, bravery, and passion. All of these intense emotions are linked to this day’s energies, and spells designed around these themes will have extra punch when performed on this magickal day.
So, let’s add a little passion and conviction into your life! Break out the daring red pieces of your wardrobe, and put a little pizzazz into your day. Work with Lilith, and see what she has to teach you about personal power and sexuality. Meditate onTiw/Tyr and Mars, and see what those ancient warrior gods will show you about new tactics, strategies, and claiming personal victories in your life. Practice conjuring up that astral weapon from the meditation and use it wisely for protection and for courage.
Create a philter for courage and protection or handcraft your own Witch’s jar to remove negativity from your home. See what other Witch crafts you can conjure up with Tuesday’s magick. Create some kitchen magick on this Tuesday by whipping up a spicy stew-add in a few Mars-associated ingredients such as carrots, peppers, and garlic. Empower the stew for success, and then treat yourself and your family to a good, hearty meal. Try working with a little aromatherapy and burn some spicy or coffee-scented candles to increase your energy level.
Check the sky at night, and see if you can find the reddish planet Mars up in the heavens. Not sure where to look? Check an astronomy magazine or search the Web for more information. Become a magickal warrior and move forward in your life with strength, courage, and compassion. Embrace the side of yourself that loves a good challenge and that is passionate and daring! Banish fear, and face your future with strength and conviction. Believe in yourself and in your dreams, work hard, and you will win every time.
Book of Witchery: Spells, Charms & Correspondences for Every Day of the Week
The Witches Almanac for Tuesday, December 12
Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Mexican)
Moon Phase: Fourth Quarter
Moon Sign: Libra
The Witches Correspondences for Tuesday, December 12
Dedicated to the powers of the planet Mars, personified as Ares, Tiwaz, Tiw, and Tyr.
Element : Water
Planet : Mars
Zodiac Sign : Aries / Scorpio
Angel : Samuel
Metal : Iron, Steel
Incense / Perfumes : Dragon’s Blood, Patchouli
Oil : Basil, Coriander, Ginger
Color : Red, Orange
Stones : Bloodstone, Garnet, Carnelian,
Plants/Herbs : Allspice, Blessed Thistle, Cayenne, Daisy, Garlic, Ginger, Pepper, Pine, Red Rose, Thyme, Tobacco, Wormwood
Magick to work: self-assertion, energy, and courage, victory, endurance, passion, masculine goals in general, sex, aggression, protection, controlled power, ambition, arguments, competition, conflict, destruction, lust, male sexuality, sports, strife, struggle, surgery, medical issues, upheaval, war
Tuesday Is Ruled By Mars
Tuesday is a Mars day, and just like the god of war, this is the time to tap into magicks to call for strength and courage. This day of the week is for rebels and warriors. If you are facing a challenge of any kind, need a boost to your courage, or want to enhance your passions, Tuesday is the day of the week for you. Some suggestions for Tuesday enchantments would include:
*Wearing the fiery colors associated with this day: scarlet, red, black, and orange. Don some of the more daring and bewitching colors of your wardrobe on Tuesdays and turn a few heads
*Carrying a bloodstone in your pocket or wearing garnet-studded jewelry to reinforce your convictions
*Working with protective and fire-associated plants such as the snapdragon, thistle, and holly to boost your shields and bravery
*Burning spicy-scented energy-enhancing candles to add a little magical aromatherapy to your home
*Cooking up a hearty meal featuring carrots, peppers, and garlic (all Mars foods and spices) to empower yourself for victory and success
The Energy of Mars
Weekday ruled by Mars: Tuesday
Herbs and Plants:
Magickal Intention: Courage, physical strength, revenge, military honors, surgery, breaking negative cycles, war, viltality, Assertiveness.
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.
Patti Wigington, Author
Article Published On ThoughtCo.com
When it comes to festivals, parties, and downright debauchery, no one beats the folks of ancient Rome. Around the time of the winter solstice each year, they celebrated the festival of Saturnalia. As the name implies, this was a holiday in honor of the agricultural god, Saturn. This week-long party typically began around December 17th, so that it would end right around the day of the solstice.
Fertility rituals were performed at the temple of Saturn, including sacrifices.
In addition to the large public rites, many private citizens held ceremonies honoring Saturn in their homes.
One of the highlights of Saturnalia was the switching of traditional roles, particularly between a master and his slave. Everyone got to wear the red pileus, or freedman’s hat, and slaves were free to be as impertinent as they wished to their owners. However, despite the appearance of a reversal of social order, there were actually some fairly strict boundaries. A master might serve his slaves dinner, but the slaves were the ones who prepared it — this kept Roman society in order, but still allowed everyone to have a good time.
According to History.com, “Beginning in the week leading up to the winter solstice and continuing for a full month, Saturnalia was a hedonistic time, when food and drink were plentiful and the normal Roman social order was turned upside down. For a month, slaves would become masters.
Peasants were in command of the city. Business and schools were closed so that everyone could join in the fun.”
Not everyone was down with these shenanigans, though. Pliny the Younger was a bit of a Scrooge, and said, “When I retire to this garden summer-house, I fancy myself a hundred miles away from my villa, and take especial pleasure in it at the feast of the Saturnalia, when, by the license of that festive season, every other part of my house resounds with my servants’ mirth: thus I neither interrupt their amusement nor they my studies.” In other words, he didn’t want to be pestered by merrymaking, and was perfectly happy to indulge himself in the solitude of his country home, away from the debauchery of the city.
Businesses and court proceedings closed up for the entire celebration, and food and drink were everywhere to be had. Elaborate feasts and banquets were held, and it wasn’t unusual to exchange small gifts at these parties. 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.
The Roman philosopher Seneca the Younger wrote, “It is now the month of December, when the greatest part of the city is in a bustle. Loose reins are given to public dissipation; everywhere you may hear the sound of great preparations, as if there were some real difference between the days devoted to Saturn and those for transacting business….Were you here, I would willingly confer with you as to the plan of our conduct; whether we should eve in our usual way, or, to avoid singularity, both take a better supper and throw off the toga.”
His contemporary, Macrobius, wrote a lengthy work on the celebration, and said, “Meanwhile the head of the slave household, whose responsibility it was to offer sacrifice to the Penates, to manage the provisions and to direct the activities of the domestic servants, came to tell his master that the household had feasted according to the annual ritual custom.
For at this festival, in houses that keep to proper religious usage, they first of all honor the slaves with a dinner prepared as if for the master; and only afterwards is the table set again for the head of the household. So, then, the chief slave came in to announce the time of dinner and to summon the masters to the table.”
The traditional greeting at a Saturnalia celebration is, “Io, Saturnalia!”, with the “Io” being pronounced as “Yo.” So next time someone wishes you a happy holiday, feel free to respond with “Io, Saturnalia!” After all, if you lived in Roman times, Saturn was the reason for the season!
Patti Wigington, Author
Article Published On ThoughtCo.com
How to Make a Yule Log
A Time-Honored Tradition
As the Wheel of the Year turns once more, the days get shorter, the skies become gray, and it seems as though the sun is dying. In this time of darkness, we pause on the Solstice (usually around December 21st, although not always on the same date) and realize that something wonderful is happening.
On Yule, the sun stops its decline into the south. For a few days, it seems as though it’s rising in exactly the same place… and then something amazing and miraculous takes place. The light begins to return.
The sun begins its journey back to the north, and once again we are reminded that we have something worth celebrating. In families of all different spiritual paths, the return of the light is celebrated, with Menorahs, Kwanzaa candles, bonfires, and brightly lit Christmas trees. On Yule, many Pagan and Wiccan families celebrate the return of the sun by adding light into their homes. One very popular tradition – and one that children can do easily – is to make a Yule log for a family-sized celebration.
History and Symbolism
A holiday celebration that began in Norway, on the night of the winter solstice it was common to hoist a giant log onto the hearth to celebrate the return of the sun each year. The Norsemen believed that the sun was a giant wheel of fire which rolled away from the earth, and then began rolling back again on the winter solstice.
As Christianity spread through Europe, the tradition became part of Christmas Eve festivities. The father or master of the house would sprinkle the log with libations of mead, oil, or salt. Once the log was burned in the hearth, the ashes were scattered about the house to protect the family within from hostile spirits.
GATHERING THE SYMBOLS OF THE SEASON
Because each type of wood is associated with various magical and spiritual properties, logs from different types of trees might be burned to get a variety of effects. Aspen is the wood of choice for spiritual understanding, while the mighty oak is symbolic of strength and wisdom. A family hoping for a year of prosperity might burn a log of pine, while a couple hoping to be blessed with fertility would drag a bough of birch to their hearth.
In our house, we usually make our Yule log out of pine, but you can make yours of any type of wood you choose. You can select one based on its magical properties, or you can just use whatever is handy. To make a basic Yule log, you will need the following:
A log about 14 – 18” long
Dried berries, such as cranberries
Cuttings of mistletoe, holly, pine needles, and ivy
Feathers and cinnamon sticks
Some festive ribbon – use paper or cloth ribbon, not the synthetic or wire-lined type
A hot glue gun
All of these – except for the ribbon and the hot glue gun — are things you can gather outside. You might wish to start collecting them earlier in the year, and saving them. Encourage your children to only pick up items they find on the ground, and not to take any cuttings from live plants.
Begin by wrapping the log loosely with the ribbon. Leave enough space that you can insert your branches, cuttings and feathers under the ribbon. You might even want to place a feather on your Yule log to represent each member of the family. Once you’ve gotten your branches and cuttings in place, begin gluing on the pinecones, cinnamon sticks and berries. Add as much or as little as you like. Remember to keep the hot glue gun away from small children!
Celebrating With Your Yule Log
Once you’ve decorated your Yule log, the question arises of what to do with it. For starters, use it as a centerpiece for your holiday table. A Yule log looks lovely on a table surrounded by candles and holiday greenery.
Another way to use your Yule log is to burn it as our ancestors did so many centuries ago. A simple but meaningful tradition is to, before you burn your log, have each person in the family write down a wish on a piece of paper, and then insert it into the ribbons. It’s your wishes for the upcoming year, and it’s okay to keep those wishes to yourselves in hopes that they will come true.
If you have a fireplace, you can certainly burn your Yule log in it, but it’s a lot more fun to do it outside. Do you have a fire pit in the back yard? On the night of the winter solstice, gather out there with blankets, mittens, and mugs full of warm drinks as your burn our log. As you watch the flames consume it, discuss how thankful you are for the good things that have come your way this year. It’s a perfect time to talk about your hopes for abundance, good health, and happiness in the next twelve months.
Patti Wigington, Author
Article Published On ThoughtCo.com
How To Hold a Family Yule Log Ceremony
If your family enjoys ritual, you can welcome back the sun at Yule with this simple winter ceremony. The first thing you’ll need is a Yule Log. If you make it a week or two in advance, you can enjoy it as a centerpiece prior to burning it in the ceremony.
Because each type of wood is associated with various magical and spiritual properties, logs from different types of trees might be burned to get a variety of effects.
Aspen is the wood of choice for spiritual understanding, while the mighty oak is symbolic of strength and wisdom. A family hoping for a year of prosperity might burn a log of pine, while a couple wishing to be blessed with fertility would drag a bough of birch to their hearth.
YULE LOG HISTORY
A holiday celebration that began in Norway, on the night of the winter solstice it was common to hoist a giant log onto the hearth to celebrate the return of the sun each year. The Norsemen believed that the sun was a giant wheel of fire which rolled away from the earth, and then began rolling back again on the winter solstice. As Christianity spread through Europe, the tradition became part of Christmas Eve festivities. The father or master of the house would sprinkle the log with libations of mead, oil or salt. Once the log was burned in the hearth, the ashes were scattered about the house to protect the family within from hostile spirits.
The tradition of burning a Yule log was practiced in similar ways throughout many European countries. For instance, in France, a small piece of the log is burnt each night, up through Twelfth Night. Whatever is left over is saved for the following Christmas; this is believed to protect the family home from being struck by lightning.
In Cornwall, England, the log is called the Christmas Mock, and it is stripped of its bark before being brought inside for the fire. Some towns in Holland still follow the old custom of storing the Yule log beneath the bed.
CELEBRATE WITH A FAMILY RITUAL
In addition to a Yule log, you’ll also need a fire, so if you can do this ritual outside, that’s even better. As the Yule Log burns, all members of the family should surround it, forming a circle.
If you normally cast a circle, do so at this time.
This first section is for the adults–if there is more than one grownup, they can take turns saying the lines, or say them together:
The Wheel has turned once more, and
the earth has gone to sleep.
The leaves are gone, the crops have returned to the ground.
On this darkest of nights, we celebrate the light.
Tomorrow, the sun will return,
its journey continuing as it always does.
Welcome back, warmth.
Welcome back, light.
Welcome back, life.
The entire group now moves deosil–clockwise, or sunwise–around the fire. When each member has returned to his or her original position, it is time for the children to add their part. This section can be divided among the children so that each gets a chance to speak.
Shadows go away, darkness is no more,
as the light of the sun comes back to us.
Warm the earth.
Warm the ground.
Warm the sky.
Warm our hearts.
Welcome back, sun.
Finally, each member of the group should take a moment to tell the others one thing that they are thankful for about their family–things like “I am happy that Mom cooks us such wonderful food,” or “I’m proud of Alex because he helps people who need it.”
When everyone has had a chance to speak, walk sunwise once more around the fire, and end the rite. If possible, save a bit of this year’s Yule log to add to the fire for next year’s ceremony.
MORE YULE RITUALS TO TRY
Depending on your particular tradition, there are many different ways you can celebrate the Solstice season. and remember, any of them can be adapted for either a solitary practitioner or a small group with just a little planning.
Hold a ritual to celebrate the return of the sun, do a home cleansing as you celebrate the season, or even bless donations you’re giving away to charity.
Patti Wigington, Author
Article Published On ThoughtCo.com
Celebrating Legends, Folklore & Spirituality 365 Days a Year for December 12
Sada, Tonantzin, Our Lady of Guadalupe
Annually on this day in Iran, huge bonfires are ignited as the sun sets to exemplify how the power of light can overcome the power of darkness. As the fires burn, the evil influences that linger among the shadows of darkness are dispelled, thus allowing people to overcome obstacles and reach their fullest potential in the seasons to come.
It was on the hill of Tepeyac, just north of Mexico City, in 1531, that an Indian named Juan Diego saw an apparition he believed to be the Virgin Mary. The vision instructed him to have a church built on the spot, which had formerly been the cult-site of the Aztec Mother Goddess Tonantzin. At the time, the bishop disbelieved him, until the Virgin appeared for a third time and miraculously produced roses that Juan Diego presented to the bishop. As he did, the portrait of the Virgin appeared on Juan’s cloak. The shrine was built and is still a famous place of pilgrimage.
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