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

 

Magickal Activity for December 21st, The Day of Yule


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Magickal Activity for December 21st, The Day of Yule

The yule Candle Traditionally, the Yule Candle was a very large ornamental tal candle, usually blue, green, or red in color. The candle should be large enough to last the entire Yule (Christmas) season. The candle should only be lit and extinguished by the head of the household. It is best placed on the mantle over the hearth or on the sill of the window in the front of the house. The candle must be extinguished with a candle-snuffer or pair of tongs; to blow it out will bring bad luck. Each night, all the members of the household gather as a family prayer is read and the candle is lit. Before retiring for the night, the prayer is again read and the candle extinguished.

Sample Prayer
Let hope and peace come with this light,
To illuminate and cheer the way.
For from the darkness of the night,
Will come a better, brighter day.
So Mote It Be.

Celebrating 365 Days of Legends, Folklore & Spirituality for December 19, 20, 21 – Yule/Winter Solstice


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December 19, 20, 21

Yule/Winter Solstice

The Solstice, taken from the Latin for “the Sun stands still,” is considered to be the true New Year-astronomically as well as spiritually. At this time, we see the simultaneous death and rebirth of the Sun-God, represented in the shortest day and longest night of the year. From this time forward, the sun grows in strength and power as the hours of daylight increase.

Midwinter, or Winter Solstice, marked the end of the first half of the Celtic year. As was Samhain, which has the Roman festival of Pomona and the Christian All Souls grafted on to it, the Celtic Winter Solstice was subsequently confused with the Roman Saturnalia, and later the Christian Christmas. Mythologically, logically, most of the Midwinter celebrations focused on the symbology of a new or younger God, overthrowing the older or father God, which would then bring forth a new and more potent life to the people and the land.

Although the Solstice takes place on December 21, Midwinter winter (renamed Yule by the Anglo Saxons) covers several weeks on either side of the Solstice. In medieval times, Yule began around St. Nicholas’s Day and ran until Candlemas. Eventually, Yule was redefined to mean either the Nativity (December 25) or the 12 days of celebration beginning on this date. The word Christmas then replaced Yule in most English-speaking speaking countries. However, the Danish preserved Yule as a way of maintaining their old style of festivities that incorporated rated several weeks of celebration.

In Wicca, and modern Paganism, the Winter Solstice is the time of new beginnings, a time to reflect on the past and project for the future. Magickally, the Winter Solstice affords us a perfect time to formulate a plan of action, a goal we can work towards during the coming year.

JOY TO THE WORLD


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JOY TO THE WORLD

Joy to the world! The Lord is come!
Let Earth receive her king!
Let every heart prepare him room
And Heaven and Nature sing, etc.
Welcome our King who brings us life.
Our Lady gives him birth!
His living light returneth to warm the seeds within us
And wake the sleeping earth, etc.
Light we the fires to greet our Lord,
Our Light! Our Life! Our King!
Let every voice be lifted to sing his holy praises,
As Heaven and Nature sing, etc.

 

GOD REST YE MERRY, PAGANFOLK


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GOD REST YE MERRY, PAGANFOLK

God rest ye merry, paganfolk,
Let nothing you dismay.
Remember that the Sun returns
Upon this Solstice day.
The growing dark is ending now
And Spring is on its way.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy!
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.

 

The Goddess rest ye merry, too,
And keep you safe from harm.
Remember that we live within
The circle of Her arms,
And may Her love give years to come
A very special charm.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy!
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy!

 

(To The Tune, God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen)

 

The Witches Correspondences for Yule


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YULE CORRESPONDENCES

Other Names: Jul (“wheel”, Old Norse), Saturnalia(Rome ~December 17 & 18), Yuletide(Teutonic), Midwinter, Fionn’s Day, Alban Arthuan, 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

Element: earth

Threshold: dawn

GLORY TO THE NEW BORN KING


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GLORY TO THE NEW BORN KING

 

Brothers, sisters, come to sing
Glory to the new-born King!
Gardens peaceful, forests wild
Celebrate the Winter Child!
Now the time of glowing starts!
Joyful hands and joyful hearts!
Cheer the Yule log as it burns!
For once again the Sun returns!

 

Brothers, sisters, come and sing!
Glory to the new-born King!
Brothers, sisters, singing come
Glory to the newborn Sun
Through the wind and dark of night
Celebrate the coming light.
Suns glad rays through fear’s cold burns
Life through death
the Wheel now turns
Gather round the Yule log and tree
Celebrate Life’s mystery
Brothers, sisters, singing come
Glory to the new-born Sun.

Ellen Reed