Your Ancient Symbol Card for Jan. 1st is The Sword

Your Ancient Symbol Card for Today

The Sword

The Sword is a a call to action. It indicates challenges are before you and to attain your goals you will have to address them. The Sword does not suggest rash or underhanded behavior on your part. Indeed, while actions indicated by The Sword are decisive, they are based on the power of your wisdom and ethics. The strength of The Sword lies in the moral purity of your actions.

As a daily card, The Sword suggest a time in which you will face external challenges to attaining your goals. These trials are likely to come from a person or persons who stand to gain from your loss or delays in you moving forward. You can expect underhanded play and surprises. Fortunately your position is far stronger than those who scheme to usurp you. Address challenges as they arise and all will be well.

To The Ancestors…..

Witchy Comments & Graphics
To The Ancestors…..

The Winter fire was an echo of the Sun–of life itself. During the Winter, our ancestors gave thanks to the slowly increasing power of the Sun as the year made its steady climb toward Spring and Summer. To do this, they’d raise a glass of beer or ale before the Winter fire as a sign of respect. Using your favorite beverage you can continue this custom.

No matter if your Winter fire consists of one candle, or a roaring blaze of oak and hickory logs, let is power you magic with its light.

A Very Blessed & Happy Yule To All of the WOTC Family!

Yule Comments & Graphics

Days like today are important.
Whether it is getting time to
spend with our offline family
or grasping a few moments with
our online family, it doesn’t matter.
 
 
Every moment is precious, now is the time we
give thanks to the Goddess for our many blessings.
One of my biggest blessings is all of you. Someone
that thinks like you, has the same beliefs and practices,
a kindred spirit.
 
 
I have found many kindred spirits here and for that I am truly
grateful. Some I know well, others I hope to some day. But it
doesn’t matter. Just remember as I celebrate my Yule this
year, I will be thanking the Goddess for each and everyone of you.
 
 
My wish and prayer for you, my dear family, is one of great happiness,
much love, and the Goddess’ blessings on you throughout the year.

Merry Yule,

Love,

Lady A

YULE LORE

YULE LORE

One traditional Yuletide practice is the creation of a Yule tree. This can be a
living, potted tree which can later be planter in the ground, or a cut one.  The
choice is yours.

Appropriate Pagan decorations are fun to make, from strings of dried rosebuds
and cinnamon sticks  (or popcorn and cranberries) for garlands, to bags of
fragrant spices  which are hung from boughs. Quartz crystals can be wrapped with shiny wire and  suspended from sturdy branches to resemble icicles. Apples,
oranges and lemons hanging from boughs are strikingly beautiful, natural
decorations, and were customary in ancient times.

Many enjoy the custom of lighting the Yule log. This is a graphic representation
of the rebirth of the God within the sacred fire of the Mother Goddess. If you
choose to burn  one, select a proper log (traditionally of oak or pine).  Carve
or chalk a figure of the Sun (such as a rayed disc) or the God (a horned circle
or a figure of a man) upon it, with the Boline, and set it alight in the
fireplace at dusk on Yule.   As the log burns, visualize the  Sun shining within
it and think of the coming warmer days.

As to food, nuts, fruits such as apples and pears, cakes of caraways soaked in
cider, and  (for non-vegetarians) pork are traditional fare.  Wassail,
lambswool, hibiscus or ginger tea and fine drinks for the Simple Feast or Yule
Meals.

MIDWINTER NIGHT’S EVE – Y U L E

MIDWINTER NIGHT’S EVE  –  Y U L E
by Mike Nichols

Our Christian friends are often quite surprised at how enthusiastically we
Pagans celebrate the ‘Christmas’ season. Even though we prefer to use the word
‘Yule’, and our celebrations may peak a few days BEFORE the 25th, we nonetheless follow many of the traditional customs of the season: decorated trees, caroling, presents, Yule logs, and  mistletoe. We might even go so far as putting up a ‘Nativity set’, though for us the three central characters are likely to be interpreted as Mother Nature, Father Time, and the Baby Sun-God. None of this will come as a surprise to anyone who knows the true history of the holiday, of course.

In fact, if truth be known, the holiday of Christmas has always been more Pagan
than Christian, with it’s associations of Nordic divination, Celtic fertility
rites, and Roman Mithraism. That is why both Martin Luther and John Calvin
abhorred it, why the Puritans refused to acknowledge it, much less celebrate it
(to them, no day of the year could be more holy than the Sabbath), and why it
was even made ILLEGAL in Boston! The holiday was already too closely associated with the birth of older Pagan gods and heroes. And many of them (like Oedipus, Theseus, Hercules, Perseus, Jason, Dionysus, Apollo, Mithra, Horus and even Arthur) possessed a narrative of birth, death, and resurrection that was uncomfortably close to that of Jesus. And to make matters worse, many of them pre-dated the Christian Savior.

Ultimately, of course, the holiday is rooted deeply in the cycle of the year. It
is the Winter Solstice that is being celebrated, seed-time of the year, the
longest night and shortest day. It is the birthday of the new Sun King, the Son
of God — by whatever name you choose to call him. On this darkest of nights,
the Goddess becomes the Great Mother and once again gives birth. And it makes
perfect poetic sense that on the longest night of the winter, ‘the dark night of
our souls’, there springs the new spark of hope, the Sacred Fire, the Light of
the World, the Coel Coeth.

That is why Pagans have as much right to claim this holiday as Christians.
Perhaps even more so, as the Christians were rather late in laying claim to it,
and tried more than once to reject it. There had been a tradition in the West
that Mary bore the child Jesus on the twenty-fifth day, but no one could seem to
decide on the month. Finally, in 320 C.E., the Catholic Fathers in Rome decided
to make it December, in an effort to co-opt the Mithraic celebration of the
Romans and the Yule celebrations of the Celts and Saxons.

There was never much pretense that the date they finally chose was historically
accurate. Shepherds just don’t ‘tend their flocks by night’ in the high
pastures in the dead of winter! But if one wishes to use the New Testament as
historical evidence, this reference may point to sometime in the spring as the
time of Jesus’ birth. This is because the lambing season occurs in the spring
and that is the only time when shepherds are likely to ‘watch their flocks by
night’ – to make sure the lambing goes well. Knowing this, the Eastern half of
the Church continued to reject December 25, preferring a ‘movable date’ fixed by
their astrologers according to the moon.

Thus, despite its shaky start (for over three centuries, no one knew when Jesus
was supposed to have been born!), December 25 finally began to catch on. By 529,
it was a civic holiday, and all work or public business (except that of cooks,
bakers, or any that contributed to the delight of the holiday) was prohibited by
the Emperor Justinian. In 563, the Council of Braga forbade fasting on Christmas
Day, and four years later the Council of Tours proclaimed the twelve days from
December 25 to Epiphany as a sacred, festive season. This last point is perhaps
the hardest to impress upon the modern reader, who is lucky to get a single day
off work. Christmas, in the Middle Ages, was not a SINGLE day, but rather a
period of TWELVE days, from December 25 to January 6. The Twelve Days of
Christmas, in fact. It is certainly lamentable that the modern world has
abandoned this approach, along with the popular Twelfth Night celebrations.

Of course, the Christian version of the holiday spread to many countries no
faster than Christianity itself, which means that ‘Christmas’ wasn’t celebrated
in Ireland until the late fifth century; in England, Switzerland, and Austria
until the seventh; in Germany until the eighth; and in the Slavic lands until
the ninth and tenth. Not that these countries lacked their own mid-winter
celebrations of Yuletide. Long before the world had heard of Jesus, Pagans had
been observing the season by bringing in the Yule log, wishing on it, and
lighting it from the remains of last year’s log. Riddles were posed and
answered, magic and rituals were practiced, wild boars were sacrificed and
consumed along with large quantities of liquor, corn dollies were carried from
house to house while caroling, fertility rites were practiced (girls standing
under a sprig of mistletoe were subject to a bit more than a kiss), and
divinations were cast for the coming Spring. Many of these Pagan customs, in an
appropriately watered-down form, have entered the mainstream of Christian
celebration, though most celebrants do not realize (or do not mention it, if
they do) their origins.

For modern Witches, Yule (from the Anglo-Saxon ‘Yula’, meaning ‘wheel’ of the
year) is usually celebrated on the actual Winter Solstice, which may vary by a
few days, though it usually occurs on or around December 21st. It is a Lesser
Sabbat or Lower Holiday in the modern Pagan calendar, one of the four quarter-
days of the year, but a very important one. This year (1988) it occurs on
December 21st at 9:28 am CST. Pagan customs are still enthusiastically
followed. Once, the Yule log had been the center of the celebration. It was
lighted on the eve of the solstice (it should light on the first try) and must
be kept burning for twelve hours, for good luck. It should be made of ash.
Later, the Yule log was replaced by the Yule tree but, instead of burning it,
burning candles were placed on it. In Christianity, Protestants might claim that
Martin Luther invented the custom, and Catholics might grant St. Boniface the
honor, but the custom can demonstrably be traced back through the Roman
Saturnalia all the way to ancient Egypt. Needless to say, such a tree should be
cut down rather than purchased, and should be disposed of by burning, the proper
way to dispatch any sacred object.

Along with the evergreen, the holly and the ivy and the mistletoe were important
plants of the season, all symbolizing fertility and everlasting life. Mistletoe
was especially venerated by the Celtic Druids, who cut it with a golden sickle
on the sixth night of the moon, and believed it to be an aphrodisiac. (Magically
— not medicinally! It’s highly toxic!) But aphrodisiacs must have been the
smallest part of the Yuletide menu in ancient times, as contemporary reports
indicate that the tables fairly creaked under the strain of every type of good
food. And drink! The most popular of which was the ‘wassail cup’ deriving its
name from the Anglo-Saxon term ‘waes hael’ (be whole or hale).

Medieval Christmas folklore seems endless: that animals will all kneel down as
the Holy Night arrives, that bees hum the ‘100th psalm’ on Christmas Eve, that a
windy Christmas will bring good luck, that a person born on Christmas Day can
see the Little People, that a cricket on the hearth brings good luck, that if
one opens all the doors of the house at midnight all the evil spirits will
depart, that you will have one lucky month for each Christmas pudding you
sample, that the tree must be taken down by Twelfth Night or bad luck is sure to
follow, that ‘if Christmas on a Sunday be, a windy winter we shall see’, that
‘hours of sun on Christmas Day, so many frosts in the month of May’, that one
can use the Twelve Days of Christmas to predict the weather for each of the
twelve months of the coming year, and so on.

Remembering that most Christmas customs are ultimately based upon older Pagan
customs, it only remains for modern Pagans to reclaim their lost traditions. In
doing so, we can share many common customs with our Christian friends, albeit
with a slightly different interpretation. And thus we all share in the beauty of
this most magical of seasons, when the Mother Goddess once again gives birth to
the baby Sun-God and sets the wheel in motion again. To conclude with a long-
overdue paraphrase, ‘Goddess bless us, every one!

Solstice Wishing Balls

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Solstice Wishing Balls

This is a fun activity for the whole family, or it can be used to enhance the Winter Solstice religious rites. Participants write out their wishes on small pieces of paper. They will then be placed in a hollow Christmas tree ornament. The ornament is then filled with allspice for wealth, rosemary for protection, cinnamon for success, and coriander for health. The loop at the top is secured with gold, blue, red, and green ribbons. The ornaments can then be blessed during ritual and later  hung over the main doorway of the household.

What A Glorious Day To Be Alive! It’s Yule, My Friends, It’s Yule!

Yule Comments & Graphics
To all our family, friends, brothers & sisters, we wish you a very Magickal and Blessed Yule!

May the Goddess & the Sun shine down on you, not only today but all the year long!

Brightest Blessings & Merry Yule,

Lady A and The WOTC

Daily Feng Shui News for Dec. 19th – ‘Look for An Evergreen’

You’ll get a big boost of all different sorts of seasonal blessings if you follow today’s ‘Look for An Evergreen’ advice. Long considered a ‘healing’ color (hence the propensity of use in hospitals and other health-related environments), the color green is also strongly considered the most ‘cooling color’ in the spectrum. At this time of year, green is believed to be able to help to offset the intense and burning heat caused by all the fiery red that’s around. Green also promotes peace and plenty, while the evergreen is said to magically absorb negative vibes in the home. Hanging an evergreen branch or bough above and on the outside of the front entryway door at any time of year has long been believed to keep evil at bay while inviting peace and prosperity. One could say that this is a totally different slant on ‘going green’ for the holidays.

By Ellen Whitehurst for Astrology.com

Oh, What A Glorious Morning! I Am Counting the Days to Yule!

The Shortest Day

So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!!

 

The Poem “The Shortest Day,”
  by Susan Cooper
Website: Aine Minogue

 

Yules Lessons from Days of Yore: Perfect Love, Perfect Trust

Yules Lessons from Days of Yore: Perfect Love, Perfect Trust

Author:   Morbek   

This is the season to celebrate! Over one third of the people on our planet celebrate the birth of a God around winter solstice. Point-two percent of the world’s population celebrate a major holiday of light during this time and twenty-two percent of our brothers and sisters in the family of man have a celebration of new beginnings and, a week or so later, another holy day, which commemorates freedom. All of this celebrating occurs around the Yuletide season. For Wiccans and Pagans, we celebrate the birth of the God and the waxing of his power as the days from Yule will get longer which leaves the night less frightening because it is getting shorter and less intimidating.

So, why even think about other religions during our holy season of Yule? I can sum it up in two words… Available Energy! With all the positive vibes roaming around think of the amazing magic that can happen if we harness and direct that energy for the good of our home. Well over half of mother Earths population considers this time of year sacred and, in western countries; those that are not religious still exude positive energy due to the consumer driven need to present gifts to one another in the spirit of Santa. That is a lot of people putting out positive vibrations!

Merry making is, indeed, infectious. Think of the community events, the parties that are held both in our workplace and our homes, the carols that are played twenty four seven by various media outlets, decking the halls and dressing up our pets that goes on in our culture. I will diligently search every year (and then be sure to watch) for Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer and A Charlie Brown Christmas because it’s not the same on DVD as it is on commercial TV. The deeply held traditions anyone who celebrates during the Yule tied season adds a type of power boost to the energy already being exuded into the environment.

Do I feel that we should greedily gather up all of this energy and use it for our selfish ends? Absolutely not…no way! That point may be moot anyway. A great deal of the sentiment in our surroundings is that of giving and loving nature. I would be hard pressed to manipulate it so that it would become egocentric. I am a lazy person by nature and that sounds to me like way too much work just to attain something that I could have acquired with other magic or by simply going to a store. The attempt would leave me way too exhausted to trim the Yule tree. What, then, do I think we should do with it and why?

Let’s examine the basis of the season and discuss what drives human beings to celebrate our planets personal star’s return into our lives. The apparent reason for the season is the New Year aspect. Back in the day, thousands of years ago when knowing the seasons was a matter of life and death for the entire group, not just an individual, people had to know when the shortest day of the year was so that they could allocate their remaining resources in order to survive until mother Earth, once again, shared her bounty with all. But there must be more to it than that. After all, in a season where ancient man had to be frugal out of necessity, traditions of benevolent works arose and persist to this day!

From an anthropologic point of view, we could discuss all manner of reasons for this to be occurring but the most likely one is, in my mind, the need to draw closer to each other. We need love and acceptance. What better way to foster those emotions in others than by kindness? I expect that when humans were still nomadic or just beginning to settle into an agricultural lifestyle, kindness was a rare commodity. I find it hard believe that (wo) man didn’t desire to be kind; I just don’t think that there was a lot of time and opportunity to exhibit philanthropically motivated deeds. Life was short and hard what with procuring food and water, internal and external tribal struggles as well as trying to understand the greater world around an individual.

In a time of meager reserves, giving to another from what is essential rather than what is surplus without expecting payment of any kind would be seen as the ultimate act of perfect love and perfect trust. The act would have made a deep impression upon the receiver and any bystanders in the immediate area. It would have caused quite a commotion and, as we all know, humans love to gossip. There is no way that anyone can convince me that thousands of years ago, even before the advent of the city, (wo) man didn’t enjoy telling and retelling of an event that profoundly touched them. Every time the story was told, the original emotions were felt and the deed was imprinted a little deeper into the person’s psyche. The next thing you know, that person is committing similar acts of kindness and the circle begins again.

In order for my theory to be valid, one must recognize that there is an inherent and ancient respect for the concepts of perfect love and perfect trust. The people that walk upon this planet have known for millennia that if you live by those philosophies, you will live a wonderful life filled with more joy than sorrow.

Back to all that mirth filled energy! If you intend to do something for our world this Yule, as I do, take hold of as much of that joyous stuff as you can handle and visualize healing. Our planet needs to be healed from pollution, over grazing from stock animals and way too much concrete and blacktop. The animals that are supposed to continue evolving need healing in order to adapt and progress along the paths that are intended for them. They need proper habitat and to be untouched, as much as possible, by the hands of (wo) man. Last but not least, the amazing creatures that can ponder the problems and devise solutions need healing as well. Humans are struggling to become more than just a flesh sack that reacts to stimuli.

I have noticed throughout the years that spirituality is becoming, more and more, a central focus of many of my brothers and sisters in this very large family. The wounds that need healing are immense gashes in our spirits: fear, jealousy, hypocrisy, greed and loneliness. Those wounds lead to behaviors such as; addiction, selfishness, emotional pain that must be countered with physical pain and a worldwide economy that is in such a horrific state of hopelessness that the innocents among us are the ones who are paying the price. And that price is very high! It includes hunger, illness, illiteracy and homelessness. Saddest fact of all: Our children are the ones who are paying the largest percentage of that bill.

That list has been around for as long as we have been able to acknowledge ourselves as spiritual beings in a material world. We strive, generation after generation, to lessen the effects that those infections of the soul have on our lives. Now, with a little help from the witches, that healing can begin in earnest because the available energy that we will be using is already imprinted with the best desires that we have deep within ourselves.

Feel the amazing power that surrounds us this time of year, remember that it is borne from perfect love and perfect trust, visualize what you believe to be remedies for a planet and its’ inhabitants who are ill and send all of that imprinted energy out into the universe to work the amazing miracles that we know are just waiting in the wings for someone who respects, understands and strives to live within the construct of perfect love and perfect trust to give those miracles the cue to enter the stage and start dazzling all of us with the healing and understanding that we all need.

May you have a blessed Yule Tide season!

MERRY YULE

MERRY YULE
By Jenness

We hope you will find this interesting and though provoking reading while you
are doing your Christmas shopping.

DID YOU KNOW THAT: “Christmas Trees” and “Hanukkah Bushes” are Pagan and forbidden by the Bible: “Thus saith the Lord: Learn not the way of the
heathen…for the customs of these people are vain. For one cutteth a tree out of
the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. They deck it with
silver and with gold; they fasten it with hails and with hammers, that it move
not.” Jeremiah 10:2-6

DID YOU KNOW THAT: The celebrations of birthdays was forbidden by Jewish law? Josephus, the first century Jewish historian, states: “Nay, indeed the law does not permit us to make festivals at the births of our children.” The only
birthdays recorded in the Bible were those of two evil men, a Pharaoh (Genesis
40) and Herod Matthew 14:6-10.

DID YOU KNOW THAT: according to the evidence presented in the New Testament, Jesus could not have been born in winter, but probably in early autumn? Shepherds in Palestine do not “abide with their flocks in the flocks by night” in winter – its too cold. They bring them in to caves or stables by the end of October.

DID YOU KNOW THAT: December 25th was celebrated as the festival of the birthday of the Sun-God Mithra, as well as a host of other Incarnated Gods (Avatars) including Bacchus of Egypt, Bacvchus of Greece, Adonis of Greece, Krishna of India, Sakia of India, Shan-ti of China, Chris of Chaldea, and Jao Walpaul of ancient Britain: All were said to have been born of a virgin, perhaps because the astrological sign of Virgo, the Virgin, is newly risen above the horizon at this time.

DID YOU KNOW THAT: most of our customs in celebration of the Winter Solstice were taken from the ancient Pagan festival of Yule? Today the Solstice falls on December 21, but in ancient times, before the recent calendar changes, it was on December 25.

DID YOU KNOW THAT: the carol “Here we come-a-Caroling” was originally “Here we come a-Wassailing”? Wassailing was an ancient Pagan custom of singing and talking to the fruit and nut trees at Yule to insure an abundant harvest in the season to come.

We hope you found this interesting. No offense is intended, for this is a season
for happiness and joy. The joy that the Sun, which reaches its farthest distance
from Mother Earth at Yuletide, is now on its journey back to warm us. You are
welcome to celebrate our holiday, and may the Goddess bless your for it.

Let’s Talk Witch – Christmas and Yule Customs

The “Let’s Talk Witch” is a little longer than most. I don’t know about most of you but when the mainstream Religious holidays roll around, I have to stop and shake my head.  For our Religion to have been so hated, what in the hell would the rest of the religions did without us? I can see all the similarities between our Religion and their religions. But we didn’t come up with those practices or beliefs they stole from us, they did. We are nothing but Evil, we have never had a good idea even come in our head.

I know the older I get it makes me angry. I just want to climb to the highest mountain and scream, “TELL THE TRUTH WOULD YOU, YOU DAMN THIEVES!” Wouldn’t do any good but it would make me feel much better. I have leaders of other faiths write me and want to know, “why are so many people turning to Witchcraft?” Perhaps they are finally learning the truth and coming to the realization of what they have been really following for so many years.

The following article is one of my favorites. It drives this point home and then some, I hope you enjoy it.

Christmas and Yule Customs
by Rick Hayward

Now that Christmas is fast approaching and the year has once more come full circle, most of us will soon be busy adorning the house with brightly coloured decorations, a Christmas tree and all the other paraphernalia that goes to create a festive atmosphere.

Holly and mistletoe will almost certainly be included in our decorations as evergreens have been used in the winter festivities from very ancient times and definitely long before Christianity appeared on the scene.

What Christians celebrate as the birthday of Christ is really something that was superimposed on to a much earlier pagan festival–that which celebrated the Winter Solstice or the time when the Sun reaches its lowest point south and is reborn at the beginning of a new cycle of seasons.

In Northern Europe and Scandinavia it was noted by the early Christian scholar, Bede, that the heathens began the year on December 25th which they called Mother’s Night in honour of the great Earth Mother. Their celebrations were held in order to ensure fertility and abundance during the coming year, and these included much feasting, burning of lamps, lighting of great fires (the Yule fires) and exchanges of gifts.

The Romans, too, held their great celebrations–Saturnalia– from December 17th to 25th and it was the latter date which they honoured as the birthday of the Unconquered Sun. The Saturnalia was characterised by much merry-making, sometimes going to riotous extremes, with masters and slaves temporarily exchanging roles. The use of evergreens to decorate the streets and houses was also very much in evidence at this great winter festival.

That we now celebrate the birth of Christ at the same time is largely due to the early Church Fathers who found it was much easier to win converts to the faith by making Christ’s birthday coincide with an already long established pagan festival. In fact, it wasn’t until the 4th century that Pope Julius I finally established the 25th as the official birthday of Christ; earlier Christians differed widely as to this date– some choosing September 29th, while others held that January 6th or March 29th were the correct dates.

As we have seen, the pagan element in Christmas lives on in the festival at the Winter Solstice. But these elements are also very much alive in our use of evergreens as decorations at this time of year.

Like most evergreens, the holly and mistletoe have long been held to symbolize eternal life, regeneration and rebirth.

Holly, with its bright red berries and dark spiky foliage, has been revered from ancient times as a symbol of life everlasting. It was associated with strength and masculinity and was considered useful in the treatment of various ailments which were seen to lower the vital spirits.

In old England, a decoction of holly leaves was considered a cure for worms; but most of all this prickly evergreen was looked upon as a luck bringer–particularly in rural areas where a bunch of holly hung in the cow shed or stable was thought to favour the animals if placed there on Christmas Eve. Many people used to take a piece of holly from the church decorations at Christmas as a charm against bad luck in the coming year. Holly was also considered a very protective tree which, if planted outside the house, was believed to avert lightning, fire and the evil spells of witches.

An old holly spell describes how to know one’s future spouse. At midnight on a Friday, nine holly leaves must be plucked and tied with nine knots in a three-cornered cloth. This is then placed under the pillow and, provided silence is observed from the time of plucking until dawn the next day, your future spouse will come to you in your dreams.

In certain areas of Wales, it was thought extremely unlucky to bring holly into the house before December 24th and if you did so there would be family quarrels and domestic upheavals. You would also be inviting disaster if you burned green holly or squashed the red berries.

Turning now to mistletoe, it seems that this is by far the most mystical of the plants associated with Christmas and has, from very ancient times, been treated as magical or sacred. It is often included in modern Christmas decorations simply for the fun of kissing beneath it and, though this seems to be a peculiarly English custom, it probably harks back to the mistletoe’s association with fertility.

The real reason why mistletoe is now associated with Christmas is very much a carry-over from ancient practices, when it was considered as somehow belonging to the gods. The Roman historian, Pliny, gives an early account of how the Druids would hold a very solemn ceremony at the Winter Solstice when the mistletoe had to be gathered, for the Druids looked upon this unusual plant, which has no roots in the earth, as being of divine origin or produced by lightning. Mistletoe which grew on the oak was considered especially potent in magical virtues, for it was the oak that the Druids held as sacred to the gods.

At the Winter Solstice, the Druids would lead a procession into the forest and, on finding the sacred plant growing on an oak, the chief priest, dressed all in white, would climb the tree and cut the mistletoe with a knife or sickle made of gold. The mistletoe was not allowed to touch the ground and was therefore caught in a white linen cloth.

On securing the sacred mistletoe, the Druids would then carry it to their temple where it would be laid beneath the altar stone for three days. Early on the fourth day, which would correspond to our Christmas Day, it was taken out, chopped into pieces and handed out among the worshippers. The berries were used by the priests to heal various diseases.

Mistletoe was considered something of a universal panacea, as can be gleaned from the ancient Celtic word for it–uile, which literally translated means ‘all-healer’. A widespread belief was that mistletoe could cure anything from headaches to epilepsy; and indeed modern research has shown that the drug guipsine which is used in the treatment of nervous illnesses and high blood pressure is contained in mistletoe.

Until quite recently the rural folk of Sweden and Switzerland believed that the mistletoe could only be picked at certain times and in a special way if its full potency as healer and protector was to be secured. The Sun must be in Sagittarius (close to the Winter Solstice) and the Moon must be on the wane and, following ancient practices, the mistletoe must not be just picked but shot or knocked down and caught before reaching the ground.

Not only was mistletoe looked upon as a healer of all ills, but if hung around the house was believed to protect the home against fire and other hazards. As the mistletoe was supposed to have been produced by lightning, it had the power to protect the home against thunder bolts by a kind of sympathetic magic.

Of great importance, however, was the power of mistletoe to protect against witchcraft and sorcery. This is evident in an old superstition which holds that a sprig of mistletoe placed beneath the pillow will avert nightmares (once considered to be the product of evil demons).

In the north of England, it used to be the practice of farmers to give mistletoe to the first cow that calved after New Year’s Day. This was believed to ensure health to the stock and a good milk yield throughout the year. Underlying this old belief is the fear of witches or mischievous fairy folk who could play havoc with dairy produce, so here mistletoe was used as a counter magic against such evil influences. In Sweden, too, a bunch of this magical plant hung from the living room ceiling or in the stable or cow-shed was thought to render trolls powerless to work mischief.

With such a tremendous array of myth, magic and folklore associated with it, reaching far back into the pagan past, it is understandable that even today this favourite Christmas plant is forbidden in many churches. Yet even the holly and the ivy, much celebrated in a popular carol of that title, were once revered as sacred and magical by our pre-Christian ancestors.

In view of what has been said, one could speculate that even if Christianity had never emerged it is more than likely that we would still be getting ready for the late-December festivities, putting up decorations, including holly and mistletoe, in order to celebrate the rebirth of the Sun, the great giver and sustainer of all earthly life.

Aspects of Yule

Yule Comments & Graphics
Aspects of Yule

Time of deepest darkness
The God is born anew
Seedling in the frozen earth
Awaiting springtime dew.

The ground, an icy wasteland,
Though neighbors hearts are warm
We share our goods with everyone
So no one comes to harm.

Snow lies on her shoulders
Frosted mantle for her hair
Winter’s Queen is giving birth
The Goddess, always there

The sun is growing brighter.
It happens every year
Promising return of light
For sod and oak and deer

Stag King, his mighty antlers
Rising from a drift
Leaps for the hunter’s arrow
Just as strong and swift

He knows his time has ended
He is heading to the plain
Where joy caresses memory
Like softly summer rain

New fawn takes his first step,
The buck he will become.
After the time of knowing
A new year has begun.

(poem by: Zephyr Lioness )

Calendar of the Sun for December 9th

Calendar of the Sun

9 Yulmonath

Evergreen Day

Color: Dark green and red
Element: Earth
Altar: Bare, with a red cloth. This is the day when evergreens are brought into the house from outside, to honor the spirits of the forest. All will go out at the beginning of Sponde and gather armloads of them, and bring them in to be laid in great heaps upon the altar.
Offerings: Put food outside for the forest spirits.
Daily Meal: Vegetarian

Evergreen Invocation

Hail to the Spirits of the Wild!
Hail to the life of the trees
Who do not sleep, but are awake and alive
Even through the coldest of winters!
Hail to the oldest, those who stood their watch
Long before tender leaves grew
On the branches of your descendants.
Hail to you who show us life
Even in the midst of death,
Hail to you who give us scent
Even in the midst of sleeping.
Hail to you who give the creatures
Of the wild their winter sustenance
And shelter among your branches.
Hail to the Wild Men, the spirits
Who danced through the houses of our ancestors
Bringing your blessings to the people.
Now we shall warm you in our home,
Until the time comes that you shall warm us.

Song: Evergreen: Song for the Wild Men

(All shall then take the evergreen branches and disperse them through the house, making wreath and garlands and hanging them wherever the blessings of the wild spirits are needed. A Yule tree is decorated on this day, with symbols of our faith.)

[Pagan Book of Hours]

The Yule of Our Ancestors

The Yule of Our Ancestors

by Wlfgar Greggarson

The Yule tree is probably one of the most recognizable symbols of the Yule
season. For me, the tree always stood for the coming together of family. It has
been one thing that bound my family together, the center focus for the children
eagerly awaiting the present-opening ritual. For the adults, it was a
comfortable place to drink and catch up on old times. The Yule tree was a
much-needed place of peace for my large family. Now, as an adult with a little
more worldly knowledge, I have found a deeper understanding of the Yule tree’s
lore and purpose.

Customarily, the tree was a spruce or other evergreen, which symbolized the
survival of green life through the barren months of winter, the people’s hope
and nature’s promise that the earth would once again spring back to life. It
was a symbol that the cold touch from the god of death would wane with the
rebirth of the newly returned sun. Surely the goddess of life would and could
replenish all of the earth after Old Man Winter had his fun.

In various parts of Europe, fruit-bearing trees were an important feature
during the Yule season. In more natural times, the folk would gather at a large
apple tree on Twelfth Night to hang cider-soaked bread on its branches for the
good spirits and all the fey and thus renew and strengthen the fragile and
cherished relationship with the wee folk.

Yule has also been a time to begin certain harvest magick. In parts of Denmark,
the people would go out and shake the fruit trees, then hang a token of the
Yule season in their branches and pray for a good harvest in the summer. The
fruit tree is also a sign of the triumph of life through death, much as the
evergreen is a symbol of life’s continuance.

Possibly the origin of decorating the Yule tree lies with the people known as
the Lapplanders or, more correctly, the Sami. It is said the Sami would take
small portions of meals eaten on holy days, put them in pieces of birch bark,
then after making ships out of them, complete with sails, hang them on trees
behind their homes as offerings to the J”l (Yule) spirits.

At some point, it became unsafe to observe heathen Yule practices publicly; it
is probable that, at this point, the Yule tree was brought into the home. Pagan
Yule practices, symbolism and holy tokens became enmeshed and hidden within the
Christ birth mythology. Yule’s theme of honoring the sun, newly reborn, and the
triumph of light through darkness is quite an easy target for an opportunistic
religion.

There are many other Yule traditions, such as wreath making, cake baking, ale
brewing and so on. Another was wassailing, a kind of ritual toasting and
singing, which comes from the words Wes Hal, meaning to be whole. Wassail the
drink was usually a hot cider mixture drunk from a maple turned bowl.

The actual Yule feast is also a favorite of this hungry heathen. The Yule
season ended on Twelfth Night, which is now celebrated on December 31. In more
ancient times, Mothers Night was observed on December 25 and the festivities
continued until January 5. Mothers Night, the beginning of the Yule season
ritual observance, was practiced on different days at different places and
times and is now celebrated beginning at sunset on December 20. Mothers Night
activities included making wreaths woven with wishes for the coming year, a
rite to bless the family and exchanging gifts.

Wreath making can be a fun activity for a coven, kindred or family. Wreaths can
be made using a circular candle holder that holds four candles. Evergreen
branches, sprigs of holly and nuts are good items to offer as gifts to the Yule
spirits. Being that a gift calls for a gift, we can tie small pieces of red
ribbon onto the wreaths with our requests and wishes for the coming season, to
be answered by the Yule spirits.

The Yule log is probably one of the most important aspects of the Yule time
festivities. The log traditionally was kindled from the burnt remains of the
previous year’s Yule fire. The Yule log symbolizes the light returning to
conquer the darkness. Decoration for your log can be of various evergreens,
holly, mistletoe, nuts, fruit and so forth. There are many traditional ways to
collect your log; what I do, because it seems most practical, is save the
thickest part of my Yule tree when it comes time to throw it away. This I keep
through the year (making sure a well-intentioned friend doesn’t accidentally
throw it in the fireplace – no names mentioned), then I decorate it, put
offerings on it and send it to Valhalla.

The burning of the log can be a fun party for your group or family with a round
of toasting, boasting, bragging or promises for things to come in the next
year. In my opinion, this is best done drinking hot cider, because when mead or
ale is drunk, the toasting, boasting and bragging can get out of hand.

Appropriate items to hang on our trees include cookies in the shape of horses,
swine, birds, cats and trees. Apples if available, most varieties of nuts,
strings of cranberries and popcorn are also nice. I like to use my scroll saw
to cut wood into shapes such as horses, swine or other holy tokens such as
pentagrams, labrys, Thor’s hammers, sun wheels and, one of my favorites, the
Valknut, which is three interlocking triangles, a symbol sacred to Odin.

Other Yule season facts are out there, not far out of reach. We can research
and find these things and revive the practices that touch our heathen hearts.
It is our right and responsibility to revive this old lore and educate others
of the many pagan origins of this very heathen time. I hope this small article
will stir your interest in our pagan heritage.

Wassail!