Celebrating Legends, Folklore & Spirituality 365 Days a Year for Jan. 6 – Twelfth Night, Epiphany of Kore, and Persephone

HALLOWEEN

January 6

Twelfth Night, Epiphany of Kore, and Persephone

Traditionally, on this day the ancient Greeks would carry the statue of Kore around her temple seven times as they prayed for protection and good fortune. Following the temple activities ties a nocturnal rite was held in honor of Kore (daughter of Zeus and Demeter, whose name means “maiden”), an aspect of Persephone before her marriage to Hades.

On this day in Old Europe the ashes from the Yule log were removed, and either stored for magickal purposes or scattered on the fields to insure fertility. Later on in the day the Lord of Misrule, known as the King of the Bean, was selected. Cakes were made, and a bean was baked into one. Whomever found the bean in his cake was then elected king for the day. The king, along with the Queen of the Pea (selected by finding the pea baked into another batch of cakes) ruled over the final Yuletide festivities.

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Magically Decking Your Halls and Walls

By Patti Wigington To view images go to: http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/yulecrafts/tp/YuleCraftProjects.htm?utm_source=exp_nl&utm_medium=email&utm_term=list_paganwiccan&utm_campaign=list_paganwiccan&utm_content=20150609

There are so many great ways you can decorate your home for the Yule season. Adapt store-bought Christmas decorations, or make your own Pagan-themed home decor for the season. Here’s how you can put together a Yule log of your own, some fun and simple ornaments, a Pagan twist on the “manger” scene, some seasonally-scented potpourri andincense, and more!

Decorate a Yule log for your family’s celebration.Image by Steve Gorton/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

Decorate a Yule Log

The Yule log is an ancient tradition, but you can make one for your own family’s holiday celebration. Put one together with items you find outside, and include it as part of your Yule ritual.

Use salt dough and cookie cutters to make your own Yule ornaments. Image by ansaj/E+/Getty Images

Salt Dough Ornaments

These easy ornaments can be assembled in hardly any time at all. Once they’ve baked, paint them and hang them around your home for Yule! More »

Inscribe ornaments with symbols, or decorate with icing before you hang them on your tree. Image by Dorling Kindersley/Dorling Kindersley Collection/Getty Images

Cinnamon Spell Ornaments

Use a blend of cinnamon, applesauce, and spices to make these spell ornaments – decorate with magical symbols, and hang them on your holiday tree this year

Use dried juniper berries, along with cedar and pine, to make a Yule incense blend. Image by Ed Reschke/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Winter Nights Incense

Scents have a way of making time stand still for us sometimes, and the aromas of the winter holidays are no exception. For many people, re-creating the smells and emotions of our childhood, or even of some distant ancestral memory, is part of the magic of the Yule season. More »

Make a magical gingerbread poppet for yourself or a friend!. Image by PhotoAlto/Michele Constantini/Getty Images

Magical Gingerbread Poppets

Gingerbread men are everywhere during the Yule season – and they’re the perfect shape to use for a magical poppet. Why not get crafty and make some magic for the season? More »

Use your favorite spices to make scented pinecone ornaments. Image by Mike Bentley/E+/Getty Images

Pine Cone Ornaments

The pine cone has long been a symbol of the winter solstice. Make these nature- friendly ornaments to sparkle and shine during your Yule celebration. More »

Make an herbal sachet to hang on your Yule tree.Image by Patti Wigington

Yule Herbal Sachet

This sachet is simple to make, and combines some of the most delightful scents of the season. Make them small and hang on a tree, make them a bit larger and give them as gifts! More »

Use three chenille stems to shape this pent — one makes the circle, and the other two get folded around to form the star.Image © Patti Wigington

Easy Pentacle Ornaments

This is a super-easy craft project you can get your kids working on, and have them create a whole bunch of pretty pentacles to hang around your house during the Yule season. More »

Use pine boughs and other natural items to make an outdoor Yule scene. Image by Cultura RM/Jonatan Fernstrom/Getty Images

Make a Pagan “Nativity” Scene

So your neighbors all have cute little mangers in their yards, complete with plastic baby Jesus, light-up sheep, and a couple of Wise Men who have probably seen better days. Are you feeling a bit left out? Don’t worry — you can still set up a Nativity scene (or something close to it) that represents your Pagan or Wiccan beliefs, and honors the birth of the sun, rather than the son of another religion’s god. More »

Make a batch of potpourri to simmer on your stovetop. Image by sozaijiten/Datacraft/Getty Images

Yule Simmering Potpourri

Make a batch of Yule potpourri, get it simmering on your stovetop, and enjoy the scents of the season! More »

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!

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

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

 

How Much Yule Do You Put into Christmas?

How Much Yule Do You Put into Christmas?

Author:   Stazya   

This is a difficult topic. I didn’t think it would be until I started. In fact, I thought it would take about two paragraphs to describe how I celebrate Yule by myself and then participate in Christmas with the rest of my family. Until now, that’s the way it’s been – separate.

And lonely.

I remember last year vividly – I shut the bedroom door, laid out a full altar, substituted a small piece of pine incense for my Yule Log since we had no fireplace, and sang of my wishes in a hushed voice, trying to drown myself in the raised volume of the television. I did this not because I was hiding from my husband in the next room, but because I didn’t want to “disturb”e; him with my ritual. A week later, we were in Danvers, MA sitting in the Congregational church with his family and as I watched the minister light his candles and listened to his words, She leaned over and whispered in my ear. “You’ve been here before.” It clicked later, but at first I didn’t pay attention.

A year later and my life is as it should be – completely different. I still close the bedroom door for private rituals, but every now and then, I include my husband. He is definitely Christian, but he’s very tolerant and curious about everything I do. He helped me bless our seeds at Ostara. He attended an open festival at Beltane. He even sat with me to experiment with the open door ritual (Thank you Wren). And this summer, I managed to tell my mother and my best friend that I am a witch.

So now, as the days get darker, and the trees become bare, I am thinking ahead to the holidays. Suddenly, I am confused. Before, there was no question – I had to hide my beliefs. I had to keep to myself. This year though, I somehow have to figure out how much Yule to put into Christmas.

We flip-flop each season between my husband’s family, and mine. This year we will spend the holidays with mine. The only time my immediate family thinks of the birth of Christ on Christmas is if they happen to catch the Little Drummer Boy on TV. It’s never really been about religion with us – just food and family. Oh yeah, and presents. So my problem is not that I’m stomping on a holy cradle, but rather that I may actually inject something of a religious nature into the hors d’oeuvres and stuffing. I’ll be stomping on our traditions, which I’ve always thought to be a bigger offense.

For example, there’s the Christmas card tradition. Among us, cards are an obligation of sorts. You find the funniest one with Santa being farted on by Rudolph, or the sweetest one with puffy sparrows playing in bright red ribbon – but you never take the card that sends blessings to anyone. You receive these cards and then display them on your wall, or in the window, or on the front door. Really anywhere they’ll be seen by lots of people. I’ve always liked this tradition – it’s the one time my mailbox fills up with something other than bills. And yet, my principles tell me it’s a waste. All that paper, all those trees, sacrificed for vanity. So, what do I do?

Do I call everyone and say I don’t want to send cards anymore because we’re decimating Mother Earth? Do I tell them not to send me any? Do I tell everyone to only use recycled paper? Is it really my place to tell anyone anything at all?

And what of the Christmas feast? No one bows their head at my family’s table. I am the first. To make matters worse, I won’t be thanking God for the bounty before us. That would be acceptable to them, if uncomfortable. But I can just see the looks on their faces when I mutter my thanks to Mr. Turkey and the asparagus. At least I won’t have to mourn the passing of an evergreen. My mother’s tree is fake.

I start to think about my Yule rituals and wonder if they’d let me give out presents au natural. Or perhaps I can find some nice pine and sage incense to cleanse my mother’s house with and still be able to convince her she does not smell marijuana. And maybe she’ll allow me to light the front room with votives, being careful not to damage the fine finish of her furniture. Instead of presents, we’ll exchange wishes and burn them in my cauldron. Maybe I can gather my whole family into a circle, weaving it in and out of the sectional sofa and invoke the Goddess into our presence. Or we can gather together all the used pots and pans to drum and chant the evening away in merry camaraderie. Or maybe I’ll make one suggestion of a living wreath of flowers and seeds to wrap around the tree and endure the laughter and disdain the entire evening once I’ve stained the white carpet with cranberries.

Maybe I won’t do anything at all.

But then I remember Her voice in my ear and the warmth of Her breath on my cheek and I know what my answer is.

Tradition.

I know historically what Yule is all about. I know the story of the sun God’s return. But I also know that historical context doesn’t necessarily mean anything to us. We no longer sit huddled in sod huts with what’s left of our flock trying to keep warm. That the days are shorter now means we turn on the lights a little earlier. Why adhere to something when it’s meaningless? Why does my family still celebrate Christmas, even though Christ is no longer a part of it?

Because for them it isn’t about religion anymore. It isn’t even about presents or trees or cards. It’s about being together because we only see each other a few times a year now. It’s about coming together and reaffirming our faith in each other. It’s about touching base with the love that for some reason still exists, regardless of space and time.

How much Yule do I put into Christmas? The same amount I always have. I’ll bake nut tree pear bread for the family, and maybe an apple pie. We’ll all sit at the table and reminisce about the past year – catch up on each other’s lives. We’ll talk briefly about Dad and try to remember his corny jokes or some stray moment when you knew just how much he loved each one of us. After dinner, some of us will go for a walk and take in the beauty of the stark trees and icicle-laden eves. And when we’ve gotten our second wind, some of us will pile into the car and drive the neighborhoods to ooh and ah over this year’s most inspired displays. We’ll exchange tokens of love and admiration, and before we disperse, each will bless the other with love and happiness until we meet again.

If that isn’t a Pagan evening what is?

And what of next year when I find myself back in the Congregational church, surrounded by my husband’s family? Well, I will admire the four candles on the altar and the Christmas flowers that adorn the stage. I will listen with rapt attention as my mother-in-law lends her beautiful voice to the choir and her faith shines on her face. I will hold my husband’s soft, warm hand and watch the snow fall silently. I will bask in the warmth of the moment and listen to Her whispering in my ear again, but this time I will pay attention.

I was never alone.

Stazya

Bio: Stazya is one of the luckiest Pagans alive. She has an understanding, if skeptical, family and a husband who loves her. She receives daily snuffles from her dog, Igor, and provides a pleasantly warm lap for her cat, Potato. In her spare time, she is a writer and an editor in desperate need of actual work (Show me a writer who isn’t!). She keeps one leg in the closet, one finger in the cookie jar and her nose out of most peoples’ business. It’s all about balance. Blessings to all and to all a joyful turn of the Wheel.

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 )

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!