Yule

Yule is the Pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice, the darkest day of the year with the longest night. It is the pinnacle of the dark half of the year and is regarded as the time of rebirth of the Sun God. After this date, the days become gradually longer again, with more light. It falls on 21st-22nd December of each year.

For me, I regard Yule as a magical time. Darkness is not bad, no matter how it may be presented or construed. We all have a dark side. Darkness can be comfort and peace as well as fear and loneliness. It can be going within as well as feeling lost. It can be exploring our hidden power, and drawing on our own inner light, rather than looking to an external source. And as such, the energy of Yule can be extremely empowering.

This is always the time of year when I am at my most introspective and feel most inclined to use ritual and magick in my spiritual work. Such is the power and inspiration of age-old stars shining valiantly in the dark night sky; snow and frost coating the whole world in a crispy blank canvas promising new beginnings, fresh growth and renewed hope; and the feeling of peace and goodwill to all men, starting with those we love and extending out to all those whose lives we touch in some way with our very existence.

The age-old celebration of Yule involves a Yule log. I have only actually had a Yule log on one occasion, at Yule 2010. It can be quite an elaborate feat arranging fire safety adequately enough in your own small space in the world to burn a Yule log. We burnt ours that year in the garden. I am hoping to get a wood-burning stove in the house which will make this process easier in future years. A great time to acquire a log is in January or February of the year – you will find fallen logs in parkland, woodland or even your own garden. I actually have our next log waiting in the garage as we speak, but I have other plans this year. Decorating the log helps to consecrate it and claim it as a magical item. It can be decorated with evergreens, berries, and other festive fayre. Alternatively it can be carved. I saw a wonderful idea this year where a log was carved at each end with a sun to represent the Sun God and the hope of brighter, lighter days. However you could even carve in wishes or qualities you wish to enhance in the year to come. If you are not able to burn a real log, there is always the alternative chocolate log, which could be baked or decorated yourself and sprinkled with a good dose of love – or say a blessing over it to bring peace and magick into the lives of those who eat a slice. Chocolate logs could, of course, also be carved with your Yule wishes.

My 2010 Yule log decorated with holly, ivy and wishes for 2011.

Yule wishes, I feel, ought to be simple and global, or for the universal and highest good. Rather than very personal and specific wishes which I may make for the coming year at Samhain, the Pagan New Year, I tend to keep them short, even down to one word, for example: peace, hope, love, happiness, wellbeing, fulfilment, joy, romance, justice, wisdom, calm, health – any positive quality you wish to dream up. Like the burning log, they represent a metaphorical light in the darkness, a seed of good being sown in the world from the lightest place of your being. However, I have found it is also an auspicious time to focus your intention on your heart’s desire using a more complex ritual, or cosmic ordering techniques. In its simplest form, this may involve writing very specifically what you wish to manifest on a piece of paper, which you can then put away somewhere you will forget about it in a gesture of trust and letting it go to the universe.

The element of fire is a light in the darkness and purification.

The element of fire itself is purifying and cleansing. It burns up negativity, and watching the flames is a good time to mentally release and let go of any negative influences which have been present in your life. You can even go a step further by writing down any negative situations or influences you wish to leave your life, and burning them in the flame. Lighting candles or doing simple candle magick is another way in which to harness this energy at Yuletide. I have, in the past, made my own candles in suitable Yule colours of red, green and orange (gold) – or you can purchase suitably coloured candles. They may also be carved with single-word wishes, which is simple but effective candle magick. Candles also create a sense of reverence and mark out a space as sacred, which may be your altar or your entire home. You are inviting in the energy of the Sun God, Mother Nature and the universe when you blaze a candle to light up a space. A Yule altar may also include items which are seasonally significant. This year I am using pine cones. Suitable incenses or oils may appeal – frankincense, orange oil, neroli and cinnamon are examples. A chalice of wine may add the energy of festivity and occasion. Figurines or ornaments of fairies, angels or stars attract seasonal magick and miracles – I have used angel figurines this year. You can also extend your decoration into your home, of course, as well as your altar; “decking the halls” is thought to bring protection to your home at the darkest time of the year. Evergreen leaves and cuttings are the obvious favourites, and many have their own meanings, so choose wisely, depending on what you wish to attract:

MISTLETOE – Healing and fertility

POINSETTIA – Divine guidance and success

PINE CONES / CUTTINGS – Clarity and gratitude for what you have

IVY – Female principle, romance and loyalty

HOLLY – Male principle, hope and generosity

FRANKINCENSE – Abundance, windfalls and luck

Yule altar 2012 featuring angels, candles and pine cones.

Whatever magical work you do on Yule, remember the spirit of the season is giving, and I believe the more you give from a place of love, the more will come back to you from your workings. Of course, gift-giving is traditional at this time of year, but the more thoughtful and tailored to the person the gift, the better. I tend to collect things all year round most years, from car boot sales and second-hand shops as well as brand new items. You could even go one step more special and give home-made ornaments, chocolates, biscuits, oils, recipe jars, or whatever you are able to make. I often give readings or crystal medicine pouches. I also feel it’s important to give on a wider scale than to just friends or family. The homeless, the elderly or lonely, a favourite or current charity, and don’t forget the earth and its creatures. Giving also doesn’t necessarily mean a monetary donation. It could be your time that you give, to man a soup kitchen, volunteer for a charity event, or invite an elderly or lonely neighbour for your festive dinner, whether you celebrate Yule or Christmas or both. When my brother and I were students, our house was often the place for stranded fellow students miles away from home for one reason or another, and I can promise you having that additional guest always brought blessings, love and laughter into our celebrations. For the earth, the simplest of gifts is to care for its creatures during this hardest of seasons for their survival. Feeding the birds, leaving out seeds, nuts, berries or suet treats – and keeping their water topped up as when it gets icy it can be hard for them to find a drink. It’s all about a reverence and appreciation for the other beings with whom we co-exist on our earth.

*Please make fire safety paramount in your Yule celebrations. Candles need proper holders, Yule logs need to be burned safely, and you should never leave naked flames unattended.*

Bright blessings to you all this Yuletide. May it be merry and bring you happiness, peace and warmth.

I will add to this page as I learn more over the years.

~ Copyright Silverla StMichael December 2012 ~

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