Guest Blog by P.J.Roscoe
10 Things you may like to know about the Celebration of Yule
Yule is swiftly coming around, so I thought it would be interesting to learn a little about the upcoming event.
“The cold & dark of winter are as necessary to life as the heat and light of the summer.”
- You may know it as, ‘Midwinter Solstice’. It usually falls around the 21st December, though it varies due to it being an astronomical event. It is the shortest day and longest night and witches and Pagans will celebrate it as it is one of the main seven Sabbats.
- The Sabbat of Yule is known to be the rebirth of the sun. Having been in decline since the Summer Solstice in June, it now begins its journey to ‘full power’ so to speak, and the light returns to our world, at around two minutes extra per day – so it takes a few weeks before you really notice the sunrise is earlier and the sunset is later!
- From the early centuries, Pagans would bring evergreens into their homes and decorate. It is a reminder that life is returning and this became the origin of the ‘Christmas tree’. Witches and Pagans usually use Holly, as the red berries represent Mother as she rests within the darkness, ready for when the sun begins to warm the earth once more. The dark leaves of the Holly represent the Holly King, who rules the land until this time. Mistletoe is considered a magical plant as it grows between the earth and the sky. It is hung around homes to ward off evil, and attract love. A kiss beneath it enhances this loving energy.
- At Yule, the ‘Oak King’ is reborn and he will rule until the Summer Solstice in June. He brings the light and life back to the world. At both Solstices, groups of Pagans will re-enact the battle between the two kings. (Ensuring the right one wins of course!) To ensure the correct energies are given to Mother Earth. Light and dark, must have balance – you cannot have one without the other. At the summer solstice, the Holly king will win once more.
- Many, who celebrate this time of year, prepare a ‘Yule log’. No, not the chocolate covered Swiss variety, but an actual log that is carved to allow candles to be placed within it. Each person in the family will light a candle, giving thanks for the coming light, and ask for something they would be grateful for in the coming year. Once the candles are burned out naturally, the log is given to the fire to be sent out into the Universe. Of course, that’s not to say a chocolate version is not enjoyed afterwards!
- The celebration of the birth of ‘Christ’ was placed in December on purpose to coincide with the ancient festival of Yule when the sun God is reborn. Early Christians incorporated their own beliefs with Pagans, before attempting to wipe out the older Pagan rituals all together. But they didn’t succeed, as we see every year, Christian families using Pagan rituals for their celebrations.
- Many Pagans will get up with the sun on the Winter Solstice (which isn’t as early as the summer solstice, thank goodness!) And light either gold or orange candles and give thanks for the coming sun and light. Many will go somewhere high, like a hill or mountain, with drums and dance the sun up.
- The night before the rising of the sun on Yule morning, some groups may remain up all night, drumming, singing, dancing, celebrating and giving thanks for all they have achieved in the previous year.
- It is believed that the energies of Yule last for 12 days, and some believe it is the origin of ‘the 12 days of Christmas’.
- A Yule blessing:
“I call upon the old gods, the reborn sun and the Oak King who has vanquished his brother the Holly King, to bring forth the light once more. May the spark of light this day, grow ever stronger, warming the earth and our hearts. Bringing forth new life, new hopes and new dreams. As it grows in strength every day, may it fill us with its light, helping us become stronger. As it brings growth and life to this land, may we also grow and bring forth the new in our lives. And so the Wheel turns. Blessed be.”