Posts Tagged ‘Yule’

The Thirteen days of Midwinter Solstice

The Thirteen days of Midwinter Solstice

Yule has its roots in the old-Nordic word ‘iul’ or the Anglo-Saxon ‘hweol’, both meaning ‘wheel’, which points to the ever turning year and natures cycle of life, death and rebirth.
The lunar calendar, which has a powerful influence over the growing things upon the Earth, leaves about 12 days left over each year, the thirteenth day signifies the start of the new cycle. So the twelve nights of Yule were considered neither part of the old year, nor part of the new year.  These days being outside of the year establish a liminal time when the veil between the worlds is thin, a time when the gods walk the earth and people may see the elves or other spirits that live around us.

Yule begins on Mother Night or ‘Módraniht’ (December 20th) and ends 12 days later on ‘Yule Night’ (1st January) also known as Twelfth Night. Most pre-Christian mystery cults celebrated the Mother Goddess and mothers everywhere as creatrixes of all life. On Mother night, the longest night of the year, we make a feast to honor the protective feminine ancestors that watch over us. Nature is now sleeping and the newborn Solstice Sun is the gift of the Mother Goddess to the world which then prepares for the bright and warmth of the coming spring, the next step in the great circle dance of life. At the culmination of this time we celebrate the beginning of the new year.

Fire festivals, celebrating the rebirth of the Sun, held on the Winter’s Solstice can be found throughout the ancient world. The Roman festival of Saturnalia was held on the winter solstice, boughs of evergreen trees and bushes would decorate the house, gifts where exchanged and normal business was suspended. The Persian Mithraists held December 25th as sacred to the birth of their Sun God, Mithras, and celebrated it as a victory of light over darkness. In Sweden, December 13th was sacred to the Goddess Lucina, Shining One, and was a celebration of the return of the light. On Yule itself, around the 21st, bonfires were lit to honour Odin and Thor.

Adapting the lovely pealing quality of the pagan carol The 13 Days of Solstice by Pashta MaryMoon with its lines culminating each verse in an accrued repetition of the gifts given, I have followed an old tradition in rewriting this song to be both shorter – easier to manage, and to contain a seed of inspirational meaning for those with enquiring minds to follow.
Note the thirteen days in the title and verses rather than the twelve days of the more widely known christian carol, this is because although there are twelve solar months in a year there are thirteen lunar months and it is these that govern the pagan year as they hold sway over nature itself..

 


The Thirteen Days of Midwinter Solstice

On the first day of Solstice the Goddess sent to me
The Wiccan Rede of ‘Harm Ye None’…
Who hears my carol and takes it away,
On Mother’s Night will be a cherished one.

On the second day of Solstice the Goddess gave to me,
God and Goddess Blessings….
Who hears my carol and takes it away,
On Winter Solstice will in joy be dressing.

On the third day of Solstice the Goddess revealed to me
The Eternal Three Fold Law…
Who hears my carol and takes it away,
Their Courage – worthy and free.

On the fourth day of Solstice the Goddess showed to me
The Four Directions called….
Who hears my carol and takes it away,
In Truth will be enthralled.

On the fifth day of Solstice the Goddess gifted me,
The Five Pointed Pentagram…
Who hears my carol and takes it away,
Natures Honor will convey.

On the sixth day of Solstice the Goddess gave to me
Six rays of Sunlight…
Who hears my carol and takes it away,
In Fidelity will be bright.

On the seventh day of Solstice the Goddess explained to me
Seven Secrets of the Septagram…
Who hears my carol and takes it away,
Hospitality to thee the Elves will pay.

On the eigth day of Solstice the Goddess showed to me,
The Eight Sacred Sabbats…
Who hears my carol and takes it away,
With Discipline will turn the seasons wheel.

On the ninth day of Solstice the Goddess heaped on me,
Nine Noble Virtues….
Who hears my carol and takes it away,
By Industriousness will be worthy and free.

On the tenth day of Solstice the Goddess saw in me
Ten Transformations…
Who hears my carol and takes it away,
By Self-Reliance will show the way.

On the eleventh day of Solstice the Goddess illumined me,
With Eleven Runes of Power…
Who hears my carol and takes it away,
In Perseverance  across three realms will flower.

On the twelfth day of Solstice the Goddess conveyed to me
Twelve Heavenly signs..
Who hears my carol and takes it away,
On Twelfth Night will understand the star’s designs.

On the thirteenth day of Solstice the Goddess granted me
Thirteen Full Moons Shinning…
Who hears my carol and takes it away,
Radiant and Luminous will be they.



c. Celestial Elf 2014.

In ancient times, calendars were more widely acknowledged as a link between the Divine universe and humankind, as sacred tools providing instructions for when to plant, hunt or migrate between cold and warm climates. In terms of the lunar or solar calendars, as is well known, the phases of the moon and thus the lunar calendar has a significant bearing on the growth of plants, the tides of the oceans and the turning of the seasons, thus the pagan use of the lunar calendar reflects the pagan involvement with nature itself.
Although Spring will not arrive for many weeks yet, with the new Sun in the sky and days growing longer once again,  assured of its arrival we celebrate to give thanks for the safe passage throught the darker, leaner times and with hope for the warmth and new life to come..

To the eternal Goddess then and to the ever changing God, 

to Nature herself,
& to You the inimitable reader,
Happy Yuletide & Waes Hael!

On The Yule Tree and her Greenery;

On The Yule Tree and her Greenery;

The peoples mid winter celebrations of life with evergreen plants is an ancient tradition in which folk decorate their homes with winter greenery and berries.
As an evergreen of protection, Holly’s spiky bristles repel unwanted spirits. Holly, sacred to Holle, the Germanic underworld goddess, symbolizes everlasting life, goodwill and potent life energy. Its red berries represent feminine blood. Together, mistletoe and holly represent the Sacred Marriage at this time of year with the mid winter Solstice, the re-birth of the Sun.

The Winter Solstice, also known as Yule, is in terms of sunlight the shortest day in the year and the longest night (December 22/23). Religious ceremonies are held att this time in honour of the return of the Sun which at the Winter Solstice begins to regain its power and to ascend on the horizon. Bonfires are lit in the fields and crops and trees are ‘wassailed’ with carols sung to wish them good healthas they are toasted with cups of spiced cider. Apples and oranges which represent the sun, are laid in baskets of evergreen boughs, to be shared with friends and neighbours.

The ancient Celts believed that the first humans were descended from trees and as such trees were highly revered by them, particularly the mighty Oak tree.
Evergreens were also sacred to the Celts, because they did not ‘die’ they thereby represented the eternal aspect of the goddess. Their greenery was also symbolic of the hope for the suns return and with it the life abundant of all growing things. At Winter Solstice they therfore decorated their trees with images of the things they wished for the waxing year to bring them – fruits for a successful harvest, charms for love, nuts for fertility and coins for wealth…

At this time, the Earth spirits are at rest, preparing for the hard work ahead, of replenishing the Earth with new life in the coming spring and naturally, celebrations are held in honor of these worthy spirits.

In Scandinavia, Yule trees were first brought into homes, decorated with bells, candles and ribbons to attract these spirits, to provide shelter through the winter. Bread, fruit and nuts were hung from the branches to provide food for them in the trees.

The evergreen tree has also been long associated with gift giving as citizens of ancient Rome celebrated the ‘Saturnalia’, a week long December festival honoring the God Saturnus, by exchanging gifts attached to evergreen branches.

In an old Norse tradition, the evergreens were burned to encourage the return of the Sun. A direct descendant of this practice still carried out today is the burning of the Yule log. The ceremonial Yule log, ideally of Ash – from the Norse world tree Yggdrassil, is the highlight of the Solstice festival. In accordance with tradition the Yule log must either be harvested from the householder’s land or given as a gift, but never be bought. Once dragged into the fireplace it is decorated with seasonal greenery, blessed with cider or ale and set ablaze by a piece of last years log which has been kept for just this purpose. The log will then burn through the night, smolder for 12 days and will be ceremonially extinguished. The Yule log’s role is one of bringing prosperity and protection from evil, as a magical protective amulet – by keeping the remnant of the log all the year long the protection of warmth and light will remain throughout the year.

Putting the Solstice sun and sacred trees together we have the waxing and the waning of the sun ritualized therough the death and rebirth (resurrection) of the trees and their respective Kings of their seasons.

The hanging of robin and wren ornaments on the Yule tree commemorates these deeper meanings as the robin is the animal equivalent of the Oak King, the wren of the Holly King. Each Yule and Midsummer they play out the same battle as the two kings battle for the season.The robin – ie Oak King, symbolically kills the wren to signify the return of light – the end of the reign of the Holly King presiding over the darker part of the year. A contemporary reminder of this is the tradition of the wren boys, celebrated on 26 December (also St. Stephen’s Day). The tradition consists of ‘hunting’ a fake wren and putting it on top of a decorated pole. Then the crowds of mummers or strawboys celebrate by dressing up in masks, straw suits and colourful motley clothing and, accompanied by traditional ceilidh bands, parade through the towns and villages.

Strong opposition to Christmas trees by Puritan settlers kept the Christmas tree tradition out of America until the nineteenth century, when German settlers bringing their own seasonal celebrations popularized the tradition.

Gradually the sacred tree and its traditions have been absorbed, its meanings minimalized by the pervasive christian and ensuing materialistic culture. But our collective unconscious naturally returns to the deeper significance of the evergreen tree and its promise of life renewed as we decorate our Yule Trees.

In practicing this ritual of dressing the Yule Tree/Christmas Tree, we are celebrating the turning of the great wheel of the year, the return of the sun at midwinters solstice time, our thanks for the forces of nature that bless us and our joy at the life it brings to us all.

Rituals for Yule


SUPPLIES: Yule log (oak or pine) with white, red and black candles on it (set it in the fireplace), chalice of wine, small piece of paper and pencil for each person.
The altar is adorned with evergreens such as pine, rosemary, bay, juniper and cedar, and the same can be laid to mark the Circle.

 
~* Ritual for Yule *~
After casting the circle the Priestess should say:”Since the beginning of time, we have gathered in this season to
celebrate the rebirth of the Sun.
On the Winter Solstice, the darkest of nights,
The Goddess becomes the Great Mother and once again
gives birth to the Sun and the new yearly cycle,
Bringing new light and hope to all on Earth.
On the longest night of winter,
and the dark night of our souls,
there springs the new spark of hope,
the Sacred Fire,
the Light of the World.
We gather tonight to await the new light.
On this night, the Maiden, who is also Mother
and Crone, prepares to welcome the Sun.
Let’s now prepare to welcome the new light within.”

~Invocation to the Goddess and God:
(Priest) “I light this fire in your honor Mother Goddess
You have created life from death, warmth from cold
The Sun lives once again, the time of light is waxing.
We invite you, Great Mother, to our circle
Bring us new light, the light of your glorious Son.”

(Priestess light the white candle on the Yule log and say):
“I come to you as Maiden
Young and free, fresh as springtime
Yet within me a yearning stirs to create and share
and so I become…

(Light the red candle) The Mother
I bring forth the fruit of my creativity
Yet an ancient prophet once told me, as I stood with my son,
A sword shall pierce through thy own heart also
And I knew that I must become…

(Light the black candle) The Crone
The ancient wise one, Lady of Darkness
We three – in – one who brought forth that special child
as long ago, also anointed him for burial-
A bright light that grew and was sacrificed to be reborn
as a new light.”

(Priest) “Ancient God of the forest, we welcome you
Return from the shadows, O Lord of Light.
The wheel has turned. We call you back to warm us.
Great God of the Sun
I welcome your return
May you shine brightly upon the Earth.”

~Consecration of the Yule Log
(Priestess) “Yule is the end of the old solar year and the beginning
of the new one. Traditionally, the end of the year is a time
to look back and reflect. It is a time to look ahead
to the future, to make plans and set goals.”

On your piece of paper, write something you hope to accomplish during the coming year.
When you are finished, attach the slip of paper to the Yule Log.

Priest picks up the chalice and says:
“We toast the new year (sprinkles wine on the log) and in token
of its promise, we consecrate this sacred wood as a focus for the
energies through which we accomplish our tasks and manifest our
desires during the coming cycle.”

~All drink from the chalice.

(Priestess) “You who have died are now reborn. Lend us your light throughthe winter months as we await the spring. 
Let us now light the Yule Log.
Once having burned with the Yule fire, 

these candles will contain the luck of the log 
throughout the coming year.”
(remember to save a small piece of the log for next Yule 

or save the ashes or the candles.)

~Priest and Priestess light the Yule log together.

~Closing:
(Priestess – extinguishing the God taper)
“Thank you Bright Lord
for the light you have brought to us this night
May we carry it within us throughout the coming year.”

(Priest – extinguishing the Goddess taper)
“Thank you most gracious Lady
for your freshness of spirit, your nurturing care
your infinite wisdom
Live within us throughout the coming year.
So mote it be.”

~Close the circle the way you usually do.~

My thanks to The White Goddess for this ritual.

~* A Solitary Yule Invocation *~

Morning light will flood the chamber
– winter solstice sun.

 
Energy unfolding,

Saturn’s rule has just begun.

 
Crystals formed of ice and frost
freeze field and forest green.

 
While Mighty Oak and Holly
Fight for favours from our Queen.

 
The Great Wheel brings conception,
birth, and death as days of yore.

 
Each bonfire on a leyline
honours what has gone before.

 
Seven planets, seven spheres,
seven gates swing open.

 
I lift my arms and call the charge
the incantation spoken!

 
I conjure water spirits,
Pour forth the sacred winds
come hither, O great fire!
The magick now begins!

 
Solar vapors, starry heavens
clouds and earth and waves
unite in your perfection
on this shortest solstice day!

 
I hold the key of secrets
and the phantoms will avail
the crossroads shimmer open
as the rod connects to grail.

 
Seven planets, seven spheres,
seven gates swing open.

 
I list my arms and call the charge
the incantation spoken!

 
Beribboned Yule logs burning
each spark a blessing brings.

 
Red and green, the sacred blood
of past and future kings.

 
Mistletoe and bayberry,
winter’s leaves and resin.

 
Spice and myrrh and evergreen
connect the Earth to heaven.

 
Through scented smoke and sacred prayer
I manifest good will.

 
Bring peace and joy to hearth and home
and every wish fulfill.

 
Seven planets, seven spheres
seven gates swing open

I lift my arms and call the charge
the incantation spoken!

 
Author Unknown ~
May The Sun Shine Upon Your Life
~ * Blessed Yule To You * ~

‘Twas The Night Before Christmas….

>

Twas the night before Christmas or Yuletide Or Such…
Of the day Im not certain but I remember this much,
The North-winds were blowing Snowstorms through the air,
Forewarning that Odin soon would be there.

The Lords of Misrule had danced and had fed,
Along Earth Mother’s Night where mistletoe paths joyfully led,
And now the people of this world, and above and below,
had withdrawn to their hearths, to their kinsfolk and so…

Then out in the heavens there arose such a clatter,
I ran out from my fireside to see what was the matter,
Away thoughts and memories I flew in a flash,
Tore open the curtains and went out in a dash.

There shinning bright neath Cerridwen’s moon,
Like midday in middle earth lay the snow all around strewn,
And as my eyes raced around for the source of the clamor
I be-spied Odin the Wise, in such grandeur, I stammer…

Across midnight sky in reindeer sled did he fly,
The Holly King himself with Eckhardt and the spirits of those who did die,
For tis the 12 nights of Yuletide and this heavenly crew,
Odin leads across rainbow bridge to their afterlife new.

As howling storms before that wild hurricane fly
So more and more spirits mount this magical sky,
Beyond the edge of the moon and outside of time,
To the North-lands beyond knowing they disappeared with a sigh.

In relief and quite awestruck I turned to go home,
Then heard the King’s laughter and I froze as if struck by the Crone,
”Now Sleipnir and Cracker and Gnasher and Vixen,
To the children of Asgard we must dash on our mission…

For this is the night we bring our blessings to bear!”
Then a tinkling on roof of each reindeer hoof did I hear,
I gathered my cape and for Goddess protection beseech
When down lept Black Eckhard on me his flaming eyes reached..

Then Holly King Odin, his voice like thunder did call,
”Now now dear black Eckhardt, let us raise those who did fall”
And dressed in a red cloak from his head to his foot,
His hair and his beard with starlight gently shook.

And his one eye gleamed bright as he laughed with delight,
As beside him his Eckhardt to lead wicked from fright..
Of Odin’s good humor, he was a right jolly elf,
Set my terrors departed as he smiled at my self.

He spoke no more words but went straight to his work,
Placing omens and icons and keepsakes on earth,
Invoking the New Sun, the New Year and Weddings
That fruitful be harvest, casting seeds in fields bedding’s.

His midwinter missive on Yuletide and Christmas now done,
They sprang into sleigh to depart ere the day come,
But before they were long gone and echoing still,
His laughing call rang out clear…
Happy Yuletide to All, and to All a goodnight!

Original poem by celestial elf.
with thanks for inspiration to Clement Clarke Moore 1823. or Henry Livingstone

The Ancient season of Yule which includes The Midwinter Solstice (the shortest day of the Year, 21st December) is a Sacred time of reflection and celebration. Many different cultures from the Nordic Vikings and Celtic Druids, the ancient Egyptians and Hopi Indians have ritualized this time to promote Spiritual Unity, Peace and Joy.

Yuletide Dates:
December 21, 22, 23
December 24 Mother’s night, (Modraniht (Anglo-Saxon)
December 24 – January 6 = The 12 Sacred nights/’Time between the Years’

The 13 Sacred Days & 12 Sacred Nights

The Magickal season of deepest darkness starts in the Celtic tradition at Samhain, slightly earlier in the Nordic tradition.
During this supernatural time of Yuletide we may walk between the worlds.
Now that the veil between the worlds is thin, all sorts of Otherworldly beings including the dead roam the earth, we may even encounter elves or trolls and also Gods and Goddesses.

The Twelve Sacred Nights of Yule start with Mother’s Night (December 24th) and are considered the ‘Time Between the Years’, the difference of days between the lunar year and the solar year.
As the old would end with Winter Solstice the New Year would only start at the end of the Rauhnaechte (January 6th).
During this time Odin rides the storm winds with his army of the dead, both in the Wild Hunt and also leading them to their afterlife new, most importantly the ensuing storms in their wake stir the fertility of the earth for the New Year…

Odin appears to be ‘blind’ in one eye which he sacrificed at the Well of Wisdom for Understanding, with this eye he sees the underworld and afterlife…

The tradition of bringing sprigs of Holly and Ivy into the home pays homage to the masculine and feminine elements.
Both of these powerfully magickal plants are evergreen, a reminder in itself that the earth never dies, but merely sleeps during the winter months.

A Happy Yuletide To You All!

Ho Ho Ho 😀

Glad tidings for Yule! (mid-winter Solstice 21st December)

In Ancient Northern Europe the mid-winter Solstice (between 20th/23rd of December) was called ‘Earth Mother‘s Night’, and as the shortest day of the year it effectively represents the turning point of the season.

The Romans called this Sostice the Dies Natalis Invicti Solis, the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun.
The Roman midwinter festival of Saturnalia (17-25 December) celebrated Saturnus (god of fertility, harvest and time) & his wife Ops (Mother Earth). Whilst Temples and homes were decorated with stars and suns and evergreens symbolizing life’s continuity, Processions of people with masked or blackened faces symbolizing the dark of winter danced through the streets, which has survived in the custom of ‘Mummer’s Plays‘.
Masters also feasted with their slaves and a ‘King’ was appointed from their number to take charge of the revels
giving rise to the ‘Lord of Misrule‘ of medieval Christmas festivities, which tradition survived into the 17th Century.”

In Northern Europe the winter festival was the Yule (Juul).
As the people thought the Sun stood still for twelve days in the midwinter, plunging Mother Earth and all her growing things into the dark, coldness of death, It was thought that spring could not come without their celebration of midwinter.
During this time the Druids began the tradition of burning the Yule Log to conquer the darkness and to evoke the return of the Sun for the new year, the Suns divine male energy was needed to return and quicken the Earths sacred female energy for the Rebirth of spring.
A Yule Tree was also illuminated with candles, to further this effort to attract the Sun.
Therefore ‘Yule’ is the midwinter festival of light, as the length of daylight progressively increases after the winter solstice.

Along with the Evergreen, the Holly and the Ivy and the Mistletoe are important plants of this season, symbolizing fertility & everlasting life.
Mistletoe, also known as The Golden Bough (& called Allheal, used in folk medicine to cure many ills) was held sacred by the Druids and Norse people, who cut it with a golden sickle (symbolic of the Sun) on the sixth night of the moon.
Both Druids and Romans hung sprigs of mistletoe in their homes and places of celebration to bring good fortune and peace & the Scandinavians would halt and call Truce in battle if they came across mistletoe in their Forests.
In addition, its fertility endowing powers have by tradition created its modern role as a symbol of love (a man should pick a berry when he kisses a woman beneath the mistletoe, when the last berry is gone there should be no more kissing!).

The myth of the Holly King/Oak King probably originated from the Druids to whom these two trees were highly sacred.
The Oak King (Lord of the Waxing Year) kills the Holly King (Lord of the Waning Year) at Yule (Winter Solstice).
The Oak King then reigns until Litha (Summer Solstice) when the two fight again and the Holly King is victorious.
The Holly King is still seen in some representations of the modern Santa Claus.”

The Nordic Yule began in the evening of winter solstice 20th-23rd December, with the sacrifice of a wild pig (boar) to Mother Earth.
This gave strength to Mother Earth (Freja), so that she could give birth to her Son (Balder) on 24th of December who represented both the next generation and most imporatntly, light ie the New Sun (which was also echoed in the Rebirth of the Persian Sun God Mithrais {as well as the Greek Apollo} on 25th December, a significant date later co-opted by the Christian Church…)
The ham as the Yule dish is particularly significant because in ancient times the pig was considered a holy animal and personification of Mother Earth, symbolizing her fertility.
Thus the Yule ham is Mother Earth herself.

Regarding such Sacrifices in these Ancient traditions;
As they held that Divinity was inherent in all creatures as an expression of the God’s powers within nature,
so the most powerful of these rituals was when a God was sacrificed to share their divine energy.
Those who ate of such sacrificial feasts received a part of the Deities divine power,
just as the death of one creature gives life to others.
For the ancient people such traditions were completely normal as they ‘sacrificed’ the seed in spring to earth, where it ‘died’, & later rose again to give life to many new seeds which in turn would both feed many people and beget many more new seeds.
(These principles are similar in theme to the Christian atonement sacrifice of Christ, the ritual of Eucharist and the Ascension)

Be that as it may,
I share with you now Bright Yule Blessings:

Yule Blessings.

Blessings to you from the Earth Mother.
She is the Moon.
She watches over all of us by.
The light that she casts over the blessed earth.
Walk her night lit path
And happiness you will find at every turn.
Blessed be!

Blessings to you from the Sky Father.
He is the Sun. He holds us up
And brings us strength. Carry his sword
To cleave the evil from your path
And you will be unmolested.
Blessed Be!

Blessings to you from the Great Spirit.
It binds us all together:
Man to womyn; beast to beast; all.
We are it and it is us.
Blessed Be!

May you have a wonderful Holiday.
The time has come for the sun to be reborn
He lies in his Mother’s womb waiting…
Awaiting his reappearance on this plane.
Let us all rejoice in his rebirth and ours.
Blessed Be!

(by yusef)

Merry Solstice, er…Happy Yule…

%d bloggers like this: