"And the Yule-log cracked in the chimney,
And the Abbot bowed his head,
And the flamelets flapped and flickered,
But the Abbot was stark and dead."
H.W. Longfellow, King Witlaf's Drinking Horn (1848)
A most gorgeous time of year and well worth celebrating!
As I write this newsletter, I am busily preparing for my weekend retreat in Glastonbury, which I am so looking forward to. Since I am immersed in all things Yuletide, I thought I would share some information about this season.
On the wheel of the year, Yule follows Samhain, All souls and the beginning of the Celtic new year. Yule is anytime between 20th to 23rd December depending on the precise movements of the sun and covers the solstice period.
INTERESTING SNIPPETS ABOUT YULETIDE
The word Yuletide mean feast time and came into use fully in late middle English about 1425 to 1475. The word first came into being in Olde English as Geola, Norse as Jul and then Anglo Saxon as Iul meaning wheel.
Yule is the ancient name in the Germanic lunar calendar for a winter festival. Later Yule became associated with the 12 day feast of the nativity after Christianity swept through northern Europe.
Yule was when the Druids honoured the battle between the Holly King and the Oak King by cutting down the sacred mistletoe from the oak tree and letting it fall; Holly King symbolised death and darkness since Samhain, Oak King represents light and life and defeats the Holly King.
In Scandinavia, Father Christmas carried the Yule goat on his back; going back to Norse mythology, Thor rode in a chariot pulled by two goats which could be eaten but could regenerate themselves magically. It would seem that this little story is in keeping with the idea of hibernation, growth and new life.
Yule is deeply rooted in the cycle of the year; it’s the seedtime of the year.
As we approach solstice we see the Goddess become the great mother once more and gives birth to the sun king. A sacred fire is lit, Coel Coeth, the light of the world. A time of regeneration for all.
There are other fire festivals connected to this time of year. Saturnalia, a Roman festival, evergreens would adorn the house and gifts would be shared. December 25th also marked the Persian Mithras and on the 13th December in Scandinavia Lucina would be celebrated, all in a similar fashion.
Older pagan gods were remembered at solstice: Odin and Thor, Oedipus, Theseus, Hercules, Dionysus, Apollo and Horus. I think the link here is in the astrological planetary line up and in fact it is said that in many cultures December 21st/25th is significant to deities bringing light.
The English Yule log could not be purchased it had to be found. After it was burnt the ashes could be turned into protective, healing or fertilisation charms. Sometimes the ashes were put into wells to purify the water or scattered over the land. It was a symbol of the return to life and served as an offering to Mother Earth. Birth is a continuance of life, it is a time for balancing our nature, spirit and physical body. It is a time for returning hope and making merry. Meditations focus on the hidden energies within the earth and ourselves. We are reminded to take care of each other, ourselves, the earth and all her creatures; tis the season of goodwill.
A perfect time for seeking visions, planning and making wishes. When worn or placed on an altar, clear quartz crystals, ruby, garnet, green tourmaline, all enhance the energies of Yule and assist with focussing on all that you desire.
YULE TAROT CARDS
Star, optimism and hope.
Empress, Goddess becoming Mother Earth.
Sun, energies that are yet to come.
Justice for balance.
9 cups for wishes.
2 wands for vision.
These cards can be used for meditative purposes.
SCENTS OF YULE
Pine, cinnamon, clove, juniper, myrrh and frankincense, cedar and balsam. A potpourri including these aromas will bring about a beautiful magical atmosphere.
MAGICAL BREWS OF YULE
Mulled wine or cider, cranberry, apple, orange or ginger tea.
Red for fire.
Gold for the sun.
Green for the ever-giving life.
As we lead up to the Yuletide period, we can use this time as an opportunity for reflection on our inner world.
Our ancestors are very active at this time and wish to connect with us. Creating a vision for the forthcoming spring is very much a part of this time of regeneration and rebirth. Relationships become revitalised, our connection to self and source is once more renewed.
This time of the year is an opportunity to explore the creative fire, to strengthen hopes for the future and to renew and revive all that is vital, life giving and abundant.