“The world is frozen and looking on the surface of nature everything is asleep. But deep in the earth, plants are now quietly putting out their shoots and building themselves up for the arrival of spring. This is the season of rebirth. All the dreams and ideas you had at Samhain can now be born and will grow as the Sun now begins to grow in strength on its journey towards the summer solstice. We refer to this time as “The Dark Night of our Souls”.”
Yule is one of the 8 Festivals included in the Wheel of the Year, which represents the metaphorical mythology surrounding the God and the Goddess. In most traditions, Yule is the Sabbat that begins the Wiccan Year. It is also celebrated as the Winter Solstice—the shortest day and longest night we will experience in the Northern Hemisphere.
Yule is a fire festival and represents a time of celebrating the return of the light. From this point forward, the days will gradually grow longer again, until we reach the height of the Sun’s power at the Summer Solstice. Although we will still see comparatively little of the the Sun’s light for several more weeks, this Sabbat reminds us to have patience—the waning half of the year is over, and warmth, growth, and light will reign again!
The symbolism associated with this Sabbat is very heavily concentrated on images of the light. Candles, bonfires and the appropriate named Yule log – all promise the returning of the light.
The Oak King and the Holly King, in legend, rule the year between them. The Oak King rules from midwinter to midsummer, when the light increases and the Holly King rules from midsummer to mid winter when the light decreases.
In the Wiccan belief system, the Oak King is reborn at Yule, having died at the previous Sabbat, at Samhain. The weak quality of sunlight during these still-short days is symbolized by the God in his infancy, just born and needing sustenance before he can come back into his full power. The Goddess, who has been in her Crone aspect these past few months, is now once again in her Mother aspect, having just given birth to the God. She represents the Earth, remaining still and silent for awhile yet as she rests from her labor.
This is a celebration of the renewal of life, but compared to other Sabbats it is a relatively quiet, indoor holiday, as people gather within the warm shelters of their homes to be merry and give thanks. As a Yule ritual, many Wiccans decorate their altars with evergreen branches, such as cedar, pine, hemlock and spruce, as well as bright sprigs of holly, pinecones, and other festive winter flora.
The traditional Holly Wreath has been used for over 4000 years to represent the Wheel of the Year and a new beginning in the ever-turning circle of life, and, being holly, it was also a symbol of protection for the home, just as a holly tree in the garden is.
Candles are paramount to this Sabbat, of course, with Yule traditions emphasizing the colors red, green, white, and gold. Images of the Sun are also appropriate.
The Celtic and Norse people used a Yule Tree to represent the continual circle of life, the return of the Sun and to represent their wishes for the forthcoming year. The tree would be decorated with amulets and talismans, made to ensure a happy time ahead. The tree would be brought inside and decorated with fruit for a successful harvest, nuts for fertility, coins for wealth, love charms for happiness and candles to light the way for the returning Sun.
Decorate your Home & tree with symbols of fertility, health, wealth and prosperity – nuts, fruit, suns (male), stars (pentagram) and moons (female), elemental symbols such as icicles, snowflakes, and protective herbs and spices such as cinnamon sticks – even chocolate represents the luxuries of life – just use your imagination.
Mistletoe, if it could be obtained, would be hung to ensure another prosperous year. Kissing under the Mistletoe is as old as the Celtic/Druid way of life. Sacred to the Druids, their legal agreements and hand-fasting ceremonies (marriage) all took place “under the mistletoe”, as the agreement was then truly sealed.
Herbs: Chamomile, rosemary, ginger, sage and cinnamon
Incense: Bayberry, pine, spruce, spice, cedar, cinnamon
Stones: Quartz crystal, blue sunstone, emerald, ruby, sapphire
Oils: Carnation, cedar, spruce, pine, rose, cinnamon, bayberry
If you feel guided, join our Yule God-dess Circle for this sacred celebration.
May the plan of Love and Light forever prosper!