What is it?
Yule is the celebration of the darkest part of the year and the birth of the Sun King. The Winter Solstice is the acknowledgment that all being emerge from darkness. We are reminded that no matter how dark the night is, the light always returns.
Many of our modern traditions are adapted from Yule. My favorite legend comes from the shamans of Siberia. During the end of the harvest season, shamans would gather psychedelic mushrooms from underneath the big fir trees in big sacks. They would put them in small socks above their fireplaces to dry until Yule.
On the darkest night of the year, which is the time of dreaming and the time to plant the very first seeds that will bloom in the coming year, the shamans (mostly female medicine healers), wearing their ceremonial red and white garments, would pass out the mushrooms to everyone in the tribe as a gift. They would spend the night in ritual, taking the mushrooms amongst their herds of reindeer.
Legends also say that the reindeer would ingest the mushrooms and would “take flight.” (Sound familiar?) Yule used to be a wild night.
We also celebrate the Reindeer Mother. Unlike the males, female reindeer do not shed their antlers during the winter and are the stronger deer in the herds. They lead the herd through the deep snow and drifts. The legend of the Deer Mother comes from many different cultures. It was she who rode out on the darkest night of the year to search out the sun. The Deer Mother would go to the ends of the earth, scoop up the sun in her antlers to bring light back to our days.
Symbols for Yule:
Holly: Having holly in your home symbolizes you’re allowing nature spirits to share your home during the harsh, cold season.
Wreath: The Wheel of the Year is often symbolized as a wreath made of evergreen and put on your front door. They have been used for over 4,000 years. A circle has no beginning and no end: everything comes back to its point of origin and travels onward again.
Frankincense: sacred to the sun god Ra, this herb is burned in rites of purification and protection. It is a way to call in the light at Yule.
Candle: burning white candles is a way to call in the light into your home and also any blessings you’re wishing for the upcoming year.
Green, Red, Gold
Candle ritual: Write a list of everything you want to want to call in for the upcoming year — people, places, things, habits, challenges etc. Light the candle and allow your gaze to soften on the flame. Spend some time in meditation or contemplation. Blow out the candle and journal about any new beginnings or ideas that come to you.
Fire Releasing: write down all the things you’d like to let go of and put those things into the fire.
Cleansing Ritual: get rid of any clutter or things you no longer need.
Research and notes taken from:
Witch by Lisa Lister
Goddess and Greenman blog https://www.goddessandgreenman.co.uk