yule log

The Origins of the Yule Log

December, 2017

(Photo Credit: pastemagazine.com)

While the origins of the Yule log are attributed to the Scandinavian countries or to Germanic paganism, most would say the tradition started in Ancient Rome, where entire trees would be burned in an effort to keep away Kallikantzaroi. Silent prayers would be offered while the tree was burning. Kallikantzarois was a demon/goblin, who lived underground but who would surface during the 12 days of Christmas to wreak havoc. Legends surrounding him were also found in Southeastern Europe and Anatolia (Turkey).

In France, the tradition was that the peasant would bring a gift to their Lord, hidden under a log and prayers would be offered when the log was lit. It is thought that the tradition of the Yule Log cake comes from France, called Bouche de Noel.

 

(Photo Credit: foodnetwork.com)

But it was the Celts whom we remember when we think of a Yule Log. In some Pagan traditions, the Oak King and Holly King continually battle throughout the Wheel of the Year. The Oak King reigns supreme at the Winter Solstice. The log, itself, was a symbol of the Oak King and was adorned with evergreens, which represent the Holly King. The log signifies the death of darkness and the rebirth of the Sun going into the New Year.

Traditionally, the Yule Log would be kept burning for 12 days and was lit on the night of the Winter Solstice. A piece of the Log should always be kept to be burned with the following years log. Also, ashes from the log should be retrieved and kept in a jar for luck during the year to come.

A Yule log is decorated with evergreens and red ribbon. Wishes can be written on small slips of paper to be burned along with the log itself. If you are in a place where you are unable to burn a log, simply drill holes in the log large enough for tapered or votive candles. Place candle tapers in the holes and decorate with evergreens. The candles will be burned in place of the log.

 

(Photo Credit: thepaintedhinge.com)

While I am the only Witch in my home, we have celebrated the Winter Solstice with a Yule log for many years. All of the lights are turned off to represent the darkness. I light one candle to see by. We link hands and I talk about the Log and what it means. In a nearby basket are lengths of different color ribbon. We go around our small circle with each of us taking the time to tie a ribbon on the Log and making a wish for the New Year. Sometimes, if a wish is too personal, it remains a silent wish. We continue to go around the circle until each one has finished with her/his wishes. At this time, I lay the Log onto the grate in the fireplace, and add the piece from last years Log. The Log is then lit, welcoming the re-birth of the Sun, and sending our wishes into the Universe, hopefully to be fulfilled by the Goddess.

We then turn the lights back on, exchange our Yule gifts and celebrate with our traditional Yule feast.

 

 

I wish you the joy, happiness and love of the holiday season and the blessings of the Goddess on this Winter Solstice.

May your Yule Log burn brightly, making all of your wishes come true.

 

(Previously published on Motherhouse of the Goddess)

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About the Author:

Susan Morgaine is a Daughter of the Goddess, Witch, Writer, Teacher, Healer, and Yogini. She is a monthly columnist with PaganPages.org Her writings can be found in The Girl God Anthologies, Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak” and Jesus, Mohammed and the Goddess, as well as Mago Publications She Rises, Volume 2, and “Celebrating Seasons of the Goddess”. She has also been published in Jareeda and SageWoman magazines. She is a Certified Womens Empowerment Coach/Facilitator through She is the author of “My Name is Isis, the Egyptian Goddess”, one in the series of the “My Name Is………” children’s books published by The Girl God Publications. A Woman International, founded by Patricia Lynn Reilly. She has long been involved in Goddess Spirituality and Feminism, teaching classes and workshops, including Priestessing Red Tents within MA and RI. She is entering her 20th year teaching Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, being a Certified instructor through the Kundalini Research Institute, as well as being a Reiki Master. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Avalon. She can be found at https://mysticalshores.wordpress.com/ and her email is MysticalShores@gmail.com

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Yule Correspondences

December, 2016

yule

 

Lesser Sabbat – Winter Solstice, circa Dec 21

Other Names:
Jul (“wheel”, Old Norse), Saturnalia(Rome ~December 17 & 18), Yuletide(Teutonic), Midwinter, Fionn’s Day, Christmas (Christian~December 25), Xmas, Festival of Sol, Solar/Secular/Pagan New Year

Animals/Mythical beings:

yule goat (nordic), reindeer stag, squirrels, yule cat, Sacred White Buffalo, Kallikantzaroi-ugly chaos monsters(greek), trolls, phoenix, yule elf, jule gnome, squirrels, wren/robin

Gemstones:
cat’s eye, ruby, diamond, garnet, bloodstone

Incense/Oils:

bayberry, cedar, ginger, cinnamon, pine, rosemary, frankincense, myrrh, nutmeg, wintergreen, saffron

Colors:
gold, silver, red, green, white

Tools,Symbols, & Decorations:
bayberry candles, evergreens, holly, mistletoe, poinsettia,mistletoe, lights, gifts, Yule log, Yule tree. spinning wheels, wreaths, bells, mother & child images

Goddesses:
Great Mother, Befana (strega), Holda (teutonic), Isis(egyptian), Triple Goddess, Mary(christian), Tonazin(mexican), Lucina(roman), St. Lucy (swedish),Bona Dea (roman), Mother Earth, Eve(Hebrew), Ops(roman Holy Mother), the Snow Queen, Hertha (German), Frey (Norse)

Gods:
Sun Child, Saturn(rome), Cronos (Greek), Horus/Ra(egyptian), Jesus(christian-gnostic), Mithras(persian), Balder(Norse), Santa Claus/Odin(teutonic), Holly King, Sol Invicta, Janus(God of Beginnings), Marduk (Babylonian)Old Man Winter

Essence:
honor, rebirth, transformation, light out of darkness, creative inspiration, the mysteries, new life, regeneration, inner renewal, reflection/introspection

Dynamics/Meaning:
death of the Holly (winter) King; reign of the Oak (summer) King), begin the ordeal of the Green Man, death & rebirth of the Sun God; night of greatest lunar imbalance; sun’s rebirth; shortest day of year

Purpose:
honor the Triple Goddess, welcome the Sun Child

Rituals/Magicks:
personal renewal, world peace, honoring family & friends, Festival of light, meditation

Customs:
lights, gift-exchanging, singing, feasting, resolutions, new fires kindled, strengthening family & friend bonds, generosity, yule log, hanging mistletoe, apple wassailing, burning candles, Yule tree decorating; kissing under mistletoe; needfire at dawn vigil; bell ringing/sleigh-bells; father yule

Foods:
nuts, apple, pear, caraway cakes soaked with cider, pork, orange, hibiscus or ginger tea, roasted turkey, nuts, fruitcake, dried fruit, cookies, eggnog, mulled wine

Herbs:
blessed thistle, evergreen, moss, oak, sage, bay, bayberry, cedar, pine, frankincense, ginger, holly, ivy, juniper, mistletoe, myrrh, pinecones, rosemary, chamomile, cinnamon, valarion, yarrow

Element:
earth

Threshold:
dawn

Musings From the Mossy Trail

December, 2011

Making a Yule Log

It is Christmas in the mansion,
Yule-log fires and silken frocks;
It is Christmas in the cottage,
Mothers filling little socks.

—Anonymous

The ritual of Yule originated In ancient Scandinavia as a celebration to welcome the return of the sun, the change in season and to honor the death, growth, and fertility aspects of nature. Beginning on the Winter Solstice, the darkest day of the year, and lasting for 12 days, this was a time for feasting, dancing and merriment as well as time with family and friends. All hunting and fishing ceased for the 12 day duration in an effort to let nature rest as the sun was revived.

One very important symbol used in this ritual was the Yule log. It is said that fathers and sons would venture into the woodlands and return with the largest logs they could find, either made of Oak ( in honor of Thor) or Ash (The wood of Yggdrasil) and set them on fire with great ceremony. Once ablaze, festivites were in full order.

Though our modern times have changed in both custom and neccesity, we can still join in the sacred beauty of the Yule log. You can burn your log in a fireplace or outdoor pit, or place candles on your log and burn the candles. Your Yule log can also be used as a decoration or you can give it as a gift. Your options are endless. Yule logs are easy to make and can include the entire family. Remember, this project is unique to you and your family. What I am going to list is only suggestion. Have fun!

You will need:

ñ  A log – This can be an actual log, preferably with a fairly flat side or several pieces of wood bundled together with wire, string or raffia

ñ  Greenery and decorations – Go into your yard and gather pine needles, holly, cedar, berries, anything that says Yuletide for you; or visit a craft store for silk greenery and foliage. What you choose to use is entirly up to you

ñ  Ribbon in preferred colors

ñ  Candles are optional – Choose as many as you wish or none at all. I like candles on mine as I do a “symbolic” burning of the yule log each day during the 12 days and in addition choose colors depending on the energy flow I wish to create. Here are some suggestions –

ñ  red –  life force

green – the earth, natural forces

silver – the goddess

gold – the god

white – peace

yellow – the sun

ñ  Small amount of flour

Lay out your log. If you are going to use candles and you wish to drill holes into your log, do so now. I prefer to use small flat candle holders. Tie a few pieces of string or raffia around your log, even if you only used one log rather than the bundle. Take your greenery and other decorations and blend them in, using the raffia or string to hold them in place. When complete, use ribbon to cover any visible string or raffia and create a lovely bow. Add candles if desired and dust with flour to achieve the look of snow.

May your Yuletide be merry and bright.