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The Bad Witch’s Guide to Yule

December, 2017

 

The Bad Witch’s Guide to Yule

I’m always a bad witch, but apparently I really suck at this Yuletide thing. I mean I make my own gifts! I like snow! When people say “season’s greetings” or “Merry Christmas” I smile and mean it! I’m a monster!

The cynical average British Pagan just sort of rolls their eyes at me. I don’t Cringle early. I spend November and December making gifts and decorations (I’m a bit slow this year but we have been adjusting to new medication this year, but I have plans)! I don’t even go and get really drunk!

I mean I clearly suck at this witching thing!

Of course it can be a pain! Its hard work, it’s expensive (though often nowhere near as costly as Samhain in our house). I know you get pine needles in the carpet, but the tree! Ah the tree! We put up our tree either on Yule itself or the day before. It’s always real. Always in soil.

It’s the smell to me. Is it even Yuletide without the smell of pine, holly and orange and clove? The energy of bring a living being into your home. Changes it. It is magickal.

We have handmade ornaments, ones we make each year and ones me made when my daughter was very little. The sun star that goes a top our tree is one she made when she was about 5 or 6 years old from air clay, acrylic paint and ribbon. To me it’s treasure! We always had a candy cane (not a very British treat) to eat while we decorate. We always listen to Jethro Tull and sing along.

The other ornaments are made of cinnamon quills, star anise and dried orange slices, florists wire and ribbon. We make tradition Christmas cakes with lots of fruit steeped in spiced rum, covered in marzipan and snow white icing. No neon red cherries though. We would make in loaf shapes and large rounds dependant on who was getting them. Single folk don’t tend to want to buy a big cake just for themselves but enjoy it.

The fruit perplexes many modern folks especially in America. Yet raisins, plums and dried fruit were mixed with sugar and spice as a herbal remedy to coughs, colds and infections right up until the beginning of of the 20th century. Spiced fruit became traditional, medical and they added some dried breadcrumbs or flour! Minced pies are medicinal! That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

The biggest mistake folks make with their dried fruit is just that! They leave it dry! The fruit was only dried because it needed to be preserved. In the food dried fruit was soaked sometimes in strong black tea with spices or with alcohol! Merry Christmas comes from being merry, which meant drunk! Once the fruit as steeped sometimes overnight sometimes longer, then it’s ready for pies, and cakes!

Come on though! It all sounds like far too much hard work! I mean it’s just a day!” A day? Don’t let folks rob you! Yule is two weeks! Two weeks of family, food and gifts! Now some of you might think this is excessive and more work, but actually removing the pressure and spreading it out makes it a much better holiday! We tend to trim and decorate the tree on the solstice (on the 21st of December) and have in the evening our big meal). The first of our gifts are given. Our daughter might have got her main gift on the solstice or later. Each morning having what would be a stocking filler. Again this means no gift is unappreciated. Each gets its own moment! It isn’t lost in the crush of “OPEN EVERYTHING”. It is quite common for us to open our home to pagans and non-pagans alike whom might not be having a great time. Maybe they don’t have a family to celebrate with. Maybe it’s a break-up. Maybe they are just sad. We sit down and feast together. A roast bird and all the trimmings! I confess I’m lucky as while I do a lot of meal prep my husband cooks the dinner. It is his way of honouring his grandmother who was like a mother to him.

It’s quite odd, but my favourite day is usually the 22nd, because everyone else is in a panic and well, all I have to do is the dishes! I tend to try and make this day “be kind to retail staff day”. I really smile. I say thank you and mean it. I know what fresh hell retail can be!

I might have other meals (when my family and my husband’s Pops was around sometimes we’d do a Christmas day meal too) or Boxing Day (which was traditionally the servant’s day off to celebrate Christmas in the UK). Yet given the choice we declare it a duvet day, watch Doctor Who and eat left-overs and fish finger sandwiches (fish sticks).

Yuletide and the mid-winter season has become a lot about “stuff”. Yet if you let it, if you let go of the cynicism, and rush, if you make it, it really is magickal. Of course you can do rituals and rites. Mix a little “mojo” with your “ho ho ho” but you have to let it in! It’s the spirit of giving, of kindness, of new beginnings!

 

 

Tree Blessing

A candle

A handful of compost or earth

A sprig of holly

An acorn or dried oak leaves

Fresh green ivy.

Incense (your own blend but frankincense, myrrh and cinnamon works well)

Water.

 

Carefully (and you might need gloves) holding the holly and ivy walk around the tree three times clockwise. This can be spoken but it is better sung.

The holly and the ivy,

When they are both full grown,

Of all the trees,

That are in the wood, the holly bears the crown.

The rising of the sun!

The running of the deer!

The playing of the merry music

Sweet singing to inspire!”

 

The ivy is then tapped gently against the tree three times. Then the holly. Then they are both then put aside.

Lord and Lady of the Forest dream.”

Spirit of the resting green,

A vessel hear our words:

Spring will come.

Warm winds will blow.

[Waft and blow incense onto the tree]

Water will again flow.

[Pour a little water onto the roots of the tree.]

Earth will again make things grow.

[Place compost at the base of the tree. Light candle.]

Fire, the suns light shall glow.

[Walk the candle around the tree clock-wise. And place on your altar or hearth.]

The oak King is born! The sun is returning! *spoken*

*sung* Joy to the world!

The Lord has again come!

Let Earth receive her King!

Let every heart prepare Him room!

Heaven and nature sing!

Heaven and nature sing!

Heaven, heaven and nature sing!”

You could now dress and decorate the tree. Eat sweet treats and maybe even sup a glass of spicy mulled wine! Eat! Drink! Be merry and bright! With all of my bad witch heart bright blessings and seasons greetings!

 

Yule Correspondences

December, 2017

(image from: https://hiveminer.com/Tags/fraktur%2Clettering)

 

Lesser Sabbat – Winter Solstice, circa Dec 21

Other Names:
Jul (“wheel”, Old Norse), Saturnalia(Rome ~December 17 & 18), Yuletide(Teutonic), Midwinter, Fionn’s Day, Alban huan, 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, valerian, yarrow

Element:
earth

Threshold:
dawn

Affairs of the Pagan Heart

December, 2017

Protecting Your Heart at Yule and New Year’s Eve

Ah, the holidays. It’s crazy and stressful and prime time for something to happen. What is that something? Your weirdo Aunt Betty goes on and on about how she can’t wait to teach you how to play Bridge, but falls asleep after dinner. Grandpa John wants to tell you stories about how he lost his big toe in the war, again, and at the dinner table. Your stepmum makes a lovely turkey and still asks you every time if you want some “as a special treat”, even though you’ve been vegetarian for over 10 years. Your little sister just found out that you’re pagan and has tried to blackmail you or she’ll tell everyone at dinner, but you’re not ready to tell your family. And you suspect that guy you’ve been dating – who your mother insisted comes over for Christmas Eve dinner with the family – will ask you to marry him while you’re out for New Year’s Eve together, but you’re not feeling the same about him as you think he is about you, and you cringe every time he is alone with your father, in fear that he’s asking your dad for your hand in marriage.

Something in that first paragraph rang true for a few of you. Maybe the names are different, or it’s a slightly different scenario, but you know what I’m talking about. So what can you do about it?

Well, for starters, don’t eat the turkey if you’ve vegetarian, even if your stepmum looks disappointed. Enjoy the sides or bring something suitable just for you. That’s the easy one on the list.

Stories from grandpa are important. We should honour those who fought for our freedom, and listen to their stories, even if they are graphic and misplaced while everyone is eating. But pagans are no stranger to war. Do a Google search for “pagans and war” and you’ll find everything from stories about Charlemagne converting pagans by sword, to Julian, Rome’s last pagan emperor, who went to war with the Christians, to the Morrighan, the Goddess of War, who soldiers don’t want to see while in battle, to modern pagans in the military. War happens, and we can do our part to remember history so that it doesn’t repeat itself. Your grandpa is giving you crumbs of knowledge every time he tells his stories. Honour that with thanks and acknowledgement.

Aunt Betty will just fall asleep from the tryptophan in the turkey and wine, and don’t worry about your little sister. She’s seeking attention and you’ve always known how to deal with her. And don’t worry about that boyfriend who you fear might propose to you on New Year’s Eve. I mean, make sure he knows you’re not ready, but if it happens and you ruin the countdown by saying no while he’s down on one knee, well, that’s a heartbreak that he’ll have to live with into 2018, which is better than saying yes when you don’t mean it just to save face.

What you do need to worry about is how to protect your heart during all of this. Yule and New Year’s Eve can do a number on us. There are energies at work from so many people and societal expectations that you’ll need to shield, cleanse, and protect.

Start with imagining a white light is surrounding you. This shield is your force field against anything that might be coming your way, but it’s also trapping in your unwanted stress and anxiety about the season – and that’s okay, because you’ll deal with it in a moment once you block any other stressors and energies.

Next you can cleanse your surroundings and yourself. Many pagans burn a sage smudge stick to banish negative energy from an area, something pagans picked up from indigenous peoples long ago. Incense works too. Get into all of the corners of your room or home. Then sit comfortably and work on cleansing that trapped stress and anxiety. In your mind, see yourself pushing it out away from you. Take deep cleansing breaths. Breathe in the energy of the divine through your nose, and exhale that stress out through your mouth.

And finally, to protect yourself, light a white candle and focus on the light within you. You are your source of power and strength. You will get through this. Call upon Venus to help you understand the love you have for yourself first. Consider calling upon Isis to help you keep existing relationships sacred. If you have native roots, call upon the White Buffalo Calf Woman to aide you in creating peace and a safe space for community. And Janus and Juno can help to protect your physical space, home, or land.

Allow these practices and deities to guide you and protect your heart, and you’ll get through Yule and New Year’s Eve with a little more ease and be ready for what 2018 brings your way. 

***

About the Author:

Rev. Rachel U Young is a pagan based in Toronto, Canada. She is a licensed Wedding Officiant and under the name NamasteFreund she makes handfasting cords and other ceremonial accessories. She is also the Chair of Toronto Pagan Pride Day.

The Sober Pagan

December, 2017

Yuletide Sobriety

Who doesn’t party during the holidays? Scrooge? The Grinch?

But when you’re in recovery, holiday parties – whether they are office parties at work, family parties around a table groaning with food and drink or coven Yule rituals with “cakes and ale” – are a challenge, to say the least. What do you do? How do you navigate these chilly, choppy waters?

I’ll be honest with you – I’ve relapsed over the holidays more than once.

It’s so easy to see everyone else – those so-called “normal” people – with drinks in their hands – laughing, happy – and want what they seemingly have. Yeah! Just one drink. How simple that sounds.

Don’t go there.

If you’re like me, it’s never “just one drink” and it’s never that simple. It’s always a night of drunken manic craziness and a morning of migraine suicidal depression. Even if I’m just mildly hungover, I’m so tired I can’t do a thing.

And then, of course, I have to start all over all again.

I don’t work anymore so office parties are a thing of the past but I still have family. Luckily for me, about half of my family are now in some phase of recovery, so there’s lots of sober support there. I don’t have to go to any party that I don’t want to anymore – that’s a perk of being old and ornery.

But – if it’s a case where I have to go to a holiday party, here is the list of ideas I’ve compiled to help me get through the ordeal. Some I’ve heard at meetings, some I’ve read in books, and some I’ve gotten off of various websites. They were on a list in my diary.

  1. Arrive late and leave early. Say you have somewhere else to go, if people ask you why you’re leaving. You’re not lying. You’re going home, right?

  2. Bring a sober friend with you.

  3. Bring a bottle of ginger ale or coke or something else non-alcoholic to drink. Ginger ale mixed with cranberry juice is a fabulous holiday drink.

  4. Remember HALT – Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. Don’t let yourself get out of balance in any of these areas.

  5. Remember TAMERS – Talk about recovery, Act on recovery, Meditate & minimize stress, Exercise & eat well, Relax, Sleep

  6. Be careful what you eat – lots of cookies, especially, have alcohol in them – my mother makes a killer fruit cake FILLED with booze! One piece and you’ll be wicked buzzed! So be careful!

  7. Go to meetings! Especially if you’re out of town – meetings are different in every city, so it’s always cool to check out that aspect of AA. And everyone loves the out-of-towner.

  8. Get outdoors. No matter what the weather is doing, it’s always good to get outside and walk off whatever emotions you are feeling. Believe me, you are going to feel better! And it’ll work off all those cookies you’re eating!

So please – Have the Happiest Yule Ever and a safe and sober New Year! Brightest Blessings!

Images found on Pinterest with the exception of the picture of the Niagara River Rapids photo © polly macdavid

***

About the Author:

 

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

 

Notes from the Apothecary

December, 2017

Notes from the Apothecary: Mistletoe

A poisonous parasite by nature, yet revered throughout history as sacred and mystical, mistletoe (viscum) is a strange plant that exists only via the bodies of other plants, mainly trees. Viscum album is the most widely recognised form of mistletoe, and often appears latched on to the oak tree, making a pairing that is very significant within the Druidic path.

Several 18th century paintings depict druids cutting or having cut mistletoe, which refers to the account by Pliny the Elder of the Ritual of Oak and Mistletoe which involved Gaulish druids climbing an oak on the sixth day after a new moon, and cutting the mistletoe away with a golden sickle. The image Pliny created of white robed magicians preparing a ritual sacrifice in honour of their sacred plants has become an intrinsic facet of how, in the modern age, we presume druids were in Celtic times. Mistletoe is still highly revered by modern druids, as are the many trees it grasps on to in order to survive.

The Kitchen Garden

This is normally one of my favourite sections of Notes from the Apothecary, where I get to explore all the yummy opportunities the plant brings, however mistletoe is not a kitchen herb by any stretch of the imagination. The plant is highly poisonous, and should always be handled with care. Please wash your hands after touching the plant.

For those who wish to cultivate their own mistletoe, there’s a lot of great advice here. This site also helps dispel a few myths about growing mistletoe, including the common belief that berries (which are the fruit and hold the seeds of the plant) will only germinate if they have been digested by a bird… Not only is this slightly gross, it’s also completely untrue, although bird droppings do absolutely help the plant spread itself far and wide. The seeds sort of stick themselves to the bark of the ‘host’, and take a few months to germinate. They might not start to look like ‘proper’ mistletoe plants until they are as much as four years old, and even then, will still be very small. Remember, the plant is parasitic; well, hemiparasitic, which means that although it does do some of its own photosynthesis, it relies on the host tree for most of its nutrition. This means the growth of your host tree will be affected somewhat, although in some cases this may barely be noticeable. Fruit trees (mistletoe loves apple trees) will often suffer a reduced fruit yield when ‘infected’ with mistletoe.

Mistletoe does make a beautiful decoration, particularly during the winter months as it is evergreen, so brings a dash of greenery to the home when all is cold and bleak outside. It has long been used as a festive decoration around Christmas, Yule and the Winter Solstice. The 18th and 19th century tradition of kissing beneath the mistletoe still exists today, although is much less prevalent. Consider that in Victorian England, if a woman was ‘caught’ beneath the mistletoe and refused to kiss the fellow concerned, bad luck indeed would befall her. Hmm, that’s not OK is it really… this is a tradition that I think has had its time. Fully consensual kissing only under our mistletoe please!

The Witch’s Kitchen

As mentioned earlier, mistletoe has a high place indeed in the pantheon of druidic herbs and plants. The British Druidic Order states that the combination of the white fruits (white indicating purity according to the BDO, but also indicates a connection to the fairy world in Celtic folklore), its parasitic and poisonous nature, plus the fact that it was very visible during winter may have led to it being so highly prized by druids. The druids of Pliny’s world sacrificed bulls to honour the cutting of the sacred plant, whereas today it is the lives of the animals that druids hold sacred, rather than their spilt blood. This can be seen as an evolution of the rituals of Celtic times; while we honour our ancestors, we are not them, and we can live in a very different way with very different morals and ethics without losing the magic and the mystery of the druidic path.

Susa Morgan Black tells us that mistletoe was mentioned in various historical sources as one of three ‘most holy’ plants (Drualus, via Druidry.org), possibly alongside vervain and a third which could be foxglove, wormwood, or one of many others; some toxic, some not. She also touches on the liminal nature of the plant:

In truth, [it] falls between the cracks of definition – a plant, a tree, a parasite, touching neither earth nor sky, which adds to its mysterious and otherworldly ambience. (Susa Morgan Black)

When something is neither in one plane or the other, or not quite one state but not completely something else either, we refer to it as being liminal. Liminal times of day are dawn and dusk, where the world is neither completely light or dark. Liminal times of year are the equinoxes and the solstices; points of pause and transition.

Moving away from a solely Celtic overview, mistletoe would make an appropriate offering to Hekate, or a suitable decoration for her altar. Hekate is a truly liminal goddess, with dominion over land, sea and sky. Like the mistletoe, she exists in multiple planes. Also, she is strongly associated with poisonous plants, and although mistletoe is not specifically named as one of ‘Her’ plants in the same way as aconite is, the Orphic Songs of the Argonauts tells us that in Hekate’s garden ‘many more poisonous rose up from the ground.’

One of the most famous tales involving mistletoe is the Norse legend of the death of Baldr, which ultimately leads to Ragnarök. All things pledge not to harm the son of Odin, after he and his mother share a prophetic dream of his death. However, the mistletoe never makes the oath, and Loki fashions a weapon from the plant. The gods are hurling all sorts of objects at Baldr, enjoying the sport as nothing can harm the young god. Loki gives the hand-made weapon to Baldr’s brother Höðr, who is blind. Höðr throws the dart (sometimes an arrow or a spear) and Baldr dies, starting a chain of events which will lead to the destruction of the gods as they are now.

If you honour Frigg, or Baldr, it’s probably advisable to avoid mistletoe in your festive decorations, as it is a reminder of the awful events of Baldr’s demise. However, mistletoe could be used to summon Loki, as in the legend he searches far and wide for the mistletoe, so in a way the plant is calling to him. However, call upon Loki at your own risk; he’s not called the god of mischief for nothing, and when Loki gets mischievous, as we have learned, people die.

I Never Knew…

Although toxic to us, the berries are food for many birds, including the mistle thrush, which may have earned its name from the sticky, white berries it loves so much. During the winter months, mistle thrushes will actively defend both holly bushes and mistletoe clumps, as both are such an important food source. It’s no wonder the mistle thrush is, in itself, a symbol of hope in the bleak midwinter.

Image credits: Viscum Album, copyright H. Zell 2009, via Wikimedia; Viscum album subsp. abietis, Schwäbisch-Fränkische Waldberge, copyright BerndH 2012, via Wikimedia; Mistle Thrush 3, copyright Tony Hisgett 2009, via Wikimedia.

 

***

About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft.

For Amazon information, click images below.

 

Follow Mabh on TwitterFacebook and her blog.


Yule Thoughts

December, 2017

(image from: http://startliving-now.blogspot.ca )

 

At Yule the world returns to its birth, recalling the awakening of our primeval ancestors as children beside their Mother, the World Tree, in the place of origin in the deep forest, now long lost. The Mother nurtured her children, and reached up to the world of the Sky Gods, through the portal of the Pole-star.

This is why the Yule tree is still decorated on top with a star. From that world beyond Polaris the beneficent creative energies of the Sky Gods descended through the Mother to her children.

The trees round about the place of origin were radiant with many-colored fruits, each potent with a different gift for the children, and we hang multi-colored globes to simulate them at Yule.

As the Sun revives in mid-winter, so his (or her) memory stirs, recalling the first condition of mankind, and pouring out on all blessings for the New Year to come.

Thus, Yule is a celebration of the birth of Nature and of humanity and all life, and a promise of universal renewal, and the lights at Yule reawaken the solar memories.

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)

***

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 [email protected]

For Amazon information, click image below.

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

“Crafty” Gifts for Witches & Pagans: A Guide to Yule & Holiday Gifts

December, 2016

It’s that time of the year again, when everyone is running themselves ragged trying to find the “perfect” gift for each person on their list. This list is to, hopefully, help you out finding that gift for the Witches and Pagans in your life.

1. Shortbread Molds for the baker in your life that honors the Goddess:

http://goddesstimeline.com/product/cakes-for-the-queen-of-heaven/

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While you are at the website, check out their Goddess 3-D statues and the Goddess Timeline posters, which are stunning.

 

2. 2017 Datebooks

Most of us are familiar with Llewellyn’s annual treasury of datebooks – The Witches’ Datebook and Calendar, The Spell-A-Day Almanac, the Sabbats Almanac and The Witches’ Companion. There is also the MoonDiary

http://moondiary.com.au/northernhemisphere/ They also carry Moon

Charts, cards, bookmarks and DVDs.

If you love beautiful artwork, check out the “Women of Myth & Magic”

datebook and calendar (available on Amazon).

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3. Tools for divination & Healing

While some may wish to choose their own divination tools, there are also

those that like to have many different ones from which to choose. There

are Tarot Decks, Rune Sets, Pendulums, Crystal Balls. You can also look

at crystals and herbs for healing and other intentions. While most of

these can be found on the larger websites, like Amazon, I would suggest

looking into smaller shops local to your home, or looking into Etsy, which

has many pagan-run shoppes. Some of my favorite Etsy shoppes are:

Circle Magica

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https://www.etsy.com/shop/CircleMagica?ref=pr_faveshops

Motherhouse of the Goddess

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https://www.etsy.com/shop/MHGoddessShop?ref=pr_faveshops

Brigid’s Grove

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https://www.etsy.com/shop/BrigidsGrove?ref=pr_faveshops

Spiral Sun herbals

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https://www.etsy.com/shop/SpiralSunherbals?ref=l2-shopheader-name

I tend to buy my crystals in person, however, this is one of my favorites:

http://www.pelhamgrayson.com

4. Yoga & Meditation

Meditative Mandala Stones

mandalastones1

http://paganpages.org/content/2016/12/book-review-meditative-mandala-stones-by-maria-mercedes-trujillo-arango/

Please see my review this issue of Pagan Pages.  

Spirit Voyage Music – This is mostly Kundalini based, but they have wonderful books, music and clothes. http://www.spiritvoyage.com

Hugger Mugger – Clothes, mats, bolsters, clothes – 

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http://www.huggermugger.com

5. Miscellany

Cafe Press – If you have not gone to this website, you absolutely must.

If you are looking for it, they have it. Cups, T-shirts, cards, bumperstickers,

Tote bags, plaques. This link should take you directly to the “Gifts for

Witches” section –

http://www.cafepress.com/+witches+gifts

Some online catalogues

Pyramid Collection – Clothes, jewelry – https://www.pyramidcollection.com

Sacred Source – Beautiful collection of Pagan Statues, some jewelry, wall hangings –

gifts8

(Pictured: Cerridwen)

http://www.sacredsource.com 

Raven & Crone – Ritual Supplies, Crystals

ravenandcrone-logo

https://www.ravenandcrone.com

The Magickal Cat – Ritual Supplies, Music, Candles – Very comprehensive inventory –

cat-writing-in-bos-image-small

http://www.themagickalcat.com

Llewellyn’s – While they carry Tarot, CDs and the like, they are most

known for their large array of books in almost all subjects Pagan.

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https://www.llewellyn.com Check out their Holiday Guide!

Enchantments – The oldest occult store in New York City

0

http://enchantmentsincnyc.com

wheel-chime-candles-1140x640

Never underestimate the joy of candles. Witches and Pagans, I have found, never have enough candles, so feel free to go and stock up on candles in different colors for individual workings that are color specific. 

cauldron

If you wish to go with a tried and true cliche’, there is always a cast iron cauldron. This would be a beautiful gift. There are plenty to be found online. Look at them carefully for quality; they come in a range of sizes and price.

There are many other things out there for you to choose from. Only you know the Witch or Pagan in your life well enough to find them that “perfect” gift. My hope is that this list will get you started on your Yule search!

Wishing you a blessed Yule and Holiday Season!

)O(

SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

December, 2016

Yule Spell

marciapentaclewreathornaments

Merry meet.

At Yule, the darkest night before the rebirth of the sun, it is said the Holly King dies and the Oak King is born. A simple spell that echoes that is to gather three dried holly leaves, and using a mortar and pestle, crush them into a powder. On a piece of paper approximately four inches square, write in red ink a single word representing something you wish to give birth to. Add the holly powder and fold, roll or twist the paper up around it. Light it from the flame of a red candle, or by another symbolic means and as it burns in a cauldron or other safe place, see and feel the wish fulfilled, and give thanks.

If you are burning a Yule log, you could add the bundle to the fire, or you could write your intention on a piece of a holly branch and add that to the fire instead.

Merry part, and merry meet again.

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