Yule rituals and traditions
I love Yule, I don’t know if it’s because I’m a Winter person and it is the beginning of that season or maybe it’s because it coincides with seeing the magic of Christmas through the eyes of children. And I love the pagan traditions that this time of year brings.
I start looking for the “perfect” Yule log weeks ahead of time, and then I take to the woods near my home to retrieve holly, acorns, pine cones anything that I think would add to the beauty of my seasonal “masterpiece”. It is a truly joyful experience because I never know what wonders I might encounter while I’m looking for my “treasures”.
Finally it’s time to put it all together, and you would think I was creating something that is supposed to last forever instead of being burned in a ceremony. To me though, the care, thought, beauty and time I put into my Yule log is what makes it special. All the love and joy I put into that log is spread through the universe on the smoke when it burns. Sometimes I incorporate Magick in with it by writing a spell, rolling it up like a scroll, and tying it to the log with gold ribbon. I always salvage a piece of my log from the ashes and use it to light the log for the next year.
Another Yule tradition is the burning of a Bayberry candle. I’m sure there are multiple stories regarding the start of the bayberry candle tradition but the most prevalent one seems to go back to the time of the early settlers. Candles were an essential part of life and they were usually made from tallow. The problem with that however was that they produced a lot of smoke, had an unpleasant odor, and would turn rancid which really made them unbearable. In the quest for something better the settlers turned to bayberry, which was abundant. They soon discovered that if you removed all the leaves and stems, and boiled just the bayberries it produced a waxy residue which could then be collected, saved and made into candles which burned longer, cleaner and had a pleasant smell. The down side to this was that it took a lot of bayberries to produce these much loved candles, so it became a tradition to use them only for special occasions like Christmas, or Yule. It is not known how the poem, and the tradition of burning bayberry candles for prosperity and good luck on Yule began but it has been a common ritual for many years. There are 2 versions of the poem or incantation, if you receive the candle as a gift : This bayberry candle comes from a friend, so on Christmas Eve (Yule) burn it down to the end, for a bayberry candle burned to the socket, will bring joy to the heart and gold to the pocket. In my family we always used, Bayberry candle when burned to the socket, will bring luck to the home, and gold to the pocket. The bayberry candle has been a tradition of mine for as long as I can remember, and it was just recently that I learned the history of it. Worth mentioning here, bayberry candles are a little hard to find in stores, however they are widely available on line. In a pinch you can dress a candle with bayberry oil.
And the last Yule tradition I want to share with you is a calendar burning ritual. Do not use a wall calendar because the chemicals they use on the paper produce a heavy, foul smelling black smoke, which would undoubtedly be dangerous to inhale. I use either the small calendar you can find in a phone book or a checkbook register. Cut out the entire year that’s coming to an end. Once you have gotten a suitable calendar to use place it in your cauldron, or right in the coals from your Yule log and say these words: Burn, burn, you day book burn, Let last years troubles not return, I then will cast your ashes to the element of air, replacing all that’s stale and old, with whats new, and fresh, and fair. I ask the sacred wind to blow in increased prosperity, and to achieve positive change, with thanks so mote it be. I don’t know where this ritual came from or who wrote it, but it has been a tradition in my family for as long as I can remember. You can also do this calendar ritual at midnight on New Years Eve, or anytime New Years day.
So however you and yours celebrate Yule it is my wish that you have a joyous a blessed one!