Monday, December 12, 2011

Hosting a Magickal Yule Celebration

The season of Yule approaches: for Wiccans and other Pagans all over the world, Winter Solstice marks the rebirth of the solar deity. The event is celebrated by giving honor and recognition to the birth of the Sun God and the Magick and mystery of death and rebirth. It is also the longest night of the year with an annual date falling circa December 20 to 23. In contrast, in the southern hemisphere, the dating of Yule occurs circa June 20 to 23.  To Witches, the Winter Solstice or Yule signifies the rebirth of hope and vitality. In the darkest part of the year comes the pivotal moment when the Mother Goddess gives birth to the Sun God; the rebirth rekindles hopes, dreams, and simultaneously strengthens all living things in both a symbolic and literal sense as we all look to the Sun to rise in power once more.

Yule is a festive time: it is a lesser sabbat that is best celebrated with loved ones, family, and friends. We seek comfort and warmth from those we love in the cold nights of winter, and on this longest night of the year, we look within to find hope and vitality to carry out our dreams in the coming season, strengthened by the turning from darkness to light.  Yule celebrations may be held at any time of day on the Solstice, but many prefer to honor the returning of the Sun by celebrating in the evening. Decorations for Yule include objects representative of the God aspect of the Divine.   

Consider embellishments that have a gold color for the affiliation with both the God and Sun.   Also a fire festival, candles not only offer a source of illumination, but they can serve as a symbolic representation of the Sun God, as well as the promise of the continued increase of sunlight in the coming season. It is not hard to find remnants of the ancient Yule festivals still prevalent in some of the more secular or commercial trappings of the holiday season. The Yule log for example, has its origins in Pagan celebrations of the Solstice. They can be obtained in stores or made with relative ease. Other decorations can include seasonally prevalent gifts of the Earth such as Mistletoe, Holly, Evergreens, pine cones, and other beautiful accents found in nature.

Yule festivals are a great time to enjoy comforting foods as well.  Hot ciders, stews and other types of hearty foods can make your Yule celebration nurturing for body and soul. Consider sharing the joy of cooking by hosting a Pot Luck Yule celebration. A theme can even be selected to make the preparation for feasting fun.  Consider a Solar theme with foods on the yellow, orange, and red spectrum. Other ideas could include a theme harkening back to heritage honored in your coven such as a Celtic, Italian, American Indian or Egyptian themes with foods stemming from these traditions.

Yule rituals are invigorating, but the fun does not have to stop there. Consider games or activities for young and old to continue the festivities outside of circle. These can include games that challenge participants to use their psychic abilities, telepathy or psychometry games, story telling or re-enactments of the birth of the Sun God. Be as creative and festive as you like, but also remember the reason for the celebration itself and do not forget to give honor, thanks, and blessings to Mother Earth and the Solar God and leave appropriate libation after the ceremony is held.

Article by Angela Kaufman.  Angela is the coauthor of Wicca: What's the Real Deal? Breaking Through the Misconceptions, along with Dayna Winters and Patricia Gardner.

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