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Winter Solstice Yule

Date: Depending on the shift of the calendar, the winter solstice occurs sometime between December 21 and December 22 each year in the Northern Hemisphere, and between June 20 and June 21 in the Southern Hemisphere. Pronunciation: yool Science of the Holiday: The Winter Solstice occurs exactly when the earth's axial tilt is farthest away from the sun at its maximum of 23 26'. Though the Winter Solstice lasts an instant in time, the term is also colloquially used like Midwinter to refer to the day on which it occurs. For most people in the high latitudes this is commonly known as the shortest day and the sun's daily maximum position in the sky is the lowest. The sun is rising and setting at its most southerly points. With the sun at its lowest ebb, it remains in the sky for the shortest amount of time. This makes for the longest night of the year. The seasonal significance of the Winter Solstice is in the reversal of the gradual lengthening of nights and shortening of days. The Winter Solstice is also the shortest day or lowest sun position for people in low latitudes located between the Tropic of Cancer (2326'N) and the Tropic of Capricorn (2326'S). Astrological Association: The cusp between Sagittarius and Capricorn. Name Meaning: Solstice comes from two ancient words..."sol" the name of a sun god, and "stice" meaning still, or the day that the sun stands still, the shortest day of the year. Yule = a variation of the Scandinavian word Jul, meaning wheel; alternatively it may come from the Anglo-Saxon word geola, meaning yoke, as in the yoke of the year

Alternative Names: Adam and Eve Day (Early Christian calendar), Alban Arthan (Neodruidic), Amaterasu celebration, Requiem of the Dead (7th century Japan), Beiwe Festival (Smi of Northern Fennoscandia), Brumalia (Roman Kingdom), Choimus, Chaomos (Kalash of Pakistan), Christmas, Natalis Domini (4th century Rome, 11th century England, Christian), Deuorius Riuri (Gaul), Deygn, Maidyarem (Zoroastrian), Dngzh Festival (East Asian Cultural Sphere and Mahayana Buddhist), Festival of Growth, Finns Day (Irish, Scottish), Goru (Dogon of Mali), Great Day of the Cauldron, Hogmanay (Scotland), Inti Raymi (Inca: Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador), Junkanoo, John Canoe, Dzon'ku 'Nu (West Africa, Bahamas, Jamaica, 19th-century North Carolina, Virginia), Karachun (Ancient Western Slavic), Koleda, , Sviatki, Dazh Boh (Ancient Eastern Slavic and Sarmatian), Lena (Ancient and Hellenistic Greece), Lucia, Feast of St. Lucy (Ancient Swedish, Scandinavian Lutheran, Eastern Orthodox), Makara Sankranti, (India and Nepal, Hindu), Maruaroa o Takurua, (New Zealand, Maori), Men Geimhridh, Celtic Midwinter (Celtic, Ancient Welsh, Neodruidic), Mummer's Day, Montol (Celtic, Cornish), Midvinterblt (Swedish folk religion), Midwinter (Antarctica), Modranicht, Modresnach (Germanic), Perchta ritual (Germania, Alps), Rozhanitsa Feast (12th century Eastern Slavic Russian), Sacaea (Persian), Shab-e Chelleh, , Shalako (Zuni), Yald or Sada (2nd millennium BCE Persian, Iranian), Sanghamitta Day (Buddhist), Saturnalia, Chronia (Ancient Greek, Roman Republic), eva Zistan (Kurdish), Sol Invictus Festival (3rd century Roman Empire), Soyal (Zuni and Hopi of North America), Wayeb (Maya), We Tripantu (Mapuche in southern Chile), Wu-wu-chema (Hopi), Yule, Jul, Jl, Joul, Joulu, Julud, Gol, Geul (Viking Age, Northern Europe, and Germanic cultures), Jul (Germanic Neopaganism), Yule, Yuletide (Wiccan),

Zagmuk, Sacaea (Ancient Mesopotamia, Sumerian, Babylonian), Ziemassvtki (Latvian, Baltic, Romuva)

History, Customs, and Lore:

The Winter Solstice, Yule, is the shortest day and the longest night of the year. It is the most widely celebrated of all the Sabbats because its customs and lore have deeply invaded popular culture and the mainstream religions. There is probably no more festive time of year. The gift-giving and merry-making of this season illuminate the darkness of winter with the warmth of love. For many, there is no more welcomed season than Yuletide. But what does it all mean? Why do we celebrate? What is the purpose? Of all the Sabbats, it is the one that causes the most confusion among those who follow the Wiccan path, specifically those who are new to the path and are breaking away from their Christian faith and way of life. Yule, is, has, and always will be a pagan holiday. Yule, or as it is most commonly known today as Christmas, has many pagan elements and more pagan history in its foundation and pagan rites than it has of Christian elements. Yule has been celebrated since the beginning of time in the Northern Hemisphere. Some anthropologists, such as E. W. Budge, believe Yule may have been first celebrated as a religious holiday as far back as 12,000 years ago, while others claim it is millennia older. From the Neolithic farmers, through the Celtic tribes, the Romans, the Norse, the Greeks, and countless other cultures, the common practice was the celebration of the Midwinter sun. Within the many cultures located in the Northern Hemisphere that have celebrated the Winter Solstice, nearly all share a common theme, the birth of a God. Most of these Gods are associated with the Sun or with death and re-birth.

There is a simple explanation for this common theme throughout the world. The basic astronomical facts of the solstices, the changing of the seasons, have stood at the heart of human observance for as long as we have knowledge of past spiritual and religious practice. The Neolithic farmers watched the skies constantly, drawing a detailed knowledge of the passage of the sun, moon, and the stars. Why? Their lives depended on it. During the summer solstice, when the suns warmth was at its peak, their crops grew tall and their animals thrived. At the other extreme, the winter solstice, they suffered the effects of cold, damp and darkness and all the ailments of the body and soul that derive from these. In the peak of winter, when the sun set, it would seem as though it might never return. Rituals to prevent this from happening were used to summon the sun back. During the winter months the people needed some hope to hang on to, some reason for celebration. For some cultures it was enough to celebrate the return of the sun. In other cultures it was felt necessary to make sacrifices to the god (or goddess) who was the source of the suns light, to ensure that he (or she) returned. Additionally important to many of these cultures was capturing the suns light, and thus fire itself became central to these rites. If harbored and protected the fire would remain alive, as a symbol of the hidden sun. Some cultures tended perpetual flames throughout the year. These were allowed to burn out on Yule Eve and were rekindled on Yule morning to celebrate the triumph of the sun over darkness. There are some modern covens that follow this tradition by placing a large white candle in a cauldron and carefully watching it throughout the year to make sure it is not allowed to go out. Mirroring the older customs the candle is extinguished during their Yule ritual and then relit with joyous ceremony and thanksgiving.

The Winter Solstice has always been seen as a mysterious, shadowy, and uncertain time. The conviction that the sun would return becomes doubtful and the gates between the worlds are seen to stand ajar. This was above all, however, a time of celebration. Rituals were designed to align the individual with the cosmos and dances were used to enact the changing of the seasons. Their rituals kept them in tune with the cycle of the seasons, marked the New Year, allowed them a time to gather with friends and family, and to worship their deities together in joy and thanksgiving. The prehistoric and Neolithic sacred sites oriented in alignment with the solstices and equinoxes throughout Ireland, England, and continental Europe are well known today. Most famous of these is An Liamh Greine, the Cave of the Sun. However, these are not limited to Europe alone. In fact, they are found from the ancient pre-classical Mediterranean, North and South America, and Australia. In Egypt, the great temples at Karnac, Thebes, and Abydos are also in line with the solstices, focusing the suns rays in to the heart of the temple enclosures at these times. Though the Celtic peoples New Year began with Samhain, the depths of winter were referred to as an dudlach, the gloom. During this time, sacrifices and offerings were made to the Cailleach, the Old Woman who ruled over the winter season. Their seasonal revels were ruled over by a king with a blackened face and whom carried a sword, scythe, or sickle. This represented death that could be sudden at this time of year. This figure is tied by some to the later Arthurian legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and to the mythology of the Holly King and the Oak King. It is from the Druidic veneration of trees that gives them such a prominent place in the celebrations of Yule. Evergreen trees that did not die during the winter, as the

deciduous trees do, symbolized the eternal Goddess who does not die. The succession of the Oak King from the Holly King that takes place at Yule is drawn from the sacred association with trees felt by the Celts and other cultures as well. The Holly King represents the Waning Year and is bested by the Oak King who represents the Waxing Year. The relationship between these two kings is explored in greater detail later in the lesson as it is integral to modern Wiccan mythology and practices. Yule marking the New Year comes from the Norse. This was in order for it to coincide with the solar year. It is from the Norse peoples that the word Yule originates from, meaning wheel. This celebration was often referred to as Hweolor-tid, meaning the turning time. For the Norse, as well as the Romans who will be discussed below, this was the time of the year when the Goddess turned the Wheel of the Year to its beginning point once again. The turning time was a 12 night celebration. It began with Mother Night on the eve of Yule, when the people would sit up all night to await the rising and rebirth of their sun goddess, Freya. They would herald the dawn by ringing bells after the long, long night. This custom survives today in the jingle bells seen on sleighs, carriages, doors, etc The Norse used the bells to frighten away the powers of darkness they felt reached a peak at Yule. Mother Night is one of the major festivals of modern Asatr u and is sacred to Odin, Ing, and Erda. Also, during this festival the Norse goddess Holde, guardian of the spirit world, opens her doors to all sincere seekers. Therefore, much like the Celtic Samhain, it was a time for contacting spirits and celebrating with ones ancestors. It is thought that the 12 nights of celebration observed by the Norse mixed with some Celtic traditions may be the inspiration behind the popular winter song, The Twelve Nights of Christmas.

For the Egyptians, December marked the beginning of the short rainy season. The Winter Solstice for them was a time to celebrate not only the birth of their sun god, Ra, but also a commemoration of the creation of the universe. If it rained on the eve of the solstice, this was felt to be a special blessing from Ra, whose tears were once again bringing new life to Egypt on the night of his rebirth. For a culture whose prosperity depended heavily on the annual flooding of the Nile River for their agricultural success each year, this was an especially sacred time. Additionally, one accounting of the tale of Isis and Osiris has Isis restoring Osiris to life on December 25th after having been slain and his body torn asunder by his brother Set. It is from two Roman festivals that many of the customs associated with present day Christmas have arisen. The first of these is Saturnalia. Between the second century B. C. E. and the fourth century CE the Romans occupied present day Britain and parts of Europe, where they suppressed many of the older Celtic practices. Saturnalia developed as a result of this suppression from those older Midwinter rituals into a festival of fun, laughter, and gift giving. Although many associate the giving of gifts with the gifts given to the baby Jesus by the Magi, it is actually more likely that the custom of giving gifts stems from this far older custom associated with Saturnalia. Saturnalia was celebrated from December 17th to the 24th in honor of Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture and time. As a side note, the name Saturn may come from the Latin word satus, which means, to sow. During this festival the norms of social behavior were lifted, slaves dined with their masters, those of rank dressed in less formal attire, etc Gifts were also exchanged, including tapers called cerei that represented the eternal light. In addition to honoring Saturn, three other vegetative deities were

celebrated during this period: Consus, the god of the storeroom or corn-bin; his consort Ops, a mother goddess portrayed most often with loaves in her lap; and Strenia, a woodland goddess. Saturnalia was celebrated through the end of the 4th century CE, after which it was moved to the New Year and amalgamated with the Kalends festival of January. Kalends originally followed the Saturnalia festival and was the second of the two aforementioned Roman Midwinter festivals that deeply affected the manner in which the Winter Solstice is celebrated today. During this time homes were decorated with lights and greenery and again gifts were exchanged. Few people went to bed during this festival, instead going about the streets singing and dancing. Some authors have noted that during the Kalends festival some would dress in animal skins, men would at times dress in womens clothes. This may date back to Neolithic shamanic customs, or to the custom of guising. Libanus, a fourth-century writer, has described the Kalends festival in such a way that one could easily imagine that he was talking about modern times: The impulse to spend seizes everyone People are not only generous with themselves, but also towards their fellow men. A stream of presents pours itself out on all sides.. The Kalends festival banishes all that is connected with toil, and allows men to give themselves up to undisturbed enjoyment. From the minds of young people it removes two kinds of dread: the dread of the schoolmaster and the dread of the pedagogue. The slave it also allows, as far as possible, to breathe the air of freedom Another great quality of the festival is that it teaches men not to hold too fast to their money, but to part with it and let it pass into other hands.

While the Winter Solstice was celebrated by many cultures throughout antiquity, obviously it was celebrated under different names depending on the culture. For example, in ancient America, the Zui celebrated the solstice as Shalako where ceremonies were performed to entice the sun back to the people. The Hopi celebrated in a similar manner to the Zui with a ceremony named Wu-Wu-che-ma. For some Native Americans of the Southwest Yule was called Soyalanwul, meaning to bring new life to the world. For these people a ritual to aid the Suns birth consisted of having one person, masked as the Sun God, crawl between the legs of the tribes women. In China, the Emperor led annual sacrifices to the gods in the Temple of Heaven in Peking on every December 22nd. In Japan, the Winter Solstice period was known as Toji and was particularly sacred to farmers. Huge bonfires were lit to encourage the return of the sun and rituals were performed to honor the ancestors. In fact, huge bonfires are still lit on Mt. Fuji to this day on the 22nd to welcome back the rising sun. In Taiwan, similar rituals were enacted to entice back the sun and honor the ancestors. Additionally, this was the time of the year rituals were performed asking for protection in the coming year, another common theme of the Winter Solstice. The wheel figures prominently in many cultures during the Winter Solstice because of the idea of turning the Wheel of the Year from the old year, to beginning again with the New Year. The symbolism of the wheel is so important to the Winter Solstice that this Sabbat became sacred to Goddesses of the spinning wheel. The spinning wheel being here a metaphor for the great Wheel of the Year, over which the Goddesses have always been thought to control. For the Germans, the spinning goddess was Frau Holde. She was believed to ride on the wind in a sleigh on Yule Eve and give

gifts of gold to Her faithful followers (sound familiar?). She awarded fine spinners of cloth especially. A practice common to nearly all of the cultures that celebrated the Winter Solstice was the acting out of the season. This took the form of various placating acts to entice the sun back or enacting the ritual slaying of the old year to make way for the rebirth of the New Year. The Mummers plays, which have been performed since the days of ancient Britain, survive still today and have even flourished in the new world. In fact, in Philadelphia on every New Year there is a great Mummers parade in a procession so large it takes most of the day for the parade to pass City Hall. The purpose of these plays, as well as the many other ritual themes that have been mentioned here, was the same for the many other cultures that celebrated at the Winter Solstice. They were to distract the mind from the serious fear that the New Year might not dawn, to placate the gods, and to call back the sun. For some cultures, the celebrations that took place at the Winter Solstice were more important for honoring the Sun God than even those that took place at the Summer Solstice. For the early humans winter was a time of death and stagnation. The earth was barren, it was cold and drafty, disease was common, and food was scarce. The sun was viewed by some as the Father God who fertilized the Mother Earth, making Her fruitful and full of life once more. Due to the deeply entrenched meaning of the Winter Solstice for the peoples of the time, it is no wonder that the Catholic Church felt it wise to move their Christmas celebration from August to December. While the date of Christmas is presently fixed at December 25th each year and the Winter Solstice date varies from year to year, it should be noted that the date chosen by

the Christian church for the birth of the baby Jesus is based on a far older date relating to the Winter Solstice festivities. The Roman Emperor Aurelian set December 25th as the birth date of the god Sol, marked by a celebration called the Birth of the Unconquered Sun during 274 CE The cult of Sol was likely Etruscan in origin, whose culture predated the Romans by several hundred years. In 10 BCE Sol was replaced in the celebration by Apollo. Apollo was then superseded by the Iranian/Persian deity Mithras. Mithras birthday was named Natalis Solis Invicti, meaning Birthday of the Invincible Sun. The mythology surrounding the birth of Mithras mirrors nearly exactly that of the birth of Jesus. It was four hundred years after the birth of Jesus that the Catholic Church instituted a celebration in honor of his birth. In 312 CE the Roman Emperor Constantine declared Rome to be officially Christian. He fixed the dated of the birth of Jesus with that of Mithras in order to help in the conversion of his fellow pagan Romans (Constantine didnt himself convert to Christianity until 337 CE). The idea again being to supplant the Christians own celebrations in place of those already celebrated by other religions as a means of making conversion easier. For additional information regarding the history behind some of the more popular elements of modern day Christmas see the section in this lesson labeled Symbols. This history section is meant only to give a very brief outline of the history of the great resources our modern Yule draws from. Please check the bibliography for a listing of recommending reading for a more thorough history and use this work as a stepping stone to your own research! Symbols:

Yule Tree/LogOne school of thought says that the Yule tradition of decorating a fir tree has its origins in the literal sacrifice of ancient Teutonic kings. These regal sacrificial victims would reign for seven years and then would be ritually sacrificed. They would be burned alive on an evergreen fir tree. The reason that the fir tree is used is due to its evergreen nature. They do not lose their leaves during the year. They survive the harshness of winter, retaining their splendor and fertility with the beautiful green of spring and summer. By bringing the tree into your home, you bring in the spirit of the ever-fertile god associated with the tree. He is the ever-present spirit of the forest who turns the year with two faces. By decorating the tree, you honor the God. It is usually recommended that you cut your own tree if possible (there are places that let you do this). This can be a lot of fun for your family and can include ritual significance that might seem inappropriate at "Crazy Bob's Christmas Tree Lot." The prayer can be whatever you like so long as you thank the spirit of the tree and draw a circle around it before you begin. Then you should tap the tree to warn it and cut the trunk as quickly as you can after tapping it. Also, you should always cut above the lowermost branches so that the tree is still alive. Related to the burning of the sacred king as sacrifice on the Yule tree are the lights we decorate our trees with. In certain parts of Europe, they actually affix little candles to the tree themselves. These candles are lit in the same way that Americans use electric lights. One would have to do that mostly on trees where there is a great deal of moisture! Also, the decorating of the tree with ornaments and other such paraphernalia is

rumored to be related to the work of a noblewoman in the seventeenth century who decided that it would be a nice thing to do. Glass balls have always been popular household ornaments. Indeed, it is not uncommon to see giant reflective glass balls in people's gardens. These are called witch's balls. Their use has always been to ward off evil. There are two types of witch ball. One is a reflective witch ball which serves to reflect the evil eye or bad luck and turn it back on the sender. The other is the hollow ball meant to confuse the evil intent. The hollow ball would be filled with brightly colored string that would attract like a glistening spider's web. The bad luck or the evil intent would be caught in the knotted string and kept there. Some people believe that the ornaments on our Yuletide firs are reminiscent of the witch's balls of the eighteenth century. Likewise, there are other stories that surround the origin of tree ornaments. One very likely one is that the town of Lauscha in Germany in the 1900s started the tradition of the glass balls. This was because Lauscha was a famous glass-blowing center that capitalized on their talents. This is a very likely explanation, as the prosperity of the Victorian era allowed for the luxury of importing such finery from other countries. There are other types of ornaments that have become popular throughout the world. One of these is the popularity of birds, stags, and other animals associated with the season. There is a popular custom in Western Europe of the hunting of birds around the the winter solstice. It was an especially popular European custom to hunt or drive off the wren. The wren is associated with the old year. The reason the bird is driven off is to make room for the robin. The robin, with its red breast, symbolizes the New Year. Likewise, it was customary to decorate the evergreen tree with various birds in a sort of

sympathetic magic imitating the coming spring. Santa ClausToday's Santa is a folk figure with multicultural roots. He embodies characteristics of Saturn (Roman agricultural god), Cronos (Greek god, also known as Father Time), the Holly King (Celtic god of the dying year), Father Ice/Grandfather Frost (Russian winter god), Odin/Wotan (Scandinavian/Teutonic All-Father who rides the sky on an eight-legged horse), Frey (Norse fertility god), the Tomte (a Norse Land Spirit known for giving gifts to children at this time of year), and Thor (Norse sky god who rides the sky in a chariot drawn by goats). Julbock or Julbukk, the Yule goat, from Sweden and Norway, had his beginnings as carrier for the god Thor. Now he carries the Yule elf when he makes his rounds to deliver presents and receive his offering of porridge. When Early Christians co-opted the Yule holiday, they replaced the ancient Holly King with religious figures like St. Nicholas, who was said to live in Myra (Turkey) in about 300 A.D. Born an only child of a wealthy family, he was orphaned at an early age when both parents died of the plague. He grew up in a monastery and at the age of 17 became one of the youngest priests ever. Many stories are told of his generosity as he gave his wealth away in the form of gifts to those in need, especially children. Legends tell of him either dropping bags of gold down chimneys or throwing the bags through the windows where they landed in the stockings hung from the fireplace to dry. Some years later Nicholas became a bishop - hence the bishop's hat or miter, long flowing gown, white beard and red cape.

When the Reformation took place, the new Protestants no longer desired St. Nicholas as their gift-giver as he was too closely tied to the Catholic Church. Therefore, each country or region developed their own gift-giver. In France he was known as Pare Noel. In England he was Father Christmas (always depicted with sprigs of holly, ivy, or mistletoe). Germany knew him as Weihnachtsmann (Christmas man). When the communists took over in Russia and outlawed Christianity, the Russians began to call him Grandfather Frost, who wore blue instead of the traditional red. To the Dutch, he was Sinterklaas (which eventually was mispronounced in America and became Santa Claus). La Befana, a kindly Witch, rides a broomstick down the chimney to deliver toys into the stockings of Italian children. These Santas were arrayed in every color of the rainbow sometimes even in black. But they all had long white beards and carried gifts for the children. All of these Santas, however, never stray far from his earliest beginnings as god of the waning year. As Witches, we reclaim Santa's Pagan heritage. ReindeerSanta's reindeer most probably evolved from Herne, the Celtic Horned God. Eight reindeer pull Santa's sleigh, representative of the eight solar sabbats. In British lore, the stag is one of the five oldest and wisest animals in the world, embodying dignity, power and integrity. From their late Autumn dramatic rutting displays, stags represented strength, sexuality and fertility. As evidenced by multiple prehistoric excavations of stag antler ritual costumes, the wearing of stag antlers in folk dance recreated the sacred male shaman figure called Lord of the Wild Hunt, Cernunnos, or Herne the Hunter, among others - he who travels between worlds, escorting animal spirits to the afterlife and sparking wisdom and fertility in this world. Likewise, the stag's branching antlers echo

the growth of vegetation. In America, the stag represents male ideals: the ability to "walk one's talk," and powerfully, peacefully blend stewardship and care of the tribe with sexual and spiritual integrity. In Northern European myth, the Mother Goddess lives in a cave, gives birth to the sun child, and can shape shift into a white hind, or doe. Therefore, the white hind was magickal, to be protected and never hunted. In myth, graceful running women of the forest - who were actually magickal white hinds - brought instant old age or death to hunters who chased them. To the Celts, all deer were especially symbolic of nurturing, gentle and loving femininity. White deer hide was used to make tribal women's clothing. White deer called "faerie cattle" were commonly believed to offer milk to faeries. In Britain amongst the Druids, some men experienced life-transforming epiphanies from spiritual visions or visitations by white hinds, balancing and healing their inner feminine energy. In Europe white hinds truly exist, and are many shades of warm white cream-colors, with pale lashes - otherworldly in their peaceful and modest behavior. To many Native American tribes, deer are models of the graceful and patient mother who exhibits unconditional love and healthy, integrated female energy. WreathsThe Wheel of the Year is often symbolized by the wreath. Its circle has no beginning and no end, illustrating that everything in its time comes back to its point of origin and travels onward, over and over again. Scandinavians began the tradition of hanging the wreath at Yule, the beginning of their new year, to commemorate new beginnings in the cycle of life. Today in rural Germany, a giant wreath, known as St.

Catherine's Wheel, is a holdover from another pagan custom which involved sympathetic magick to lure the sun's warmth back to the earth. A giant four-spoked wheel with an effigy of a person bound to it, is lighted on fire and rolled down a hill. (The effigy probably hearkens back to a time when human sacrifices were made in plea to the sun.) MistletoeMistletoe was also known as the golden bough and was held sacred by both the Celtic Druids and the Norse. Mistletoe was used by the Druid priesthood in a very special ceremony held around this time...five days after the New Moon following winter solstice, to be precise. The Druid priests would cut mistletoe from a holy oak tree with a golden sickle. The branches had to be caught before they touched the ground. Celts believed this parasitic plant held the soul of the host tree. The priest then divided the branches into many sprigs and distributed them to the people, who hung them over doorways as protection against thunder, lightning and other evils. The folklore, and the magical powers of this plant, blossomed over the centuries A sprig placed in a baby's cradle would protect the child from faeries. Giving a sprig to the first cow calving after New Year would protect the entire herd. Now for the kissing part. Although many sources say that kissing under the mistletoe is a purely English custom, there's another, more charming explanation for its origin that extends back into Norse mythology. It's the story of a loving, if overprotective, mother. See Baldur and Loki in the mythology section of this lesson for this story. LightsWinter was a time of death and stagnation in the eyes of early humans. The earth was barren and unproductive, shelter was drafty, disease was common, and food was

scarce. Little wonder they did all in their power to assure the Sun's return each year. During the festivals of the waning year, fire became a form of sympathetic magick to entice the Sun back to the earth. Bonfires were lit; Flaming wheels rolled down hillsides; Burning candles were placed in windows. Candles were later placed in the boughs of evergreen trees, later evolving into lights on our holiday trees.

Wicca and Yule:

For Wiccans today, the celebration of Yule is deeply rooted in the cycle of the year and stems from the practice of honoring the return of the sun after the longest night of the year. It is a time of transformation and symbolizes the rebirth of the God to the Virgin Goddess. The term virgin was first applied to priestesses in Mediterranean temples and originally had nothing to do with the hymen. To be virginal meant to be a woman who was a complete entity unto herself, was not bound by secular law, and had no husband and was therefore free to take any lovers she chose. This was a woman who needed nothing and no one else; she was intact a virgin. This is what is meant when it is said that the Virgin Goddess, a complete and whole being unto Herself, gives birth to Her son, who later is Her lover, and the father of His next Yule incarnation. The returning sun/son brings hope. He is the fulfillment of the promise made with the death of the God at Samhain. He is symbolic of ongoing life, the coming of warmth, and the reawakening of the earth. Yule is the shortest day of the year. Even though from this date forward the days will be lengthening, few of us are marking sunrises on an artificial horizon, so it is not until Imbolc that it will be easy to see that lengthening with our own eyes. The Yule celebration is also a matter of trust that the Sun God has indeed been reborn, and that come summer He will be high and mighty again.

However, at Yule Hes just been born and is low on the horizon. He is not able yet to share much in the way of warmth and light. Part of the celebration is encouraging His safe return to our world. The Winter Solstice celebration includes a great feast. This feast symbolizes the trust that the stored resources that remain from the years harvest will be enough to see us through until spring. By feasting were trusting that were not using up what will be needed later and that we will make it until it is time to plant and hunt again. This risk applies to the emotions as well. In modern times we are not as limited as our ancestors to the seasons of the year. Food will be at the grocery store year round, shipped in from around the globe. It is the act of giving that for some is the risk. For those whove grown up with the notion that you should never quite finish anything, or with the feeling that any good fortune should be stored rather than enjoyed. This risk is an offering to the Gods. It is an expression of trust that the Wheel will continue to turn and the Spring will come and our larders, material and emotional, will be resupplied. The arrival of Yule evokes an exorbitant amount of good will, warmth, and cheer. However, this Sabbat also provides an opportunity to reflect, to count our blessings, and a time to show our appreciation for all the wonderful things other people do for us. It is a time of resolution and renewal. As it is the birthday of the God it is also the time to reflect on what we will birth within ourselves during the coming year. This is the time of gift-giving and kindness. Most importantly, Yule is a time to celebrate the balance of light and dark. We are welcoming the healing powers of warmth back into our world. So, when you set up your Yule tree, in its ever-glowing green, commemorate the knowing sacrifice of the evergreen, ever-fertile God-King. Don't forget that everywhere

you look, people are celebrating the same thing. It doesn't matter that their divine child had a different name. They celebrate, as we do, the dark night of the soul and the light of love emerging from that darkness. We call Him the Holly King, Pan, Mithras, Herne, Horus, Apollo, Balder, or Bel. But to our Christian friends, he is Jesus of Nazareth. And at this time of love and brotherhood, it is far better to celebrate our similarities in love than to bicker about our differences. May joy and peace reign in your hearts this Yuletide season! The Holly King and the Oak King: At Yule, we honor an aspect of God. In our tradition, we symbolize His two divine faces as the Holly King and the Oak King. The Holly King is the son and the Oak King the father. Remember something very important. In the theology of the changing of the seasons, the Goddess never dies; she is ever constant. But God does give His life. He is ever born and dying each year to ensure the fertility of the Earth. It is as important, however, to realize that the Old King and the Young King are still the same. They are still God, and thus not separate, even though the two faces are distinct and unique. It is a metaphor that permeates all traditions; the Father is the same as the Son. Oak is one of the oldest revered of trees. Indeed, it is believed that the Druids were named for the Oak. The word "Druid" translates to "oak people" (dru in Gaelic means "oak"). The Oak King is the wise father. He is the one who knows, watches, and waits. He is the patient father. He does not rush or hurry. He is comfortable with Himself. The Oak King is seen as the Old King because of the association with knowledge. Oaks are associated with age, longevity, and wisdom. Also, oaks are where mistletoe grows. Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that grows at

the top of oak trees. The Druids used to collect mistletoe at the solstices. At winter solstice, the mistletoe has the familiar white berries. In the warmth of summer, there are no berries. Druid theology dictated that the berries were the semen of God. They considered these the mark of the Oak God's fertility at this time of the year. It is for this reason that we kiss under the mistletoe. The mistletoe is the symbol of the fertility and majesty of the Oak King. It is a display of His masculinity and procreative power. The Holly King is the savior symbol. His evergreen leaves promise renewal and continuation through the winter. The red berries are a symbol of his birth and connection to the Goddess, red berries being an association of the power of life-giving blood. Of all the trees of the forest, it is the Holly that is said to "...bear the crown." And so from an early time we see the Holly associated with sacred kingship. In studying the Christmas stories from around Europe, you find many similarities. One common theme features two brothers who fight twice a year. At different times of the year, one slays the other. This ritual sacrifice is seen in the blood of the holly berries as well. Also, there is the belief that the Holly King whose new son is born holds his crown through twelfth night. It is the new father who is Santa Claus, Kris Kringle, and the bringing of gifts, joy, and mirth. In some parts of traditional Europe, it is considered bad luck to keep holly in your house after twelfth night. (Remember the twelve days of Christmas? This is a Pagan custom, not a Christian one, and usually began with the full moon prior to the solstice. If there were more than twelve days between the full moon and the solstice, twelfth night began with the solstice itself.) The round of the solar mysteries goes like this: At Yule the Son is born; the following spring he becomes a man. At Litha, or Summer Solstice, he battles His father

for position, mortally wounding the Oak King. At Lughnasadh the Father finally dies, having given all of His strength and vitality to the land. With the first cutting of the grain, his strength is seen in the crops and the harvest. The harvest is celebrated, and thanks are given. At Yule, the young King becomes the father. At this time, he realizes that the victory over His father was not at all due to the youthful strength of a young, heady prince. Rather, the death of the Oak King was a carefully prescribed and freely given gift of one life for many. The Land and the King are ONE. The Pagan tradition of Yule is celebrated at the time of the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year. With the birth of the divine child (on the full moon preceding Yule), the young king learns about the love a father has for his son. It is at Yule that everything starts to make sense to the Holly King. This longest night is important in Pagan tradition because it is the night that the young God, the Holly King, is forced to face His innermost darkness. It is the night that He learns that the place of His greatest love is also the place of His greatest pain and shame. And this teaches the new Father that he would give up all for that love, including life, just as His own father did. Further, it cuts deeper as the king realizes that in saving his land he saves the people on it. He must give his life to feed them. If he doesn't, there will be no harvest. If the king does not give His life, then the grain will wither and die, the fruits of the trees will spoil and fall, and there will be no promise of renewal. At the end of this, the king gives himself willingly. This is significant because he also realizes he will be reborn. He will return. His strength feeds the land and everything that grows on it. He will return in the grain, in the fruits and vegetables, in the seed of rebirth and love in the birth of the next divine child. This is the cycle of renewal, and it is

this round that we celebrate each year in the cycle of solar return. But this is only part of the mystery. The other part comes in the darkness. As you already should know, the winter solstice celebrates the darkest night of the year. He realizes that He was wrong. He understands that He did not vanquish His father. The Oak King gave his life. This is a point of reckoning for the young king. It was not his prowess and skill as a warrior that succeeded in the sacrifice of the Oak King. It was the choice of the father to give His life. As the young king comes to understanding, this at first is a painful realization of His own foolish pride. As he moves through it, He realizes that He can also relieve Himself of the guilt. He didn't murder His father; the Oak King gave himself willingly. So this removes not only the power associated with success of the battle, but also the sting of guilt. Likewise, however, the Holly King learns that with the birth of His own son, He is participating in the same cycle. To take the Crown of Oak means that He must choose to give His life. This is the night of reckoning. It has been coming to Him since Samhain. It is the darkness of the soul that comes as we approach understanding and growth. He spends His days from Samhain to Yule, pondering the meaning of His own existence and the role He plays in the sacred dance. He spends His time wondering how He could be required to make such a sacrifice. Then on the darkest night, when His soul is in its deepest perplexity, with joy and love and exhilaration, he understands everything in a rush, all at once because of the love he has for his son. And finally, there is joy and hope and love and excitement, because we have the gift of everlasting life right here before us, the divine child. This is the return of the light, the return of hope and joy in the midst of the cold and dark of winter. This is the

meaning of the light's return. Hope returns, and as the young king picks up his father's Oak Crown, he realizes that He will not die. The Holly Crown of his young son ensures that he will continue, for it is the everlasting evergreen Holly that will endure the cold and difficult winter. The new father may give His life, but he will never die. He will continue in the life of His son, in the life of the land and of His people. So long as the land endures, He is not dead. The king and the land are one. Light comes from darkness, joy comes in transformation. Peace comes from understanding. This is the ultimate lesson in humility that teaches us to draw away from our petty differences, for things are not always what they seem. Indeed, it is only by loving that we are transformed. This is the true message of Yule. For without the love to go through His transformation, the newly appointed Oak King would not be able to lead or save His people. And the legend says that if He does not emerge from his own reckoning, then there would be no light, for all love would be lost in his own folly and pride. But every year the light does come; the sun does dawn after the darkest night of the year.

General Associations: Rebirth of the God; return of the Sun; awakening of the earth; farewell to the old year and welcoming the new; rebirth; beckoning back the sun; preparation for the return of the sun; cleansing of self and home; letting go of old ideas, thoughts, and things; charity; equality; encouraging the sun to cast its warm, healing rays upon our bodies, hearts and spirits; hope after the long winter; the promise of ongoing life; the coming of warmth; contemplating the year ahead; making a wish for what you want to bring in your life in the coming year

Season: Winter Planetary Ruler: Saturn Colors: burgundy, green, gold, maroon, red, silver, white Herbs: apple trees, bay, bougainvillea, carnations (white), cedar tree, cherry tree, evergreen trees, Fir family of trees, ginger, hawthorn, holly, ivy, juniper, laurel, mistletoe, myrrh, pine, poinsettia, rosemary, roses (red), thorn tree, tropical flowers, valerian Sacred Trees of the Winter Solstice: Birch (month following winter solstice; beginnings), Silver Fir (winter solstice day; birth), and Yew (last day of solar year; death) Incense: bayberry, carnation, cedar, cinnamon, evergreens, frankincense, mulberry, myrrh, pine, spice, spruce, vanilla, see the listing of incense recipes in the recipes section of this lesson Oils: carnation, cedar, cinnamon, frankincense, ginger, myrrh, nutmeg, pine, rose, rosemary, saffron, spruce, wintergreen Stones: bloodstone, garnet, pearls, quartz, ruby, topaz (blue) Associated Animals: bear, cow, hawk, ox, pig, ram, raven, robin, rooster, sheep, squirrels, stags, squirrels, white and gray mares, white hind, wren Mythical Creatures: Mermecolion, Phoenix, Trolls Traditional Foods: apples, beans, cakes of caraway soaked in cider, chestnuts, dried fruit, Egg Nog, fruit cake, game dishes, ginger tea, hibiscus tea, lambswool tea, latke (potato pancake), nuts, pears, plum pudding, pork, poultry, red cabbage, sour pickles, wassail Attunement Teas: cinnamon, mullein, willow bark, yarrow

Traditional Potential Altar Items: bay leaves, bells, candles in colors of Yule, cauldron with red candle inside it, cedar, evergreen foliage, golden disk (to represent Mithras), green garlands, holly, ivy, juniper, mistletoe, pine, pine cone (to represent Dionysus), rosemary, rose petals (to represent Attis), Yule log Plants That Fruit at This Time of Year: Holly, Ivy, Mistletoe Potential Ritual Themes and Magick Good for This Time of the Year: protection for the coming year, farewell to the old year and welcoming the new, spiritual cleansing Activity Ideas: Create your own kissing bunch woven from holly, ivy, and mistletoe and decorated with dolls to represent the masculine and feminine. Harvest a Yule log. Be sure to save a small portion of it to kindle the following years Yule log. Placing candles (electric are fine) in all the windows of the home to welcome the Midwinter spirits of the season. Place offerings of apples, oranges, nutmegs, lemons, and whole cinnamon sticks on the Yule tree. Winter cleaning of the whole house, getting rid of the previous years dirt to make room for luck and prosperity in your home during the New Year. Gifts in memory of the deceased. Storytelling Consecrate the Yule tree by sprinkling it with salted water, passing the smoke of incense (bayberry, pine, spruce, pine, spice, cedar, or cinnamon) through the branches, and walking around the tree with a lighted candle saying:

"By fire and water, air and earth, I consecrate this tree of rebirth." It's best to use a live tree, but if you can't, you can perform an outdoor ritual thanking a tree, making sure to leave it a gift when you're finished (either some herbs or food for the animals and birds). Start a seedling for a new tree to be planted at Beltane to replace the tree cut down at Yule. If apartment rules or other conditions prevent you from using a live tree indoors, be sure to bring live evergreen garlands or wreaths into the house as decorations. String dried rose petals, cinnamon sticks, popcorn and cranberries and hang them on the Yule tree. Popcorn and cranberries could also be hung on an outdoor tree for birds and other wildlife. Decorate pine cones with glue and glitter as symbols of the faeries and place them in the Yule tree. Glue the caps onto acorns and attach with a red string to hang on the Yule tree. Hang little bells on the Yule tree to call the spirits and faeries. Hang robin and wren ornaments on the tree. The robin is the animal equivalent of the Oak King, the wren of the Holly King. Each Yule and Midsummer they play out the same battle as the two kings. Hang 6-spoked snowflakes on the branches of the tree. The Witches Rune, or Hagalaz, has 6 spokes. Hang sun, moon, star, Holly King, faery, or fruit decorations. String electric lights on your tree to encourage the return of the Sun.

Make your own Yule tree decorations. One can decorate and string objects found in nature. One could take plain ornament balls and paint on various images to represent the season as well as those energies you would like to welcome into your home during the coming year.

Make a Sun Crown to represent the God. Gather up winter greens after the 12th night (generally January 6th) and save. At Imbolc burn the greens to banish winter and usher in the spring.

Honor the Quarters. See the book, Winter Solstice, listed in the bibliography for examples on how this might be done.

Make a winter shrine. Make a shrine to the solar deities born at the solstice. Go Wassailing, or caroling, singing pagan/Wiccan songs of the solstice. Honor the new solar year with light. Do a Solstice Eve ritual in which you meditate in darkness and then welcome the birth of the sun by lighting candles and singing chants and Pagan carols.

If you have an indoor fireplace or an outdoor fire circle, burn an oak log as a Yule log and save a bit to start next year's fire. Decorate the inside and/or outside of your home with electric colored lights.

Because of the popularity of five pointed stars as holiday symbols, this is a good time to display a pentagram of blue or white lights.

Associated Deities: Mithras (Persian), Jesus (Christian-Gnostic), Apollo (Greco-Roman), Saturn (Roman), Bacchus, Osiris (Egyptian), Attis (Egyptian-Phoenician), Aion (son of Kore), Virgin Goddess, Brimo, Demeter, Brimos, Dionysus, Deganawidah (Native

American - Huron), Baldur (Norse), Loki (Norse), Tammuz, Baal, Holly King and Oak King (Anglo-Celtic), the Crone, Bertha, Hertha, Cronos (Greek), Ra (Egyptian), Odin (Norse), Lugh (Irish), all Spinning Goddesses, Angerona (Roman), Befana (Italian), Changing Woman (Apache), Fortune (Roman), Gaia (Greek), Heket (Egyptian), Lilith (Hebraic), Albina (Tuscan), Anna Perenna (Roman), Brigitte (Voodun), Eve (Hebraic), Frey (Norse), Hannah (Sumerian), Kefa (Egyptian), Lucina (Italian), Maat (Egyptian), Metzli (Aztec), Nox (Roman), NuKua (Chinese), Pandora (Greek), Pax (Roman), Shekinah (Hebraic-Gnostic), Spinning Woman (Native Amercian), Virgin Mary (Christian-Gnostic), Tiamat (Babylonian), Thea (Greek), Zvezda (Slavic), YachimatoHime (Japanese), All Re-Born Sun Gods, Aker (Egyptian), Braggi (Norse), Father Sun (Native American), Helios (Greek), Hyperion (Greek), Janus (Roman), Maui (Polynesian), Mitra (Aryan), Ngau (Maori), Nurelli (Aboriginal), Ukko (FinnishYugoritic), Yachimata-Hiko (Japanese), Holde (Norse) Associated Myths: Baldur and LokiThe Norse god Balder was the best loved of all the gods. His mother was Frigga, goddess of love and beauty. She loved her son so much that she wanted to make sure no harm would come to him. So she went through the world, securing promises from everything that sprang from the four elements - fire, water, air, and earth - that they would not harm her beloved Balder. Leave it to Loki, a sly, trickster spirit, to find the loophole. The loophole was mistletoe. He made an arrow from its wood. To make the prank even nastier, he took the arrow to Hoder, Balder's brother, who was blind. Guiding Holder's hand, Loki directed the arrow at Balder's heart, and he fell dead.

Frigga's tears became the mistletoe's white berries. In the version of the story with a happy ending, Balder is restored to life, and Frigga is so grateful that she reverses the reputation of the offending plant - making it a symbol of love and promising to bestow a kiss upon anyone who passes under it. Balder is sometimes seen as the sacrificed and resurrected god, who is restored to his people after the Battle of Ragnarok. -For additional myths associated with the Winter Solstice see the book, Return of the Light, noted in the bibliography.

The Ritual:
The Yule ritual's main thrust is the celebration of the birth of the divine child and the symbolic return from out of the darkness. We light a sacred fire and burn the Yule log to bring the dawn of the following day, the first day beyond the darkest of nights. We light candles from the sacred fire to ensure the continuation of light from the sacred fire. This helps us to bring the sacred light into our own homes. The focus of the ritual is the lighting of the sacred fire and the continuation of the fire. We chant and sing to strengthen that which continues, in other words, the God Himself. In this ritual, the presence of the priest is very important, as he symbolizes the two-faced God. And it is to Him through the priest that we send our energy.

Spend some time in meditation and write about your experiences in your magical journal. In this meditation, put yourself in the position of the new father. Search inside of yourself for the only feeling that will give you the power to make the decisions you must face. You face the darkness of winter and the darkness of the soul. How will you ever

come out of it? How will you find within yourself the ability to emerge from the darkness of winter? With a song? With a bang, with a lot of noise? With parties, mirth, and mayhem? The light will return, but you must accept that light. How will you share it? What will you do this year that will spread these least of gifts and greatest of blessings? Kindness, happiness, joy, mirth, and love? Make a commitment, and write it down.

Foods: CHESTNUT SOUP 1 lb. chestnuts 1 pt vegetable stock 2 oz butter pt milk Salt Cayenne Pepper Directions - Split open the chestnuts and cook in just enough water to cover for 12-15 minutes. Remove from heat and peel them before they cool. Return to the pan and top up with the vegetable stock. Cook gently for 40 minutes or until tender. Liquidise and return to the pan with the milk, butter and seasoning. Heat without boiling. SOLSTICE MOULDS 2 oz dark chocolate 4 oz butter 4 oz sugar 15 oz chestnut puree 2 tbs. rum Directions - Melt the chocolate and put to one side. Meanwhile cream the butter and sugar and beat in the chocolate, chestnut puree and rum. Spoon into individual moulds and chill in the fridge overnight. YULE LOG 3 eggs 3 oz sugar 3 oz self raising flour pt double cream 1 tbs. finely chopped poached fruit 4oz plain chocolate Directions - Place the eggs in a bowl and stand this in hand hot water. Whisk the eggs for two minutes. Add the sugar and continue to whisk until the eggs have doubled their volume (around ten minutes). Remove the bowl from the water and continue whisking

until the mixture is cool. Carefully fold in the flour. Turn into a greased and lightly floured Swiss roll tin lined with grease proof paper and bake at 200oC/400oF/gas mark 6 for 10 minutes until well risen and firm to touch. Place a clean tea towel on your work surface and a sheet of grease proof paper over it. Turn out the cake onto this and cut away the hard edges. Roll up loosely and cover with a damp tea towel. Allow to go completely cold. Meanwhile, whisk the cream until it forms peaks. Fold in the fruit. Carefully unroll the cake and remove the paper from the underside. Fill with cream mixture and re-roll. Hold the roll in position for a minute or so to set. Melt the chocolate by breaking it into a bowl and heating this over a pan of hot water. Pour the melted chocolate over the log. Chill to set the chocolate. When cold, decorate your Yule log with holly leaves etc. Serve. BRANDY CAKE Juice and rind of a large lemon 2 oz softened butter 4 oz sugar 2 eggs Milk 3 oz self raising flour 4 oz ground rice 2 oz flaked almonds for the topping: 8 oz soft brown sugar 4 level tbs. honey 4 tbs. brandy Glazed fruits to decorate Directions - Pre-heat the oven to 180oC/350oF/gas mark 4. Line the base of a 6inch cake tin and brush with oil. Wash the lemon and grate the rind into a bowl. Reserve the remaining lemon. Add the butter and sugar to the rind and beat until well mixed. Put the eggs in a measuring jug and lightly beat them and make up to 5 fl oz with the milk add to the butter and sugar. Beat until creamy. Fold in the flour, rice or semolina and almond flakes. Pour into the baking tin and level the top. Bake in the centre of the oven for 45-50 minutes. Meanwhile make the topping: place the sugar pint water and the juice from the lemon in a pan, stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then boil for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the honey and brandy. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven remove it from the tin and pour half the sauce over it. The cake will absorb the syrup and you can add the decorations. Pour the rest of the syrup over the cake and leave to cool. Wrap and keep in the fridge until required, it will keep for up to two weeks. RUM TRUFFLES 8 oz dark chocolate 2 tbs. icing sugar 1 tsp. rum essence 2 oz chocolate sprinkles

Directions - Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water, or in the microwave. Combine with the sugar and rum essence, stirring with a wooden spoon until well blended. Cool for 15 minutes and shape into small balls with your hands. Roll them in the chocolate sprinkles or cocoa powder. HOLLY LIQUEUR 2 oz fresh holly leaves pint brandy 2 pints red wine Directions - Macerate the leaves in the brandy for 24 hours. Add the wine and leave for another 24 hours. Strain and bottle. WASSAIL (wine recipe) lb. honey 2 pints red wine 1 pint water Juice of 2 oranges Juice of 1 lemon Cinnamon stick 4 cloves 1 very small piece ginger root 1 handful of raisins Directions - Boil the water with the spices. Add the honey and raisins and stir until dissolved. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the fruit juice. Remove from the heat and add the wine. Pour into a stew pot or deep casserole dish with a lid. Place in a low oven at 140oC/275oF/gas mark 1 for 40 minutes. Do not remove the lid whilst the wassail is in the oven, or the alcohol will evaporate. Serve hot. Incense: YULE INCENSE 3 parts frankincense A few drops orange oil A few drops juniper oil 1 part crushed juniper berries part mistletoe -Blend together and burn on charcoal. SATURN INCENSE 1 part willow bark Pinch of crushed mace 2 parts white sandalwood 3 parts myrrh part dittany of Crete part cypress A few drops cypress oil

-Moisten the myrrh with the oil, allow to set then add the other ingredients. Burn on charcoal or on the bonfire. SUN GOD part fennel part rue part thyme part chervil seed part pennyroyal 1 part chamomile flowers 3 parts frankincense -Mix together and burn on charcoal. SOLAR INCENSE 2 parts red sandalwood part clove part orange peel part orris root Few drops orange oil -Mix together and burn on charcoal. ARIANRHOD (Welsh Goddess of the Moon, initiation and rebirth) part ivy leaves and stems 2 parts oak bark part flax flower 1 part hazel wood -Mix together and burn on charcoal. BALDUR (Scandinavian Sun God) part mistletoe part St. John's Wort 2 parts oak bark -Mix together and burn on charcoal.

Bibliography and Recommended Reading:

Aquarian Tabernacle Church. Wheel of the Year. http://www.aquariantabernaclechurch.org/sabbats-the-wheel-of-the-year Aquarian Tabernacle Church. Seekers Packet. http://www.aquatabch.org/pdf/SeekerPacket2008.pdf Buckland, Raymond. Bucklands Complete Book of Witchcraft. 2nd ed. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2003. Print. Cunningham, Scott. Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner. 1st ed. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 1988. Print. Edelen, William. "The Christ Myth and the Solstice." The Secular Web Kiosk. 24122001. Web. 18 Dec 2009. <http://secweb.infidels.org/?kiosk=articles&id=178>. Edwards, Carolyn. Return of the Light: Twelve Tales from Around the World for the Winter Solstice. Da Capo Press, 2005. Print. -There is a wealth of mythology ripe for story telling time during the solstice. Farrar, Janet and Stewart. A Witchs Bible Complete Combined Volumes. USA: Magickal Childe Publishing, Inc, 1984. Print. Galenorn, Yasmin. Trancing the Witchs Wheel. 1st ed. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 1997. Print. -This book has a Yule guided meditation. Kynes, Sandra. A Year of Ritual: Sabbats and Esbats for Solitaries and Covens. 1st ed. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2004. Print. -Excellent Yule ritual examples provided here.

Livingstone, Glenys. Ph.D. PaGaian Cosmology, Re-inventing Earth-based Goddess Religion. Lincoln, ME: iUniverse, 2005. Print. Matthews, John. The Winter Solstice: The Sared Traditions of Christmas. Wheaton, IL: Quest Books Theosophical Publishing House, 1998. Print. -This book is an invaluable resource on the history of Yule and many of the symbols associated with it. McCoy, Edain. Sabbats: A Witchs Guide to Living the Old Ways. 1st ed. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2008. Print. -This book offers excellent historical information as well an example Yule ritual. Morrison, Dorothy. Yule, A Celebration of Light and Warmth. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2008. Print. -This book, while light on historical information, has tons of activity ideas for celebrating the Yule Sabbat. Additionally, it has rituals for various Yule inspired needs. Moura, Ann. Green Witchcraft. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2000. Print. Moura, Ann. Grimoire for the Green Witch. 1st ed. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2005. Print. OGaea, Ashleen. Celebrating the Seasons of Life: Samhain to Ostara. Franklin Lakes, NJ: New Page Books, 2004. Print. -This book offers a smattering of history, an excellent example Yule ritual, and several activity ideas for the season. Pennick, Nigel. The Pagan Book of Days. Rochester, VT: Destiny Books, 1992. Print. Ravenwolf, Silver. Teen Witch. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 1998. Print.

Ravenwolf, Silver. The Ultimate Book of Shadows for the New Generation: Solitary Witch. 1st ed. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2003. Print. "Winter Solstice." Wikipedia. Web. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_solstice>. -This website has extremely good information on the customs associated with the various Winter Solstice celebrations listed under the alternative names section of the lesson.