What is the Yule?
Winter Solstice or Yule/Yuletide/Yulefest has been celebrated in cultures the world over for thousands of years. This start of the solar year is a celebration of Light and the rebirth of the Sun. Today, many people in Western-based cultures refer to this holiday as “Christmas.” Yet, if you look into its origins of Christmas it reveals its true Pagan roots.
The ancients knew that the winter solstice was the longest night of the year—and that meant that the sun was beginning its long journey back towards earth. It was a time of celebration, and for rejoicing in the knowledge that soon, the warm days of spring would return, and the dormant earth would come back to life. On this one day, the sun stands still in the sky, and everyone on earth knows that change is coming. Rituals are performed in celebration of the magnificent changes. You can feel the shift in energy; that is often why people take this time to start preparing for their future plans in the New Year.
Yule Celebration Rituals
There is simply no wrong or right way to celebrate Yule, although it is typically celebrated by those who resonate within the origin of the original Pagan traditions. There are so many ways to celebrate this special time of year but you should listen to your inner intuition and engage in whatever activities you would like. Make it special and allow it to reflect on your personal wants and aspirations.
Here are some of my personal favorite ways to celebrate:
Meditative Reflections. Reflect on you and your life over the past year. Review journals, planners, photographs, blogs, and other notations you have created during the past year. Consider how you have grown, overcame challenges, shared adventures, and review some of your favorite learnings. Meditate. Journal about your year in review, your meditation, and your reflections. Select a new area of life you would like to focus and improve on and allow it to be your new centralized thought as we transition into the New Year.
Spellworking with Yule Log. Once you’ve meditated and have done some deep inner searching, start to plan out your New Year. Focus on peace, harmony, love, and increased happiness for yourself and others. Think of yourself as the new Yule Sun. Full of warmth, bright light, and unmistakable power. You can also make a Yule Ritual Log where you can store spells or plans you wish to manifest for the New Year. Finding appropriate sourcing of your Yule log is as important as the ceremony of burning it. It is considered bad luck to buy a Yule log, instead, it must be gifted or sourced in nature yourself. Decorate with berries, pine, or pinecones. The Yule Log symbolizes the light conquering the darkness. I recommend creating your own spell that resonates with you. Just remember, keep it peaceful and light.
Decorate. Adorn your home with sacred herbs and colors that best reflect the season. Rich reds and natural greens, velvet black and creamy white. You can place herbs and oils of bayberry, blessed thistle, evergreen, frankincense holly, laurel, mistletoe, oak, pine, sage, and yellow cedar to have a natural and beautiful winter smell throughout your home. Hang up some fresh mistletoe above a major threshold or doorway and leave it there until next Yule as a charm for good luck throughout the year. And yes, you can most definitely kiss under it!
Celebrate Deceased Loved Ones. Much like Samhain, celebrating our ancestors and deceased loved ones are highly recommended as the spirit world is very prevalent during this time of year. You can achieve this by creating an altar, gathering photographs, heirlooms, and other mementos of deceased family, friends, and even companion creatures. Arrange them on a table, dresser, or other surfaces, along with several votive candles, incenses, sage, crystals etc. Kindle the candles in their memory as you call out their names and express your good intentions. Thank them for being part of your life and sit quietly and pay attention to what you experience. Some spirits are especially communicative during the Winter Solstice, focus your energy on them.
Nature Walks. Yes, it sounds simple but surrounding yourself in a natural area near your home will allow you to feel grounded and rooted on this earth. Observe and focus on the colors, aromas, sounds, and other sensations of the new season. Experience yourself as part of the Circle of Life and reflect on death and rebirth as being an important part of Nature. Don’t allow this reality to negatively affect you but to bring you closer to an honest and peaceful realization.
Divinatory Guidance. Using Tarot, Runes, Scrying, or some other method of divination, seek and reflect on guidance for the year to come. You may also want to experience a Séance or practice some spells. Follow your intuition and allow your thoughts to manifest in a fulfilling experience. Allow your creativity to run as wild as your soul, bust out the crafts and create something meaningful and unique. Sharing stories during a bonfire or practicing magic may allow you to connect with yourself or others on a transcended, new journey to begin the start of a magickal New Year.
Donate/Volunteer. You are not obligated to buy any gifts but donating clothing and food is a wonderful way to celebrate this wonderful occasion. Contribute by manifesting wellness for all and Planet Earth. It is also a powerful time to meditate for World Peace. If you aren’t able to donate, giving your time is another beautiful gesture. Volunteering at local shelters, sanctuaries, and non-profit groups is another amazing way to give back to your community. Pledge to do more acts of kindness and humanitarian work in the New Year.