“This is the night of Solstice, the longest night of the year. Now darkness triumphs; and yet, gives way and changes into light. The breath of nature is suspended: all waits while within the Cauldron, the Dark King is transformed into the Infant Light. We watch for the coming of dawn, when the Great Mother again gives birth to the Divine Child Sun, who is bringer of hope and the promise of summer. This is the stillness behind motion, when time itself stops; the center which is also the circumference of all. We are awake in the night. We turn the Wheel to bring the light. We call the sun from the womb of night. Blessed Be!” (Starhawk, The Spiral Dance. P 182)
The word Yule comes from the Norse God Iul which means wheel (The 8 sabbats or 8 reindeer coming full circle). It is the cycle marking the death and rebirth of the Sun God. This is the time when the Crone aspect of the Goddess rises again as the Maiden or the virgin. It is the longest night and shortest day of the year, when the Sun again rises to brings a little more light each day to all life through its dance in the sky.
The Holly King (king of the waning year) passes and The Oak King (king of the waxing year) now reigns. The Oak King represents rebirth, the divine child and is the Sun God of light. At this point the Holly King of darkness passes away until midsummer where they will meet again for battle.
This is a time of incredible significance, and an opportunity to open and receive the divine grace of light in our hearts. We have been through a very heavy darkness, with the cool breath of the crone on our necks, treading through the depths of our shadows. We have weeded through the skeletons in our attic, and found a space of earthy rooting amidst our fears. It is the time of the light. Though the diamond snowflakes fall, a warmth fills the inner world. The icicles extend with each droplet nudged by the kiss of the Sun God’s ray.
This is the perfect time for celebration and ritual! There are many herbs associated with this time to enhance the space and intention of this time. Mistletoe (the seed of the divine) was very sacred to the Druids, who brought this tradition to us. They would venture deep into the forest to find it and it would be put on the alters for yule, and was also an important part of handfasting (engagement). Those who kissed under mistletoe were announcing their engagement! Holly, evergreen, frankincense, laurel, oak, pine and cedar are all wonderful additions to any ritual altar as well.
The Yule Log, typically made of oak, was always a very important part of traditional Winter Solstice festivals. It represents the divine masculine, the Sun God and is carved with 3 holes for candles, representing the divine feminine (triple Goddess). The burning of the candles and the Yule Log represents the light of the sun and the rebirth of the God by the Maiden Goddess. The log can be decorated with the herbs and plants of the season, and added intentions are a powerful addition as well.
May we all be blessed by the light during this time of Yule. May we be surrounded by loved ones, warmed by their embrace, tickled by the scent of ritual baking and adorned with the glitter of Solstice colors. May we exchange gifts and sing and dance and feast and honor the God and Goddess, open to receive the light that will enliven our hearts.