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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in yule

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Longest Night

I have always loved the colour of the night sky in winter.  It almost never seems entirely black; instead, it blue with refracted gloaming, even at the dark of the moon, even at midnight.  And yet, the stars are never so clear as they are in the midst of winter, as Orion charges out from the horizon to chase Taurus with Canis Major barking at his heels.  The jewel in the Great Dog’s collar, Sirius, sparkles like a radiant prism diamond as it cycles through white, red, green and blue (though of course this is only atmospheric refraction) just over the Southern Horizon; Castor and Pollux wink out of the sky’s zenity; and the Pleiades sparkle like a celestial diamond ring.  Meanwhile, in the Northern Horizon the Dragon rears his head, and the Big and Little Bears point the way.

It’s dark for a long time here above the 49th Parallel at this time of year.  The sun sets at around 3:30 pm and it doesn’t rise again until almost 8:30 in the morning.  That’s seventeen hours worth of night.  I find it challenging to deal with.  But it gives you a long time to contemplate the stars and the celestial mysteries.  Maybe that long night is part of the reason why the stars are so clear; there’s so much less sunlight leaking into the sky by the time one considers the stars in winter.  Or maybe it’s because high-pressure fronts coming down from the Arctic Circle chase the clouds away and the sky opens up to reveal the vastness of the celestial firmament.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Walk the Winter Solstice

Here’s a cool yule idea for you: get outside! Winter Solstice hikes are all the rage, and there are many to choose from; sponsored by area state parks, conservatories, and small businesses. Have your troop meet you at your destination site for the scheduled walk. Revel in the crisp winter air, and observe the magical changes Mother Nature has woven around you. I cannot stress this enough – layers, layers, layers. You can never have too many, and you can always wrap something around your waist, shoulders, or neck if you need to make a temperature adjustment. Don’t worry about hat hair. This really isn’t a time of year for the overly fashion-conscious. By partaking in this healthy ritual, you are embracing the colder season, not fighting it. Chances are good that you will also work up a deserved thirst and appetite.

If your band of merry travelers wish to continue celebrating with an after-party, invite them over to your place for hot cocoa, cider, and mulled wine. Keep it easy and informal. Have a cookie exchange, where people can bring over some of their excess baked treats to share. (There are always an excess of goodies in folks’ homes this time of year!) Be sure to supply plenty of candles on hand, so that everyone has one to light. 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Create this spice-scented reminder of the sun's return to sweeten the Winter Solstice and grow good things in the year to come! You'll need: 
  • 1 navel (thick-skinned) orange Grown in warm climates, the orange, with its round shape and bright color, is symbolic of the sun. Magically, you can use oranges to bring things into your life. 
  • 1 jar (or more) of whole cloves The strongly-scented clove will provide energy for this work. It also represents fire, an element honored at both Yule and Imbolc. 
  • Ground cinnamon A fire and sun spice, cinnamon is used in magic for healing, protection and focusing energy. Put the cinnamon in a shallow bowl. The mingled scents of cinnamon, clove and orange promote an energized warmth that will help you develop a sunny outlook and a positive outcome.
  • 4 lengths of gold ribbon (long enough to wrap around your orange and tie at the bottom, leaving some length to dangle) The color gold is symbolic of the sun, fire, and the God. Magically, gold is good for thinking, problem solving and health. 
  • A straight pin or slender nail (it should be slimmer than the clove). 
 
Before you begin, decide what pattern you would like to make with the cloves on your orange. Dot your pattern onto the orange using a pen or marker—each dot will mark where you will place a clove. You can make vertical rows, or you can have a central design like a pentacle. 
 
 
When the pattern is complete, carefully drive the pin or nail into each dot--this will make it easier to push the cloves through. 
 
 
Push the cloves into the orange according to your pattern, and say, 
 
Cinnamon, clove and orange round 
And by golden ribbon bound, 
As the sun returns to me 
Let (insert your intention) grow So mote it be! 

What would you like to see grow in the coming year? Better study habits? New friendships? Fill in the blank with your intention. 

 
When all the cloves are in, place your orange in the bowl of cinnamon and roll it around, continuing to say the spell. The ground cinnamon will soak up and dry any juice that has come out of the orange, and will also help to preserve it for a while. 
 
 
Once the orange is coated with the cinnamon, remove it from the bowl and tap off the excess powder. Then, one at a time, wrap three of your ribbons around the orange, tying three times (for the Goddess) at the bottom, leaving a couple of inches of ribbon to dangle. 
 
 
Slide last piece of ribbon underneath the ribbons at the top and make a loop. Hang it indoors or out to share some sunshine!
 
by Natalie Zaman
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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Waiting

So the Mother comes to the birthing-stool. Painted with white clay patterns of birth, she waits.

Around her the animals gather in silent expectation. They say that at midnight on Midwinter's Eve, they will speak. They wait.

They say that at midnight on Midwinter's Eve, the trees will burst into blossom. They wait.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Molly
    Molly says #
    This is lovely!
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Just pulling together the pieces, Molly. Glad you like it. My experience has always been that the best stories are the most speci
  • Alana Erickson
    Alana Erickson says #
    Makes me want to get clay in my hands again and make some little figurines for yule time!
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Around Big Mama on her stool, the under-the-tree menagerie just grows every year: the Minoan bull, the faience hippo, the Proto-Ge

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

 

Next week my coven will be celebrating the Winter Solstice and instead of writing this blog post I should be writing our sabbat ritual. I'm sure the inspiration will come, eventually, but for now I'm going to continue to procrastinate (and perhaps daydream about an Oak King/Holly King scenario).

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
b2ap3_thumbnail_image_20141209-185713_1.jpgGluten and sugar free.
 
Pagans do not have to worry about lumps of coal in our Yule stockings. But you can have chocolate lumps instead, yum!
 
My approach to the ecstatic path is down to earth and often quite simple. For example, last year I made a list of things to 1) keep my spirits up during the Yule season and 2) help create a happy season for other people.
 
Inventing a new chocolate recipe was on the list. … Well, the list didn’t just include inventing new chocolate yumminess. The real point was I would consume said yumminess. :-)
 
I thoroughly enjoyed it, and will use the recipe again this year. Here it is:
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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Yule-Halm

Yule is a birth, and birth is a messy business.

In the old North, women used to give birth in straw. This was called the birthing-litter or the birthing-strew: cushioning, absorbent, and readily disposable.

In fact, straw and strew come from the same verbal root, apparently meaning “to spread.” It was once customary to spread the floors of the house with straw—called halm or haulm, from the same root as Greek kalamos, “reed”—to insulate and absorb spills. Generally the halm had fragrant herbs mingled among it, but even so it must have gotten pretty rank with use. So for many years it was the practice to lay fresh strew for Yule: the Yule-halm. In Sweden this was known as Julglädje, the “Yule-joy.” (The old stuff must have been pretty bad.) Some people would sleep in the Yule-halm so as to leave their beds for the visiting dead who rejoin the family during the holy tide. Straw-dreams were said to be of great omen.

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