Dec 21, 2015

Posted by in Holidays, Paganism, Sabbats, Yule, Yule | 0 Comments

Welcome Yule!

A Christmas tradition in New York City is WPIX...

A Christmas tradition in New York City is WPIX’s yearly yule log program (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yule is the Pagan festival celebrating the Winter Solstice, the shortest day and the longest night of the year. Thereafter, the days begin to grow longer; thus Yule is a festival of rebirth – the death of the old solar year and the birth of the new. This new year is often depicted as a Divine Child, a baby Sun God. To the Egyptians, he was Horus, while the Greeks and Romans saw him as Apollo. To the Norse and Anglo-Saxons he was Balder, to the Phoenicians, Baal, and to the Celts, Bel. This makes Yule a solar festival, and what better way to celebrate the return of the sun than with fire?

When I was a child, whenever I would hear “See the blazing Yule before us,” I thought that it meant the Yuletide season, good times in a blaze of glory, or something like that. I didn’t learn until many years later that there was such a thing as a Yule Log that people would actually burn (as opposed to the Yule Log cake, which people try really hard not to burn). This burning symbolizes the blazing forth of the newborn Sun. The traditional wood to use for a Yule Log is oak, but if there are no oak trees in your neck of the woods, I think the wood of any deciduous tree would do just fine. Traditionally, Yule Log is selected early in the year and set aside (probably so it isn’t burned for a more mundane purpose accidentally). However, if you’ve just discovered this practice, I would say go ahead and choose now, taking care to make sure that your Yule Log is dry enough to burn.

Decorate your Yule Log with whatever evergreens you can find. Fir symbolizes, birth, while yew symbolizes death. Ivy represents the Goddess. Holly represents the Holly King, which itself is a symbol of the dying year. If you can’t get your hands on holly, skimmia is another evergreen shrub that produces red berries on branches that typically need to be pruned at this time of year. Traditionally, a piece of the previous year’s Yule Log is used to ignite the new one, but if this is your first time, just light your Yule Log with whatever kindling you have on hand. As you watch it burn, think about the New Year ahead, the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. You may want to speak out your good intentions for your life, family, and home. Once the fire has gone out, save an unburned portion of the log, and put it in a safe place somewhere in your home. This unburned portion of your Yule Log will not only light the fire for next year, it will also act as a powerful amulet of protection for the year that has just begun.

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