Saturday, December 22, 2007

Bright Yule!

The solstices and equinoxes can sometimes be hard to plan. The dates change every year, you see, but as long as your ritual takes place somewhat nearby, it makes little difference what day it happens. It just so happens that the solstice will begin in less than half an hour; the official start is 0108 today.

The Yule ritual celebrates the re-birth of the sun god. To the ancient peoples, it probably did seem like the sun was dying in winter, until it suddenly started growing again. There is a reason why so many light and birth festivals occur during this time of year.

My ritual was simply a celebration. With my Yule log burning in the fireplace, I set my altar before it. In the center, I placed my altar cloth. This was my very first one, that has a pentacle, a special rune, and symbols for the four directions embroidered on it in spring colors. The symbols for the directions did not line up for this purpose, so I folded them out of the way. My Yule log served to represent fire in the south well enough. To the east, I set an incense burner, and lit the stick from the Yule log. It was interesting to watch the smoke from my incense go right up the flue. In the west was a silver chalice with water. This is also where I placed my wand on its stand, as I knew I would be facing south for most of this and I am right handed. In the front was a small glass holder with three pieces of moonstone to represent earth. Those pieces have an ironic significance that I may explain later.

I cast my circle and called the quarters. Then I lit a black candle from the Yule log and placed it in a holder on the pentacle. This candle symbolizes the end of the sun's travels. When it had burnt out, I threw the wax stub on to the Yule log. The log burned with new life, a representation of the new length of daylight to come. I contemplated this dark time, and the things I need to leave behind to move into the light of the coming season as the log burned.

When it had reduced itself to a pile of glowing coals, I dismissed the quarters and opened my circle. The water was offered to the Earth in libation. When the morning comes, I will clear my altar and light a single gold candle to represent the return of the sun. Sometime during the course of the day, I will collect the ashes from my Yule log for later use. (Among other things, they are said to be quite magickal!)

I hope this Yule found everyone warm and ready to rejoice with the soon return of spring.

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