What is Yule?
Yule is celebrated on the 21st of December and falls on the Winter Solstice.
In Wicca we celebrate 8 Sabbats throughout the year, these are Solar festivals which mark the changing of the 4 seasons and the 2 Equinox (Spring and Autumn) and 2 Solstices (Summer and Winter).
On the Summer Solstice, which is the longest day of the year, there is a great battle between the two Sun Gods, the Lord Of Darkness (the Waning Sun) and the Lord Of Light (The waxing Sun). On the Summer Solstice, the Lord Of Darkness wins the battle and becomes ruler of the skies. The days will then begin to get shorter and the nights longer, it becomes cold, the earth begins to die and become barren of any growth or vegetation.
The Goddess goes through 3 stages throughout the year. In spring she is a young maiden, young and fertile. The Lord of Light is also young and wild. In late Spring/beginning of Summer, the Goddess and the Lord Of Light marry and mate for the first time, and the earth starts to blossom and bloom at their union. The Sun Gods’ light is very powerful and takes a lot of energy, but by late summer The Sun God is weak and the Goddess is heavily pregnant with the abundance of the harvest to come. The Dark Lord lies in wait in the underworld for the Sun God to become weakened and on the Summer Solstice he rises from the underworld to fight the Lord of Light, and he wins. It takes until Samhain for The Lord of Light to descend into the underworld (Which is the Goddesses womb).
The Goddess, now in her mother phase, gives birth to the harvest, and at the end of Autumn the Goddess is in her Crone phase, as the wise old woman who watches over earth and mankind.
On the Winter Solstice (Yule), The Goddess, with her last ounce of energy, gives birth to the Lord Of Light, his power and strength are so strong that he knocks the Dark Lord from the sky. By giving birth to the Lord Of Light, the Goddess sacrifices herself and dies, going into the underworld to rest until she is reborn as a young maiden once more in the Spring.
On Yule we celebrate the return of the Lord Of Light. We look forward to the days getting longer and warmer in the months to come. To encourage the Lord Of Light to shine we remind him of times when we had plenty, we have big feasts, decorate our homes with evergreens to show that life still grows, even when the earth is barren. We put shiny things around the home, and light fires and candles to represent the God of Light and encourage him to grow.
Yule is a time to have a great feast and give gifts to friends and family to show our gratitude for them, but if all your friends and family celebrate Christmas, then it is fine to have your feast and gift-giving then, if you choose.
You should decorate your altar with seasonal fare, wrap up well and go for a long walk to a park or woodland, and pick up any seasonal twigs, acorns, nuts, feathers, stones, and rocks that you find, and put them on your altar. Adorn your altar with fruits, mistletoe, holly, evergreen shrubs, and branches. Give offerings of mulled wine and spices to the Goddess and give offerings of Light to the Baby God.
Mainly on this day we give thanks to the Lord of Darkness, for keeping us well through winter and say goodbye to his rule. We give thanks to the Goddess for her sacrifice to ensure ours and the earth’s survival, and we celebrate the return of the young Lord of Light, still growing and becoming stronger day by day.
Use this time to meditate and set plans and goals for the coming year, show gratitude for all you have, and all the people in your life. Light a fire using a Bloc na Nollaig (Yule Log) made from Oak wood and make wishes into the flames for the coming year.
Tonight is the Winter Solstice and will be the longest night of the year, it is a magical time of transition. After this day, the nights will start to get shorter and the days will become longer. As the waxing Sun grows in strength in the coming months, the earth will start to blossom once more.
I hope you have a fantastic Solstice and that it will be filled with magic, merriment, and light. Blessed be.