Spheres Of Light

A Brief Yule Story

by Rayvensclaw

Yule or Yuletide ("Yule-time") is a winter festival that was initially celebrated by the historical German people a Pagan religious festival, though it was later absorbed into, and equated with, the Christian festival of Christmas. The festival was originally celebrated from late December to early January on a date determined by the lunar Germanic calendar.

Terms with an etymological equivalent to "Yule" are used in the Nordic countries for the Christian Christmas (with its religious rites), but also for other holidays of the season. Yule is also used to a lesser extent in English-speaking countries to refer to Christmas. Customs such as the Yule Log, Yule Goat, Yule Boar, Yule Singing and others stem from Yule. In modern times, Yule is in the Nordic countries becoming more of a pure cultural festival equivalent to the Midsummer celebration.

At the Winter Solstice, the two god themes of the year's cycle coincide even more dramatically than they do at the Summer Solstice. Yule (from the Norse, meaning wheel) marks the death and the rebirth of the Sun God; it also marks the vanquishing of the Holly King, the god of the Waning Year, by the Oak King, the God of the Waxing Year. The Goddess, who was Death-in-Life at Midsummer, now shows her Life-in-Death aspect; for although at this season she is the leprous white lady, Queen of the cold darkness, yet this is her moment for giving birth to the Child of Promise, the Son-Lover who will re-fertilize her and bring back light and warmth to her Kingdom.

Wassailing

Wassailing means "to wish health to" one's apple trees, in the hope that they will bear well. In addition, drums, bells, whistles etc. were used either to scare off evil spirits, or to wake the tree up; a libation of cider or ale was poured over the roots, and bread that had soaked in the 'wassailing' bowl was placed in the branches - an offering back to the tree.

Recipe:

2 cups cranberry juice, 1/4 cup grenadine, 1 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup rum (optional).

The Yule season is full of magic, much of it focusing on rebirth and renewal, as the sun makes its way back to the earth. Focus on this time of the season for new beginnings with your magical workings!

I think we can say that the Yule Log has been explained as far as it can, so let’s proceed with some others:

Yule Goat

The history of the Gävle Goat began in 1966. An advertising consultant came up with the idea of making a giant version of the traditional Swedish Yule Goat and placing it in the square. The design of the first goat was assigned to the then chief of the Gävle fire department the construction of the goat was carried out by the fire department, and they erected the goat each year from 1966 to 1970 and from 1986 to 2002. The first goat was financed by a man named Harry Ström.

On 1 December 1966, a 13-metre (43 ft) tall, 7-metre (23 ft) long, 3-tonne goat was erected in the square. However, at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, the goat went up in flames.


The Gävle Goat of 2004

The goat has since had a history of being burnt down roughly every other year, 2009 being the 24th time. The financing for the initial goats came from a group of businessmen known as the Southern Merchants.

Burning the goat is an illegal act and can result in severe fines or even prison time for arson. However, during the 39 years of the Gävle Goat's history up to 2005, only four people have been caught or convicted. The burning of the Gävle Goat is not officially welcomed by the citizens of Gävle, but undoubtedly it has made the goat world famous and led to increased tourism for the city. The Department of Tourism in Gävle gets bombarded with e-mails from all over the world questioning whether the city supports the burning of the Gävle Goat. Officially the city says that it does not support the burnings.

The Yule Boar

Also in Scandinavia, a custom still lives in the form of the Yule Boar. At Christmas in Sweden and Denmark, a loaf is shaped like a pig and baked. The substitution of a ritual loaf for a man or animal is found in other cultures as well, (and makes one wonder if the person was eaten but the implication is clearly there). The idea appears in conjunction with a sacrificial victim in the April Fools tradition. A ring or other token was hidden in a cake and whoever received the slice containing it was king for the night, able to do whatever he chose, but was killed the next day.

Anyway, the loaf is called the Yule Boar and it's usually made from the last ear of corn reaped in the proceeding harvest. In most households it remains on the table only through the Christmas season but some maintain the older tradition of keeping it until Spring when it's mixed with the new corn and given to field workers to eat. This represents the presence of the spirit of the harvest through the seasons.

Before the loaf was common, a real boar was sacrificed. Prior to that, a man dressed as the Yule Boar was sacrificed. In Sweden shadows of this are still seen. At Christmas there a man is wrapped up in leather and holds bristle-like straws in his mouth in emulation of the animal. An old woman with a blackened face then takes a knife and pretends to kill him, (the death goddess personified).

Herbs

Sun plants like mistletoe, balsam, and fir, and also any dried herbs from Summer, are predominant this time of year because they contain light and warmth. On Yule, when witches decorate their houses, they do so from the doorway inward, thus inviting the light inside. We adorn doorways and mantles with evergreen boughs, bunches of dried summer herbs and the colours red, black, green, and gold. Our ancient ancestors brought an evergreen tree inside to mystically ensure there would be light all year round. The evergreen retains sunlight, staying green all year, and reminds us that life is forever present and renewable. Other Yule herbs, plants, flowers and seeds:

Holly, mistletoe, pine cones, pine needles, oak leaves, Yule log ashes, fir, birch, hazel bark, sandalwood, ivy, comfrey, elder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, chamomile, sunflower, frankincense, myrrh, wintergreen, apple leaf, dried apple.

In the Southern Hemisphere we celebrate Yule on June 21st.
With the element of Earth.

BB, Rayvensclaw.




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Spheres Of Light (SOL) is an Australian Pagan group (eg. Witches, Wiccans, Heathens, Shamans, Magicians, Occultists etc) meeting in the Sutherland Shire,
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