* Incense: Pine, Cedar, Rosemary, Bayberry, Juniper, Frankincense, Sandalwood, Myrrh
* Metal: Gold
* Stones/Gems: Sapphire, Turquoise, Serpentine, Peridot, Jacinth
* Colors: Red, Green, White, Silver, Gold
* Foods: Nuts, Apples,
* Herbs and Flowers : Holly, Mistletoe, Rosemary, Oak, Spruce, Pine, Ivy, Fir, Poinsettia
* Animals: reindeer, the stag, mouse, deer, horse, bear
Yule Customs and Origins
Nearly every ancient culture held a celebration to mark the shortest day of the year and the return of the Sun. Celebrated annually on the Winter Solstice, generally falling on December 20th or December 21st, it is known as Yule, and serves as the origin for many Christmas traditions.
Celtic tradition holds life as a cycle rather than a linear state, and also teaches that what is exoteric is intrinsic, what is within is without . At the time of the Winter Solstice as the earth is undergoing the process of death to rebirth and renewal, so also must the human soul. Yule marks that spiral of time when the old sun surrenders its life in order that the new one might come. This corresponds to the belief that the Celtic Sun God, Bel was interrelated with the Celtic Death God, Bile. As with the celebration of Litha, the two Gods appear in form as the Oak King and the Holly King battling for supremacy. This is only one reason that the Druids were initially so accepting of Christianity with Christ as the human embodiment of the new Sun. It is also one of the reasons that Christmas is celebrated at this time, both from a pagan perspective and a spiritually metaphorical one.
Although not recorded in the Coligny (the Celtic Calendar which dates back to the first century A.D) as one of the great fire festivals, the custom of lighting the Yule log is derived from the Celtic tradition of tending a continual hearth fire to keep spirits from entering the home. In order to keep the fire burning, a large tree was cut down and brought into the home, where the tree was placed trunk first in the hearth and the last remnants of it set aside to burn with the next year's fire.
Yule is a solar festival and one of the Minor Sabbats. This is when the Goddess gives birth to the God. The Sun represents the God reborn. Fires are lit to welcome him. The ancient Pagans had rituals to hasten the end of winter and bring in the spring when nature’s bounty would, again, prevail. The day is a reminder that death isn’t final; there will be rebirth.
The altar cloth is green and candles are red, gold and white in silver holders, the colors of Yule. Holly, ivy, evergreens, mistletoe and fruit studded with cloves decorate the altar as well as the Yule crystals: ruby, cat’s eye, garnets, bloodstone, diamonds and emerald. Incense is myrrh, frankincense, cedar, pine, bayberry or cinnamon.
The tree is adorned with strings of popcorn and cranberries, quartz crystals wrapped wire, oranges, apples and lemons and small sachet bags with cinnamon, rosemary and bay leaves. Wishes written in parchment are hung from holly branches. The Yule log is lit and a piece of it is saved to protect the home and for next year’s celebration.
Love, camaraderie and accomplishments of the past year are celebrated. Reflection is on aspirations for the next year.
Love and accomplishments of the past year are also celebrated. This is also a good time to reflect on your achievements of the last year and what you desire to achieve in the coming year.