When I wrote my first article on Wicca, I wanted to explain to you, through this, what motivates me. Some may wonder what is the link between my beliefs and my creations: The link is in what I visualize. By choosing the stones that will be assembled into jewellery, I visualise as much as possible the good that I wish to transmit, thanks to the minerals, to the future wearer of this jewel. When I paint, I try to convey poetry, fantasy and smiles to people. All this, I invite you to discover it as you read the articles on this blog. I invite you to discover the world of Lunesia through the stories I collect and through the spirituality that animates me.
Today, in order to continue to share my universe with you, I want to talk to you about Yule. This is one of the great Wiccan celebrations. Known by many names, it has been celebrated since time immemorial throughout the world. On this winter solstice day, let me show you the magic of Yule.
What is Yule?
Yule (pronounced "Ewe-elle" or "Youle") is one of the 4 Sabbaths based on ancient religions and celebrating the Sun and fire. It corresponds to the winter solstice, which usually takes place on December 21 or 22, and is the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. This celebration marks the official beginning of winter. From this date, and until Litha (21 or 22 June) the days begin to lengthen, bringing light again, symbol of warmth and life, to Earth. This Sabbath is there to remind us that death is not an end in itself, but rather a new beginning. It brings rebirth, because it is the moment when the Goddess brings back to life the Oak God (or Sun God) by giving birth to him. The growing child God is the sun that becomes more and more present. As we celebrate the return of light during this celebration, it is customary to light candles or make fires. Immersed in sleep during the winter of childbirth, the Goddess recovers after childbirth. Yule is a remnant of the primitive rituals celebrated to hasten the end of winter and the fertility of spring.
Yule symbolizes, with his notion of renewal, the opportunity for a new beginning. Moreover, the traditional good resolutions we make on January 1st also come from our ancestors and from the new beginning that Yule represents. In the Wiccan tradition, we also have this principle of resolution. However, instead of removing or banning something, we try to add or positiveize that new something. I explain: In general, during New Year's resolutions, people promise to quit smoking for example or to lose weight. We are here in the logic of removing something. In the Wiccan tradition (at least the one I practice), we are more in the logic of positivizing: For example, for 2019, I want to attract even more love into my life and that of my loved ones.
Yule is therefore a celebration of divine rebirth, forgiveness and sharing. The time to give of your time to the people you love and to yourself, the time to transmit values and knowledge with stories told by the fire. The time to share and offer without expecting anything in return.
Where does the name come from?
Winter Solstice: The word solstice comes from Latin with the words sol "sun" and sistere "stand still". It refers to the fact that on that day, the sun is so low on the horizon that it gives the impression of being motionless in our sky.
Yule: According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Yule would come from the old English gēol and would be the archaic term for Christmas day or time. It is possible that this term, widely used since the mid-18th century, may be synonymous with Christmas and associated festivities.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Yule could also be derived from a Scandinavian term "Lul" or from the Norse "Jól", or even from the Anglo-Saxon "Wheel" which means "wheel". This would then refer to the wheels of Odin's chariot and therefore to the festivities given in his honour. These began on December 20 and continued for twelve days, during which time one welcomed one's neighbour, celebrated the gods, the ancestors and the return of light.
The traditional symbols of Yule :
Yule is par excellence the celebration of light, of its victory over darkness, thanks to the return of the Oak God. As I have already explained, the winter solstice is certainly the longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere, but it is also the time when the days will start to lengthen. As a result, in many celebrations around the world (Jewish, Christian, pagan or even North African) light is celebrated during the solstice.
We often associate red and green with Christmas. Did you know that these colors were already Yule's? They symbolize the evergreen conifers and berries that ripen in winter. Gold is also one of Yule's colours, as it symbolizes both the sun and the shared wealth in the form of gifts during the winter solstice. Finally, white is also associated with Yule. It is of course the colour of the snow, pure and silent, which dresses the earth with a white mantle, thus allowing the goddess to regain her strength after the birth of the sun god. White, a particularly reflective colour, is also a reminder of light.
As you have understood, Yule celebrates the return of light and the rebirth of the sun god. After that, it is common to light candles on this occasion, especially if they are in the traditional colours of this festival (red, green, gold, white) or scented for the occasion (pine, rosemary, cedar, cinnamon, orange, olibanum for example).
Giving gifts during this time of year is not new, far from it. During the winter solstice period, it was customary to make gifts between neighbours, members of the same village. It was a way of letting people know that we were concerned about each other's well-being. It was also the acute awareness that, to survive the cold of winter, it was necessary to think community. As a result, in ancient times, useful things were offered to help those in need.
Before being a pastry shop symbolically representing the trunk of a tree, the Yule log was a real log made of oak or ash. It was decorated with engraving and anointed with mead, beer or even whisky. It was lit the day before the solstice with a piece of the previous year's log. To fill Yule's log role, the longest and most beautiful log possible was chosen. Oak wood was regularly chosen because it burns more slowly than coniferous wood, and the log had to burn all night long.
Moreover, as Gilles Gras explains in The Book of Dante: "Since the night of the solstice is very long, we could not afford to see the log totally burned too early in the night, because, at the heart of the fireplace, the log is placed there, so that, by continuously burning, it holds, by the heat released, outside the house the unhealthy entities that would have the audacity to venture inside by using the chimney pipe! The ashes of this log were also the subject of a stake. They were often spread in fields and gardens to ensure their future prosperity. Moreover, a Yule log that burned until the morning was considered an excellent omen. When the log was lit, we spent the night looking at it, making toasts, making wishes and telling stories to pass on the knowledge of the elders."
I would like to conclude this article on Yule by first thanking Gilles Gras who kindly accepted that I take up some elements of the article he wrote two years ago on the winter solstice. You can find the full article here.
I also helped myself to Susan Pesznecker's work in the book YULE by Danaé Editions.
Finally, I would like to point out that the winter solstice, under many names, has been celebrated since time immemorial throughout the world. These similarities in these ancestral traditions could make us realize that, no matter where we were born, we are not so different from each other.
On this Winter Solstice evening, I wish you all a wonderful holiday season. Be bathed in love and light