Celebrating Yule – The Winter Solstice

Dates: 2020: December 21 | 2021: December 21

The days grow shorter, and the nights grow longer. Winter gains strength. The Wheel turns and we arrive at Yule – the Winter Solstice. The shortest day of the year.

Yule is a 12-day period of reflection and celebration that begins at the winter solstice and continues through the end of the calendar year (December 31st).

Yule is the oldest pagan festivals, from which most Christmas customs derive.

What Yule Represents

Yule celebrates the return of the sun.

The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year. At this point of the year, the sun is at its lowest point in the horizon at noon, and the period of daylight is at its shortest.

Each day after the winter solstice, the days will grow gradually longer as the sun’s path arcs higher and higher in the sky.

Yule is a time for celebrating light, gift-giving, gathering with family and friends, and celebrating the “rebirth” of the sun.

Personally, Tracy and I reflect on the end of the previous year, and prepare for the start of a new year and a new cycle.

Keywords: Hope, expectation, joy, peace, gathering, family, rebirth, renewal, light.

Yule Correspondences

Moon Phase: Yule corresponds to the New Moon, a time to set intentions and make new starts.

Colors: Red, green, gold, silver, blue, and white are all colors to use for candles and decorations this time of year.

Crystals/Stones: Clear quartz, snow quartz, obsidian, citrine, orange calcite, fire agate, fire opal, pyrite, and red jasper are my favorite crystals to put out and work with this time of year.

Black moonstone is another crystal that I work with during each new moon, but also at Yule. Black moonstone is a crystal of intention, hope, manifestation, and new beginnings.

Herbs: Peppermint, cinnamon, clove, and ginger are the herbs I work with at Yule – especially in cooking, teas, and other herb-crafts.

Incense/Essential Oils: Fir, pine, cedar, juniper, cedarwood, peppermint, cinnamon, clove, and orange.

Other Magickal Earth Items: Evergreen boughs, pine cones, holly leaves/berries, ice/snow, yule log, poinsettia, reindeer.

Yule Rituals: How To Celebrate Yule

Tracy and I still celebrate Christmas on December 25, as that is the holiday we grew up with.

For us, Christmas is more of a secular, cultural holiday than a religious one – and we have no problem with immersing ourselves in the festivities of the holiday season.

Besides, many of the holiday symbols and customs we associate with Christmas today were borrowed from much earlier, pagan practices.

We have incorporated a few of our own spiritual, mindful practices during the Yule season.

Create A Yule Altar

In addition to our Christmas tree and decorations, we set up a Yule altar.

Our altar includes red, green, and white candles, a deer antler, a mini, artificial Christmas tree, evergreen boughs (Douglas fir, cedar, juniper, pine), pine cones, sprigs of holly, and crystals that correspond to Yule.

We also place solar symbols on our altar at Yule. I usually place a fresh orange (representing the sun) on top of a holly leaf as a nod to the mythology of the Oak King defeating the Holly King at the solstice, ushering in the new year and the strengthening sun.

An orange placed on top of a holly leaf symbolizes the rebirth of the sun, and the mythological rebirth of the Oak King upon the defeat of the Holly King.

Decorating For Yule

Evergreen boughs, garland, and wreaths are perfect Yule decorations, as well as sprigs of holly and mistletoe.

A Christmas (or Yule) tree is the centerpiece of our home at this time of year.

Because the nights are long, we light a lot of candles – particularly white, but red and green are also favorite colors.

Solstice Crystal Ritual

On the night before the Winter Solstice, I place a clear quartz crystal on the windowsill of our East-facing window. As the sun rises on the solstice, the crystal catches the very first rays of light from the reborn sun.

I then use this crystal for intention work during the Yule season.

Set Intentions For The New Year

Most of us do this during the New Year holiday anyways, but I view the Winter Solstice as the start of the new year since it’s the beginning of a new solar cycle.

Yule is the time to set intentions for the coming year. It’s a great time to commit or re-commit to a goal, or change in your life.

Be sure to write these intentions down (on paper or bay leaves) and either burn them, or place them inside a bottle, box, or cauldron (with lid) with manifestation crystals like clear quartz, pyrite, citrine, green aventurine, or green chert.

Giving

Yule is a season of giving. If you are able, exchange gifts with family and friends, but be sure to also remember those who are less fortunate.

Tracy and I always donate to the local food bank and place toys in the Toys For Tots bin.

Gathering

Sadly, 2020 is not a good year to gather with family and friends. We are already seeing the consequences of Thanksgiving gatherings a couple weeks ago.

To be safe and healthy this holiday season, you can still gather virtually through online video, or appreciate the time and companionship you have with those you live with.

Phenology

Phenology is the study of cyclical patterns in the natural world around you. As I celebrate each holiday on the Wheel Of The Year, I take note of the changes in the environment around me.

What flowers (if any) are blooming at Yule? What birds or other animals are active? What time does the sun rise and set? What are the temperatures? Take note of what is happening outside your window!

While no flowers are blooming in our frozen, sometimes snow-covered garden this time of year, migratory ducks and geese are active on the river outside our home. We frequently see bald eagles hunting.

Cosmic Happenings At Yule

Sun In Capricorn: The sun is in Capricorn every year at Yule. As the sign of Capricorn is associated with structure and long-term goals, it is the perfect time of the year to set intentions for the coming year, and build momentum on your goals as the sun gains power.

The sun enters Capricorn on the Winter Solstice (first day of Yule) on December 21st (2020 and 2021).

New Moon in Sagittarius: The New Moon closest to Yule will be the New Moon in Sagittarius on Monday, December 14 (2020).

The sign of Sagittarius is associated with adventure, trying new things, and getting out of your comfort zone. Set intentions to introduce new foods and customs into your Yule celebration, and don’t shy away from getting adventurous in how and where you spend the holidays.

New Moon in Sagittarius

Full Moon in Cancer: On December 29, 2020, the full moon closest to Yule will be in Cancer. Cancer is associated with home and domestic life, so spend some time in gratitude for what you have.

However, it’s also a time to release what no longer contributes to positive and harmonious energy in your home.

Full Moon in Cancer

New Moon in Capricorn: While the New Moon in Capricorn isn’t until January 13, 2021, (well after Yule), it’s the first new moon of the new year.

Because of its association with setting intentions – particularly around structure and long-term goals – it’s an important new moon that shifts the celebratory energy of Yule into the active work of manifesting those intentions.

New Moon in Capricorn

How Do You Celebrate Yule or The Winter Solstice?

Please post a comment below and share any traditions or rituals that you do during the Yuletide season!

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