Written by Algoth’s Grove
“Here comes the sun, the darkness gone, welcome in the blessed light of Yuletide, Blessed Be in the firelight of the Holly Tree!”
Yule – Rebirth and Renewal
Altar Dressing: Reds, yellows and greens.
It is common to have the wheel of the year in place of the pentacle on this Sabbat.
It is also customary to burn the wheel of the year in the Yule fire.
Gods and Goddesses invoked: Baldr and his mother Frigga, The Greenman, Cailleach Bheur, Demeter, Frau Holle, Holly King, The Dagda, Brighid.
Herbs used: Holly, Mistletoe, Oak, Pine, Sage and Cedar
Incense: Bayberry, Pine, Cedar
Crystals: Bloodstone, Garnet, Green Jade.
Yule, Yuletide, Hjol, Jol, is one of the eight pagan Sabbats. It is a great festival of gift giving and welcoming back the warmth of the sun and of course, figuratively and literally, letting go of all the darkness. Yule brings with its festivities a deep psychological change in every pagan, and the ritual usually allows safe space for letting go and climbing a step higher toward our true selves.
In the coming weeks before Yule it is customary to clean out the clutter. Not only in your cupboards, but in your mind as well. It is time for getting ready for the new year ahead which will once again be illuminated by the coming of the sun. The festival is held on the longest and darkest night of the year, and it is known to have one of the greatest feasting tables of any festival in the pagan wheel of the year.
The Wheel of the Year works within our own lives. We move with the wheel whether we like it or not. The ebb and flow of the turning of the tides gently pushes us to do peculiar things, but when looking on the wheel of the year, we see that it all makes sense when we are in tune with Mother Nature. We have researched a few fables from around the world which we will copy in below. After that, there are a few rituals including the ritual found in Gerald Gardners Book of Shadows. We have included rituals for solitaries and rituals for coven members. Remember to feast and welcome in the sun, letting go of all that has passed its time! Wassail!
Children’s Yule Story – Written by Patrick McCleary
“Grandfather can you tell us a story?” the children asked in unison as they ran up to the old man reclining peacefully by the fire.
The old man sat up straighter in the chair, took a puff from his pipe and asked with a grin, “What story should I tell? What story do you want to know? You there,” he said pointing to one of the children, the smallest, “you haven’t had a turn to ask for a story in quite a while. So you pick, tell me what you want to hear.”
In a small voice, the child said “Grandfather can you tell me of the story of the first Yule? I always liked that one the best.”
With a clearing of his throat and another puff on his pipe, the Grandfather started to spin the tale of the first Yule.
“We all know that Yule is at the end of December. When the night and the day are equal to each other. But the story really starts much earlier. In fact over a month earlier. For you remember that in August the Harvest Lord laid down his sword of power and went away to Summerland to rest. Well the Goddess missed her husband so much that she began to grow old just with the grief alone and that is why we have Winter. The time when the Earth grows barren and cold.
“Well the Goddess because of her sadness after a time, left us also and went on a journey to Summerland to try and find him. Now she doesn’t die now, she only goes on a vision quest. But she is gone so long that at Samhain her body passes on and when she is found frozen in the forest two weeks later a wake is held for her in the Holly King’s drinking hall.
“It took over a week for all the faeries and other mourners to come.For they came from all corners of Creation. But there was one unexpected guest, an old woman. She was so old that she almost looked like a walking skeleton. So of course everyone there was mean to her out of fright and disgust.
“Yet when she greeted the Holly King, calling him her Son, everyone realized with much fright that this was the Goddess returned to them. The very Goddess whose death, they were there to mourn.
“So angry was she, that she was treated so poorly, the Goddess passed a prophecy to the Holly King. That she had within her the Oak King, soon to be reborn. And for rebuking her the Holly King would pass to Summerland upon the birth of that child.
“Now this scared the Holly King that he decided to lock the old Crone away in the top room of the tallest tower in all the world. Then he walled up the doors and all but one of the windows so that she is trapped within the room at the top of this tower. The window he left open so that he could have the birds fly food to her.
“Now he did this hoping that he could escape the doom that was foretold to him. But the Crone knew that the birth of her child was her only hope of escape. The Crone then wove magick and took the light and warmth from the Sun, and passed it to her son. So that in just four weeks, she gave birth to the Oak King. Who ever after was also given the name of the Sun King. For he was born fully grown and glowing with a golden light so bright that it caused the dying of the Sun to be reversed.
“Those four weeks of magick are why we light the candles for the four weeks before Yule. One candle for the first week and two for the second and so on until we have four candles lit on the night of Yule. This represents the growing light inside her as outside the Sun grew weaker.
“But the birth was hard on the old Crone, so hard that she slipped into a sleep very near to Death. So the Sun King in his anger thinking that his mother was dead, flew out the lone window as a large golden eagle. All across the Earth he hunted the Holly King, Lord of the Wintertime. Finally cornering him at the shores of a great ocean.
“And when he found him he threw his magickal spear at him and destroyed him. The spear hit the Holly King so hard that his body just vanished. But don’t worry, for the Holly King simply reappeared in Summerland. When he got there he found the Crone in one of her other aspects, the Young Maiden.
“She spoke to him of prophecy and the Wheel of the Year. She spoke of the new cycle that had been made in the last year. That the events of the last year would repeat themselves forever and ever.
“And although the Holly King had passed away now, he now knew that he would return just past the height of Summer to take the Sun King’s place again.
This is why the Holly King, as Santa Claus, brings us gifts every year to make up for the Winter that he brings with him. But he only brings presents to good little boys and girls because he wants us to learn to not be mean like he was to the Crone on that first night that he met her so long ago.
“Now back to the Sun King, when he returned to the Crone he saw that she wasn’t really dead but only asleep. So he went out and found a large log, the first Yule Log, cut from the largest Oak he could find. In hopes that this would revive the Goddess. And for their lifegiving properties he decorated her room with evergreens. Even bringing in a tree and decorating it with his light.
“But all this magick did was to make her youthful again, so that now she was a beautiful youthful Maiden. Yet she still slept a deep sleep almost near death.
“So you see my grandchildren there are good reasons why we do the things that we do at Yule. They served a purpose long ago and it is good to recognize and honor that. “
“But Grandfather,” spoke up the eldest, “What happened next? I know the Goddess didn’t stay asleep forever. Please tell us more.”
Shaking his head, the old man said, “Lunch is overdue and I’m hungry so let us go to eat and then I will tell you all another tale. I will tell you of what happened next to the Goddess and to the Sun King. I will tell you the story of the first Imbolc.”
The Yule Faeries – A Winter Solstice Story – Author is unknown
A group of little Faeries huddled in their home deep under the roots of a giant oak tree. They were safe and snug in their tiny underground cave lined with dandelion fluff, bird feathers, and dried moss.
Outside, the wind blew cold and the snow fell softly down to cover the ground. “I saw the Sun King today,” the faerie named Rose said as she pulled her mossy cloak tighter about her. “He looked so old and tired as he walked off through the forest. What is wrong with him?
“The great oak said he’s dying” answered Daffodil.
“Dying? Oh, what will we do now?”, Little Meadow Grass started to cry, “If the Sun King dies, our little plant friends will not grow. The Birds will not come and sing again. Everything will be winter for ever!” Lilac, Dandelion and Elder Blossom tried to comfort their friend, but they were all very sad. As they huddled together, there was a knock on the tiny door.
“Open up, Faeries,” called out a loud voice. “Why are you hiding instead of joining us in our Solstice celebration?” Rose opened the door and the little gnome Brown Knobby pushed inside, shaking the glistening snowflakes off his brown coat and hat.
“We are too sad to celebrate,” Daffodil said wiping her eyes, “The Sun King is dying, haven’t you heard?”
“He is dead you silly Faeries.” Brown Knobby’s round dark eyes sparkled with laughter. “Now hurry, or we’ll be late for the celebration!”
“How can you be happy and laughing?!” Elder Blossom stamped her little foot and frowned at the gnome. “If the Sun King IS dead, it will be winter always. We will never see the Sun again!”
“Silly little child-Faeries.” Brown Knobby grabbed Dandelion by the hand and pulled her to her feet. “There is a secret to the Winter Solstice. Don’t you want to know what it is?”
The Faeries looked at him in surprise. “Secret?” they all said. “What secret? We are only new little Faeries, you silly gnome. We’ve never been to a Solstice celebration before.”
“Come and see. Come and see. Get your capes and come with me.” Brown Knobby danced and jigged around the room. “Hurry, Hurry, don’t be slow! To the Sacred Oak Grove through the snow!” He danced out of the door and disappeared.
“What did that gnome mean?” Rose asked as she gathered up her cloak of dried rose petals held together with cobwebs and lined with goose down.
“I don’t know, but the Lady lives in the Sacred Grove.” Meadow Grass pulled on her hat.
“Perhaps if we go to see the Goddess, She can explain what Brown Knobby was talking about”.
The Faeries left their snug little home and trudged off through the snow toward the sacred oak grove. The forest was dark with only the light of the Moon shining down through the thick fir branches and bare limbs of maple and hawthorn. It was very difficult for them to get through the snow because they were very, very small. As they waded through the wet snow and shivered in the cold wind, they met a fox.
“Where are you going, Faeries?” the fox asked.
“To the sacred grove,” they answered, they were cold and shivering.
“Climb on my back and I will take you there swiftly.”
The fox knelt down so the Faeries could climb up. Then he raced off through the dark.
“Listen!” Lilac said as they neared the Grove of Sacred trees. “Someone is singing happy songs. A LOT of someones.”
The beautiful music carried over the cold, still, moonlit air. It was the most beautiful music the Faeries had ever heard. The fox carried the Faeries right to the edge of the stone altar in the center of the grove, then knelt down.
“Look!” said Elder Blossom as they slid to the snow covered ground. “There is the Maiden and the Mother and the OLD Wise Crone, and many other Little People.”
“They are all smiling and happy,” said Lilac as she looked around at all the creatures.
“All the animals are here too,” whispered Dandelion. “Why are they all looking at the Mother?”
The Faeries moved closer to the three Ladies seated on the altar stone. The Mother held a bundle close in Her arms, smiling down at it. The Maiden reached down and took the Faeries gently in her Hands. She held them close to the Mother so they could see what She held.
“A Baby!” the Faeries cried. ” A new little Baby! Look how he glows!”
“He is the newborn Sun King,” said the Maiden smiling.
“But Brown Knobby and the old oak tree said the Sun King was dead,” the Faeries answered her. “How can this little baby be the Sun King?”
“That is the great secret of the Winter Solstice.” The Old Wise One touched the baby’s cheek with her wrinkled hand. “Every year the Sun King must come to the sacred grove during the darkest days of winter where he dies. I take his spirit to the Mother who gives him new life again. This is the way for all creatures, not just the Sun King.”
” You mean everything lives and dies and lives again? the Faeries looked down in wonder at the baby Sun King, nestled in the arms of the Mother.
” Yes, Little Ones,” answered the Old Wise Crone. “There is never an end to life. This is the great mystical secret of the Winter Solstice.”
The Faeries laughed because they were so happy.
“I think the little Sun King should have gifts,” said Rose. “I will show him where the wild roses bloom in the early summer.”
“And, I will teach him to call the birds and listen to the songs of the wind,” exclaimed Dandelion.
“When he is older and stronger, ” said the Mother, “then the flowers will bloom at his touch, the birds will return to sing their songs, and the air will be warm from his breath, and winter will be gone for a time. Then the Sun King will run and play with you in the forest.”
The little Faeries sang to the Baby Sun King, songs of the coming spring, the sweet smelling flowers, the bumbling bees, and all the secrets of the forest. And all the creatures within the sacred grove sang with them. Then the fox took them back to their snug home under the roots of the giant oak tree where they dreamed wonderful dreams, waiting for the warmth of spring and the fun they would have with the little Sun King.
So the Yule story is the death of the Oak King, and the birth of the Holly/Sun King. It is the cycle of death and rebirth in us. It is the movement into the light, into the next phase of being and the process of welcoming in the warmth of the new sun! Without further ado… Let’s have some ritual!
Scott Cunninghams Yule Ritual for solitary Practitioners
The altar is adorned with evergreens such as pine, rosemary, bay, juniper and cedar, and the same can be laid to mark the Circle of Stones. Dried leaves can also be placed on the altar. The cauldron, resting on the altar on a heat proof surface (or placed before it if too large), should be filled with ignitable spirit (alcohol), or a red candle can be placed within it. At outdoor rites, lay a fire within the cauldron to be lit during ritual.
1) Arrange the altar, light the candles and incense, and cast the Circle of Stones.
2) Recite the Blessing Chant.
3) Invoke the Goddess and God.
4) Stand before the cauldron and gaze within it. Say these or similar words:
I sorrow not,
though the world is wrapped in sleep.
I sorrow not,
though the icy winds blast.
I sorrow not,
though the snow falls hard and deep.
I sorrow not,
this too shall soon be past.
5) Ignite the cauldron (or candle), using long matches or a taper. As the flame(s) leap up say:
I light this fire in Your honor, Mother Goddess
You have created life from death;
warmth from cold;
The Sun lives once again;
the time of light is waxing.
ever returning God of the Sun!
Hail Mother of All!
6) Circle the altar and cauldron slowly, clockwise, watching the flames. Say the following chant for some time:
The wheel turns; the power burns.
7) Meditate upon the Sun, on the hidden energies lying dormant in winter, not only in the Earth but within ourselves. Think of birth not as the start of life but as its continuance. Welcome the return of the God. After a time cease and stand once again before the altar and flaming caldron.
Great God of the Sun,
I welcome Your return.
May You shine brightly upon the Goddess;
May You shine brightly upon the Earth,
scattering seeds and fertilizing the land.
All blessings upon You,
Reborn One of the Sun!
8) Works of magick, if necessary, may follow. Celebrate the Simple Feast, the release the Circle.
Coven Based (More than one person)
Gerald Gardners Yule Ritual
Form circle in usual manner, invoking the Mighty Ones.
The Cauldron of Cerridwen is placed in the circle at the south wreathed with holly, ivy, and mistletoe, with fire lighted within it. There should be no other light except for the candles on the altar and about the circle.
After all are purified, the Moon should be drawn down.
Then the High Priestess stands behind the Cauldron in pentacle position, symbolizing the rebirth of the sun. The people, man and woman alternately, stand round the circle. The Magus stands facing the High Priestess with a bundle of torches, or candles, and the book of words of the incantation. One of the officers stands beside him with a lighted candle, so that he may have light to read by.
The people begin to slowly move round the circle sunwise. As each passes him the Magus lights his candle or torch from the fire in the Cauldron, which may be simply a candle, till all have lighted candles or torches. Then the people dance round slowly as he reads the incantation. (A real fire must now be kindled in the Cauldron.)
Queen of the Moon, Queen of the Sun. Queen of the Heavens, Queen of the Stars.
Queen of the Waters, Queen of the Earth. Who ordained to us the child of promise:
It is the Great Mother who gives birth to him, He is the Lord of Life who is born again, Darkness and tears are set behind,And the star of guidance comes up early.
Golden sun of hill and mountain illumine the land, illumine the world, illumine the seas, illumine the rivers,Grief be laid, and joy be raised.
Blessed be the Great Mother, Without beginning, without ending, To everlasting, to eternity, I O. Evohe, Blessed be.”
The dance commences slowly, in rhythm with the chant, all taking up the call “I. O. Blessed be.” The Priestess joins dance and leads them with a quicker rhythm. The cauldron with burning fire is pushed so that the dancers leap or step over it, in couples. Whichever couple is passing it as it goes out, should be well-purified, three times each, and may pay any amusing forfeit as the High Priestess may ordain. Sometimes the cauldron is relighted several times for this purpose.
By next year this time Algoth’s Grove will have written all their own rituals for The Wheel of the Year. With that, have a merry Yule and remember the darkness is behind us, the light is upon us now! Let the feasting commence!