Christmas, or Yule as we call it, is just around the corner. As Christians become jaded about it, Wiccans are not. I mean, can you really blame them when Christmas has become so commercial: Christmas songs, Christmas wrapping paper, Christmas stockings. Christmas has become synonymous with mindless spending and being drunk while merrymaking.
The time of Yule has the potential to be confusing to Wiccans, especially if you lose sight of the meaning behind the season. Yes, it is a time when we gather with our loved ones and spend time, but there is more to it than that.
Yule is actually about two important events: the loss of the Old God, the Lord of Winter and the rebirth of the Sun King.
The Old God or the Lord of Winter is someone like Santa Claus. He is a jolly guy and he is sometimes portrayed as a king in robes. The Old God returns to the Underworld, defeated by the birth of the Oak King, the God of the Waxing Sun. But the Old King will make a comeback during summer solstice.
It’s almost time for when the days become longer and the nights shorter. Yule was a time of scarcity for our ancestors and they eagerly await the abundance of spring. They were also very thankful that it’s almost over and the light is coming. This is something you can reflect on in your Yule rituals. Yule meant leaner times for our ancestors, and they did not have the sophistication of storage that we now have. So Yule season was colder and darker than now. And yet, they rejoice as they await the coming of the sun.
To some witches, Yule marks the start of a new year, which comes after the darkest days and brings with it slowly, the light of the sun. So much of Yule rituals focus on rebirth and renewal as the sun makes its way back to the earth.
Yule rituals are for new beginnings, thanksgiving, peace, love, hope and happiness and support for the coming of the Sun King. It’s tradition to light candles to encourage the Sun King to grow stronger and stronger as he makes his way back in the spring.
When you decorate your altar or home, think yule logs, gold pillar candles, red candles, green candles, evergreen boughs or wreaths, hollies, pine, sage, cedar, mistletoes, baskets of clove studded fruit, a simmering pot of wassail, poinsettias, christmas cacti. For metals: gold and silver.
Seeing how the Sabbat is celebrated by your ancestors in a much different way than how it is celebrated now sets Yule apart from Christmas. That in itself takes away any feeling of senselessness and being cynical that you might fall into during the time of Yule. Because it is more than just gift-giving and merrymaking, and being pressured to do what you don’t want to do, it’s about the cycle of life, death, rebirth, survival, the Earth, and our ancestors--all connected.