New Moon and Winter Solstice of our life cannot go unnoticed this year’s – both will occur on December 21. Therefore, the Capricorn New Moon, rendering this year’s Solstice will be as quite the potent time. New Moons are optimal times to seed intentions for the following month. Seeing that this is also the marking of the beginning of winter and the closest New Moon before the advent of 2015, this Capricorn New Moon promises to be an excellent time to craft intentions for not only the Capricorn month but also for the Winter with 2015 to follow……How Divine!
What to do on New Moon Yule?
New Moon Yule would be an excellent moment to craft your New Year’s Intentions and record them in a sacred journal. Rather than creating “resolutions” which we can use to punish ourselves, writing a positive intention such as “I will pay more attention to making healthy choices” or “I will become more accountable for my actions” can receive a sacred boost with the timing of this particular yuletide moment. Something to consider as you enter into the joy and warmth this season typically brings.
Our Ancient Cultures and Traditions
Some of the most ancient aspects of Pagan Yule rites still survive to this day. The concept of the Yule log makes its presence known in some parts of the world with regional and individual variations. Singing “wassail” around the yule log or the Christmas tree with a cider made of oranges and apples has also been with us for millennia.
These fruits have been looked upon as representing the Sun itself, particularly oranges. Plants and trees associated with Yule have held some spiritual significance as well. The well-known Christmas song “The Holly and the Ivy” speak of these two traditional plants with reverence that goes beyond the Christ child. In northern cultures, Holly was considered particularly fortunate and it was kept by the front door of people’s homes to bless the house with good fortune.
Mistletoe, a plant sacred to the Druids, was also emblematic of spiritual blessings, for it was seen as the Seed of the Gods. Somewhere along the line, the idea of kissing under the mistletoe developed, but in times past placing the clump of white berries in a door frame was thought to encourage welcoming and helpful energies to promote good health and well-being.
Some cultures did have unsavory Solstice rites, such as the ancient Romans. This time of year was one to honor the God Saturn with the festival that bears his name “Saturnalia.” This festival was not unlike the later Mardi Gras festival which created a mock king and reversed class and gender roles. The thing about the Saturnalia however, was that the mock king who was feted during the seven days from December 17 through the 23rd would be allowed to run amok for that time, and then at the end of it would be killed as a blood sacrifice. Today, this term is often used interchangeably with “Bacchanale” to denote festivals of licentiousness and general decadence.
Other cultures have their own remembrances of the Solstice and it’s worth a search on Google to discover their celebrations. Some, like the Quechua Indians in South America, hold simple pilgrimages to sacred sites. In Mexico, the Mayans had a more elaborate rite involving some young men climbing a tall pole where there is a rope attached at the top. A man would wrap the rope around his foot and then take a flying leap toward the earth. Depending on how the man landed, there would be a celebration of potentially good luck—or not.
Why not adopting and creating your Own Yule Traditions!
Of course we can turn to these older cultures for inspirations about Yule traditions, but there is no reason we can’t conceive of our own as well. As the second festival associated with Winter in the agricultural calendar (Samhain being the first), this is a time when the veils between the worlds are thin. Our connections to the Beloved Ancestors is still strongest during the winter months. In my own life, I have used this time to spend in meditation upon my own sacred dead, and to commune with their spirits around the ancestral campfire.
Introspection continues to be a particularly strong theme of the season. Many people choose to stay up all night on the longest night to mark its passing and also to welcome in the energies of increasing sunlight. The long-delayed dawn of the morning is a high moment indeed. Some people choose this evening to perform their yearly tarot readings, to utilize the sacred energies of this highly charged day to inspire the divination toward a happier and more positive possibility.
You can also create a sacred rite for this time of year using some of the sacred herbs and scents that are associated with Yule. Pine, cedar bayberry, cinnamon and nutmeg are excellent choices. The expected colors of green, red and white are good choices for candles, but so too are silver and gold.
It goes without saying that for those that are Christian, asking for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin and of the Christ Child is helpful, but so too is a call on St. Thomas whose feast day is the 21st. Calling upon the help of one’s angels is always a possibility and for those with more pagan sensibilities, Brigid, the Dagda, Amaterasu, Odin, Freyja, Apollo and Athena are excellent options as well.
And from time immemorial, Yule has been a time of peace and charity. In Norway, work had to be reduced to a minimum, and no wheels were to be turned, for that would show impatience with the great wheel in the sky, the sun. As part of this time– called Julafred, or Peace of Christmas–neither bird, beast nor fish is trapped, shot or netted.
HAVE A BLESSED YULE with your soul!
Veronika Prielozna, MA in preparation for Winter Solstice and dance.