A Lesser Sabbat and a Sun Quarter Day
Northern Hemisphere December 21/22nd
Southern Hemisphere June 21/22nd
This is the longest night of the year and the shortest day and winter’s at its peak. It’s cold and dark and animals are hibernating, the birds are silent and the plants are all dormant.
This festival marks the re-birth of the sun with the cyclic story of the death of the Holly King (the king of the waning year) and the re-birth of his son the Oak King (the king of the waxing year).
Yule is a time to look forward to the return of the light of the sun and the warmth that it brings. Although it’s still cold, this time of year brings hope for a brighter future as we quietly celebrate the forthcoming warmth and prepare for the growth season to come.
Find a good size Oak log and decorate it with Ivy, (traditionally also with Holly and Mistletoe; Holly because it‘s an evergreen and symbolises ongoing life while the seeds of Mistletoe, prevalent at this time of year, symbolise the sacred seed of new life). Light the log with an unburnt piece of last year's Yule log to symbolise the kindling light of the re-born sun. Save a small piece of this year’s log from burning to use to light next year's log and spread the ashes of the burnt log on the garden.
A Contemporary Winter Solstice - Yule Ritual
Decorate the altar and the circle perimeter with Holly and Ivy leaves, golden garlands and lots of candles. There should also be a crown made from Oak leaves (these should be gathered in the previous summer, pressed and lacquered ready for Yule). Light a balefire in the centre of the circle and beside it, lay this year’s new Oak Yule log and the piece from last year with which to light this year’s log.
Cast the circle as normal if there are no visitors present, otherwise, omit the circle casting. The Oak King lays down in a foetal position in the Eastern quarter of the circle. The High Priestess then opens the rite by saying; “This festival marks both the rebirth of the sun at the midpoint of winter and the rebirth of the Oak King as he returns to us each year. The Goddess, in all her glory, gives birth to the light of the sun above us and her son the Oak King before us. (Pointing to the baby Oak King laying on the floor in the east of the circle). The Holly King must die to make way for his son and the return of the light. We celebrate this night with the joyous birth of the Oak King!”
The maiden takes the Oak leaf crown from the altar and kneels before the baby Oak King saying; “We honour thee, our newborn God”. The Oak King rises to face her and she places the crown on his head. He stands before those gathered and says; “I am reborn once more, and with me comes the light of the sun. I honour my father, the Holly King, the King of the waning year.”
The High Priestess says; “All hail the Sun God!” Everyone says; “All hail the Sun God”.
The High Priestess picks up last year’s Yule log and hands it to the Oak King saying; “As we honour the reborn Sun God, let us also remember that life is but a cycle of death and life. Here is the last of the bounty from the year before that we saved to honour this year’s bounty. Oak King, Lord of the waxing year, rekindle the light of the sun”.
The Oak King uses last year’s log to light the new Oak log in the balefire. When the new Yule log is burning, he says; “All hail the Sun God!” Everyone says; “All hail the Sun God”
Consecrate and then have the cakes and ale and then close the circle. Follow up with a feast and games beside the Yule balefire.
Smiles and blessings, Amethyst