When I think about Yule, the first thing that comes to mind is “oh dear God it’s the shortest day of the year!” and I have a mini panic attack. But when I come back from that, I’m reminded that this is a high Pagan holiday, and in case you weren’t aware of it, I’m quite the witch. So here’s the thing I love about Yule …
… it’s a time when I can unapologetically bring my wiccan heart to the table, where I can be my witchiest self, and people either don’t know or they don’t care. What some people have forgotten is that Yule was originally a pagan holiday that was appropriated by the Christian faith.
In case it isn’t obvious from my name, I’m Icelandic. And so for me, this dark time of the year is both something I currently experience, and it’s also something that is genetically and historically significant for me. The other side of the equation that not everybody knows, is that as a practicing wiccan, this pagan high holiday is close to my heart. Traditionally the community would gather and share this special day that signifies the changing of the sun. The more sinister way of seeing this holiday is that it is one that the Christians appropriated when they needed people to turn from their earth-base faiths towards the Christian faith. Because I’ve gotta tell you, I’ve never heard of a pine tree in Jerusalem!
What we often forget is that so many of our Christmas traditions evolved from Pagan roots, including the Christmas tree, Yule log, and hanging wreaths. And the celebration of this day, December 21 – the shortest day of the year, represented the re-awakening of nature. Yule traditions included making sacrifices to the Gods in order to receive blessings on future crops for the year to come.
The solstice is the shortest day, with the longest night (in the northern hemisphere, that is). It’s the transition point marking the official start of winter, and brings with it the most darkness. In many ways, that makes it a really hard time of year for those people that are aching for some sunlight. But in other ways, it’s a deep blessing … because it’s a call to go inside, both inside of our homes and inside our hearts, and to really take a look and reflect on this last year. It’s also a chance to look at what we want to let go of, what has not been working, what is no longer serving us, and really most importantly, what gets in the way of our light. It traditionally has been an opportunity, as the days start to grow longer and we see more of the sun, to consider what it is that we want to expand in our lives. Look at what kind of light you want to shine. (that’s why over the years I’ve started sending out my Year In Review).
So how do the solstice and Yule traditions impact us today? What you can do to celebrate the high holiday?
This day really does call for some kind of reflection (check out my tools from Dec.8 and Dec.15). It’s also a chance to gather with friends and share what you’ve learned from your reflection, share what you’ve realized is really importan to you, and to share the pain or the struggle of the year you’re leaving in order to let go of it … and be witnessed by your friends in all of this, to start building your vision and your dream for what’s next in the coming year.
Ok, over to you:
Of course, you might have your own traditions. I’d love to hear what they are.