Baltica at English Wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
YULE is one of the four major gateways in the 8 spoked circle of the Pagan/ Druid year.
It’s CAPRICORN time. Ruled by Saturn, the planet/God of Time, testing, maturity, old age. The ancient Romans celebrated this tradition as the Saturnalia. A time of revelry, when slaves were free and became the masters, everyone was celebrating the Return of the Light, the King, in infant form. The Christians overlaid the story of Jesus onto the ancient worship. Everything we associate with Christmas are ancient pagan symbols -the holly, the mistletoe, the Yule log, the tree.
Paganism is the fastest growing “religion” in the U.K. and the U.S. Actually it is not an organized religion at all per se, it is a practice of spiritual immanence with Nature, the Goddess and the God, with All That Is. Paganism is more of a group spirituality which can be practiced alone. It has nothing to do with devil worship. The popularity of Harry Potter has also certainly brought back its popularity. Pagans worship nature, Druids worshipped trees.
So it’s Capricorn time. The sun is on the Tropic of Capricorn 23.26 degrees South of the Equator. The Tropic Of Capricorn has many countries worldwide which it runs through. Five in Africa, North of Alice Springs, Queensland, Australia, and four countries in Brasil.
YULE pronounced EWE-elle is the name for the shortest day of Light in the Year, the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. It is when the dark half of the year dies to the light half. Starting the next morning at sunrise, the sun climbs just a little higher and stays a little longer in the sky each day. Known as Solstice Night, or the longest night of the year, the sun’s “rebirth” was celebrated with much joy. Our ancestors celebrated the rebirth of the Oak King, the Sun King, giver of Life. From this day forward, the days would become longer. As the people participated in the mystique of the turning of the wheel of Life, their participation and prayers to honour this propitious time was all important. For if the Goddess did not bring rebirth to her Son the sun, and the Sun’s Light did not return then that signalled the death of all life on the earth.
Bonfires were lit in the fields, and crops and trees were ‘wassailed” with toasts of spiced cider. Children were escorted from house to house with gifts of clove spiked apples and oranges which were laid in baskets of evergreen boughs and wheat stalks dusted with flour. Apples and oranges represented the sun. The boughs symbolized immortality (evergreens were sacred to the Celts who worshipped trees because they did not “die” thereby representing the eternal aspect of the Divine). The wheat stalks portrayed the harvest, and the flour was the accomplishment of triumph, light, and life. Holly and ivy not only decorated the outside but also the inside of homes, in hopes Nature Sprites would come and join the celebration. A sprig of Holly was kept near the door all year long as a constant invitation for good fortune to visit the residents. Mistletoe was also hung as decoration. It represented the seed of the Divine, and at Midwinter, the Druids would travel deep into the forest to harvest it.
The ceremonial Yule log was the highlight of the Solstice festival. Traditionally, the log must either have been harvested from the householder’s land or given as a gift… it must never have been bought. Once dragged into the house and placed in the fireplace it was decorated in seasonal greenery, doused with cider or ale, and dusted with flour before setting ablaze by a piece of last years log, (held onto for just this purpose). The log would burn throughout the night, then smolder for 12 days after before being ceremonially put out. Ash is the traditional wood of the Yule log. It is the sacred world tree of the Teutons, known as Yggdrasil. An herb of the Sun, Ash brings light into the hearth at the Solstice. The World Tree, Yggdrasil is the one in which ODEN is suspended from in the tarot Image of the HANGED MAN. This is where the Nordic RUNES came from.
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