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This sabbath represents the rebirth of light. Here, on the longest night of the year, the Goddess gives birth to the Sun God and hope for new light is reborn.
Yule is a time of awakening to new goals and leaving old regrets behind. Yule coincides closely with the Christian Christmas celebration. Christmas was once a movable feast celebrated many different times during the year. The choice of December 25 was made by the Pope Julius I in the fourth century AD because this coincided with the pagan rituals of Winter Solstice, or Return of the Sun. The intent was to replace the pagan celebration with the Christian one.
The Christian tradition of a Christmas tree has its origins in the Pagan Yule celebration. Pagan families would bring a live tree into the home so the wood spirits would have a place to keep warm during the cold winter months. Bells were hung in the limbs so you could tell when a spirit was present.
Food and treats were hung on the branches for the spirits to eat and a five-pointed star, the pentagram, symbol of the five elements, was placed atop the tree.
The colors of the season, red and green, also are of Pagan origin, as is the custom of exchanging gifts.
A solar festival, The reindeer stag is also a reminder of the Horned God. You will find that many traditional Christmas decorations have some type of Pagan ancestry or significance that can be added to your Yule holiday. Yule is celebrated by fire and the use of a Yule log. Many enjoy the practice of lighting the Yule Log. If you choose to burn one, select a proper log of oak or pine (never Elder). Carve or chalk upon it a figure of the Sun (a rayed disc) or the Horned God (a horned circle). Set it alight in the fireplace at dusk, on Yule. This is a graphic representation of the rebirth of the God within the sacred fire of the Mother Goddess. As the log burns, visualize the Sun shining within it and think of the coming warmer days. Traditionally, a portion of the Yule Log is saved to be used in lighting next year's log. This piece is kept throughout the year to protect the home.
The Winter Solstice has been celebrated for millennia by cultures and religions all over the world. Many modern pagan religions are descended in spirit from the ancient pre-Christian religions of Europe and the British Isles, and honor the divine as manifest in nature, the turning of the seasons, and the powerfully cyclical nature of life.
Most pagan religions are polytheistic, honoring both male and female deities, which are seen by some as two aspects of one non-gendered god, by others as two separate by complementing beings, and by others as entire pantheons of gods and goddesses.
It is common for the male god(s) to be represented in the sun, the stars, in summer grain, and in the wild animals and places of the earth. The stag is a powerful representation of the male god, who is often called “the horned god.”
The Goddess is most often represented in the earth as a planet, the moon, the oceans, and in the domestic animals and the cultivated areas of the earth.
In many pagan traditions the Winter Solstice symbolizes the rebirth of the sun god from his mother, the earth goddess.
The Winter Solstice is only one of eight seasonal holidays celebrated by modern pagans.
One example of a Winter Solstice reading:
This is the night of the Solstice, the longest night of the year. Now darkness triumphs, yet gives way and changes into light. The breath of Nature is suspended: all waits while within the Cauldron, the Dark King is transformed into the infant light. We watch for the coming of Dawn, when the great Mother again gives birth to the Divine child Sun, who is bringer of hope and the promise of summer. This is the stillness behind motion, when time itself stops; the center, which is also the circumference of all. We are awake in the Night. We turn the Wheel to bring the Light. We call the sun from the womb of night.
Recipe by Althaea
1/2 bag fresh cranberries
3 lg stalks celery
3-4 large carrots
1 large orange
1 can crushed pineapples
1 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts, your preference)
1 large (or 2 small) box raspberry, or raspberry-cranberry Jello
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
Open can of pineapples and drain, saving the juice. Put aside. Mix the saved juice from the pineapples and 1 cup of cold water together.
Prepare Jello according to directions, but where the directions call for 2 cups cold water, use the 1 cup cold water/pineapple juice mixture. Before you add the cold mixture to the hot, add the sugar to the hot Jello mixture, and dissolve, then add cold water/pineapple juice mixture, combine well and refrigerate. Be sure to put into a large salad or mixing bowl.
Shred the carrots finely - put aside.
Finely chop celery with a knife or food processor. (I only like the flavor of celery, not the texture, so I use the blender to chop it up very fine)
Chop or crush walnuts
Grate orange peel with fine grater (a cheese grater will do).
Peel orange and clean as much of the pith (the white stuff) away as possible, and section by hand.
In a blender put the cranberries, one handful at a time into the water and chop finely. Add the orange sections and chop more coarsely (using the pulse button on your blender). Add to the Jello mixture. Add all other ingredients to the Jello mixture and mix well. Refrigerate over night.
Topping for salad:
You may top with whipped cream or Cool Whip, but I love this topping the best, it is a nice accent to the sweetness of the salad.
1 cup sour cream
1 cup real mayonnaise
Blend well and place by the tablespoonful on top of the gelled salad. Enjoy!! Happy Yule!
Joanna L. Davis (aka Althaea)
Recipe by Althaea
1 gallon apple cider
1 fifth Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum
2 sticks cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1 large cardamom pod, cracked (optional, hard to find sometimes)
1 medium peice of ginger root
A piece of cheese cloth or a coffee filter
Tie all dry ingredients up in the cheese cloth or coffee filter. Put the rum and apple cider in a large pot and bring to a slow boil. Add the dry pouch and simmer for an hour. Serve hot. Enjoy!
Joanna L. Davis (aka Althaea)
For the Wassail's Baked Apples:
1 dozen cooking apples
1 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon
butter or margarine
3/4 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons sugar
Core apples and place in an 8 X 8 inch baking pan. Mix sugar and cinnamon, fill apples with mixture, dot tops with butter. Add boiling water and sugar to pan and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 to 60 minutes.
For the Wassail:
1 cup water
4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon nutmeg, grated (for luck)
1/2 teaspoon mace
2 teaspoons ginger (to prevent arguments)
6 whole cloves (to influence people in high places, and for luck)
1 stick cinnamon (same as cloves)
6 whole allspice
1 dozen eggs, separated
4 bottles sherry
2 cups brandy
Combine first eight ingredients in a saucepan and boil for 5 minutes. Beat egg whites until stiff. In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks. Fold whites into yolks. Strain spice mixture into egg mixture and stir. Combine sherry and brandy and bring almost to a boil. Gradually add liquor to spice and egg mixture, stirring rapidly as you do so. Before serving, add baked apples to foaming liquid. Serve in a large cauldron.
(The above recipe for "Pagan Wassail" in directly quoted from Laurie Cabot's book: "Celebrate the Earth: A Year of Holidays in the Pagan Tradition", pages 71-72, a Delta book, published by Dell Publishing, 1994.)
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