Ideas For Celebrating Yule As A Solitary Witch
The Yuletide season is upon us, and the Winter Solstice arrives when we reach the peak of the darkest time of the year. The earth’s axis tilts away from the sun. This is when we experience the longest night and the shortest day of the year. In the Northern Hemisphere, this falls between December 20-22. It is often on or recognized on December 21st. In the Southern Hemisphere, it falls between June 21-23. Here are a few ways you can celebrate a Yule or the Winter Solstice as a solitary Witch.
All the holidays around Winter Solstice are mainly about celebrating the light returning and the hope for the future. Darker Winter months (especially in ancient times) had higher death rates, and the land becomes barren and cold, which could be very hard to get through. For us, the solstice represents a symbol of hope. It reminds us that this is as dark as it gets and soon the light will return, to guide us out of the darkness.
Learn about the Winter Solstice and Various Holiday Traditions
Most of us are familiar with Christmas and Hanukkah, and most pagans will celebrate Yule. Yule comes from Norse origins and traditions. Many pagan paths have adopted it! One way to really connect with the holiday is to look up its origins.
If you don’t feel particularly connected with Yule or Norse traditions, you can also look into other winter holidays and festivals that are celebrated around the solstice.
To name a few examples: the ancient Egyptians used this time to celebrate the Sun god Ra. The ancient Greeks celebrated the Feast of Poseidon. The Romans would celebrate Saturnalia and the god of time and agriculture, Saturn.
If you have a specific path or are connecting with your ancestors and heritage, see if you can find more information on their history and traditions. It’s an amazing way to connect with your ancestors!
Learn about Winter Deities
Another research project you could do around this time of year (you know I love a research project) is to research what deities are most celebrated or honored at this time of year to connect with them. In Norse traditions, Odin was said to visit from Asgard in disguise as “Old Man Winter” to give gifts. In Greek culture, offerings are given to Demeter to comfort her in her daughter Persephone’s absence (wink wink) while she is in the Underworld. Persephone is often also honored at this time with pomegranate seeds and other offerings. As mentioned above, some cultures would celebrate sun or agriculture gods such as Saturn and Ra.
This is a great time to learn about the deities traditionally honored and how you can follow tradition and honor them as well.
Decorate with Evergreens
There is nothing like the fresh smell of pine or evergreen in my home, and nothing brings back memories of Christmas past as quickly as a deep long inhale. A lot of different cultures decorated with evergreens at this time of year! They were sacred and magical plants because they did not appear to die during the winter. Evergreens were used all over the world as symbols of immortality, life, and resilience. The evergreen plants varied on the culture and traditions, but the symbolism remains the same! Decorating your home, altar, or sacred space with evergreens and other symbols of winter is a great way to continue those traditions!
There are many arguments over the true origins of what is now recognized as a Christmas tree. In some areas of Scandinavia, trees were brought indoors to protect woodland spirits. The Druids decorated evergreen trees outside to honor the trees and their immortality. It was considered a bad omen to uproot one of these sacred trees. Many pagans have embraced modern adaptations of these traditions and make a “Yule trees,” either indoors or outdoors.
Decorate a Yule Log
One tradition that has since seen many variations over the years, from decorations to cakes, is the Yule log. The original Norse traditions were to decorate the Yule log with evergreens, cinnamon, dried orange slices, and other (burn-safe!) seasonal offerings. It would then be burned in the hearth to welcome the light and protect the home. Some traditions involved every family member bringing a sprig to throw onto the Yule log as divination. If the sprig did not burn, it was a bad omen or a warning for that family member for the year to come.
These days, less of us have functioning fireplaces or adequate fire pits. Modern adaptations of the Yule log have since popped up that are both decorative and symbolic of the same traditions. They are adorned with similar evergreens and wintertime symbols (real or fake, depending on your preference). They are also decorated with candles or candle votives. This symbolizes the burning of the Yule log in a more contained way, and the decorative Yule log can be saved and brought back out year after year with new candles.
Give to those in need
The “season of giving” rings true for pagans as well as those who celebrate the traditional Christmas. If you have clothes, food or money to give, it is a wonderful time to do so. “Those in need” can also include animals who need food or shelter. If you have wildlife near you, setting up access to water or feeders with food (safe for your local wildlife) counts! If you have the home, space and time, adopting or fostering animals is another way to give shelter to an animal in need.
Have a Yuletide Feast
As with most holidays, you can celebrate it with food. You can host a meal for your household or just make a mini feast for yourself! Traditional foods at this time of year include:
- Roasted meats (or vegan roasts as veggie-friendly substitutes)
- Fruit cakes
- Dried fruits
- Mulled Wine
- Spiced Cider
You can also just use anything that is in season at this time of year or feels wintery to you. Soups, winter squashes, hot cocoa, tea, etc.
Winter Solstice Spell Work
Spells to do at this time of year are usually for: Peace, harmony, hope, happiness, healing, world healing, future abundance and setting intentions for the new year and what you want to bring in.
Colors: White, Red, Green, Silver, Gold
Herbs/Plants: Evergreens, Pine, Cedar,
Basalm, Fir, Palm Rushes, Oak, Holly,
Mistletoe, Ivy, Cinnamon, Cloves, Ginger,
Frankincense, Bayberry, Myrrh, Rosemary,
Nutmeg, Valerian, Juniper, Wintergreen,
Crystals: Clear Quartz, Diamond,
Emerald, Ruby, Garnet, Bloodstone
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