Winter Solstice and Yule rituals can be a warm and wonderful way to honor the longest night of the year. Celebrate solo or with friends and family with these simple yet meaningful ideas.
Yule or winter solstice is already jam-packed with celebrations because this sabbat is the origin of Christmas. If you grew up in America or Europe, chances are, you already have a lot of traditions around this holiday, whether they're secular or religious. You may have already brought a live tree into your home as a symbol of life's resilience. You may have strung a thousand lights on your house as protection against the long dark nights. And if you're here, you probably already know the pagan roots of those traditions, even if some of your neighbors don't.
Here are a few more simple winter solstice and yule rituals you can do with friends or family, or all by yourself if you're a solitary witch.
Make a pomander
In its simplest form, a pomander is an orange studded with whole cloves. It's used to perfume the air and bring joy, protection, purification, and abundance. You can make your pomander as simple or as elaborate as you like, creating whatever design is meaningful to you with your pattern of cloves. Create sigils for protection or other intentions, or even cover the entire orange with cloves.
To charge an item like this, I like to use smoke from a loose incense blend. Select dried herbs, resins, and spices that correspond with the intention you want to call in with your pomander. Grind them to powder in a mortar and pestle, then scatter them over a lit charcoal disc. As the smoke rises, hold your pomander in the smoke, and visualise the smoke charging your pomander with your intention.
You can then hang or place the pomander somewhere in your home, and every time you see or smell it, you'll be reminded of the intention you set.
Burn a Yule Log
While a huge roaring bonfire at the center of the village might not be in the cards for Yule this year, you should certainly have some element of fire at your Yule ritual. Remember, the winter solstice is the longest night of the year, so creating light is very powerful. Different historical traditions use different types of wood, but for modern witches, any log that you can responsibily forage or even buy will do the trick. You can certainly research the properties of the type of wood you use to see how it can add to your intention.
There are a number of options for creating a yule log ritual. Some people like to elaborately decorate their logs with pine branches, herbs, mushrooms, and other foraged or crafted items. Some people (like uncrafty me) simply select a handsome log and burn it as is. It's totally up to you.
If you don't have a safe place to burn a log on the winter solstice, you can also afix candles to your log and burn those instead. Red, green, or silver candles would be beautiful, but use whatever you have. Just make sure the candles are safe and secure.
I like to write my hopes for the coming year onto bay leaves and burn them in the fire of the yule log to release their energy to the Universe. If you're doing this with other people, you can take turns proclaiming your hopes and releasing them in the fire.
Save some of the ashes from the yule log in a spell jar to bring you good fortune in the new year.
Oh, and if you want to make a Yule Log cake, that's also awesome.
Honoring the sun
The winter solstice is a celebration of the return of the sun. After this night, the days will slowly but surely start to grow longer once again. Even if it feels like winter will stretch on for ages, we have hope that the light will return.
This ritual is very simple. All you need is an alarm clock. Check the time of the sunrise and sunset on Yule, and set an alarm for about 30 minutes or so before both of these times. (You can usually find this information on the weather app on your phone, or just Google it). If you want to head outside to somewhere natural, that's great, even if it's just a local park. But if that's not feasible for you, your backyard or even an open window will do.
All you have to do is quietly and mindfully watch the sun rise and set on the shortest day of the year. Use this time to meditate and contemplate how far you've come in the past year, what you'd like to release, and what you'd like to do with the year ahead. Spend time in gratitude for the gifts and learning you've experienced this year. Even if this year has been difficult, let the constant turning of the wheel of the year remind you of the impermanence of life. Nature is constantly changing, and we are not separate from that natural change.
Even if you're doing this ritual with other people, I still encourage you to do it in silence. Allow everyone the time to go inward. Then if you want to make some hot chocolate and discuss your revelations afterward, go for it.
May your Yule rituals be filled with joy
Dark days are difficult for many of us, but they're necessary for natural renewal. So let these winter solstice and Yule rituals remind you of your own hope and renewal. Embrace the change with the certainty that the light will return and everything, including you, will grow again.
I'd love to know more about your Yule rituals. Leave a comment and tell me all about them.
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