The Winter Soltice
The winter solstice is an ancient European ceremony that is widely celebrated. This pagan festival and its ceremonies are about, Mother Earth Goddess and Sun King; the midwinter ceremony calls the Sun King back to life to bless the land with fertility. In long winters where most of Europe was covered in snow a successful summer/autumn harvest of grain, fruit and vegetables was the difference between life and death in the cold months. With none of the todays modern conveniences the ancestors got through by using the knowledge passed down through families, being intuitively connected to nature and praying for guidance from the Gods. The gods and goddesses where part of everything they did, intrinsically imbedded with trees, animals, fire, housing, weather, fertility, crops, stars, moon and sun.
This winter ceremony is asking you to bring back spring or bring back the warm light of the sun that brings fertility to the land. Winter is on its way out in favour of spring. As some people begin a journey of re-wilding themselves to better understand nature, those that live on the land have always felt that interconnectedness. Spending more time in nature, even in cold seasons is vital for good health. Nature is a healer; walking in the light of the day, breathing fresh air and just looking upon the beauty of the natural world is a healing experience.
Yule or the Winter Solstice has many variations. Many of these ancient European traditions were Christianised, examples being the Christmas tree and its decorations, fires with the Yule log, gift giving, Father Christmas, families and friends gathering together and Mistletoe. The northern cold countries of the Germanic and Vikings brought evergreen pines branches into their houses and decorated them with gifts and food. Legend say Odin may actually be the first Santa Claus as he wandered the land and visited homes at Yule with his long white beared. In Celtic Druid traditions, mistletoe is a healer and protector, Holly is believed to repel unwanted spirits, Ivy was a symbol of immortality, the Yew brought regeneration and rebirth and the pine was a tree of purity. The Celts revered trees for their wisdom; forests were alive with magic and wonder. Look up your favourite town and read about their Winter Solstice/Yule traditions.
Created your own winter solstice evening ceremony at home or gather with a local group. Enjoy chats by the fire, light candles, wear traditional outfits or capes to keep warm, connect with the spiritual, cook a feast, share food, give small handmade gifts, decorated a tree or branches, create a door wreath, think about what you will plant in spring vegetable garden, ask the sun to come back and bring prosperity. Spend the next day in nature.
Sharon D Bush
Writer Historian Artisan Sage
Sharon D Bush, B.A. Double Major History/Ancient History University of New England