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Lets Get Crafty.....
A Homespun Yule
Posted by Harobed

This blog is for those of you who are looking for a more affordable
holiday. Every year at this time Im look around and am saddened by
the greed and commeralism that has over taken this wonderful
season.Its all rush,rush , gimme, gimme and lets not forget the
keeping up with apperances. For me Yule is the time of year where
you give your best to other people.In my world that means I craft
their gifts rather than give out Wallyworld gift cards.
So while the bulk of the population are racing around going into
debt.Im in the middle of finishing the many Yule presents that I
make. I have to tell you this is not just a labor of love ...its a great
deal of fun! I quietly listen and figure out what they want ,what
they may not have and what will put a smile on their faces.First I
craft and pass out the presents that are seasonal ,such as the groovy
Crow Yule Wreath thats now hanging on my best buddies door (lol
I cant wait for her to get home and see it!).Every bit of this was
made or grown by me except the crow ,the twine and the beads.The
wreath took a night to assemble and actual out of pocket exspense
was maybe 6.00$
.Next came the Lavender (I had a great harvest this year so its
plentiful) out of the Lavender I made pentacles ,smudge sticks,spell
mix ,door swags ,talismen and even a sweet little besom.All of these
are perfect for Yule gifts and it only cost me in time , twine and a bit
of reclaimed copper wire.
Rosemary is an herb that easily grows almost everywhere so I know
most of you have some in the garden.Since its the "Rememberance"
herb,I always make some rosemary pentacles to give to friends who
have lost loved ones over the year along with a nice sack of Sweet
Marjoram and basil tea to ease the grief of the holiday without
them.
These pentacles are really quite easy to make ,you might mess the
first one up but after that they come easier and easier its just
practice!
Lastly theres baking ....everyone on the list gets fresh baked cookies
and a loaf of holiday bread .Now we allll know nothing says loven
like something in the oven! This year since cash is tight I'm
makeing Cinnamon Raisen Bread,Gingerbread and Peanut Butter
Cookies with Jam prints. Yummy and colorful
I wrap them in tissue paper and tuck them into baskets I found at
yardsales and refurbished over the summer.LOL Ive never had one
of these baskets met with anything other than delight.This year I
made 10 baskets full of comfort food and soothing herbs and spent
less than 50.00 ,how awsome is that! All my friends look forward to
their "Homespun" presents and I just know yours will too!
1 cup warm water (must be between 110-115 degrees)

2 (1/4 ounce) packages active dry yeast

3 eggs

1/2 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter , softened

1 cup raisins

8 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons milk

1 cup white sugar

3 tablespoons ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons butter , melted (approx.)

Directions:

1Warm the milk in a small sauce pan on the stove until it just starts to bubble, stirring
occasionally.2Remove from heat.3Let cool until lukewarm, about 120-125 degrees.4Dissolve yeast in
warm water and set aside until yeast is frothy, about 10 minutes or so (make sure your water is at the
correct temperature or the yeast won't activate.) Then mix in eggs, sugar, butter salt and raisins (stir in
the cooled milk slowly so you don't cook the eggs.) Add the flour gradually to make a stiff
dough.5Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for a few minutes until smooth.6Place in a large,
buttered, mixing bowl and turn to grease the surface of the dough.7Cover with a warm, damp cloth
and let rise (I like to let my bread rise in the oven with the light on. It has just the right amount of
heat and keeps the bread out of drafts.) Allow to rise until doubled, usually about 1 1/2 hours.8Roll
out on a lightly floured surface into a large rectangle 1/2 inch thick.9Moisten the dough with 2
tablespoons milk and rub all over the dough with your hands.10Mix together 1 cup of sugar and 3
tablespoons cinnamon and sprinkle mixture evenly on top of the moistened dough.11Roll up tightly
(the long way).12The roll should be about 3 inches in diameter.13Cut into thirds, and tuck under ends
and pinch bottom together.14Place loaves into well greased (you can use Crisco or butter for this) 9 x 5
inch pans and lightly grease tops of loaves.15Let rise in warm place, uncovered, again for about an
hour.16Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until loaves are lightly browned and sound hollow when
tapped.17Remove from oven and let cool on rack.18Take melted butter and spread over tops of
loaves.19After about 20 minutes, lay loaves on their sides and remove from pans.20Allow to cool
before slicing.
HOLIDAY BLAHS
Posted by Gothic Misstress

Everyone one during this time of the year get to the point of
wanting to give up and throw in the towel. Everyone seems to think
that they must do this and that and all the hustle and bustle that
comes with today's more commericalized holiday seasons. Here is
some things that might help rejuvinated some of the holiday spirit.
1.) Think of one child that has to eat only one meal a day and has no
shoes.
2.) Think of one person that is simply fighting to survive day to day.
3.) Think of one elderly person who's children have simply put
them in a place so they no longer have to bother with them.
4.) Think of one person that lost their job and is simply just trying
to get by.
When you have done this you will find more examples and when
you do think of your situation and say maybe I am better off. Then
just do one of the following.
1.) Give a child that has no shoe a pair of shoes.
2.) Give that person that is fighting to survive a simply bless you.
3.) Give that person that has no job something that they could use.
Let us get back to what the season is for. It is for celebrating and
living. The joy of being with friends, family, and maybe someone
we do not even now.
The Yule Log, Symbolic of the
New, Bright, Shinning, Son/ Sun
Posted by Rev. Carol A. Ingle (Raven)

By Lady Feoneafey the KitchenWitch

Death is always fallowed by rebirth. endings are fallowed by


beginnings, just as the Sun precedes the Moon.
In Roman tradition, December 25 was "Dies Natalis Solis Invictus"
or the Day of the Birth of the Undefeated Sun.
In ancient times of lands such as Ireland, on or about the date of
December 21or the Winter Solstice, was the time the Son/Sun comes
back to Earth. Many customs surround these 2 dates, one of which
is the burning of the Yule fire.
Nordic Pagans regard Yule as the New Year, coinciding with the
Solar year. (Samhain coincides with the Lunar year)
Yule marks the succession from the Holly King, who is the king of
the Waning year, to the Oak King, who is the king of the Waxing
year/ it symbolizes the rebirth of the God to the Virgin Goddess.
Yule is a Lesser Sabbat and is a Sun Sabbat.
In earliest times this tradition , the Yule fire was a bonfire burned
out doors. The sacred blaze was built to give power and life to the
sun, among other things.
Burning a Yule log not only gives out warmth against the winter
cold, but it is said to posses the power to burn off the misfortune of
the ending year and to bring good health and prosperity, protection,
fertility, and good fortune in the year to come.
Traditionally a log of Oak, but may be made of any good, hard
wood, available to you. It was carved with images of the blazing
sun to encourage the return of the Son/Sun, or Divine Child of
Light, The God. It was also carved with other symbols representing
plenty, prosperity, fertility, wealth and love. The Yule log was
decorated with whipped bees wax that had been scented with
bayberries (or bay berry wax if available) to bring good fortune
throughout the year to come. Sprigs of evergreens, considered
sacred and representing the Eternal aspect of the Goddess, were
added as a traditional symbol of life everlasting. Holly leaves,
which are representative of The Holy King, symbolic of death and
to guard the household against evil spirits and symbolic of the
promise of ongoing life.
Oak Leaves and acorns to represent the Oak King, and symbolic of
rebirth and of all things living within both the material and spirit
world (the Oak tree is host to mistletoe plant); The white berries
and leaves of the Mistletoe ( also known as The Golden Bough)for
fertility and symbolic of the sacred seed of the Gods who embodies
the spirit of vegetation and divine life; fruits and grains or other
seeds to celebrate the past harvest and the hope for a good harvest
in the new year. Other item are often attached in representation and
symbolisms of requested blessings for the up coming year as well.
Later in it's history the Yule fire was brought indoors in the form of
the Yule Log. Later a log that will burn continuously for 3 days
would be used and it's remnants used to light the next years fire.
Most fire places now days could never safely accommodate a 3 day
monster. So to compensate, some individuals will split the log into
3 pieces, then all three pieces are decorated and one piece burnt
each day; or decorate 3 smaller logs yet others are satisfied with one
log burnt on the night of the Winter Solstice only...
And if you don't have a fireplace, you can make a Yule log and bore
holes to accommodate 2 hand dipped tapers, 1 for the Mother
Goddess, and one for the Divine Child of the Light, the God, and
burn the tapers down to just safely above the decorations
surrounding it...this then can be placed in a secret part of the
garden to return to the Earth and bless the land to which it is given.
No matter you adaptation of this tradition. You are sure to be
blessed by the incorporation of it into your Yule celebration.
The Spirits And Ghosts Of Yule
Posted by Rev. Carol A. Ingle (Raven)

By Montague Whitsel

Synopsis: The Winter Solstice has long been associated with ghosts and
sprits in Pagan as well as Christian Traditions. Christmas has its ghosts, as
does the Yule; when there are spirits behind every door and in every closet
as well as dancing in the flames of candles and hearth-fires. What are these
spirits and who are these ghosts, and why are mortals haunted in the tides of
Winters Solstice? In this article we will explore these questions, becoming
acquainted with some of the more traditional Yuletide ghosts in Celtic
traditions as well as reclaiming one of the more well-known spirit entities in
our secular western December Holiday celebrations.

We are all familiar with Christmas ghost stories from Charles Dickens A
Christmas Carol to Tim Burtons The Nightmare before Christmas. I have
often been asked, though, why there should be ghosts and hauntings at this
time of the year when many people want to be focused on family, the return
home (either actual or in their imaginations) and deeper quests for personal
and spiritual renewal. Isnt Samhain (31 October) the night of haunting?

One answer at least from the perspective of Celtic mysticism & mythology
is simple, and has to do with the nature of the Winter Solstice (21
December). This festival called Alban Arthuan in Druidic traditions has
long been thought of as a time of death & rebirth when Natures innate
powers and our own souls are renewed. This event which marks the
moment in the spiral of earthen time when the Old Sun dies (at dusk on the
21st of December) and when the Sun of the New Year is born (at dawn on the
22nd of December) frames the longest night of the year. The birth of New
Sun is thought to revivify the aura of the Earth in mystical ways, giving a
new lease on life to spirits and souls of the dead.
As such, Yule is probably the second most haunted time of the Celtic year,
Samhain being the first. The haunting begins in early December, as if in
anticipation of the rebirth of the Suns powers. Spirits become more
animated in the days leading up to Alban Arthuan (from the 6th to the 20th
of December). As practitioners of earth-based spiritualities light fires in
their hearths and decorate their huts of dwelling for the advent of New Sun,
spirits and the deer come near, communing with us as we prepare ourselves
for the death of Old Sun. These spirit-visitants gather with us near fires in
the hearth and around the Yule Tree. They haunt us in the glow of the
Yules festivities.

What are the spirits and what is the modus operandi of the ghosts that
come to our abodes and haunt the landscapes of our inner and outer worlds
at this mysterious time of the year?

This haunting is not of the same character as that which happens during the
Season of Samhain; I.e., it is not a general walking of the dead or even a
general return of any and all ancestors & relatives, friends & lovers from
beyond the veil. The spirits that come out during the Yule are often
connected in one way or another with the mystical and psychic logic of the
Winter Solstice Season. Yes, Celtic people are prone to experiencing visits
from ancestors, relatives, spirit-guides and anamchara (soul friends) as
Alban Arthuan draws nigh. Most of the spirits haunting this season,
however, are closely linked to the main poetic theme of the death & rebirth
of the Sun.

One of the most pervasive stories of Yuletide hauntings in Celtic traditions


is that of the Sluagh-Sdhe of Brug na Binne. Sluagh-Sdhe means
People of the Sdhe. A sdhe is a mound or barrow where the dead have
been interred. All sdhe in Celtic mythological traditions are essentially
haunted; they are gateways through which spirits and souls of the dead
and even living mortals like you and I can pass, back & forth E from one
world into another. On the otherEside of the sdhe is the Otherworld; a
Land of Youth or the Isle of the Blessed, where living souls continue in
their quest for wisdom, wholeness and self-realization.
The People of the Sdhe is one way of naming the Faeryfolk; that strange
race of people living perpetually in the sdhe or just beyond them, in rths
(partly submerged roundhouses) or dns (Faery fortresses; magical castles)
in the Otherworld.

Brug na Binne is a great Faery Mound located in the northeast of Ireland,


along the Boyne River. It is often connected to the burial mound called
Newgrange. In pre-Celtic times it functioned as a place to lay the bones of
the dead to rest. Irish Celtic mystics later believed it to be the residence of a
tribe of the Sluagh-Sdhe. The mound is riddled with passageways and
burial niches, one of which is lined up with the rising of New Sun on the
morning of 22 December. As such, Brug na Binne can be seen as
symbolically linked into the Celtic logic of the Winter Solstice Season and
the mythos of the Suns Rebirth. Celtic saints later connected the Brug with
the birth of Christ, seeing its passageways, metaphorically, as the Cave [or
Labyrinth] of the Nativity.

The Sluagh-Sdhe of Brug na Binne are Faery People who come out of their
spectral domicile as Winters Solstice approaches, going off to visit the
hearths of devout mystics and practitioners. They are said to come in pairs,
one to haunt the kitchen and one to haunt the room in which the fire glows
in the hearth during the long nights leading up to Alban Arthuan. Their role
is to chant magical runes and in other ways inspire mortals to keep the
season of Yule well; inciting us to engage in acts of kindness, compassion
and hospitality, going beyond our usual conception of what it means to be
human in earthen ways. They are probably the original mythic impetus
behind our persistent idea that elves are connected with the Yuletide
season.

The Sluagh-Sdhe of Brug na Binne are often said to be dressed in the


traditional Celtic colors of Yule; yellow, green and red. Red and green
symbolize animal and plant life, respectively. Yellow stands for the light of
New Sun, and is generally not prominently displayed around the house in
decorations until after Alban Arthuan.
The Sluagh-Sdhe who come to us from Brug na Binne bless our meals and
encourage dreams of a better world as Yuletide observations clarify our
spiritual perceptions. They invite other spirits that are friendly and kindly
disposed to the celebration of Alban Arthuan to visit your house. They may
be imagined standing at the doors of your place of dwelling, receiving
spectral guests. Among these is the Guardian of the Hearth; the soul of a
representative ancestor or anamchara (soul-friend) who will then establish a
connection between your hearth and anyone you may know in the
Otherworld.

Another Celtic spirit of Yule is The Wandering Stranger, also called the
Mysterious Stranger and The Unexpected Guest. This spectral visitor is
understood as a manifestation of need in the world. It usually comes to
haunt us in the guise of a hard-working middle-aged man or woman not
quite in great health, perhaps, as some difficulty has overtaken them in life.
To dream of encountering the Wandering Stranger out of doors, perhaps
along an open road, is said to signify that someone needs shelter. One
response to this visitation is to do something toward the sheltering of
homeless people in your area. To dream of the Wandering Stranger coming
to your door may signify that you need to engage more heartily in acts of
hospitality (perhaps by hosting a meal) as the Yuletide unfolds.

Sometimes the Wandering Stranger is symbolic of the mysterious presence


of the divine in the world with us, rather than signifying need or loss.
In this guise, the Wandering Stranger is said to come to people who need
inspired to open up to wider mystical horizons at the tides of Winters
Solstice. In ancient Celtic times it was said that gods & goddesses would
visit mortals in their huts of dwelling at crucial crossEroads of the year. One
of the Faeryfolk might also come to visit mortals unawares, as might the
local chieftain, a Druid or a Gwrach (wise woman; the counterpart of a
Druid). To be so visited was to be honored, and so it was thought that one
must be ready, at all times according to Celtic codes of hospitality to
receive guests at ones door, whether lowly or grand.
When at home at night during the Yule (21 31 December), listen for strange
knocks at the door; especially during storms or windy weather. The door-
latch may rattle, and you think you hear a voice not a threatening one;
perhaps just a murmur or a word but when you go to the door, there is no
one there! In Celtic mysticism this is said to indicate the coming of the
Mysterious Stranger. If it happens twice or thrice, you might invite the
invisible presence into your abode, saying, May the gods who sent you
come and bless this hearth! Sometimes a kind of strange rapping may be
heard at a windowpane on dark Yuletide nights. If you hear it especially at
a window above ground level throw open the sash and allow the night air
to flood briefly into your room. Say as you do so, May the Mysterious
Stranger come in and warm herself/himself at our hearth.

If you are out walking along a lone and rustic road or woodpath at any time
during the Yule but especially at dusk or dawn keep your eyes open for
any sign of a strange visage or ghost as you go along your chosen course, as
the Mysterious Stranger is wont to appear briefly to travelers during the
Yule, awakening them to supernal possibilities in the mundane rounds of
daily life. The Stranger sometimes comes and appears, just briefly, along a
path or road you are taking, perhaps standing by a tall Oak or Willow. Yet
when you turn to look, there is no one there! If this happens, say, Hail,
Mysterious One, I bless your journey; prosper mine in return. The
appearance of the Mysterious Stranger is thought to signify the presence of
divine beings (e.g., gods & goddesses) in your vicinity. By hailing the
Stranger, you may address deities in their nearness without danger of
affronting them.

Today this Mysterious Stranger may be imagined by those of us practicing


earthen spiritualities in the guise of the ever-popular Saint Nicholas or
Santa Claus. While this idol of our materialistic and consumer-driven
society has been debased into a cartoon caricature of its former mystery,
there is much about the Santa Claus legend that is Pagan and that might
still be quite edifying for those of us living close to the Earth today,
provided we reclaim the stories of Santa Claus in symbolic terms.
If you care to engage in such a mythic reclamation, perhaps the following
story will help.

Imagine, if you will, a mystic of Christ in the 4th century CE named


Nicholas living in what is now Turkey, along the Mediterranean coast. As
he grows in spiritual awareness, he finds himself inspired to help the
unfortunate, disowned children in his town. He begins to beg money from
merchants to help feed and clothe the young who are living in the streets
without means. At one point and here comes the Pagan element into the
story a troop of Sluagh-Sdhe from Ireland, on quest for wisdom out in the
wide world, join up with Nicholas to help him distribute food and clothing
to abandoned and needy children.

These Faeries find fulfillment of their quest in this work of charity, and so
they remain in Turkey until Nicholas dies. Then by way of their Celtic
magic and mysticism they help him to crossEover into the Otherworld.
Once on the Otherside, they travel North in search of the place of their
discarnate dwelling beyond the sdhe. Now, north in Celtic mythology is
the direction of mystery and darkness. Out of the north have we come, and
back into it we shall go, the ancient Celts would have said. Thus it is
extremely significant from a mythical point of view that Saint Nicholas
(now Santa Claus) has his workshop at the North Pole.

Once in the wild northlands, the Sluagh-Sdhe and Nicholas set up a rth
(Faery hut) as a home base from which to carry on the saints work. Using
Reindeer a manifest form of the Celtic god Cernunnos from more northerly
lands to drive a magical sleigh, they come back across the veil each year
during the Yule, hoping to inspire mortals with the kind of generosity and
hospitality that once characterized Nicholass incarnate life. As these Sluagh-
Sdhe, of course, got called Elves in English speaking countries, you can
see that the stories we tell of Santa Claus have a certain Pagan ambiance,
and that his traditional mission in the world is very similar to that of the
old Mysterious Stranger.
All during the Yuletide Season, a spirit is growing; an aura of magic and
mystery, that crescendos on the 21st of December and then maintains a
climactic intensity until after midnight on 24 December; the night called
Matrum Noctem (The Night of the Great Mother). This spirit is
collectively called the Spirit of Yule; a term that applies to the particular
anima loci of this sacred time of the earthen year. The Spirit of Yule is a
metaphor for the Presence of Mystery among us or perhaps a symbol of the
essence of the Universe itself becoming present to us in our devout earthen
sojourns near the Hearth and the Yule Tree as Old Suns powers wane.

Just as all of the Faeryfolk (Elves) of Yule may be seen to come from Brug na
Binne, so all of the general spirits that haunt us during the Yule can be said
to be manifestations of this Spirit of Yule. This is the spirit that inspires
visions of a better world in our hearts and minds. It causes magical
apparitions meant to inspire us with joy and encourage us to throw off our
shackles and any self-imposed limitations with which we may be struggling.
It is the spirit of psychic clarification that aids us in our souls quest for
rebirth & renewal; a degree of transformation or perhaps self-realization each
year as we path our way through the Yule to the thresholds of Alban Arthuan
and beyond. To be inspired to keep the Yule in Pagan Celtic ways is to be
infused with this Spirit of Yule, which is to say, to be attuned to the
Mystery of the Universe as it presences to us.

The Spirit of Yule often becomes manifest in the hearth. The hearth has long
been a Celtic icon of authentic domestic life, signifying the value of earthen
dwelling. It was thought of as the center of the house and the heart of the
households collective psyche. To gather around the hearth during the long
nights leading up to Alban Arthuan is to draw close to the source of life
itself; for in Celtic oghams of Wisdom life begins in a spark; a fire is the
light of the soul.

The Spirits in the Hearth are a characteristic theme in Celtic tales of the
Yule. This is because the fire in the hearth is thought to attract spirits of all
kinds; elves and helping-spirits, gnomes and faery-lights, spriggans and
leprechauns, and many others.
Thus the hearth is a good place to sit and engage in anal- duccaid (i.e.,
breath prayer; meditation) during the Yule. There you can commune with
these spirits and engage in taghairm (i.e., divination), seeking wisdom
from these spectral visitors.

If you have a fireplace and the space to spare in front of it, cast a ritual circle.
Then imagine Spirits of the Hearth dancing with you as you go round and
round. Imagine such spirits leading you on out-of-body journeys, perhaps
running with great reindeer herds through the wilderlands or maybe going in
search of the Rth of Nicholas at the top of the world, hoping for a glimpse of
the Faery-Workshop!

If you do not have a hearth in your house or apartment, set up a Yule Table
with plenty of candles on it, along with various symbols of the Season (e.g.,
pine cones, evergreens, a sprig of mistletoe, holly and cinnamon sticks, etc.).
Consecrate this table by sprinkling it with salty water in the name of Mabon,
a Divine Child in Celts myths and the god of Winters Solstice. Then practice
anal-duccaid (i.e., meditation), either sitting before the table or on a chair
near it, seeking to commune with the Spirits of the Hearth. Cast a circle in
front of the Yule Table and then dance, going off on wild, imagined journeys
during the dark nights leading up to Alban Arthuan (21 December).

The Yule Tree is another place where the Spirit of Yule becomes present to us
as Winters Solstice draws near. Though originally a Germanic custom, the
erection of a pine tree in the house during December has been adopted into
the mysticism of many spiritual traditions around the world. This tree, being
green and never losing its needles, represents the powers of life that never
fade and never wane during dark, cold seasons.

The Yule Tree is a representative of the primary masculine forces in the


Earth, just as the Hearth (or Yule Table) represents the primary feminine
forces in Nature. By bringing it into the house we invite this ever-present
natural power into our abode, to keep us charged and healthy as Old Sun
dies and then as New Sun grows in power after Alban Arthuan.
Bring the Yule Tree into the house on the 14th of December; the Second Day
of Yule, which is called Cedar Day or Lighting Day in the Thirteen
Dayes of Yule (for a description of this spiritual paradigm based on ancient
Celtic symbolism, see my book, The Fires of Yule, 2001). One old custom is to
decorate it in the evening and then leave it alone until midnight, at which
point you may return to the room where it is set up and turn on the lights on
the tree. Then sing an olden carol (a song intended to accompany circle
dancing). At this point the Yule Tree is said to come to life. It will now be
filled with the Spirit of Yule and remain green until after Matrum Noctem
(the night of 24 December).

It is at this point that the Yule Tree becomes the house of Yuletide spirits
in our mortal dwellings. The Tree itself represents both this world and the
Otherworld, in that it normally grows in natural soils, but is now being fed
in part by the basic power of reality, called shunnache in Celtic mysticism.
The Yule Tree is also a house for any spirits that have come to stay with us
during the Yule. You can imagine that you see these spirits in the blinking
of the lights and in the light reflected in the shiny glass ornaments and other
trinkets adorning the tree.

When you trim the Yule Tree, think of its mystical symbolism and decorate it
accordingly. As the tree itself is important as a symbol of the presence of
life, try to avoid so covering the Yule Tree with wrappings (e.g., angel hair
or foil icicles, etc.) and garlands that the green of the tree ends up obscured
from view. Consider trimming the Yule Tree in such a way that the tree itself
is primarily what you see when the lights are unlit, but so that there is as
much light as possible reflected in the various decorations when the lights
are lit up. This will facilitate the impression that this natural icon is alive
with the Spirit of Yule, thus encouraging mystical communion with the
spirits that dwell in it.

Another manifestation of the Spirit of Yule is what is called the Gifting Stag;
a revelation of Cernunnos, the Horned God of the Celts at the tides of
Winters Solstice. This Stag comes to inspire moderation and balance in our
hearts as Alban Arthuan approaches.
This is necessary, as it is so easy to go to extremes as the days get darker and
we find ourselves seeking for ways to keep ourselves buoyant and more or
less on an even keel, emotionally and mentally. We can go toward excess in
our decorating, in our eating and drinking, and in our buying of gifts. What
the Gifting Stag represents is a spirit of good sense as the days get darker
and ever shorter. He comes to show us a middle path through the wildwood
of spiritual desires at the darkest time of the earthen year.

The Gifting Stag usually shows up on the eve of the 6th of December, the
Feast of Nicholas and the Elves. The Stag may be imagined as standing at the
edge of the woods in the Otherworld that surround our place of dwelling in
this world, peering in toward (usually) the kitchen window, his eyes flaming
yellow with compassion and spiritual succor! If he appears to you in either
dream or apparition accept him as an anamchara for your journey toward
Winters Solstice.

On the 13th of December the First Day of Yule the Gifting Stag may be
imagined as coming to the side door of the house and knocking with either
his hoof or his antler. If you hear such a knock near dusk on this day, go to
the door and open it, saying, Hail Cernunnos, Stag of the Wildwood, come
to our hearth, we pray you. Then, as you proceed through the Season of
Yule, imagine the Gifting Stag as standing by your Hearth (Yule Table) or
Yule Tree whenever you need to regain a sense of natural or spiritual verve
as the days wane away. The Season of Yule is a time to go into darkness and
experience its wonders and its power; but we must adjust to this lack of light
if we are to avoid getting either depressed or else too listless to enjoy the
Seasons deep spiritual ambiance. Seeing the Gifting Stag as an icon of what
it means to be balanced as you journey through the Yule can aid you in this
adjustment.

As Pine is an ancient icon of this god, to bring the Yule Tree into the house is
also to invite the Gifting Stag to come and dwell with you. If you go out to
select your own Yule Tree perhaps at a local Christmas Tree farm or at a
Mall parking lot, for instance invoke the Gifting Stag when making your
selection.
He knows which tree is best for you; just as he is said to know what you
need during any particular Yuletide Season and he will help you to attain
it, if you allow him to be your guide. If you spot deer in a snowy field or
along the road as you bring the Tree home, consider yourself visited by the
Gifting Stag. After you set up the Yule Tree and decorate it, chant the names
of Cernunnos as an evening anal-duccaid (meditation). You might repeat
these names, for instance: HerneCernunnosDownie Hornie each day
at dusk near the Yule Tree. Chanting his names, you may experience a deep
communion developing between yourself and this mythic icon of Yuletide
moderation and balance.

As the Season of Yule passes, The Gifting Stag will help you maintain a
sense of decorum in the midst of revelry. It is important at the tides of
Winters Solstice not to exhaust yourself, as most people experience a falling-
off of vigor and energy as the days grow ever darker. It is absolutely
ridiculous that, in our society, the Holidays of December have become
such a hyperactive time! Too many people allow themselves to get caught up
in endless tasks and activities. No wonder people experience such
exhaustion at this time of the year! Pagans should know better, however. If
you desire, ask the Gifting Stag to help you maintain a more contemplative
approach to the keeping of Yule.

If you celebrate the Yule in a quieter, more contemplative way, you will find
that you have lots of energy for the all night dancing, caroling and magical
rites of Alban Arthuan. These celebrations may begin at dusk on 21
December and need not end until dawn the next morning. A good way to
begin this nights festivities is by lighting a fire in the hearth (or else by
lighting the candles on the Yule Table) about half an hour before dusk.
Then, chant the names of Winter Solstice deities (perhaps Mabon
CoventinaNerthusBran) and sing songs that reflect your connection
with the mysteries of the Yuletide Season. Then, set up your circle and begin
with a spiral dance, going widdershins (counterclockwise) to represent the
death of Old Sun. After Midnight, dances should then turn deosil
(clockwise) to symbolize the coming birth of New Sun.
As dusk turns to night, invoke the spirits and ghosts of Yule that we have
discussed in these pages, inviting them to become present to you in
imaginative ways. If you know the name of your Guardian of the Hearth,
invoke their name and pour them a glass of good wine or beer. Set this glass
by the hearth or on the Yule Table at dusk. If you want, drink it at midnight
in honor of your Guardian. This is said to insure that the spiritual revels that
take place around your hearth and Yule Tree during the next few nights will
bring no harm to you or anyone else living under your roof. This is an old
ritual and may be one myth behind the secular custom of leaving an offering
out for Nicholas and his Elves on Christmas Eve.

A rush of spiritual energy is released at the birth of New Sun at dawn on the
22nd of December, as a result of which it is believed spirits & ghosts become
much more active for the next few days, presencing to mortals more
frequently than they did before Alban Arthuan. It is during these days that
the ghosts of relatives and ancestors, lovers and friends usually come
visiting. Then beginning on the 26th of December all of these discarnates
will begin to grow quiet and then depart, going back beyond the sdhe. At
dusk on this day, say farewell to the Gifting Stag. At last, on the night of
the 6th of January, say goodbye to all of the Sluagh-Sdhe (Elves) who have
spent the Yule in your place of dwelling, as they must return by midnight to
their spectral homes in the Hinterlands and to Brug na Binne.
Yule Meaning and History
Posted by Rev. Carol A. Ingle (Raven)

Yule, pronounced "you all", or jol is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day
and the longest night of the year. Yule, in Old Norse means, Wheel. As the
Wheel of the Year is significant in pagan culture, it is important to note that
Yule of the year means wheel. Which, if having read the previous article,
Samhain, in the 99, October issue of The Seeker, it was noted that Samhain,
may not have been the Celtic New Year, but rather Yule. Yule, starting with
the birth of God, and a celebration of beginning of longer days, makes
sense as the beginning of the New Year.

Yule, of all the Sabbats, is the one that causes the most confusion among
those who follow the pagan path. Specifically those who are new to the path
and are breaking away from their Christian faith and way of life. Yule, is,
has, and always will be a pagan holiday. With that said, I guess I need to
further elaborate. Yule has many pagan elements and more pagan history in
it's foundation and pagan rites than Christian has. Yule has been celebrated
since the beginning of time in the Northern Hemisphere. Many of the
cultures located in the Northern Hemisphere celebrate Yule, all with a
common theme, the birth of a God. Most of these Gods are associated with
the Sun or with death and re-birth.

Yule, like Christmas, celebrates the birth of God. Several pagan Gods, have
Yule as their birth date:

Ra

Cronos

Lugh

Mirthra
Odin
This list is my no means complete, but does give you a general idea, that
more than one God has celebrated his birthday during Yule. However, the
Roman God Mirthra plays a most important role in the preservation of Yule,
and it's other name, Christmas.

Approximately in the year 312, Constantine, Emperor of Rome, declared


Rome Christian. This however was not done because Constantine was
Christian, he was not baptized until 337, it was more do to the fact, that
Rome was declining, and Constantine saw in Christian religion, what Rome
lacked, moral fortitude and the ability to self organize. To attempt to
persuade his fellow pagan Romans, he choose Mirthra's birthday (Yule) as
the same a Jesus', and from there just let human nature take its course. It
didn't hurt that after many hard fought battles, of which he won, had all
armor and shields painted with Christian symbols, and that he told the
populace that the Christian God granted Rome these Victories. In Rome,
whoever controlled the Army controlled Rome. Which raises the question of
confusion again.

Did the Christians steal Yule, or did they preserve it for us? It is important
to understand that while historical facts and data are important, they are not
necessary to enjoy the Sabbat. If one believes that Yule is a celebration of
the coming of light, warmth, and the birth of (insert god of your choice) that
whether we call it Christmas, Yule or the Winter Solstice is unimportant.
Yule is the one Sabbat that allows us to celebrate with other faiths without
compromising our own. There are many pagan/pre-Christian customs that
are still part of the Christmas celebration.

The giving of gifts was first founded in Rome to celebrate Saturn's Festival.
The use of jingle balls is and Old Norse custom to drive away the evil
spirits, in a time and place where night was longer than day. Mistole is an
old Celtic custom and is commonly part of every household during Yule.
The wreath, the complete circle, representing the Wheel of the year, is also
still a custom.
Which brings us to the Yule tree. The tree of choice is the Fir, Evergreen or
Pine. The reasons these particular trees where probably use is because that
these where the only trees that were considered to be still alive, enternal.
According to McCoy, these trees where sacred among the Druids, as they
were the trees that didn't die. The Druids would decorate the trees with
images that represented their wants and desires for the coming year.

It should be noted that while Yule is considered a primarily Christian


Holiday, it does not do anyone any good, declaring their theft. Rather we
should be thankful that they have done such a great job of preserving it for
us, and relish the fact that you know, and understand, why they decorate
the tree, give gifts, and use bells. It might make Yule at the homestead
easier on those families of mixed religion philosophies.

So when someone wishes you a "Merry Christmas", don't tell them I am not
a Christian but rather say, "Merry Yule to you also", and know that Jesus
wasn't a bad guy, but rather in a very elite group of Gods, who all celebrate
their Birthday on Yule.
Cinnamon Basil Pumpkin Pie
Posted by Rev. Carol A. Ingle (Raven)

Cinnamon Basil Pumpkin Pie

1 medium pumpkin

1 tablespoon olive oil

9-inch single deep dish pie crust

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon fresh cinnamon basil

1 teaspoon salt

4 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup honey, warmed slightly

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

Taking Seeds Out Of The Pumpkin

1. Cut the top off the pumpkin and slice it in half. Make sure the outer layer
of the pumpkin is washed.

2. Remove the seeds from the inside of the pumpkin by scraping the inside
of it with a spoon. After you've made sure that all the seeds are removed,
save them for a later date. (I suggest that you bake them as a nutritious
snack.)
3. Spray the inside and the edges of the pumpkin with olive oil. Then, turn
both the pieces upside down and place them on a cookie sheet to bake.

4. Bake at 325 degrees until a fork or knife can go through the shell easily.

Cutting The Cinnamon Basil

5. Whenever you clip basil, make sure that you take the larger leaves
where there is new growth and don't clip the new growth. You can also
clip the stragglers that you do not like to grow out of the pot.

6. Cut enough for the recipe. If you have clipped more than that, you can
always freeze it for future use.

Washing the Cinnamon Basil

7. Rinse the leaves with either cool or cold water so that it will liven up the
basil leaves.

8. The amount of basil to be added to the recipe completely depends on


your personal taste. However, if you have pinched off more leaves than
you are going to use right away, save them in a ziplock bag and label
them. You can always use the frozen basil in other great basil recipes.

9. Since we are going to blend the basil into recipe, it is important for you
to cut the leaves in to tiny pieces with the help of a kitchen utility knife.
The cinnamon basil will add plenty of spicy taste to the recipe.

Mixing The Ingredients

10. Once the pumpkin is out of the oven, scrape out the pumpkin from its
shell and put it in a large bowl.
11. Puree the cinnamon basil leaves with milk in a container and set aside.
You can use a blender or a food processor. I use a hand held beater to mix
everything together. (It just seems to go easier!)

12. While you are beating the scraped out pumpkin, add spices and salt.
Turn off the beater; add a slightly beaten egg. Start blending it all again
and add a cup of warm honey and milk with the cinnamon basil.

13. Beat the whole mixture until smooth. You will now notice that the
mixture is greenish and also very runny. However, the mixture will thicken
(and darken) after it cooks.

14. Pour the mixture into a deep dish pie shell. Fill it to the rim, you can
use a pie guard over the crust or foil so that it will not burn the edges of
the pie crust.

15. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into
the filling comes out clean.
Cranberry-Apple Coffee Cake
Posted by Rev. Carol A. Ingle (Raven)

This coffee cake calls for a tart apple, such as a Granny Smith or a Pippin,
combined with cranberries and spices to make a beautiful topping for a
delicious treat festive enough for any brunch.

Ingredients:

Topping

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1-1/2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen, thawed, chopped (see Tip)

1-1/2 cups finely chopped peeled tart apple, such as Granny Smith (about 1
large)

1/2 cup cranberry juice cocktail, orange juice or apple juice

Cake

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt


1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup canola oil

3 tablespoons butter, slightly softened

3/4 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling

1 large egg

3/4 cup low-fat milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 375F. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray.

To prepare topping: Whisk brown sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon in a


medium nonreactive saucepan (see Note) until combined. Stir in
cranberries, apple and juice. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high
heat, stirring. Continue to cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens and the
berries soften, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.

To prepare cake: Whisk all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking


powder, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl. Beat oil, butter and lemon
zest in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, first on medium speed,
then on medium-high, until well combined, about 1 1/2 minutes. Gradually
add 3/4 cup sugar, beating until the mixture is light in color and well
blended. Add egg and beat until the batter is smooth, about 1 minute
longer. With the mixer on low speed, beat in half the flour mixture until
just incorporated. Gradually beat in milk and vanilla until just
incorporated. Add the remaining flour mixture and beat until a smooth
batter forms, about 1 minute,
scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Scrape the batter into the
prepared pan, spreading to the edges. Spread the topping in an even layer
over the batter; do not stir.

Bake the cake on the middle rack until the top is puffed in places and a
toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (the fruit topping will still
be moist), 40 to 50 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar over
the top. Transfer the pan to a wire rack; let stand until cooled to warm,
about 20 minutes. Remove the pan sides and cut the cake into wedges.

Tip:

To make quick work of chopping cranberries, place whole berries in a food


processor and pulse a few times until the berries are coarsely chopped.

Note: A nonreactive pan - stainless steel, enamel-coated or glass - is


necessary when cooking acidic foods, such as tomato or lemon, to prevent
the food from reacting with the pan. Reactive pans, such as aluminum and
cast-iron, can impart an off color and/or off flavor in acidic foods.
The Yule Faeries....
A Winter Solstice Story
Posted by Rev. Carol A. Ingle (Raven)

A group of little Faeries huddled in their home deep under the roots of a
giant oak tree. They were safe and snug in their tiny underground cave
lined with dandelion fluff, bird feathers, and dried moss.

Outside, the wind blew cold and the snow fell softly down to cover the
ground. "I saw the Sun King today," the faerie named Rose said as she
pulled her mossy cloak tighter about her. "He looked so old and tired as he
walked off through the forest. What is wrong with him?

"The great oak said he's dying" answered Daffodil.

"Dying? Oh, what will we do now?", Little Meadow Grass started to cry, "If
the Sun King dies, our little plant friends will not grow. The Birds will not
come and sing again. Everything will be winter for ever!" Lilac, Dandelion
and Elder Blossom tried to comfort their friend, but they were all very sad.
As they huddled together, there was a knock on the tiny door.

"Open up, Faeries," called out a loud voice. "Why are you hiding instead of
joining us in our Solstice celebration?" Rose opened the door and the little
gnome Brown Knobby pushed inside, shaking the glistening snowflakes
off his brown coat and hat.

"We are too sad to celebrate," Daffodil said wiping her eyes, "The Sun
King is dying, haven't you heard?"

"He is dead you silly Faeries." Brown Knobby's round dark eyes sparkled
with laughter. "Now hurry, or we'll be late for the celebration!"
"How can you be happy and laughing?!" Elder Blossom stamped her little
foot and frowned at the gnome. "If the Sun King IS dead, it will be winter
always We will never see the Sun again!"

"Silly little child-Faeries." Brown Knobby grabbed Dandelion by the hand


and pulled her to her feet. "There is a secret to the Winter Solstice. Don't
you want to know what it is?"

The Faeries looked at him in surprise. "Secret?" they all said. "What secret?
We are only new little Faeries, you silly gnome. We've never been to a
Solstice celebration before."

"Come and see. Come and see. Get your capes and come with me." Brown
Knobby danced and jigged around the room. "Hurry, Hurry, don't be slow!
To the Sacred Oak Grove through the snow!" He danced out of the door
and disappeared.

"What did that gnome mean?" Rose asked as she gathered up her cloak of
dried rose petals held together with cobwebs and lined with goose down.

"I don't know, but the Lady lives in the Sacred Grove." Meadow Grass
pulled on her hat.

"Perhaps if we go to see the Goddess, She can explain what Brown Knobby
was talking about".

The Faeries left their snug little home and trudged off through the snow
toward the sacred oak grove. The forest was dark with only the light of the
Moon shining down through the thick fir branches and bare limbs of
maple and hawthorn. It was very difficult for them to get through the snow
because they were very, very small. As they waded through the wet snow
and shivered in the cold wind, they met a fox.

"Where are you going, Faeries?" the fox asked.

"To the sacred grove," they answered, they were cold and shivering.
"Climb on my back and I will take you there swiftly."
The fox knelt down so the Faeries could climb up. Then he raced off
through the dark.

"Listen!" Lilac said as they neared the Grove of Sacred Trees. "Someone is
singing happy songs. A LOT of someones."

The beautiful music carried over the cold, still, moonlit air. It was the most
beautiful music the Faeries had ever heard. The fox carried the Faeries
right to the edge of the stone altar in the center of the grove, then knelt
down.

"Look!" said Elder Blossom as they slid to the snow covered ground.
"There is the Maiden and the Mother and the OLD Wise Crone, and many
other Little People."

"They are all smiling and happy," said Lilac as she looked around at all the
creatures.

"All the animals are here too," whispered Dandelion. "Why are they all
looking at the Mother?"

The Faeries moved closer to the three Ladies seated on the altar stone. The
Mother held a bundle close in Her arms, smiling down at it. The Maiden
reached down and took the Faeries gently in her Hands. She held them
close to the Mother so they could see what She held.

"A Baby!" the Faeries cried. " A new little Baby! Look how he glows!"

"He is the newborn Sun King," said the Maiden smiling.

"But Brown Knobby and the old oak tree said the Sun King was dead," the
Faeries answered her. "How can this little baby be the Sun King?"

"That is the great secret of the Winter Solstice." The Old Wise One touched
the baby's cheek with her wrinkled hand. "Every year the Sun King must
come to the sacred grove during the darkest days of winter where he dies. I
take his spirit to the Mother who gives him new life again. This is the way
for all creatures, not just the Sun King."
" You mean everything lives and dies and lives again? the Faeries looked
down in wonder at the baby Sun King, nestled in the arms of the Mother.

" Yes, Little Ones," answered the Old Wise Crone. "There is never an end
to life. This is the great mystical secret of the Winter Solstice."

The Faeries laughed because they were so happy.

"I think the little Sun King should have gifts," said Rose. "I will show him
where the wild roses bloom in the early summer."

"And, I will teach him to call the birds and listen to the songs of the wind "
exclaimed Dandelion.

"When he is older and stronger, " said the Mother, "then the flowers will
bloom at his touch, the birds will return to sing their songs, and the air
will be warm from his breath, and winter will be gone for a time. Then the
Sun King will run and play with you in the forest."

The little Faeries sang to the Baby Sun King, songs of the coming spring,
the sweet smelling flowers, the bumbling bees, and all the secrets of the
forest. And all the creatures within the sacred grove sang with them. Then
the fox took them back to their snug home under the roots of the giant oak
tree where they dreamed wonderful dreams, waiting for the warmth of
spring and the fun they would have with the little Sun King.
YULE LOG MAGIC
Posted by Rev. Carol A. Ingle (Raven)

The Yule log brings warmth and light on this Yule Eve, and represents the
birth of a new solar year on the Winter Solstice. Burning the Yule Log is
one of the oldest magical rituals. You can make and burn this Yule Log
with your family and friends.

You will need a beeswax candle, an oak, cedar, or birch log, a fireplace or
woodstove, cedar, holly, and pine branches, and green, red, and white
ribbon.

Begin by drawing a magic circle around the room and fireplace or


woodstove, and then call in the elements. Next, light the candle,
dedicating it to the Mother Goddess and Father God. Tie the cedar, holly,
and pine branches around the log with the green, red, and white ribbon.

As you do this, say:

Blessed Yule Log of plenty,

Bring us good luck and good health

And divine prosperity, blessed be!

Now Dip some of the wax from the candle on the log. As you do, repeat:

Blessed Yule Log of plenty,

Bring us good luck and good health

And divine prosperity, blessed be!


Before putting the log into the fire, place your hands over the Yule log
and say this prayer:

Dear Goddess and God

On this Eve of Yule, I pray you

Please grant us the gifts

Of good health and good luck

And divine prosperity.

May the divine spirit shine brightly

With each new year and every day

In the Lady and Lord's name, Blessed be!

Enjoy the warmth and light of the Yule fire. Before you go to sleep, thank
the Goddess and God, bid farewell to the elements, and close the circle.

Tomorrow morning, take some of the ashes from your fireplace or wood
stove, and scatter them clockwise around the outside of your home,
including your front and back doors, to bring you and your family good
luck, good health, and prosperity. Offer the remains of the beeswax
candle to the Earth.

So Mote it Be!
Origins of the Yule Tree
Posted by L o

Yule trees go way back in Pagan tradition, and generally were outdoor
live trees that were decorated with hanging candles. The Yule tree lights
and ornaments originally symbolized the sun, moon and stars as they
looked on the Tree of Life. The Yule tree decorations also represented the
souls of the departed who we remember at the end of the year. And then
there is the modern day gift giving which originated from hanging sacred
presents on the Yule tree as offerings to deities such as Attis and
Dionysus. And to think all of this sprung from the pinegroves equated
with the Great Mother Goddess

Another custom dating back to Pagan roots is the burning of the Yule log.
Originally the Yule bonfire was meant to give renewed life and power to
the sun, thus the sun was reborn with the shortest day marking the time
of year when the days started becoming longer. Traditionally Yule logs
are oak, with the oak tree symbolizing the Cosmic Tree of Life, per Druid
lore. Pine is also used to represent the dying Gods Attis, Dionysus and
Woden.
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