Tag Archive: yule


The Celtic calendar begins with the month of the Birch Moon, a time of new beginnings and making plans for the future.

birch moon

The first of the 13 months of the Celtic calendar is the month of the Birch Moon.  It begins just after Yuletide and runs through most of January.

Staring just after the Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year – the month of the Birch Moon marks the period of the year when the hours of daylight start to increase over the hours of darkness.  Its associated color is flame red; from this comes the red candles that we burn at Yuletide.

 

New Year’s Resolutions

The month of the Birch Moon falls into the “quiet time” during the bleakest period of winter.  None of the eight major Neopagan festivals occur in this month.  There is little to do but wait for warmer weather.

This month is therefore primarily a time of contemplations, of looking to the future and starting to make plans for the year ahead- hence the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions.

THE LADY OF THE WOODS

The silvery bark that covers the trunk of the birch tree resembles the silver of the moonlight, which it reflects at night giving it a magical look.

birch-wood-tree

“Tree Goddess”. Photo taken by Norse Witch

With its long, slender branches that stretch up to the sky, the birch symbolizes the female aspects of nature and is often known as “the Lady of the Woods.”  Growing up to 100 feet high, it has also been thought of as a ladder that shamans can climb to reach the gods.

 

BIRCH MOON MAGIC

The month of the Birch Moon is the ideal time to weave magic focusing on new beginnings and purification, or to cast spells for support, shielding and cleansing.

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“The Birch” by Margaret Walty

At the beginning of the year, concentrate on new beginnings.  Ask for general luck in whatever the coming year brings, and focus on what you want to achieve.

Resolution Blessing Spell

The birch is the first tree to grow back after a forest has been cut down or razed, reinforcing its association with new beginnings.  It is a tree of extreme hardiness, thriving in places where the oak cannot.  When you make a New Year’s resolution, increase your chances of sticking to our guns by performing this blessing spell.

You Will Need:

  • Red candle
  • Red ribbon
  • Birch wand
  • Frankincense, rose, and benzoin essential oil

resolution spell1. Go for a walk in your local park and collect a birch twig no more than 12 inches long.  As birch is a very common tree, you should be able to find one easily, even in urban areas and parks.

2. Mix a few drops of rose frankincense and benzoin essential oil into the palm of your hand and rub the mixture into a red candle.

3. Light the candle, and stand in front of it for a few moments visualizing your resolution.  If you are planning to learn to play guitar, for instance, visualize ourself happily strumming your favorite song.  You may want to state your intent aloud, saying, “I will learn to play guitar.”

4. Holding your birch twig at one end, pass it through the candle’s flame.  Then turn around, clockwise, holding the twig in front of you to draw a circle around yourself.

5. Repeat the incantation, “I manifest new chances for good fortune, clarity and insight.  I open myself to new experience and allow change to manifest in my life.”

6. Now sit down for a few minutes and quietly contemplate your wish.  When you have finished, blow out the candle.

Purification and Cleansing

purificationThe silver color of the birch’s bark is associated with purity and cleansing.  Criminals and naughty schoolboys were often beaten with birch twigs – “birched” – in order to purify them and drive out any evil influences.

This is a good time to cleanse your mind of negative thoughts and attitudes, such as anger and jealousy, or an addictive behavior, such as smoking.  A full Moon that calls within the month of the Birch Moon is called the Cold Moon; you can strengthen your intent by performing the following ritual at this time.

A Simple Cold Moon Ritual:

1. Light a white candle besides a small bowl of natural spring or rain water.

2. Stand over the water and pray for the strength to let go of your vice.

3. Write down your negative behavior nine times on a piece of paper.

4. Fold up the paper, place it inside a freezer bag, and pour in some of the prayer water.

5. Place the bag inside your icebox to “freeze” your bad habits – putting them behind your forever.

Birch Throughout the Year

birch year

  • Birch is used for purification, exorcism and protection.  A red ribbon tied to a birch twig will help ward off the evil eye.
  • Witches’ brooms are made of birch twigs tied around an ash branch with strips of willow.  The purifying birch sweeps away evil spirits, as well as dirt.
  • At Beltane (May Day), birch twigs are used to light the fires that signal the beginning of the new season.

 

 

 

 

Source:

“Enhancing Your Body, Mind and Spirit”, 21 Nature Magic, CARD  5.

 

Suggested Links:

Celticradio.net, “Celtic Zodiac: The Birch“.

The Goddess Tree, “Birch“.

Jaecap. People.tribe.net, “The Birch Tree“.

Spiritblogger.wordpress.com, “Spirit Message of the Day – Celtic Tree Month Birch – Strength“.

“Despite the fact that some people hate cold weather, it does have its advantages. After all, a good cold day gives us an opportunity to cuddle up indoors with the people we love the most.

"Winter Goddess" by ~hgrivera

“Winter Goddess” by ~hgrivera

O! Mighty Goddess, in silvery ice,
watching over us as we sleep,
a layer of shining white,
covering the earth each night,
frost on the world and in the soul,
we thank you for visiting us.
Because of you, we seek warmth
in the comfort of our homes and hearths.” ~ Patti Wigington

"Snow Queen" by *lilok-lilok

“Snow Queen” by *lilok-lilok

http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/yuleprayers/qt/WinterGoddess.htm

“The sun returns! The light returns!
The earth begins to warm once more!
The time of darkness has passed,
and a path of light begins the new day.
Welcome, welcome, the heat of the sun,
blessing us all with its rays.” ~ Patti Wigington

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http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/yulethelongestnight/qt/YuleSunrisePray.htm

Woke up to a Solstice Wonderland this morning

Waking up to a Solstice Wonderland this morning

First off, I’d like to wish you all a Happy Solstice and Blessed Yule!  This is a liminal and very magical time of year that our Northern European ancestors took very seriously – celebrating it with feasting, drinking, gift giving, sacrificing and rest from work.  They knew the sun would be returning to warm the earth and the promise of spring and summer would be arriving soon…

The 12 Days of Yule also seemed to be a very auspicious time of year in which oaths were taken the most seriously and binding.  It was and is also still a time to reflect upon resolution – reconciling old debts and giving up that which no longer serves you now and in the new year to come.

Our Solstice started out this morning with aspersing ourselves with water and smudging with sage and lavender.  Offerings of oats was given to the Earth Mother, apple cider to the Nature Spirits, beer to the Ancestors and whiskey to the Shining Ones.

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Offering of oats, cider, beer and whiskey

We charged a gold candle with our “love wishes” of peace, love, happiness and thanks for our blessings (and unicorns – my daughter was especially thankful for unicorns, but hey, who isn’t?).  The candle stayed lit all day and is just now going out – well past sundown.

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Gold candle to symbolize the Sun

This was followed up with an offering of a make shift “Yule Log”.

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Make shift Yule Logs

Happy Solstice!

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As I was browsing the Internet later on this afternooon, I came across an article entitled the “12 Days of Yule Devotionals – Prayers for the Winter Solstice” by Patti Wigington.  She wrote, “The winter solstice is a time of reflection, during the darkest and longest night of the year. Why not take a moment to offer up a prayer on Yule? Try a different devotional each day to give you food for thought during the holiday season.”  I really love this idea!

On the 1st day of Yule, the first devotional is the Earth.  “Just because the earth is cold doesn’t mean there’s nothing going on down there in the soil. Think about what lies dormant in your own life right now, and consider what may bloom a few months from now.

Foggy-Winter-Night-on-River-1680x1050-wide-wallpapers.net

Cold and dark, this time of year,
the earth lies dormant, awaiting the return
of the sun, and with it, life.
Far beneath the frozen surface,
a heartbeat waits,
until the moment is right,
to spring.” ~ Patti Wigington

I think this would be fabulous to do upon arising every morning – perhaps with the lighting of a candle and making an offering (i.e. an offering of oats or cornmeal to the Earth or with whatever seems appropriate to you).


Operation Circle Care – Yuletide gifts for Pagan Troops

Know of any Pagans serving in the US Military in Afghanistan & elsewhere overseas? Please send their full name, rank, branch of military service, country and war where serving, postal address, and email address for the Pagan Soldier, and also include your own name and contact info, plus your relationship with the Soldier before before November 20th. Circle Sanctuary keeps contact information confidential. Contributions of items and funds are also welcomed for this program.

You can help this effort by sending them donations of new and gently used items as well as funds to cover air mail postage.

DONATE ITEMS: contact the Operation Circle Care project coordinator: occ@circlesanctuary.org.

 

 

ITEMS NEEDED:

Pagan Spiritual Medallions –

  • Pentacles
  • Ankhs
  • Awen symbols
  • Thor’s Hammers
  • Sun symbols
  • Moon symbols
  • Goddess and/or God symbols
  • Green Man/Woman symbols
  • Wheel of the Year symbols

Other items –

  • Pagan Music, Meditation: CDs & DVDs
  • Gift cards from store that ship overseas, for example Barnes and Noble, Amazon
  • Gift cards can be used for online holiday shopping (So deployed soldiers can send gifts home to their children from overseas)
  • ATT phone cards
  • Crystals
  • Small God and Goddess statues
  • Pagan Books (No nudity)
  • Incense
  • Oils
  • Herbs
  • Small Wands
  • Small travel chalices
  • Altar cloths

DONATE FUNDS: Donate to this project on-line by credit card by clicking here or you can send check or money order payable to Circle – Operation Circle Care, Circle, PO Box 9, Barneveld, WI 53507 USA.

Wiccan/Pagan Soldiers may make their own requests for inclusion in our gifting program. Email: circle@circlesanctuary.org with cc to: occ@circlesanctuary.org

NETWORK: Please help get the word out to others about this project.

THANKS to everyone involved in this project!

Current Supporters for the 2012 Yule Package Drive

Organizations, festivals, & businesses making contributions of items and/or funds

  • Dogwood Local Council, Covenant of the Goddess (Georgia)
  • Everglade Moon Local Council of Covenant of the Godess (Florida)
  • Garden State Pagan Alliance (New Jersey)
  • The Crystal Fox (Maryland)
  • Wizard’s Emporium (Indiana)
  • Pagan Educational Network (Indiana)
  • Louisville, KY CUUPS
  • Joliet, IL CUUPS
  • Witches Hat Society of Northwest Indiana

Past Operation Circle Care Supporters
Organizations, festivals, & businesses making contributions of items and/or funds

  • Church of the Eternal Circle (New York)
  • That Witchy Place (http://www.thatwitchyplace.com/)
  • Llewellyn Publications (Minnesota, worldwide)
  • Order of the Pentacle (worldwide)
  • Greater Augusta Pagan Community (Georgia)
  • Pagan Peddler (Virginia)
  • Celebrating Earth Spirituality Festival (Pennsylvania)
  • Sassafras Grove ADF, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Luna Rising, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Charter Oak Grove, Ware, MA

Operation Circle Care Staff

Coordinators: David & Jeanet Ewing
Advisor: Selena Fox

Operation Circle Care is a charity sponsored by Circle Sanctuary, a 501(c)(3) non-profit religious organization.

Contact: occ@circlesanctuary.org.

More details: https://www.circlesanctuary.org/index.php/military-ministries/operation-circle-care.html

Goddess Holde

“The Goddess Holda” by Carrie Kirkpatrick

“Holda’s themes are longevity, wisdom, kinship, magic, destiny and karma. Her symbols are white items and aged items. Among the Teutons, Holda is known as the White Lady, an appellation that alludes to the color of Her hair. This Goddess is the wise, ancient crone, who has learned the lessons of destiny and karma from a long, well-lived life and who bears the knowledge of magic’s deeper mysteries to us with patience and time.

In Massachusetts, the first Sunday in October is set aside to honor grandparents and their vital role in families. Customarily, grandparents (or ‘adopted’ ones) are invited for dinner and showered with attention. I think this is a lovely tradition as it stands, honoring Holda’s wisdom through the elders in our community. Go to a nearby nursing home and spend half an hour or more cheering up someone. Listen to people’s stories of days gone by, and let their insights inspire you.

To improve your own awareness of karmic law, or to increase your magical insights, wear Holda’s white (a scarf on your head would be good) or carry a white stone with you to represent Her (coral is ideal, being a stone of wisdom). Alternatively, eat some aged cheese or drink aged wine to remind yourself that ‘old’ doesn’t mean outmoded. People can become better with time and with Holda’s guidance, if we remember to appreciate the years and the people who have gone before us on this path.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Holda” by Neil Geddes-Ward

There was a ton of information on Holda to go through!  She turns out to be a very interesting and complex and all encompassing Goddess; seen as the maiden in summer sitting by a lake combing Her beautiful white hair; as mother who made the fields, animals and women fertile and protected women and children, as well as accompanying those infants who had died before they’d been named to the Other World;  and as wizened crone in the winter who was stern and despised laziness.  She also had connections with many different Goddesses, both within the Germanic and Norse pantheons and even outside: Goddesses to include Freya due to Her association with cats (appaerntly the name of the cave She lived in, Kitzkammer means ‘Cat Chamber’) and Frigga for Her associations with the household, women, spinning and children; Perchte and Berchta (which appears to be debatable to some as to whether they were the same Goddess or entirely different Beings with similar attributes); and later in post-Christian times, even Diana and Habondia as She was demonized and said to lead “a wild hunt in which She led the souls of infants who died unbaptized, witches, and heathens in general.” [1]

“Åsgårdsreien” by Peter Nicolai Arbo

In a paper written by SummerGaile, she explains that: “In Jacob Grimm’s Teutonic Mythology, Holda is spoken of as host to the Wild Hunt or ‘Wilde Heer’.  In this account She is the consort of Woden, supreme god of the Germanic tribes occupying central Europe in ancient times.   There are many variations of this story, but the themes that are most prominent are the ones that illustrate Holda leading a Wild Hunt to gather those souls that may still be lingering earth bound; and it is She who gathers them during this ride to usher them into the Other World.  Another variation of this record is that She gathers un-baptized children, or more accurately, she gathers those born and who died without having been given a birth name, and takes them safely to the Other World.” [2]  Due to Her connections with death, magic and witches, She is also sometimes associated with Hecate and Hel.

Hag by Angie (aka DeadSpider)

And of course, in the post-Christian times as we see with many independent mother Goddesses, She is transformed from Mother Holda, or “Gracious One” who helped and protected women and children into the “Goddess of the Witches” – an old ugly hag who rode a broom across the night sky; as well as many of Her symbols taking on new evil attributes: “No where is this demonization more clear than in ‘Sleeping Beauty’ where the spinning wheel and spindle are turned into symbols of evil. Many of Her other attributes were turned around as well. Her protection of the dead soul of infants was turned around to Her creeping in and stealing children from their cradles. Her image as wise old woman, instilling moral values turned to the foolish old Mother Goose who spreads wives tales.” [3]

“Alma Parens” by William Bouguereau

“Throughout German, Austrian and Swiss folktales we find this former Goddess demoted, together with Her twin Perchta, to a witch.  Frau Holle was the more pleasant of the two: sunshine streamed from Her hair when She combed it, snow covered the earth when She shook a feather comforter, and rain fell when She threw away laundry water.   She was a splendid white lady who appeared each noon to bathe in the fountain, from which children were said to be born.  She lived in a cave in the mountain or in a well, and people could visit Her by diving into it.

She rode on the wind in a wagon.  Once She had to have a broken lynchpin repaired, and the man who helped Her later found that savings of wood from the project had fumed to gold.  In addition to gold, She rewarded good people with useful gifts, such as the invention of flax and spinning.

Her feast day was celebrated on winter solstice, when She checked the quality of each spinner’s work.  A good spinner would wake to find Frau Holle had left her a single golden thread, but sloppy ones found their work tangled, their spinning wheels shattered or burnt.

The period between December 25 and January 6 – the ‘twelve days of Christmas’ – were sacred to Frau Holle during that time She traveled the world in Her wagon.  No rotary actions were allowed; sleighs were used instead of wagons, and all meal-grinding had to cease.  Her twin Perchta was, if not welcomed, at least acknowledged at the same season” (Monaghan, p. 127).

“Frigga, Goddess of Women & Wisdom” by Thorskegga

 

Correspondences
Other Names: Frau Holda, Frau Holle, Winter Goddess, White Lady, Mother Yule, Hulde
Attributes: Virtue, Motherhood, Wisdom
Season: Winter, Yule
Symbols: Spindle, Spinning Wheel, Flax, Geese, Apples, Milk, Elder Tree, Elderberry Tea
Colors: White, Ice Blue
Symbols: Snow, Snowflakes, Well      [4]

 

 

 

Sources:

Eaves, Susan “Ratatask”. Eplagarthrkindred.org, “HoldaArticle“.

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Frau Holle”.

Paxson, Diana L. Hrafnar.org,”Holda“.

SummerGaile. Order of the White Moon, “The Sacred Journey and Migration of Frau Holda Into our Modern Reality“.

Zmaj, Majka. Order of the White Moon, “Holda: White Lady of Winter“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

AOR, Thorsigurd. Odinic-rite.org, “Holda“.

Finnegan, Margaret. Margaretfinnegan.blogspot.com, “Goddess of the Week: Holda“.

Fox, Selena. Beliefnet.com, “Riding with Holda“.

Dashu, Max. Suppressedhistories.net, “The Old Goddess“.

GardenStone. Goddess Holle: In Search of a Germanic Goddess.

Glaux. Afwcraft.blogspot.com, “Faces of the Golden Queen“.

Graves, Shannon. Northernpaganism.org, Who is Holda?

Motherholda.blog.com, “Holda

Linda-heathenycatmusings.blogspot.com, “H is for the goddess HOLDA – Ancient Lady of the Sacred Land, Queen of the ‘other folk’“.

Marks, Dominic. Lowchensaustralia.com, “Norse Goddess Names“.

Motz, Lotte. Winterscapes.com, “The Winter Goddess: Percht, Holda, and Related Figures“.

Theoddgods.com, “Perchta/Berchta“.

Seigfried, Karl E. H. Norsemyth.org, “THE GODS & GODDESSES, Part Two“.

Swampy. Dutchie.org, “Goddess Berchta“.

Wikipedia, “Holda“.

Brighid Turns the Wheel

As it has always done, and will continue to do, the Wheel turns. Yule is over, the old year is dead and gone. Though you can’t see it, new life stirs. Of course, it may not feel like it in Upstate New York right now as I look out my window at all the snow coming down. But the days are growing noticeably longer and we know that change is taking place all around us, no matter how small. The Bright One is with us. You can’t help but feel Her presence and Her warmth – Her spark urging and drawing us to awaken from our midwinter slumber.

“Spring” by by Ruth Sanderson

Traditionally, Brighid presides over Imbolc and for good reason. She is the Maiden in which new life rejoices. We invite Brighid into our homes and lives to help us purify and clear out that which no serves us or is needed from the year prior with Her fire and watery aspects. We ask Her to assist us in divination at the crossroads so that we may know which direction or path to take in the hopes that our efforts will yield a successful and bountiful harvest in the year to come. We call upon Her as midwife to help us take the steps we need to take, no matter how small, to transform our hopes and that which we dreamed of during our long winter’s slumber into reality. As She did so delicately with me, She calls us to come forth and to seek healing if we need it; to guide us to those with warm hearts and strong hands to help us emerge from the winter within our souls and face the challenges and lessons that lie ahead.

“Luna Meets Brigid at Imbolc” by Wendy Andrew

Ostara is a very powerful time to take the steps, whether physically, mentally or magically, to attune to the earth’s balancing energies and rebalance what needs balancing in your life. It is time to clean out (if we haven’t already started doing so) to make room for new growth and facilitate creativity. Also take this time to make ready your “tools” (magical and mundane) you’ll need and prepare the “seeds” (spiritual and physical) you plan sew so that they may have enough time to grow and properly come into bloom. I believe it wouldn’t be at all inappropriate to call upon Brighid during this time to lend Her assistance in our efforts as creativity and blacksmithing are both included in Her many fortes.

“Brighid’s Walk” by Helen Nelson-Reed

Beltane is a time to revel in the creative heat of the Bel-fires that act as a catalyst for all kinds of sacred fertility and growth. The fires revitalize and renew us. The Goddess Brighid being a Goddess of forge-fires and the fire of inspiration was no stranger, I’m sure, to the fever-fire of passion. As such, Bel, Lugh or Oghma would make appropriate Consorts for Her if She so chooses. This sacred union between the God and Goddess is sacred to us because fertility is sacred. Without the sacred act of the union, there would be no fertility; there would be no life.

“The Beltane season is a time of fertility, not only for people but for the land as well. In the early spring, many of us who follow earth-based spiritual paths begin planning our gardens for the coming season. The very act of planting, of beginning new life from seed, is a ritual and a magical act in itself. To cultivate something in the black soil, see it sprout and then bloom, is to watch a magical working unfold before our very eyes. The plant cycle is intrinsically tied to so many earth-based belief systems that it should come as no surprise that the magic of the garden is one well worth looking into.” (Wigington, Patti, Magical Gardening Around the World)

Next, the Wheel turns to Litha, or Midsummer. Like Ostara, it has been questioned as to whether or not Midsummer has always been celebrated by our ancient ancestors or whether the solar festivals (the solstices and equinoxes) were actually added later and imported from the Middle East. Regardless of the origins, many Neo-Pagans do choose to celebrate Litha every year in June. “This is a time of year of brightness and warmth. The power of the sun at Midsummer is at its most potent, and the earth is fertile with the bounty of growing life. Flowers surround us with bright colors and seductive fragrances drawing the bees in to ensure fertility and reproduction of the species; which in turn provides us with sweet honey. All the seeds have been planted and the crops are growing in their fields with the heat of the sun, but may require water to keep them alive.” (Wigington, Patti, Litha History – Celebrating the Summer Solstice)

I draw associations here between Brighid’s fiery and watery aspects and the need for balance between the hot, blazing and fiery sun and the need for cool, replenishing and healing water. We also observe the balance between light and the darkness, both in the physical world and within ourselves. Take the time to appreciate and love all the beauty and blessings that have blossomed in your life over the course of the year thus far. There is so much beauty not only in the world and in nature, but also within ourselves. Find it, find your confidence and love. Celebrate it, dance joyously in the sun’s warm and healing rays as this is one of the most cherished duties we have as children of the Goddess.

“Brigid” by Lisa Iris

What does that mean for us? No such great festivals bind us together today as they did thousands of years ago to promote survival. However, we can learn from them that connection is vital for a happy and complete life. Coming together for ritual confirms, builds and strengthens Community. This is also a good time to focus on preparing one’s family and home with some magic around the hearth and home.

“Decide which events, goals or relationships no longer serve your highest and best, make preparations to remove them from your life.” [1] Throw symbols of them into Brighid’s fire. Now is also the time to finish long-standing projects by the fall. It would also be a good time to bless the tools of your trade in order to bring a richer harvest next year. Again, Brighid being a Hearth Goddess and Goddess of blacksmithing would be more than willing to lend Her assistance if asked in both of these tasks.

“Brigid” by Nefaeria

The autumn is the season of death; it is a time of transformation. When things are stripped away from us or we feel the need to clean out that which is no longer needed, giving up old habits and attitudes that no longer fit us, we ask Brighid to help us understand the wisdom of transformation. She helps us when we seem to have nothing left or are in pain of loss. She helps us understand that when something is truly finished and no longer useful to our soul’s purpose, we can find ourselves happy at the change. We are renewed. This is the hope hidden within the apparent darkness of transformation.

“Brigid: Bardic Spirit” by Lindowyn

The veil between the worlds is at it’s thinnest, as it was at Beltane. This is a time to remember and honor all who have crossed over and all that has died. We recall with a sharp pang of memory, the loves so full of promise, the ideas that seemed to gleam, the plans that called to us. We move on, eventually past broken hearts and shattered dreams, stronger for the losses we have endured. But to live most fully, we must make time to grieve the pain of these losses, to give time to the sorrows as well as the joys of life. This is a time that we turn to Brighid to light our way through the darkness to receive warmth and healing at Her hearth. We become still and quiet to acquire or gain any wisdom and knowledge that She has to bestow. We watch as she works and hammers away deep in Her forges, shaping and tempering strong tools from crude metal, transformed by fire and water.

“Brigid of the Forge” by Lindowyn

The Wheel turns to Yule. The cold and darkness of winter has been long and hard. The daylight does not seem to diminish or grow as though at a standstill. We seem to be holding our breath, waiting for change. The soul holds still like this, just before great change occurs. It is a silence so profound that it seems as though time has stopped. In this magical moment, we have the chance to set in motion great changes, great happenings. This is the moment when the seeds of new life, new growth, must be planted.

“Promise of Imbolc” by Adrian Welch

The Winter Solstice, or Yule, was an incredibly sacred time to our ancestors. They recognized and celebrated the “rebirth” of the sun, for they knew that they had made it and the sun was returning. They knew that the worst was over. “Bonfires were lit in the fields, and crops and trees were “wassailed” with toasts of spiced cider. Children were escorted from house to house with gifts of clove spiked apples and oranges which were laid in baskets of evergreen boughs and wheat stalks dusted with flour. The apples and oranges represented the sun. The boughs were symbolic of immortality (evergreens were sacred to the Celts because they did not “die” thereby representing the eternal aspect of the Divine). The wheat stalks portrayed the harvest, and the flour was accomplishment of triumph, light, and life. Holly and ivy not only decorated the outside, but also the inside of homes, in hopes Nature Sprites would come and join the celebration. The ceremonial Yule log was the highlight of the Solstice festival. The log would burn throughout the night, then smolder for 12 days after before being ceremonially put out. Ash is the traditional wood of the Yule log. It is the sacred world tree of the Teutons, known as Yggdrasil. An herb of the Sun, Ash brings light into the hearth at the Solstice.” (Akasha, The Winter Solstice – Yule Lore)

How we yearn for the light in the dark times of winter. Even knowing how important rest is to ourselves and to our planet, how happily we greet the dawn and the spring! Brighid’s flame shines like the flame of a new light and it pierces the darkness and shines into our spirits. Even to this day, we celebrate, laugh and tell stories and seek out companionship during the darkness of winter. Mythically, our role in the cosmic drama is important, for without laughter the sun will not return. So in this dark time, let us all laugh as loudly and as long as possible. For as the ancients knew, the worst is over and we will survive…just to do it all again next year!

“Maiden Goddess” by Wendy Andrew

Brighid Bright 

by Autumn Sky

Brighid my Mother
nurture me
so that I may nurture and nourish
Brighid my Maiden
make me fertile, sensuous, feminine
so that I may know the power of my female form
Brighid my Crone
make me quiet
so that I may know the patience
to grow wise with time
Brighid my Blacksmith
forge me strong and true
so that I may stand tall and solid
Brighid my Poet
give me eloquence and a moon-graced tongue
so that my words may find their way
to open eyes, hearts, and minds
Brighid my Healer
wash me clean in health
so that I may touch and heal
myself, my land, my people
Brighid my Warrior
imbue me with courage and dignity
so that I may fight an honest fight
for respect, equality, and freedom
for all minds, hearts, souls, and bodies

Brighid my multifaceted star
no matter how cloudy the night sky
a spot of clarity
all sides combine
one bright one shines
to give me what I need
one woman, one heart, one soul, one mind
but with her on my side
I am so much more
every step a new door
to who I can be
because she makes it so
I can be free to be
who deep down I know
is the woman i have always been


Goddess Mielikki

“Mielikki’s themes are change and providence. Her symbols are bears, grain and woodland plants.  The Finnish Goddess of game, hunting and the forest, Mielikki protects our resources during the remaining cold season by keeping the pantry filled. As the Goddess of abundant grain, she also encourages the return of fertility to the earth.

Go into your kitchen and get a small handful of any grain-based cereal. Take this outside and release a pinch of it to the earth, saying something like:
‘Mielikki, see this grain and bless
return to earth in fruitfulness
Hear the prayer that fills my heart
to my home, providence impart.’

Take the remaining pinch back in the house and store it in an airtight container, symbolically preserving your resources.

Tyvendedagen means ‘twentieth day after Christmas’. In Norway, today marks off the official end of the Yule season. It’s celebrated with races, sleigh rides, and the storage of ornaments and by burning the Christmas tree to drive away winter. So, when you dismantle your Yule tree, keep a jar full of its needles handy. Burn these throughout the year to banish frosty feelings or to warm up a chilly relationship. The pine smoke, being from a woodland tree, also draws Mielikki’s attention to any pressing needs you may have.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

In one legend, Mielikki plays the central role in creating the first bear.  Click here to read the story.

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