Sometimes, fall and winter feel heavy. As the sunshine of summer gives way to the crisp fallen leaves, we're reminded that it will soon be cold and dark. This year, it is made particularly challenging with the added restrictions due to COVID-19, and the general unease of our country and lives.
A wonderful way to move through this time is to focus on the celebrations of Yule. Recall that many of traditions associated with Christmas and New Year's are echoes of Yule: wreaths and cedar trimmings, decorations with candles and lights, even setting up a tree! These rituals have origins centering on the celebration of Winter Solistice, which occurs on December 21.
Norseman believed that the sun was a giant ball of fire, that would roll away from the planet and then back again. They would burn large logs (yule logs!) to encourage the return of the fire/sun, and would put ornaments on trees to lure the sun back.
Many think of Winter Solstice as "the darkest night of the year," but it can be more useful to think of it as the transition point toward brighter days. In the Wheel of Life, there is a constant turning of the seasons, and the dormancy/death of winter is necessary for the upcoming birth of spring. With may feel, this year in particular, like a time of hunkering down and staying inside to avoid the elements, the solstice is a wonderful reminder that we have come through our darkest times.
How will you celebrate Winter Solstice? We'll be offering yule goodies up in the shop early December to be a part of your rituals and celebrations, or as a wonderful gift to treat with your nature-loving, soul-seeking friends.
Decorate your altar and home, make traditional food and dishes, cozy up with a warm tea, and take heart in the changing of the seasons. Our family will be heading into the forest to gather cedar and pine cones; we will make simmer pots, hang lights, and we will watch the sunrise on the day of the solstice. Most importantly, we'll maintain mindfulness towards peace for others as we collectively round the corner on 2020 and head toward a New Year, ready for rebirth.