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Winter Solstice and Yuletide Blessings

seawitch Sophia Elise Saturday, December 19th 2009.

The Winter Solstice, or Yule, occurs on Monday, December 21st at 9:43 am. Yule represents a turning point of the solar year as the days begin to get longer after this time of greatest darkness and the longest night of the year. Yule is a solar festival, celebrated with fire and decorating trees, giving gifts, burning a Yule log, harvesting mistletoe and hanging evergreen boughs. After feasting, the tree is lighted and the Yule log is burned. A portion of the Yule log is saved to be used in next years lighting of the Yule log. This piece of the Yule log is kept throughout the year to protect the home.

The seasons’ colors are red and green. Holly is used as decoration for this festival, originally named for the dark underground Crone-goddess Holle, or Hel, from whose womb the sun arose. The red berry symbolized the Goddess’ holy blood, shaper of all life, according to the oldest beliefs. The evergreen leaves of the holly represent ongoing life, retaining vitality through the winter, with an implied promise of immortality.

The Winter Solstice has long been associated with the birth of a ‘Divine child or King’ long before the rise of Christianity. Since the Sun represents the male deity, this time is honored as the return of the sun god, where he is reborn of the Goddess. Yule is centered around the idea of rebirth, assisting the newly born sun to grow in strength when it emerged from the dark womb of night. It is a time for reflection and celebration as we think about where we have been and anticipate the new Sun and its promise for increasing light, as the days start to slowly become longer and warmer. The theme for Yule, is re-birth, with emphasis on the divine birth-giver rather than the one born, as in the Christian revision. The birth-giver is Hel, or the Dark Goddess, also known as Mother Night, Hecate, Myrrha, Cerridwen, Cybele-Nana, Black Demeter and many other names.

Savior cults, such as of those of Jesus, Mithras and Attis, use this traditional birth season for their heroes and dying-resurrecting ‘god men’. In ancient cultures, they celebrated the birth of a divine child at this time, nine months after the god’s death and re-conception (resurrection) at the Spring Equinox.