How are you celebrating the Winter Solstice?

Guiding Cauldron

well we celebrate simply....I have fresh holly over all our doorways into the home, some mistletoe as well over 1 doorway.

we'll be celebrateing with family after haveing avery tense emotional year with certains we're hopeing this will be a new beigginning for all involved.....

i've set out teh birdseed and food for teh animals and fae........

we'll have foods of teh season cooked all teh way through ephinay Jan time :)

I despretly miss haveing an indoor fireplace for a yule log.. so i'll have one in my mind of a nice big seasoned oak log...dusted in cinnamon, and spices...lit on christmas eve and know that it will burn all night long and keep the fire going unil new years with fresh woods for a prosperous and blessed filled new year to come :)

i will also have candles lit and some music playing, i already know the fae will be more lively than usual and welcome their music and banter lol

out christmas tree is all decorated indoors, and we xchange gifts on christmas day....I've made presents for those close to us and even made some birch bark leaf shaped ornaments as well.

I try to stay as close to nature as possible for my hedgewitch and green magic ways.

Bright blessings xx
 

Mi-Shell

Hi guys,
It was a busy day.
We had to dig ourselfs out from under the storm and then - life happened....
Now here are a few things you could use in your celebration:

After the traditional chants and my invocation prayers a small tree - or vase with evergreen boughs will be placed onto the Altar in the centre of the circle.
Participants one by one, starting in the East and going sunwise, will take an ornament,(provided or some bring their own) that has significance to them and with a few words and personal wishes for the Solstice, place it onto the tree. These ornaments are mostly all pagan inspired: apples, pears, feathers, wood cuts of animals, little drums, conucopias, snowman,red bows ---> whatever.....
Next L. will play her flute ,
Then we each have a little reading about the different customs of the solstice from around the world.
Each participant in turn reads his slip to the circle... ....> see provided snippets below (next post)
At the appropiate time the yule candle is lit.....

Then we each will take another small decorated slip of paper and write upon it our personal(secret) wishes for the coming Solar year.Tthese are attached to the yule log --- (where some of your wishes will also be..)
Then I will do the blessing of the log and the blessing of the feast and -- we dig in :)
I will seee ifffff I can scan some recipies for stuff put here, that anyone even in Australia could well do.
I myself am not much of a cook but will make a mean red cabbage and apple/ bread dumplings with good luck charms in the middle....!


The Boar's Head
One is the Boar's head the animal sacred to Frey and Freya from Skandinavia and a staple for feasts in the Celtic realm. and its teeth and bristles are charms for good luck.
. MAKING A BOAR'S HEAD
• You can make your own boar's head with*out loss of bristle to any creature, by using a well-stuck pineapple or other fruit.
• Twist a bin/ 15cm piece of string around a pencil and secure with tape and put this in the freezer:
• Cut off the pineapple's leaves and cut it down the middle, taking out the hard core with a sharp knife and leaving on the rind. Put the two halves back together again.
• At the end, which you cut cleanly to reveal the golden fruit, set two cocktail cherries on sticks as eyes. Cut a generous apple-slice mouth and secure with cocktail sticks beneath it.
• Cover the boar-pineapple's back with cock*tail sticks and place your desired snacks on its spines - cubes of cheese, chocolates, etc.
• Now retrieve your frozen pencil and slip off the string to make a curly tail.
• Place upon a presentation platter and convey, with suitable flourishes, candles, and accompanying songs, into your dining room. When you've eaten all the snacks off the "bristles," cut up the pineapple as dessert.


The other one is a Wassail pot!
(Best goooogle that one for signifficance....>Wassail< )
A very simple wassail ceremony might follow this pattern.
o Heat a large container of ale or beer -
about 3 to 4 pints .
Add '12 cup/40z/1 OOg of sugar and
'/4 cup/ 20z/50g of mixed spice (cinnamon
sticks and whole cloves are also excellent).
Cut up 2 or 3 small sweet apples and
add those.
0 Add a 1'/4 cup/'h pint/300ml of
pineapple juice and the same of orange.
Squeeze 2 lemons into the brew.
. 0 Place over a slow flame; then, before it
begins to boil, take off the heat and whip
up some cream. Let this float on top of
the brew like foam,
o Put into a suitably large bowl (the more
ornate the better),
o Now go out to the tree or trees with a few friends (these don't have to be apple trees, since all can benefit from a well*intentioned blessing, but it is traditional to wassail fruit-bearing trees). Wet the roots liberally with the brew. Pass the rest around and when everyone is thoroughly warmed up sing one of the wassailing songs quoted above. Lift your glasses to the tree and shout "Huzzah!" three times as loudly as you can.
The Luck of the Year.
It is the bird-quiet hour,
The mid-day contemplation of the sun.
On this bleak day, when no sun shines, What wraps the birds in silence,
What power blankets their song?
 

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Mi-Shell

Solstice customs

Solstice customs - for participants to read aloud:
arrange - or change or re-invent st your celebration:

The Winter Solstice is the year’s shortest day and longest night.
For our ancient ancestors it was a scary prospect, to see the sun in late fall rise later and later and sink earlier and earlier with less and less daylight and warmth left.
............................................

They worried each year that the sun might not be able to gain its warms back again. They believed the sun waged a formidable battle with the forces of darkness and so they gathered and lit fires and drummed and danced to cheer on the sun and assist her in her victory over darkness.
.......................................

Solstice festivals therefore centred around the idea of rebirth to assist the newborn sun to grow in strength, when it emerged from the dark womb of night. It is a celebration of the eternal cycle of life.
The Old Norse people called their festivity “Yule” - meaning wheel
The wheel of the Solar year has turned and the light is reborn.
..................................................
Many people around the world believe in the Earth as being a female, that is forever changing, a virgin in spring, a woman and mother in summer and a wise old crone in fall and early winter. The solstice is the turning point, where by the power of the sun the old crone is turned again into her virgin form.
...................................
In Japan the Sun goddess Amaterasu emerges from her cave again as a young woman.
For the Apache and Navajo Yolkai Estan = Changing Woman = Mother Earth changes from a tired old limping old woman to a beautiful young maiden full strength and promise.
The Apache people have all night mountain spirit dances to ward of evil and guard the village.
In Zuni Pueblo the Soyal ceremonies mark the return of the Kachina people to the human people.
.........................................................

The divine symbol of the power of the sun, the fire of new beginnings, on the longest night of the year, is the Yule log. It is set ablaze to assure good fortune and continuation. It is a sacred offering from the Tree of Life to the sun.
So let us light the Yule candle and later decorate the Yule Log.
......................................................

Another solstice custom are the so called Mummer;s Dances.
People dress up in animal skins and masks would romp from house to house to sing and dance and collect food and drink and pennies for their efforts.
In mediaeval times in Britain the Mummers Plays would re enact the ritual slaying of the old sun/year and the rebirth of the new.
It was widely known as the Morris dance.
................................................

That again comes from the Moor’s dance because the dance reenacts a story that combines the experience of the crusades with the victory of light and good over dark and unholy:
The powerful King George slays and kills the Turkish knight (the old year)
But Father Christmas (the bringer of light) intervenes calling for mercy and tolerance - and a doctor.
The Doctor has a magical drink (brandy) and revives the Turkish Knight, who promises to behave himself.......
.........................................

On Winter solstice in ancient per-christian Europe the people would don animal skins and sing and drum and dance to ensure not only the return of the sun but also to honour the animals of the hunt upon which they depended. This is the beginning of the still popular Mummer’s Dances.
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Later-in northern Europe shamans were often synonymous with the craft of smiting = power and creative force over the element of fire and by extension over the sun.
The traditional guild outfit or the smithy's gild was a red cloak and cap with white trim and a black belt with a silver buckle and black pants.
Nowadays someone in this outfit is recognized as Santa Clause
....................................


Among Mi-shell's Siberian ancestors the shaman, in this case her great grand mother Ulali, would spend the solstice night walking around the outskirts of the village singing and drumming to prevent malevolent spirits from entering the village and bringing illness and harm.
.........................................
At the height of the celebrations the shaman of the tribe ritually climbed the center pole of the lodge, that represented the tree of life to speak to the spirits (go on a trance journey).
Amongst drumming and singing he - or she could stay up there for quite a while....
When he /she came back down it was with gifts of prophecy , advice and wisdom that would sustain the tribe through another year.
....................................
In Iceland people fear, that whoever has not apologized by winter solstice for transgressions committed would at midnight be devoured by a giant long-toothed cat that lived in a mud-volcano.
.......................................

The Jewish celebration of Hanukah is nothing but attribute to the return of the light after a time of darkness and the lighting of the menorah with its 9 candles symbolises the newborn light. Also presents are given in its honour.
..........................

Poem:
Here, at the gateway of the year
may we strive to make good cheer
In our revels,
shall joy abound
and sorrow be cast underground!
................................

The importance of the Egyptian culture is expressed in the architecture of the great temples at Karnak, Thebes and Abydos each of which focuses the rays of the Midwinter sun into the heart of the temple enclosure.
This puts these sites at par with the mighty earth temples and stone circles of Europe like New grange and Stonehenge.
......................................

Decorating one's doorway with holly and ivy at the solstice was so clearly linked with ancient beliefs that Christian fathers more than once tried to outlaw the practice, but to no avail.
Holly was also part of an ancient, ritualized battle of the sexes: tradition held that whoever first brought holly into the house at Yule, master or mistress should rule the household for the coming year.
The kiss under the mistletoe may have then represented a peaceful resolution and union of the two.
...............................................

In the Baltic's reigns the Sun Goddess Saule. On Winter Solstice her heavenly smith, Kalvis, wearing a red and white suit with a black belt remade the sun for her. Using his magic hammer he formed a golden cup to catch Saule’s tears the liquid sunshine that solidified to Amber. Then he accompanied Saul in her flying chariot pulled by reindeers and wrote over the hilltops of dawn. Saule threw presents of amber and apples over the world below as they flew across the sky.
Does this remind you of Santa, Rudolph and the presents?
...................................

Rozhanitza Rozhanitza is a winter goddess found in Russia and eastern Europe. Winter embroideries were made to honor her, which often show her with her daughter goddess, who is sometimes human and sometimes a deer. She is shown with horns ÷ lone among the deer species, the reindeer of the far north are the only species in which the female also has antlers. Her feast day is December 26th; and white-iced reindeer cookies were given as good luck tokens on that day.
.......................................
Evergreen trees are a symbol of the Tree of life and renewal:
Romans wreathed their temples with pine boughs for the celebrations of the Saturnalia and Kalends. The former was a festival for the winter sowing season that ran from Dec. 17 - 24; a general holiday was observed and presents, often candles, were exchanged.
.............................................

The Kalends was the Roman New Year celebration. Presents were also exchanged at this time, as symbols of the sweetness, light and health the giver wished for the recipient in the new year.
...........................................
The new christian church tried to eradicate these customs in their followers but gradually had to incorporated them by declaring that presents and well-wishes were exchanged in honor of baby Jesus.
.................................................

The early church did not fix the date of Christ's birth at midwinter until the fourth century C.E. (comon aera). The church of Jerusalem did not recognize this date for another 300 years;
One would think if Christ was indeed born December 25th, this fact would have been recognized in his native land from the start.
The current date was chosen because it was already celebrated as the birth of Sol Invictus, the Unconquered Sun an alternate title for the rival Savior Mithras, whom even St. Augustine declared to be the same deity.
.................................................

And this date already incorporated the earlier Greek sun festival, the Helia. And of course there was the Norse celebration of Yule, which honored the rebirth of the God Frey at the darkest point of winter.
....................................................

And what about reindeer?
Deer have always been considered magical creatures, sacred to our ancestors -especially on the winter solstice
From the shaman at Trois Freres to the Gundestrupp Cauldron, the horns of the stag were used to represent the divine male principle. Indeed, the “Julebukk” was sometimes costumed as the Horned Lord. Despite church warnings labeling him as the devil, girls still sought a chance to dance with the figure, no doubt recognizing his role as fertility king for the coming year
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Midwinter is the season to work powerful magic charms, spells and
rituals to assist the rebirth of the light and the continuation of the life-cycle.
What is your personal symbol of rebirth and continuation?
.............................................................
I send you heartfelt Yule-tide charms,
to keep you safe from ills and harms,
to last through out the coming year,
to ward off doubt and dismiss fear,
And welcome joy with open arms.
................................................................

...:) there are many more, you can ad.....:)
 

Briar Rose

Mi-Shell, Here's my Yule Log prayer;

For Aurora:

Here, at the gateway of the year
may she strive to make good cheer
In her revels,
shall joy abound
and sorrow be cast underground!

That was a good one. Thank you for sharing. I changed it around a bit.

Many Blessings!

Can you take some pictures of the Yule Log and the dances? I love all your pictures. And I was wondering how you got all those lovely wild creatures to be eating out of your hand? Although, you are so magical, and have good vibes, I guess that's just it. My dogs chase everything off the land. I wish they didn't. I love animals so much, I would kissing and hugging them all.
 

Dancing Bear

What a fantastic read Mi-Shell Thankyou so much for all that effort..

Our celebrations will most definatley take on New Meanings this year,
Thanks!!
 

Debra

Oh thank you so, Mi-Shell! I'm sending some of this to my husband so he can read it and light a candle himself on the solstice too. You are a treasure.
 

Mi-Shell

Well we had to re-do our snow labyrinth after the snowstorm. It covers about 2 acres and takes a little over an hour to walk. In the centre is an ooooold cedar stump pointing East!!!
You have to wear snowshoes to walk it - at least for now. After a couple of cold nights the soft snow will crust up and then normal boots are ok.
 

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Debra

Wow...when you make a labyrinth, you do it big time! Wonderful photos. I love labyrinths--they really do work for me. Blessings this new year, Mi-shell and everyone.