December 16, 2011

A Yule Ritual

Contribution by Ashlie Neevel

First we will look at the meaning of the sabbat before we proceed to the ritual.

At the Winter Solstice, the two god themes of the year's cycle coincide -- even more dramatically than they do at the Summer Solstice. Yule (from the Norse iul, meaning wheel) marks the death and the rebirth of the Sun God; it also marks the vanquishing of the Holly King, the god of the Waning Year, by the Oak King, the God of the Waxing Year. The Goddess, who was Death-in-Life at Midsummer, now shows her Life-in-Death aspect; for although at this season she is the leprous white lady, Queen of the cold darkness, yet this is her moment for giving birth to the Child of Promise, the Son-Lover who will re-fertilize her and bring back light and warmth to her Kingdom. ( Eight Sabbats for Witches by the Farrars )

It is also possible to envision the Holly King and the Oak King as one in the same and the battle they speak of is his inner battle; a coming to terms with himself, accepting his role, and sacrificing of himself for the good of all. The Holly King willingly accepts his fate and becomes reborn as the Sun/Son God who grows to become the Oak King who then later must mature and take the role of the Holly King once more. It is to that theme that the ritual below is centered around.

A Yule Ritual
(Solitary Ritual but could be adapted for Covens)

Items Needed:
Red Candle
Green Candle
9 White Candles
1 Egg
1 Bowl
Seasonal Decorations for Altar (garlands, holly sprigs etc)

Set Up
After clearing your circle space, take 8 of the white candles and set them up at the borders of the circle equal distance apart from one another as shown below. This is representing the sun wheel and the wheel of the year.

Your altar should be in the center of the circle facing NORTH. Decorate your altar and circle space with seasonal decorations. On top of the altar there should be a Red Candle on the left side for the Goddess. There should also be a Green Candle on the right side for the God. The remaining White Candle should be in-between the Red and Green Candles and laying before the white candle should be the bowl with the egg in it. If you'd like you may paint a sun or sun wheel or sun symbol on the egg. Decorate around the bowl with garland or holly twigs as this represents the cradle of the Sun God If you're feeling crafty, try making a cradle out of twigs woven together to use instead of the bowl.

The Ritual
Cast and consecrate your circle as your tradition dictates but do not invoke any deities. Begin in the following manner. Start by going to the candle in the North East Corner. It is the section of the circle indicated in the image below with the green and yellow circle.

With arms outstretched into the air say the following:

"Spinning Always, Shining Bright, The Wheel Of The Year Spins Day and Night."

Moving clockwise light the candle and each subsequent candle except the very last candle (located at North) while saying:

"Turn, Turn, Turn Again, The Cycle of Life Knows No End!"

Move to the unlit white candle located at North and kneel with your head bowed and Say:

"The Darkness Is Upon Us, We Can Turn No More, One Must Die So The Sun May Be Reborn."

Rise and return before the altar facing North and in the god position make the following invocation to the Holly King:

"Descend O' Father, You Who Rides The Winter Skies, With Rosy Cheeks And Twinkling Eyes. Adorned In Holly, Dressed In Fur, Ever With Us As The Seasons Turn. A Sacrifice, Must Be Made, Will You Save Us From The Crone's Embrace?"

Light the Green Candle and bow. Now assume the goddess position and make the following invocation to the goddess:

"Descend O' Mother, You Who Are Withered And Lone, With Garments Gleaming Atop Your Icy Throne. Your Whispers Dance Through Barren Trees, Carried By The Frosty Breeze. Eyes Like Auroras, Burning Bright, How Long Must We Endure The Dead Of Night?"

Light the Red Candle and bow. Kneel before the altar in silence and contemplate what it means to be cold and alone. Visualize the frozen earth and feel its longing to be alive once more.

Rise and read aloud the following while visualizing it being acted out in your mind:

"On this night, the Holly King rides high through the wintery skies, enjoying the marvels of earth below. Traveling the world over, he looks over us; his children, bestowing upon us gifts seen and unseen. His heart is filled with joy as he sees us gathered together; sharing our stories, singing our songs, and huddling close to one another; our love keeping us warm.

Recounting the love he witnessed amidst his travels, he begins to hear heavy sobbing far off in the distance. Looking through the falling snow, he sees that the crying is coming from the goddess who has now become the crone; old and withered like the earth below his feet. He descends to her.

"Goddess why do you cry? Have you not seen our children happy with one another this night?" - Said the Holly King.

"I cry because I am alone and forgotten. I cry because I am old and barren and can no longer provide for my children. You have grown old, just as I have, and we no longer provide the fruits that sustain them through the year. All we have for them now is death, darkness, and despair." - She said through the tears that formed snowflakes as they fell from her pale face.

"My lady, do not cry. Behold, our children make merry with song and feast. They  do not hunger. They do not want." - The Holly King said with a jolly voice as he settled himself next to her on the icy ground.

"My Lord, these moments are but fleeting. Their cups will become empty and their fires will dim. They will tire and long for the sun to return again. Without the sun to thaw the ground, no shoots will flourish, no hens will lay, the world will be frozen in ice and decay." - The goddess pleaded.

With tears in his eyes the Holly King replied - "This cannot be. We can't allow this milady; but what can we do?"

" I do not want my children to suffer. I will gladly spill my blood upon the land for them." - The Holly King continued while rising up and reaching for his sword.

"No my Lord! That is not the way." - She exclaimed.

"Embrace me once again my love; like we did in our youth. Let us join once more and let my icy kiss take us through the darkness and back into the light!" - The goddess whispered while gazing deeply in the eyes of the Holly King.

The Holly King took the Crone into his arms in a loving embrace. Their lips moved towards one another and as they touched they became frozen in an eternal kiss. The snow swirled around them, blinding them from sight.

As the snow began to settle, standing in the place of the Crone was a young girl wrapped warmly in the red and white robes of the Holly King. In her arms laid an infant; a baby boy, who shined brightly as the noon day sun. Birds took to the naked branches in song, as the young maiden and the new born son walked into the light; their destiny."

Now take the Green Candle in your right hand and the Red Candle in your left hand and join their flames together over the egg. Let some of their wax drip onto the egg; symbolizing their union.
Without breaking the candle flame from being one flame, light the White Candle that sits in front of the egg and say:

"Through The Depths Of Darkness, The Sun Is Reborn. All Hail The Holly King And All Hail The Crone. May They Slumber In Peace."

Replace the Green and Red Candles in their holders and pick up the egg and hold it high in the air and say:

"All Hail The New Born Sun!"

Replace the egg in the bowl. Take up the White Candle from the altar and walk clockwise to the unlit White Candle on the circles edge in the North. Kiss the candle in your hand and light the unlit candle and say:

"Turn, Turn, Turn Again. The Cycle Of Life Knows No End."

Continue walking clockwise and replace the White Candle on the altar. Spend some time meditating, chanting, singing, drumming or any other thing you choose to do to honor the season. Reserve the egg on the altar for after the ritual to bury in the ground while making a wish for the spring. Perform your cakes and ale ritual and close the circle as your tradition dictates.
Guest contribution by Ashlie Neevel.


Kat of EmKatCreations said...

Really lovely ritual, thank you for sharing!

The Cauldron Keeper said...

You've been tagged, come play!

Ashlie Milano said...

Wow I never realized that this ending up making the cut and getting on your blog. Im honored lol. Would you mind updating my last name to Neevel (married now) and removing the link to the witches collective. I am no longer there. Thanks :)

Polly said...

Hi Ashlie, I've made the changes you've requested. :) Thank you!

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