Friday, December 23, 2011
Yule - occurs on the date of the winter solstice. It is also known as Winter Rite, Midwinter, and Alban Arthan. Yule is celebrated on the longest night of the year, and it is seen by many as the time when the sun begins its journey back from the darkness to the fullest light, celebrated at the Summer Solstice. It is the festival of the Sun's rebirth, and a time to honor the winter aspects of the God and Goddess. The festival of Yule was originally celebrated in Norse and Germanic countries, and many Pagans choose to honor those aspects of the God and Goddess at this time of year.
Yule marks the longest night of the year -- the triumph of the dark half of the year. Night and darkness have reached their apex and the Wheel turns to restore balance. The dawn heralds the return of the sun, bringer of light, warmth, and growth. In the days following Yule, the sun's power grows steadily, encroaching upon the night, pushing back the darkness.
The darkness of this longest night holds many lessons. One of the most powerful is the awareness that hope and light spring forth from deepest darkness. Here, indeed, is the message "that the darkest hour comes just before the dawn". As we wait quietly in the darkness, we honor the stillness and the mystery of the night, and light candles or a Yule log to summon the sun's return. In the summoning of the sun, we work in partnership with Nature to preserve balance. Similarly, when faced with difficult challenges in our lives, we are partners with the Universe in manifesting hope out of despair.
The Yule tree (recognized in modern times as the "Christmas tree") is an ancient symbol of life, fertility and vitality. Even in the dead of Winter, the Yule tree is evergreen ... a reminder of the life-force of Nature. Trees are brought into the house and decked with lights to celebrate Life and the returning of light after the darkest night.
Yule is also a celebration of dawning potentiality. As darkness gives way to light, the Earth lies sleeping. To us, the Earth appears dead, dormant, but deep within her soil lies the slumbering seed awaiting the power of the newborn sun to activate its growth. At Yule, we look within ourselves for the sleeping seeds, and identify the situations, blessings, activities we would like to germinate and grow in the coming year. We honor the need for the regenerative stillness, the rest before the energetic growth of springtime. Yule is a time of transformation and rebirth. Rituals and personal healing work centered around rebirthing are customary at this time.