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The Llewellyn Encyclopedia

Yule Ritual

This article was written by Sandra Kynes on August 30, 2006
posted under Yule

Setup

The items needed for this ritual:
4 sprigs of holly;
1 long strand of gold Christmas tree garland the longer the better;
tea light candles in holders that protect the flame. More specifically, these candles will be placed on the floor and you want to protect long clothing from catching fire. Ideally, you will need enough to place around the perimeter of the garland spiral.

Use the garland (or two strands if you would like to make it larger) to create a spiral in the center of the floor, making the space within wide enough to form a path on which to walk. Place tea lights around the perimeter of the spiral. Lay the holly at the entrance to the spiral. Light the candles around the spiral(s) just before beginning the ritual.

Background

Read the following just before beginning the ritual:

Putting bright lights on Christmas trees and around the house began with the tradition of lighting candles and fires to honor the return of the sun. The burning Yule log itself represents the new, shining sun. A piece of the Yule log, which is traditionally oak, is kept from one year to the next providing continuity as the old year finishes and the new one begins; death is followed by rebirth. A common component of the Yule ritual, when done outdoors, is to jump a bonfire and make a wish for the coming year. Tonight we combine this basic idea with the spiral, which is associated with the Goddess, winter, and the Winter Solstice.

The spiral is a fundamental form found in nature. To ancient people, the spiral was a sacred symbol of the Goddess and her transformative powers. Our ancestors knew about, and we are only rediscovering, the vortex of energy in a spiral that allows us to connect with our deepest selves, the web of life, and the Divine.

At the ancient site of Newgrange in Ireland there is a set of three spirals on the back wall of the inner chamber, 65 feet from the entrance. On the Winter Solstice, as well as the day before and the day after, the rising sun illuminates these spirals.

The spiral is also symbolic of winter hibernation. During the cold months we turn inward for a time of reflection. But the same spiral of energy that leads us downward, inside ourselves in winter eventually leads us up toward the light in spring.

The Ritual

Pick up the four sprigs of holly and walk around the perimeter of the spiral to define your circle as you say:

"Red and green, holly bright,
Help me cast my circle tonight.
The sun returns, glowing white,
With the child, Lord of Light."

Place a sprig of holly at the edge of your circle in each direction after evoking it, saying:

"Come ye spirits of the North, powers of Earth, your bounty sustains me through the winter. Be with me as the silent cavern; place of renewal. Be with me this night.

Come ye spirits of the East, powers of Air, sail on crisp winter wings as you bring the golden dawn. Be with me as a clear night sky. Be with me this night.

Come ye spirits of the South, powers of Fire, bring the heat of a flame to warm my heart. Be with me as a welcoming hearth. Be with me this night.

Come ye spirits of the West, powers of Water, you nourish the earth and bathe me in sweet rains. Be with me as a quiet snowfall. Be with me this night.

Great Mother Goddess, provider of all life, Lady of Heaven and Earth, bring forth your son, transform the light. Be with me this night. Tonight I celebrate the return of the sun and the rebirth of light."

Take time to think of what you want to bring into your life. When you are ready, follow the path into the spiral. When you get to the center, pause and then step over the inner-most coil. As you do this, say your wish aloud. You may want to pause again or sit in the center of the spiral to contemplate your wish as well as the coming year. When you are ready, follow the path back out of the spiral.

When you emerge from the spiral, begin chanting as you walk around your circle:

"With this wish I make,
And every step I take,
Bring me to center
Where my dreams awake."

When it feels appropriate, slow and then end the chant, and then say:

"May my wishes and intentions voiced here this night manifest into the physical world. As above; so below. Blessed be."

Use your usual centering to ground the energy or playback a recorded one.

Bring the ritual to a close, saying:

"Great Mother who gives birth to the light and gives our world form, thank you for your presence this night. I ask for your blessings as you depart. I bid thee farewell."

As you dismiss each direction, pick up the holly you placed at the edge of your circle and return it to the entrance of the spiral, saying:

"Spirits of West, of Water that fills the rivers in spring, thank you for your presence this night. Stay if you will; go if you must. I bid thee farewell.

Spirits of South, of Fire that provides new beginnings, thank you for your presence this night. Stay if you will; go if you must. I bid thee farewell.

Spirits of East, of Air and the precious breath of life, thank you for your presence this night. Stay if you will; go if you must. I bid thee farewell.

Spirits of North, of Earth that sustains me, thank you for your presence this night. Stay if you will; go if you must. I bid thee farewell.

Just as darkness is followed by light, so winter is followed by spring. The Wheel of the Year and of my life continues to turn. My circle is open, but unbroken. May the peace of the Goddess remain in my heart. In faith and unity. Blessed be."

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