Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Yule Sabbat

Tonight is the longest, darkest night of the year; it's also an important holiday if you celebrate the Wheel of the Year. The Sabbat known as Yule is celebrated on the Winter Solstice, which falls on December 22nd this year. By tradition, we consider Yule to begin at sundown, the night before the 'calendar date'. That means that many Pagans will be celebrating Yule tonight!

The God's Rebirth

If Samhain is the end of the year, then Yule represents the beginning. On Samhain, the Goddess mourns the passing of the God. On Yule, the God is reborn from the Goddess once again, and we celebrate his return to the world. Since the God is associated with warmth and sunlight, we consider dawn the moment of the God's arrival: the moment of his rebirth.


Yule is just as much about the symbolism of kinship, family, and rebirth as it is about the God's actual rebirth. The winter months can be cold and bleak, and that's why it's more important than ever to remember our better qualities and help the people around us.

In many ways, the dark cold winter is the perfect time to keep a fire going in our hearts, minds, and hearths. Yule is about sharing your warmth with others, and about being with your family-- both the family you grew up with, and your second family: the friends you've chosen yourself. All beings are the children of the God and the Goddess, and kindred in spirit and divinity, so remember during this season that even complete strangers on the street are a part of your larger family. Give what small kindnesses you can to those you can, and allow yourself to shrug off the everyday irritations and upsets of life. Take care of yourself, knowing that a new day is just around the corner.

Ritual Celebrations

Most Pagans will light at least one candle when the sun descends in order to keep the light going and encourage its return tomorrow morning with the sun. Another common Pagan tradition on Yule involves a night-long vigil, held until the first rays of dawn; during this vigil, by candlelight or firelight, you are given a chance to review your past year and make resolutions for the new year ahead.

Though the release of old things is more of a Samhain tradition, I personally enjoy writing down my anger, upsets, regrets, and embarrassments from the past year and throwing them into the Yule fire in order to symbolically let them go and move on to new things. Alternatively, you might write down your dreams, wishes, and goals for the new year and tie them to your Yule tree to strengthen your resolution and keep them in your mind. When the Yule tree comes down, bury your resolutions somewhere and let them spur on new growth, or burn them in a cauldron and spread the ashes somewhere with verdant plant-life.

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