I can’t believe I’ve done it, in 21 days of #blogmas I’ve missed 1 day. Even though I’ve had 2 birthday celebrations, my husband’s and third daughters 21st. Along with weekend in #London and #Bristol. I’m pretty impressed, as I’m usually skittish and disorganized.
However I am disorganized at home, still haven’t got food for Christmas, or finished wrapping. But that’s a hip pain issue more than anything. So anyways its here, the #Witches #Yule. So here’s part 2.
A Yule Log plays an important role in the celebrations of the winter solstice and later became a feature in Christmas even, a large oak log was lovingly brought into the house and kindled in the evening, using a branch from the previous years Yule Log. It was deemed essential that the log, once lit, should burn until it was deliberately extinguished. The length of time, varied from region to region, from 12 hours to several days and it was considered bad luck if the fire burnt itself out. It was never allowed to burn away completely, as some would be needed for the following year.
In England, it was considered unlucky for the Yule log to be bought with actual money, and had to be acquired using other means such as favours, bartering, swapping, anything as long as no money changed hands. Often it was given as a gift by landowners, and sometimes decorated with evergreens. In Cornwall, a kernow tradition is to draw a figure of a man was sometimes chalked on the surface of the log, mock or block. In Provence, where it was called the tréfoire, carols were sung invoking blessings upon the women that they might bear children and upon the crops, herds and flocks that they might also increase.
The ashes from the Yule log were saved to make protective, healing or fertilising charms, or scattered over the fields. In Brittany, the ashes were thrown into wells to purify the water, and in Italy as charms against hailstones.
In some parts of the Scottish Highlands, a variation of the Yule log was observed, here a figure of and old woman, the Cailleach Nollaich, was carved from a withered tree stump. At dusk, the figure was brought into the house and laid upon the burning peat of the house fire. The family would gather round the hearth and watch the figure consumed into ashes, the rest of the evening was spent in games and merriment. The figure, represented, not fertility and life but of the evils of winter and death, the figure had to be totally consumed if misfortune and death were to be averted in the coming year.
Mistletoe, from the Old English misteltãn, is really a parasitic plant that grows on a variety of trees, particularly the apple tree, it is held in great veneration when found on Oak trees. The winter solstice, called ‘Alban Arthan’ by the Druids, was according to Bardic Tradition, the time when the Chief Druid would cut the sacred mistletoe from the Oak. The mistletoe is cut using a golden sickle on the sixth day of the moon. It is often associated with thunder, and regarded as a protection against fire and lighting. In Scandinavian mythology, Balder the Beautiful was killed from an arrow made of mistletoe and wielded by the blind god Hoder. Shakespeare, in Titus Andronicus II calls it ‘the baleful mistletoe’.
It is interesting to note that mistletoe was excluded from church decorations, probably due to its connection with the Druids and pagan and magickal associations. This ancient ban on mistletoe is still widely observed.
This was an ornamental candle of great size, once widely used at Yule throughout Britain, Ireland and Scandinavia. See how traditions havent changed much, not even the colours, as they were often coloured red, green or blue and decorated with sprigs of holly or some other evergreen. The candle was lit either on Christmas Eve, its light shedding on the festival supper and left to burn throughout the night or early Christmas morning, to burn throughout the day. It was rekindled on each successive night of the twelve day festival, and finally extinguished on the Twelfth Night. Here’s the tradition of the 12days. Its all pagan you know!!
While the candle burns, it is believed to shed a blessing on the household, it was considered a sign of ill omen or misfortune for the candle to go out or blown out. Actually in ALL witchcraft it is bad form to blow out candles. Better to snuff them out. It was also considered unlucky to move it. In some households only the head of the family could perform this task, it being considered unlucky for anyone else to touch it whilst alight.
So there you have it, not so different to Christmas at all. So eat well, drink plenty and make Merry, for the darkest days are over, the light is reborn. Life will return, we see its first sparks.
Don’t forget to leave an offering outside to the spirits. That’s what we do. And as for Yule log, we use a chocolate one now lol