Friday, November 21, 2008

Update & Apology

Still alive & kicking, not necessarily happy, but here.
I apologize to those who have come here looking for new information, unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond my control, there probably won't be any new infor here for a bit - well read on for more info...Too much shit left at other house, and no time to get it moved...when you work 6 days a week it makes it a bit hard. Hunny & I both ended up taking a day off - well he did, I had to trade my Tues off to get Sat off & eat 2 hours, and on top of it, I had to call in on Wed to take my boy to the doctor - beginning stages of bronchitis(sp?). But I couldn't MOVE anything unless I wanted to haul a sick child back & forth in the cold... *sigh*And Goddess only knows when I'll get my cable/phone/internet transfered. Apparently, in order for the person who "does" employee service requests/changes to even PLACE THE REQUEST, HR has to confirm that the address I've given is actually my address per the new website-update-information-place. Mind you, I changed it there last Thursday or Friday. Yeah, that's a week. Note the NEW - translation, still probably has bugs...AND apparently, HR only deigns to "update" that info when we get paid. Every two weeks. A week from now. So in a week, if she feels like it, our liason will contact the person at the other cable company in the area (because of course I don't live in OUR service area, instead I live in theirs...not that that is necessarily bad...) and request my service be scheduled to be moved. Then we get to try to find a date someone can be there, because despite I spend all day every day troubleshooting & fixin people's CABLE SERVICE, I'm not capable of hooking up my own equipment....AND, IPL (our electric company) has decided that November is when we have to "even up" our budget billing (voluntary, I like paying the same amount every month & prior to this it has always worked out well). When we moved into the house we're moving out of, we went from about 1200 sq feet to about 2300. But according to the woman I spoke with to do the transfer, the budget amount was the same. Huh? 1200 & 2300 sq feet of space use the same amopunts of electricity..? In what parallel universe..? But, realisticly, the bigger house was much newer, and I let her convince it was due to it being much more energy efficient... I questioned this statement repeatedly, but she assured me it was so. Now I have a $450 deficit I have to pay up by Dec 11... So, shall we just say I'm not exactly the happiest - or nicest for that matter - person on the planet at this point in time..? So, it'll be a while before this is regular again...(ahem, that sounded suspiciously like a fiber commercial...). Well, as regular as it gets *grin*Gotta go work - ewwwwwwww

Disclaimer: No one involved in this list or its contents may be held responsible for any adverse reactions arising from following any of the instructions/recipes on this list. It is the reader's personal responsibility to exercise all precautions and use his or her own discretion if following any instructions or advice from this list.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Lack-o-posts, Moved

Sorry folks, it may be a while until I get anything put up here...we moved this past weekend, and as of yet have no internet service at the new house. You would think that being an employee of da...da...DUM The Cable Company, that there would be advantages, like not waiting for installation. Nope, just the opposite. I am held hostage to the woman in accounting who sets up employee accounts as part of her job. Setting up employee accounts..? Not quite the top of her list. I don't think it is even CLOSE to the top of the list. (Last move, I requested the transfer 2 weeks before moving, it was still a full week AFTER we moved...) So, I wait. In the meantime, I will try to pop in here when I can and hopefully we'll be back on track soon.
Disclaimer: No one involved in this list or its contents may be held responsible for any adverse reactions arising from following any of the instructions/recipes on this list. It is the reader's personal responsibility to exercise all precautions and use his or her own discretion if following any instructions or advice from this list.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday Surprise - Yule

This post is taken in entirety from
The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft
by Judika Illes

The ancient Germanic calendar was divided into six periods of 60 days each, known as tides. Each tide was the equivalent of two modern months. Yuletide refers to the two-month tide corresponding to modern December and January. The winter solstice falls within this period, as does the 12-day period commemorated as the Twelve Days of Christmas. Similar to Halloween or the February Feasts of Purification, the veil between realms is thin during this time and ghosts and spirits walk the land.

Yule may be defined in either of several ways:

  • as the Nordic pagan festival that once began at the W inter Solstice
  • as an alternative name for Christmas; those who use that name tend to emphasize pagan survivals within Christmas, however not necessarily to the exclusion of Christian elements. This Yule begins on the evening of December 24th, regardless of the specific timing of the Solstice.
  • as the modern Wiccan sabbat that corresponds to the Winter Solstice.

The word "Yule" may derive from the name of a Nordic festival. Juleiss was the name of the Gothic month of celebration and fun. In Dutch, "joelen" means loud, fun, raucous partying. (My Dutch source suggests that joelen is what a crowd does during a football match!) Yule may also derive from the Anglo-Saxon word for "wheel," commemorating the cutting and rolling of the Yule log.

Christmas is permeated with Pagan traditions. The period of time beginning with the Winter Solstice,  and continuing for at least the next twelve days was a popular time for festivals in the pre-Christian world. Many traditions and rituals have since been absorbed into the Christian celebrations.

These December festivals included:

The Nordic festival of Yule. Its elements included the yule log, the yule boar, and devotion to evergreen trees. Odin, the shaman god, sometimes resembles the jolly gift-giver alternately known as Santa Claus, Father Christmas or Old Saint Nick. Odin studied shamanism with the neighboring Saams and perhaps learned something about herding reindeer, too. Although Odin isn't the elven king - that's Freyer's job - the elves and Odin do come from the same territory.

  • The Saturnalia and the Feast of Ops: the Roman festival in honor of Father Time, also known as Saturn , and his consort Ops. For the Romans, Saturn was king of an ancient "golden age" of perfect happiness, before people had to farm for a living. His festival looks back to that early age with nostalgia. The Saturnalia celebrated the solstice and sought to protect winter-sown crops, but above all the Saturnalia was a joyous, merry festival characterized by gift-giving, especially to children. The Saturnalia counts among the wild, anarchic festivals. There are rituals to encourage fertility. Gambling and gaming was encouraged; cross-dressing was popular. Social distinctions were reversed, so for a few days a slave could be master. The ancient deity Saturn also bears something of a resemblance to that white-bearded ode gentleman, Good Saint Nick.
  • The Rural or Lesser Dionysia: allegedly the most ancient of the Greek festivals honoring Dionysus. Held at the very beginning of January, on this day even slaves enjoyed freedom. A procession was held which included a goat bearing a basket filled with raisins. An erect wooden pole carved to resemble a phallus and decorated with ivy was carried in the procession, too.
  • The Mother's Night: a Germanic midwinter festival associated with the Norse deity Odin. According to the monk, historian and scholar the Venerable Bede (c. 672 - May 25, 735 CE) the Mothers' Night corresponded in time with Christmas Eve and was the most important pagan festival in eighth-century Britain. Little information about the holiday survives. Mothers were apparently honored as were perhaps the ancient European deities known as the Matronae or "The Mothers." Divination was practiced at this time. Dreams on this night were believed to reveal the future. 

       In Russia, The season coinciding with Christmas was a time traditionally celebrated with cross-dressing, dressing as animals, masking and mumming.
December is the time for dancing,  singing, and feasting, a time when men masquerade as animals and especially as the Horned God. The Horned One carries a small broom of birch twigs with which to generate and enhance fertility power. His face is blackened with soot or charcoal dust so that he looks as if he's come down the chimney. (It's meant to emphasize his fertility and immortality, similar to the way ancient Egyptians painted Osiris black when the wished to emphasize his resurrection from the dead and the immortal life he had achieved.)
These wild defiant celebrations found their place within the Christmas. To this day conservative evangelical Christians discourage pagan elements within the holiday, suggesting that followers "put the Christ back into Christmas." Until fairly recently, Christmas, and particularly these pagan elements, was considered somewhat disreputable. It was once considered a wild and raucous holiday, which the defiant, anarchist forces of Earth attempted to dominate.
The New England Puritans refused to celebrate Christmas, for instance, while, in 1801, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives forbade masquerading at Yule. The punishment was to be no more than three months imprisonment and a fine between $50 and $1000, which was an incredibly large sum of money in those days. And in 1881, Philadelphia law banned Christmas Eve masquerading. (Not a problem; revelers simply mover their festivities to New Year's Eve. Many customs now associated with New Year's Eve were once identified with Christmas.)
Why? What were people doing?
Celebrations of the Horned One, excised from May Day, Midsummer's and especially Halloween, survive at Christmas time. This is particularly apparent in the parts of Europe where Father Christmas has an official helper, like Black Pete or Krampus, Santa Claus himself may be the Horned One, albeit now in a padded suit. (See
HORNED ONE.: Krampus) German immigrants to the United States formed a sizable community in the state of Pennsylvania. They brought their raucous Yule traditions with them.......
To be continued when moving is done - puter is coming down 

Saturday, November 15, 2008

VISIONS OF SUGARPLUMS by Margaret Morrison

This has always been one of my favorite stories - mind you I said story not Christmas story. AS pagans in today's world, many feel a need to be defensive about their chosen belief system, sometimes rightfully so. But for a pagan to completely renounce "Christmas" and all that comes with it makes them - in my opinion - no better that a Christian who refuses to acknowledge the pagan roots of the holiday. Everything is what you make of it. Just because the population in general believes that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christianity's Christ child, and all the hoopla has grown up around that belief, doesn't mean a person should deprive themselves of the all of the fun & happiness that goes along with it.
Decorating a Christmas tree is FUN. Shopping for gifts (for me at least *grin*) is FUN. I truly enjoy finding that one gift that will be perfect, yet utterly unexpected. The surprise & happiness I see on the face of a friend or family member when they see, not only something they wanted, but realize "Hey this person KNOWS me! They PAY ATTENTION to me - what I say and what I do!" And the  realization that I truly do consider them a friend, someone worth knowing well enough to buy a gift that won't sit in the back of a closet...that makes me happy.
I read somewhere that the act gift giving making a person happy is a sign of co-dependence and indicates "a problem." Yeah well, whatever. I disagree. Shouldn't making someone you care for happy make you happy in turn..? How that indicates a problem is beyond me.
Anyways, I imagine many readers have seen this before, but it's my blog, so I can post whatever I want PPPPPPFFFFFFFFFFFTTTTTTTTT ! ! ! !
I also think it's a good reminder - to people of ALL faiths - to loosen up, enjoy, and accept what's offered. Christmas, Yule, Solstice...really, how many holidays get the honor of being celebrated by almost the whole world? ...At the same time? What matter the neighbor's reason for their celebrating? We're all doing it together.....

I tried to find some kind of link to Ms. Morrison, but good googly moogly! there seem to be a bazillion of them!

dawtch holly

by Margaret Morrison
Copyright © 1999 by Margaret Morrison

Five minutes before the Winter Solstice circle was scheduled to begin, my mother called.  Since I'm the only one in our coven who doesn't run on Pagan Standard Time, I took the call. Half the people hadn't arrived, and those who had wouldn't settle down to business for at least twenty minutes.
"Merry Christmas, Frannie."
"Hi, Mom. I don't do Christmas."
"Maybe not but I do, so I'll say it." she told me in her sassy voice, kind of sweet and vinegary at the same time. "If I can respect your freedom of religion, you can respect my freedom of speech."
I grinned and rolled my eyes. "And the score is Mom - one, Fran - nothing. But I love you, anyway."
People were bustling around in the next room, setting up the altar, decking the halls with what I considered excessive amounts of holly and ivy, and singing something like, "O Solstice Tree."
"It sounds like party." Mom said.
"We're doing Winter Solstice tonight."
"Oh. That's sort of like your version of Christmas, right?"
I wanted to snap back that Christmas was the Christian version of Solstice, but I held back. "We celebrate the return of the sun. It's a lot quieter than Christmas. No shopping sprees, no pine needles and tinsel on the floor, and it doesn't wipe me out. I remember how you had always worked yourself to a frazzle by December 26."
"Oh honey, I loved doing all that stuff. I wouldn't trade those memories for all the spare time in the world. I wish you and Jack would loosen up a little for the baby's sake. When you were little, you enjoyed Easter bunnies and trick-or-treating and Christmas things. Since you've gotten into this Wicca religion, you sound a lot like Aunt Betty the year she was a Jehovah's Witness."
I laughed nervously.  "Yeah...How is Aunt Betty?"
"Fine. She's into the Celestine Prophecy now, and she seems quite happy. Y'know," she went on, "Aunt Betty always said the Jehovah's Witnesses said those holiday things were pagan. So I don't see why you've given them up."
"Uh, they've been commercialized and polluted beyond recognition. We're into very simple, quiet celebrations."
"Well," she said dubiously, "as long as you're happy."
Sometimes long distance is better than being there, 'cause your mother can't give you the look that makes you agree with everything she says. Jack rescued me by interrupting. "Hi, Ma." he called to the phone as he waved a beribboned sprig of mistletoe over my head. Then he kissed me, one of those quick noisy ones. I frowned at him.
"Druidic tradition, Fran. Swear to Goddess."
"Of course it is. Did the Druids use plastic berries?"
"Always. We'll be needing you in about five minutes."
"Okay. Gotta go, Mom.  Love you."
We had a nice, serene kind of Solstice Circle. No jingling bells or filked-out Christmas Carols. Soon after the last coven member left, Jack was ready to pack it in.
"The baby's nestled all snug in her bed," he said with a yawn, "I think I'll go settle in for a long winter's nap." I heaved a martyred sigh. He grinned unrepentantly, kissed me, called me a grinch, and went to bed. I stayed up and puttered around the house, trying to unwind.
I sifted through the day's mail, ditched the flyers urging us to purchase all the Seasonal Joy we could afford or charge. I opened the card from his parents. Another sermonette: a manger scene and a bible verse, with a handwritten note expressing his mother's fervent hope that God's love and the Christmas spirit would fill our hearts in this blessed season. She means well, really. I amused myself by picking out every pagan element I could find in the card.
When the mail had been sorted, I got up and started turning our ritual room back into a living room. As if the greeting card had carried a virus, I found myself humming Christmas carols. I turned on the classic rock station, but they were playing that Lennon-Ono Christmas song.
I switched stations.  The weatherman assured me that there was only a twenty percent chance of snow. Then, by Loki, the deejay let Bruce Springsteen insult my ears crooning, "Yah better watch out, yah better not pout."
I tried the Oldies station. Elvis lives, and he does Christmas songs.
Okay, fine. We'll do classical - no, we won't. They're playing Handel's Messiah.
Maybe the community radio station would have something secular humanist. "Ahora, escucharemos a Jose Feliciano canta `Feliz Navidad'."
I was getting annoyed. The radio doesn't usually get this saturated with holiday mush until the twenty-fourth.
"This is too weird." I said to the radio, "Cut that crap out."
The country station had some Kenny Rogers Christmas tune, the first rock station had gone from John and Yoko's Christmas song to Simon and Garfunkel's "Silent Night," and the other rock station still had Springsteen reliving his childhood. "...I'm tellin' you why. Santa Claus is comin' to town!" he bellowed. 
I was about to pick out a nice secular CD when there was a knock at the door. Now, it could have been a coven member who'd forgotten something. It could have been someone with car trouble. It could have been any number of things, but it certainly couldn't have been a stout guy in a red suit - snowy beard, rosy cheeks, and all - backed by eight reindeer and a sleigh. I blinked, wondered crazily where Rudolph was, and blinked again. There were nine reindeer. Our twenty-percent chance of snow had frosted the dead grass and was continuing to float down in fat flakes.
"Hi, Frannie." he said warmly, "I've missed you."
"I'm stone cold sober, and you don't exist."
He looked at me with a mixture of sorrow and compassion and sighed heavily. "That's why I miss you, Frannie. Can I come in? We need to talk."
I couldn't quite bring myself to slam the door on this vision, hallucination, or whatever. So I let him in - because that made more sense then letting all the cold air in while I argued with someone who wasn't there. As he stepped in, a thought crossed my mind about various entities needing an invitation to get in houses. He flashed me a smile that would melt the polar caps.
"Don't you miss Christmas, Frannie?"
"No." I said flatly, "Apparently you don't see me when I'm sleeping and waking these days. I haven't been Christian for years."
"Oh, now don't let that stop you. We both know this holiday's older than that. Yule trees and Saturnalia and here-comes-the-sun, doodendoodoodoo."
I raised an eyebrow at the Beatles reference, then gave him my standard sermonette on the appropriation and adulteration that made Christmas no longer a Pagan holiday. I had done my homework. I listed centuries, I named names - St. Nicholas among them.
"In the twentieth century version," I assured him, "Christmas is two parts crass commercialism mixed with one part blind faith in a religion I rejected years ago."
I gave him my best lines, the ones that had convinced my coven to abstain from Christmassy cliches.
My hallucination sat in Jack's favorite chair, nodding patiently at me.
"And you," I added nastily, "come here talking about ancient customs when you - in your current form - were invented in the nineteenth century by, um...Clement C. Moore."
He laughed, a rolling, belly-deep chuckle unlike any department-store Santa I'd ever heard. "Of course I change my form now and then to suit fashion.  Don't you? And does that stop you from being yourself?" He said, and asked me if I remembered Real Magic, by Isaac Bonewits. I gaped at him for a moment, then caught myself.
"This is like `Labyrinth', right? I'm having a dream that pretends to be real, but is only made from pieces of things in my memory. You don't look a thing like David Bowie."
"Bonewits has this Switchboard Theory." Santa went on amiably, "The energy you put into your beliefs influences the real existence of the  archetypal - oh, let me put it simpler: `In the beginning, Man created God'.  Ian Anderson." He lit a long-stemmed pipe. The tobacco had a mild and somehow Christmassy smell, and every puff sent up a wreath of smoke.  "I'm afraid it's a bit more complicated than Bonewits tells it, but that's close enough for mortals.  Are you with me so far?"
Oh, sure." I lied as unconvincingly as possible. Santa sighed heavily.
"When's the last time you left out milk and cookies for me?"
"When I figured out my parents were eating them."
"Frannie, Frannie. Remember pinda balls, from Hinduism?"
"Rice balls left as offerings for ancestors and gods."
"Do Hindus really believe that the ancestors and gods eat pinda balls?"
"All right, y'got me there. They say that spirits consume the spiritual essence, then mortals can have what's left."
Santa smiled at me compassionately through his snowy beard.
I rallied quickly. "What about the toys? I know for a fact they aren't made by you and a bunch of non-union elves."
"Oh, that's quite true. Manufacturing physical objects out of magical energy is terribly expensive and breaks several laws  of Nature. She only allows us to do that on special occasions. It certainly couldn't be done globally and annually. Now, the missus and the elves and I really do have a shop at the North Pole. Not the sort of thing the Air Force would ever find.  What we make up there is what makes this time a holiday, no matter  what religion it's called."
"Don't tell me," I said, rolling my eyes, "you make the sun come back."
"Oh my, no! The solar cycle stuff, the Reason For The Season, isn't my department. My part is making it a holiday. We make a mild, non-addictive psychedelic thing called Christmas spirit. Try some."
He dipped his fingers in a pocket and tossed red-gold-green-silver glitter at me. I could have ducked. I don't know why I didn't.
It smelled like snow, and pine needles, and cedar chips in the fireplace.
It smelled like fruitcake, like roast turkey, like that foamy white stuff you spray on the window with stencils.
It felt like a crisp wind, Grandma's hugs, fuzzy new mittens, pine needles scrunching under my slippers.
I saw twinkly lights, mistletoe in the doorway, smiling faces from years gone by.
Several Christmas   carols played almost simultaneously in a kind of medley. I fought my way back to my living room and glared sternly at the hallucination in Jack's chair.
"Fun stuff.  Does the DEA know about this?"
"Oh, Frannie.  Why are you such a hard case? I told you it's non-addictive and has no harmful side effects. Would Santa Claus lie to you?"
I opened my mouth and closed it again.  We looked at each other a while.
"...Can I have some more of that glittery stuff..?"
"Mmmm. I think you need something stronger. Try a sugarplum."
I tasted rum ball.
Those hard candies with the picture all the way through.
Mama's favorite fudge.
A chorus line of Christmas candies danced through my mouth.
The Swedish Angel Chimes, run on candle power, say tingatingatingating.
Mama, with a funny smile, promised to give Santa my letter.
Greeting cards taped on the refrigerator door.
We rode through the tree farm on a straw-filled trailer pulled by a red and green tractor, looking for a perfect pine. It was so big, Daddy had to cut a bit off so the star wouldn't scrape the ceiling. Lights, ornaments, tinsel. 
Daddy lifted me up to the mantle to hang my stocking.
My dolls stayed up to see Santa Claus, and in the morning they all had new clothes. 
Grandma carried in a platter with the world's biggest turkey, and I got the drumstick.
Joey's Christmas puppy chased my Christmas kitten up the tree and it would have fallen over but Daddy held it while Mama got the kitten out. Daddy said every bad word there was but he kept
laughing anyway.
I sneaked my favorite plastic horse into the nativity
scene, between the camels and the donkey.
I came back to reality slowly, with a silly smile on my face and a tickelly feeling behind my eyes like they wanted to cry. The phrase "visions of sugarplums" took on a whole new meaning.
"How long has it been," Santa asked, "since you played with a nativity set?-"
"But it symbolizes--"
"The winter-born king? The sacred Mother and her sun-child? Got a problem with that? You could redecorate it with pentagrams if you like, they'll look fine. As for the Christianization, I've heard who you invoke at Imbolc."
"But Bridgid was a Goddess for centuries before the Catholic Church - oh." I crossed my arms and tried to glare at him, but failed.
"You're a sneaky old elf, y'know?"
"The term is "Jolly Old Elf...'  Care for another sugarplum?"
I did.
I tasted gingerbread.
My first nip of eggnog the way the grown-ups drink it.
Fresh sugar cookies, shaped like trees and decked with colored frosting. 
Dad had been laid off, but we managed a lot of cheer. They told us Christmas would be "slim pickings." Joey and I smiled bravely when Mama brought home that spindly spruce. We loaded down our "Charlie Brown Christmas Tree" with every light and ornament it could hold. Popcorn and cranberry strings for the outdoor trees. Mistletoe in the hall: plastic mistletoe, real kisses. Joey and I snipped and glued and stitched and painted treasures to give as presents. We agonized over our "Santa" now we knew where the goodies came from, and we tried to compromise between what we longed for and what we thought they could afford. Every day we hoped the factory would reopen. When Joey's dog ate my mitten, I wasn't brave. I knew that meant I'd get mittens for
Christmas, and one less toy. I cried. On December twenty-fifth we opened our presents verrrrry slooooowly, drawing out the experience. We made a show of cheer over our socks and shirts and meager haul of toys. I got red mittens. We could tell Mama and Daddy were proud of us for being so brave, because they were grinning like crazy.
"Go out to the garage for apples." Mama told us, "We'll have apple pancakes."
I don't remember having the pancakes.  There was a doll house in the garage. No mass-produced aluminum thing but a homemade plywood doll house with wall-papered walls and real curtains and thread-spool chairs.  My dolls were inside, with newly sewn clothes. Joey was on his knees in front of a plywood barn with hay in the loft. His old farm implements had new paint. Our plastic animals were corralled in popsicle stick fences. 
The garage smelled like apples and hay, the cement was bone-chilling under my slippers, and I was crying.
My knees were drawn up to my chest, arms wrapped around them. My chest felt tight, like ice cracking in sunshine. Santa offered me a huge white handkerchief.  When all the ice in my chest had melted, he cleared his throat.  He was pretty misty-eyed, too.
"Want to come sit on my lap and tell me what you want for Christmas?"
"You've already given it to me."  But I sat on his lap anyway, and kissed his rosy cheek until he did his famous laugh.
"I'd better go now, Frannie.  I have other stops to make, and you have work to do."
"Right. I'd better pop the corn tonight, it strings best when it's stale." I let him out the door. The reindeer were pawing impatiently at the moon-kissed new-fallen snow. I'd swear Rudolph winked at me.
"Don't forget the milk and cookies."
"Right. Uh, December twenty-fourth, or Solstice, or what?"
He shrugged. "Whatever night you expect me, I'll be there. Eh, don't wait up. Visits like this are tightly rationed. Laws of Nature, y'know, and She's strict with them."
"Gotcha. Thanks, Santa." I kissed his cheek again.
"Happy Holidays."
The phrase had a nice, non-denominational ring to it. I thought I'd call my parents and in-laws soon and try it out on them. Santa laid his finger aside of his nose and nodded.
"Blessed be, Frannie."
The sleigh soared up, and Santa really did exclaim something. It sounded like old German. Smart-aleck elf.
When I closed the door, the radio was playing Jethro Tull's "Solstice Bells.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday Form A Circle - Yule Ritual Bath & Ritual

Pre-Solstice  Yule Ritual Bath
By: Karri Allrich

(I could not find a page for her  - -I found many thing written
by & about her, but not a page of just Karri : (
December 13th, 2003

During the Winter Solstice, we often place emphasis on celebrating and sharing this joyous, but often difficult, holiday. For Witches, however, now may also serve as a time to attune to a quiet, internal spirituality. To begin to do so (with the solstice less than ten days away now), prepare a ritual bath with oils of rosemary, pine, and orange. Add a touch of patchouli for grounding. Light gold and green candles, and immerse yourself in watery solitude to refresh your weary holiday spirit. Meditate on the winter goddess and her lesson of stillness. Find the cool and clean space she offers, free of clutter and activity. It is the season for centering and grounding ourselves, and for defining who we really are. After the bath, take your journal and write down your goals by candlelight. Contemplate the coming rebirth, and identify which direction you wish to channel your energy and focus your intentions.

Suggested Ritual
This came from my online"stash," but a quick
Google shows it originally came from The Silver Line


Cleanse yourself and your space in your normal manner (there's suggested Cleansing instructions for the Ritual Bath, Self and your Sacred Space in our Glade of Worship section that you may like to try). Cast the Circle in your usual manner (there's a suggested Circle Casting Instructions in our Rituals section you may like to try!), invoking your personal Goddesses and  Gods. Then bring the God candle used on Samhain to the front of the altar. Say:

"As this candle represents the Lord of the Sun,
As did it's blowing out represent His passing,
As will it's lighting represent His return."

Take an altar candle and light the God candle. Bringing the altar candle with you, move around the altar to the Yule log at the rear. Light the first candle, saying:

"Blessed be the Goddess
In her maiden form, fresh and young.
May all the world be born
Young again with her."

Light the second candle, saying:

"Blessed be the Goddess
In her motherly form,
Lovely and heavy with child.
May all that springs from her womb
Be strong and fruitful."

Light the third candle, saying:

"Blessed be the Goddess
In the form of the crone,
Powerful and wise.
Guardian of magic
And the wheel of life."

Now the Yule log has been lit, put the altar candle in it's place. Return to the front of the altar and stand, facing East. Speak these words:

"On this night the Lord of the Sun is reborn and the Goddess and the God are reunited. As the sun returns and the wheel of the year turns once more, we honor the Goddess and the newly born God, our Mother and Father."

Now is the time for any seasonal activities that you had planned for this evening. Magic is not really appropriate, though introspection upon peace, harmony, love, and increased happiness may be undertaken. Other activities may include singing, decorating the Yule tree, etc. Once finished, celebrate with Cakes and Ale, then release the circle in your normal manner.

Disclaimer: No one involved in this blog or its contents may be held responsible for any adverse reactions arising from following any of the instructions/recipes on this list. It is the reader's personal responsibility to exercise all precautions and use his or her own discretion if following any instructions or advice from this blog.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thursday This Is Your Spell - Russian Divinations for the Solstice

* Russian Divinations for the Solstice *
1001 Christmas Facts and Fancies, by Alfred Carl Hottes

Five piles of grain are placed on the kitchen floor. Each pile is given a name, such as Hope, Ring, Money, Charcoal, and Thread. We girls went to the henhouse and roused a drowsy hen. She is allowed to walk around the kitchen and choose a pile of grain. If she chooses Hope it means a long journey or the fulfillment of a great wish. The Ring, of course, means marriage; Money is wealth; Charcoal portends death in the family; and Thread means a life of toil. How the conversation flows when these divinations are made. Old songs were sung, and the old women and country girls could devise entire stories from the action of the hen.

Sooner or later one of the girls would slip outdoors, and standing just inside the gate, but with her back to it, she would kick her slipper high over her head into the road behind her. Then she would run to see in which direction it pointed, for that is the way from which a lover will come or the way she will go to be married. And, alas, if the slipper points toward the gate she will not be married this year. [Note from Honor: this is not necessarily a bad thing...]

Some girls sit in a room alone with the doors closed. Two candles are lighted and two mirrors are used so that one reflects the candlelight into the other. The point is to find the seventh reflection and look until one's future is seen.

Disclaimer: No one involved in this blog or its contents may be held responsible for any adverse reactions arising from following any of the instructions/recipes on this list. It is the reader's personal responsibility to exercise all precautions and use his or her own discretion if following any instructions or advice from this blog.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Proposition 8

This was sent to me by my cousin with the following message:

Hey ya'll! Just wanted to send this email because it's something that's very important to me and I would appreciate it if you all watched it...

Hope everything is going well and I miss you all!! Feel free to email me anytime, I love to here from everyone!


Love, (name removed, 'cuz I don't have his permission to post it here *grin*)

I watched it, and found that it something that is important to me, too. I am not currently in a homosexual relationship, but I have been. But even if I hadn't I would still feel strongly about this particular subject - Gay Marriage - Who the Hell do you think you are to tell someone that their love isn't valid because it doesn't conform to your teeny, tiny narrow-minded definition..? I'm a firm believer that closed minds should come with closed mouths, and believe you me, I ain't a bit afraid to tell someone so, either on line or on terra firma...

So, here it is, and I hope you watch it, too. And I hope you forward it, too. And I hope you have enough kahunas to stand up and tell these asinine, ignorant, petty people to tend to their own marriages, and leave those of others alone.


My message to anyone who thinks it is okay to pass judgement on people they don't even know..?


Ahem....sorry, just one of my "Things..."

Ok gotta go get ready for work.

See ya laterzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!!!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesday Try A (Not so) New Taste - Gingerbread Stuffs

  Gingerbread houses, gingerbread cookies, gingerbread cookie crumbs left as a trail by the children in Hansel & Gretel. Gingerbread just seems to be very strongly linked to Christmas (ok, Yule for you purists *grin*) and to witches, Since I am a witch, writing about Christmas, and in particular Christmas Recipes as it is Tuesday again, gingerbread just seemed an obvious choice...This is the first time I've done a food post this way - but then again it's the first time I thought of it, and I actually (believe it or not, and I have no idea how it happened) have a little bit of spare time this morning, so I am going to include some "Gingerbread" facts & history. Lemme know whatcha think, if you like it I may start adding more like this...              

The ginger plant originated in southeast Asia. The name "ginger" is derived from the Sanskrit "srngaveram" which means "horn root". In Medieval England, gingerbread simply meant "preserved ginger" and evolved from the Old French "gingebras" which came from "zingebar" the Latin name of the spice. It was only in the fifteenth century that the term came to be applied to a kind of cake made with treacle and flavored with ginger. Gingerbread has been baked in Europe for centuries. In some places, it was a soft, delicately spiced cake; in others, a crisp, flat cookie, and in others, warm, thick, steamy-dark squares of "bread," sometimes served with a pitcher of lemon sauce or whipped cream. It was sometimes light, sometimes dark, sometimes sweet, sometimes spicy, but it was almost always cut into shapes such as men, women, stars or animals, and colorfully decorated or stamped with a mold and dusted with white sugar to make the impression visible. In Medieval Europe, ginger was the second most highly traded spice after pepper. According to legend, Queen Elizabeth, 1st of England invented the "gingerbread man". and there remains more than one village tradition in England requiring unmarried women to eat gingerbread "husbands" at the fair if they are to stand a good chance of meeting a real husband. 

From its very beginning gingerbread has been a fairground delicacy. Many fairs became known as "gingerbread fairs" and gingerbread items took on the alternative name in England of "fairings" which had the generic meaning of a gift given at, or brought from, a fair. The manufacture of gingerbread appears to have spread throughout Western Europe at the end of the eleventh century, possibly introduced by crusaders returning from wars in the Eastern Mediterranean. Gingerbread-making was eventually recognized as a profession in itself. In the seventeenth century, gingerbread bakers had the exclusive right to make it, except at Christmas and Easter. Similar cookies have a history that extends back to the Egyptians, but the style of the traditional Lebkuchen (from yourdictionary, a chewy cookie made with honey, spices, nuts, and candied fruits) probably was invented by Medieval monks in Franconia, Germany in the 13th century. The forerunner of today's Lebkuchen was called the "honey cake" and its history can be traced back to the Egyptians, the Greeks, and the Romans. They believed that honey, the only sweetener widely available to them, was a gift of the deities and had magical and healing powers. Honey cakes also were worn as a talisman in battle or as protection against evil spirits.

Of all the countries in Europe, Germany is the one with the longest and strongest tradition of flat, shaped gingerbreads. In Nuremberg, in the seventeenth century, gingerbread was not baked in the home, but was the preserve of an exclusive Guild of master bakers, the Lebkuchler. Nuremberg became known as the "gingerbread capital" of the world and as with any major trading center, many fine craftsmen were attracted to the town. Sculptors, painters, woodcarvers and goldsmiths all contributed to the most beautiful gingerbread cakes in Europe. Gifted craftsmen carved intricate wooden molds, artists assisted with decoration in frosting or gold paint. Incredibly fancy hearts, angels, wreaths and other festive shapes were sold at fairs, carnivals and markets. In 1571, French bakers of pain d'epices also won the right to their own guild, or professional organization separate from the other pastry cooks and bakers. In Paris a gingerbread fair was held from the eleventh century until the nineteenth century at an abbey on the site of the present St. Antoine Hospital, where monks sold gingerbread cut into the shape of pigs.

During the 19th century, gingerbread was modernized and romanticized when the Grimm brothers created the fairy tale about Hansel and Gretel. This story was about two children who were lost in the woods when they discovered a house made of bread, cake and candles. And let's not forget owned by an "evil" witch, who used it to lure unsuspecting children in. Lebkuchen are made throughout Germany and large pieces of lebkuchen are used to build Hexenhaeusle ("witches' houses," from the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel, also called Lebkuchenhaeusel and Knusperhaeuschen—"houses for nibbling at"). The

The english brought ginger to the American colonies early on. Gingerbread making in North America has its origins in the traditions of the many settlers from all parts of Northern Europe who brought with them family recipes and customs. By the nineteenth century, America had been baking gingerbread for decades. Ginger cookies were handed out to persuade Virginia voters to elect certain candidates for the House of Burgesses. Regional variations began occurring as more people arrived. In Pennsylvania, the influence of German cooking was great and many traditional Germany gingerbreads reappeared in this area, especially at Christmas time. The North and Midwest of America welcomed the Northern and Middle Europeans. At Christmas it is still very common in the midwest to have Scandinavian cookies like Pepparkaker or Lebkuchen. Often one can find wives holding "coffee kolaches" (coffee mornings) at which European ginger cakes still reign. No where in the world is there a greater repertoire of gingerbread recipes than in America - there are so many variations in taste, form and presentation. With the rich choice of ingredients, baking aids and decorative items the imaginative cook can create the most spectacular gingerbread houses and centerpieces ever.






  • 2 1/2 tbsp. of golden syrup
  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • egg yolk
  • 2 cups of plain flour
  • 1 tsp. of baking powder
  • 3 tsp. of ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, optional
  • extra flour for rolling pastry
  • currants, peel, cherries and a little icing

Stand container of golden syrup in hot water to soften. Beat the butter and sugar to a cream, then beat the egg yolk. Beat in the syrup. Slowly add flour, baking powder, ginger and optional dash of cinnamon. With floury hands, knead into a dough. Wrap in plastic and place in fridge for one hour, making it easier to roll out. Brush flour on the rolling pin and under the dough. Roll to an even 1 cm (1/8 inch) thick and cut out shapes. Place on a greased tray about 2 cm (1/4-1/2 inch) apart and bake in a moderately slow oven (180 degrees Celsius, 350 Fahrenheit) for about 12 minutes. Leave for a few minutes and remove with spatula.
Decorate with icing, peel, cherries, etc.


* Gingerbread Snowflakes *
Gourmet Magazine's Favorite Holiday Cookie Recipes,

Active Time: 11/2 hour. Start to finish: 21/4 hour.


  • 2/3 cup molasses (not robust)
  • 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon ground ginger
  • 11/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 3/4 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

(Decorating icing recipe follows)

Special equipment:

  • assorted 2- to 3-inch cookie cutters (preferable snowflake-shaped...what..? They're called SNOWFLAKE
  • a metal offset spatula
  • a pastry bag fitted with 1/8- to 1/4- inch plain tip (optional)

Preheat oven to 325°F

Bring molasses, brown sugar, and spices to a boil in a 4- to 5-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, and remove from heat. Stir in baking soda (mixture will foam up), then stir in butter 3 pieces at a time, letting each addition melt before adding next, until all butter is melted. Add egg and stir until combined, then stir in 3 3/4 cups flour and salt. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead, dusting with as much of remaining 1/4 cup flour as needed to prevent sticking, until soft and easy to handle, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Halve dough, then wrap 1 half in plastic wrap and keep at room temperature. Roll out remaining dough into a 14-inch round (1/8 inch thick) on a lightly floured surface. Cut out as many cookies as possible with cutters and carefully transfer with offset spatula to 2 buttered large baking sheets, arranging them about 1 inch apart. Bake cookies in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until edges are slightly darker, 10 to 12 minutes total (watch carefully toward end of baking; cookies can burn easily). Transfer cookies to racks to cool completely. Make more cookies with remaining dough and scraps (re-roll once). Put icing in pastry bag (if using) and pipe or spread decoratively onto cookies. Cooks' note: Cookies keep in an airtight container at room temperature 3 weeks.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.
Dawtch's note: It's been my experience making cookies that the re-roll, and original roll out using flour tends to dry out the dough making less tasty cookies. I always try to use a "flavored" dry ingredient for these chores - in the example of this recipe, I think I would use cinnamon - or at least cinnamon mixed generously into the flour.



Decorating Icing

Active time: 10 minutes. Start to finish: 15 minutes.

Note: Egg whites act as a stabilizer in this icing, allowing it to harden for decorating the cookies. Because the whites are not cooked, we prefer powdered egg whites, such as Just Whites, which are available in the baking section of most super-markets.


  • 1 (1-lb) box confectioners sugar
  • 4 teaspoons powdered egg whites (not reconstituted)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Food coloring (optional)

Beat together all ingredients except food coloring in a large bowl with an electric mixer at moderate speed until just combined (about 1 minute.) Increase speed to high and beat icing, scraping down side of bowl occasionally, until it holds stiff peaks, about 3 minutes in a standing mixer or 4 to 5 minutes with a handheld. Beat in food coloring (if using). If you plan to spread (rather than pipe) icing on cookies, stir in more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, to thin to desired consistency.
Makes about 3 cups.

Speculoos or Belgian Spice Cookies
From Bon Appétit; December 1996)

Speculoos, a specialty of Belgium in which flat gingerbread cakes are cut into different shapes. Similar cookies called speculaas are made in Holland, Germany and Austria. These are decorated with melted white chocolate and some pretty red sugar.


  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 ounces good-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Baker's), melted
  • Red colored sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F

Combine first 6 ingredients in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat brown sugar and butter in large bowl until light. Add egg and beat until fluffy. Gradually add dry ingredients and beat just until combined. Divide dough in half. Flatten each half into rectangle. Wrap with plastic; chill 1 hour. Lightly butter 2 large baking sheets. Roll out 1 dough piece on lightly floured work surface to 13 x 9-inch rectangle. Trim edges to form 12x8-inch rectangle. Cut into 24 4x1-inch rectangles. Lightly press miniature cookie cutter into each rectangle to make imprints (do not cut through dough). Arrange cookies on prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake until edges begin to darken, about 8 minutes. Transfer cookies to rack and cool. Repeat with remaining dough piece.

Working with 1 cookie at a time, brush imprints with melted white chocolate. Sprinkle colored sugar generously over chocolate. Let stand until chocolate sets, about 2 hours. Shake off excess colored sugar. (Can be made ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week, or freeze up to 1 month.)
Makes 4 dozen. 

From Martha Stewart's well-organized and very-perky and really commercial website: 


  • 7 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup unsulfured (not treated or preserved with sulfur) molasses
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Line two baking sheets with parchment. Chop chocolate into 1/4-inch chunks set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cocoa. In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (yeah, we all have one of those...), beat butter and grated ginger until whitened, about 4 minutes. Add brown sugar; beat until combined. Add molasses; beat until combined. In a small bowl, dissolve baking soda in 1 1/2 teaspoons boiling water. Beat half of flour mixture into butter mixture. Beat in baking-soda mixture, then remaining half of flour mixture. Mix in chocolate; turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Pat dough out to about 1 inch thick; seal with wrap; refrigerate until firm, 2 hours or more. Heat oven to 325°. Roll dough into 1 1/2- inch balls; place 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Refrigerate 20 minutes. Roll in granulated sugar. Bake until the surfaces crack slightly, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 2 dozen.

from Edain McCoy's book:
"The Sabbats: A New Approach to Living the Old Ways"


  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup dark molasses
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon powdered cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 4 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix all ingredients except the flour. Add the flour slowly, mixing each addition thoroughly. The dough should be slightly stiff. If the mixture seems too dry, add a teaspoon or two of water; if too wet, add more flour. Roll out the dough on a floured cutting board to about a 1/4-inch thickness. Use cookie cutters shaped like little dough people to make the shapes. Place these on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes (time is only approximate). Transfer the cookies to wax paper to cool. Give your gingerbread people features by using colored frosting from a pastry tube.

(Makes about 3 dozen medium-sized cookies)

Additional Sources:

WWWiz Magazine


Disclaimer: No one involved in this blog or its contents may be held responsible for any adverse reactions arising from following any of the instructions/recipes on this list. It is the reader's personal responsibility to exercise all precautions and use his or her own discretion if following any instructions or advice from this blog.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday Make A - Garlands For The Season!

* Peppermint Candy Garland *
by Lisa Hawkins

This festive garland looks great on the Christmas tree or mantle.

Materials Needed:

  • Wrapped Peppermint Candies
  • Scissors
  • Red, green and/or white ribbon.

This garland is so festive and makes a great addition to the tree. Cut the ribbon into 3 1/2 - 4 inch sections. Don't cut them any shorter than that, or it will make the craft very difficult. Place two pieces of candy on a flat surface. Tie a square knot around the two wrapper ends that are facing each other. Continue to tie pieces together until you have a garland the size you need. We did this in cub scouts and the boys really enjoyed it. We had 10 boys and 5 Moms working on this, at the same time, so it went quickly. Depending on your family size, you may need to do this in sections so the kids don't get discouraged.


* Popcorn & Candy Garland *
From Shadoe Rose

You need:

  • Sewing Needle
  • Thread
  • Popcorn (stale popcorn works best)
  • Gumdrops
  • Scissors

Using the needle & thread, make a big knot at the end of the thread. Starting with a gumdrop, carefully push your needle through it, then use a piece of popcorn. Follow this pattern until you have length of garland you would like!


* Garlands For Kids to Make *
by MamaWitch
From by
MamaWitch's pagan Parent site,

You can make garlands out of Construction paper, Popcorn, Live or artificial evergreen branches, Holly, or any other material that can be strung.

Construction Paper Garlands


  • Construction paper
  • Glue or Stapler or Tape
  • Tape or Thumbtacks

Select the colors of construction paper you want to use. Cut all the paper into strips between 1 and 2 inches wide. Make the first loop: Fasten the ends together so that the strip forms a circle. If you use glue, let the glue dry a little bit before continuing.
All other loops: Pass one end of
the construction paper through the previous loop. Fasten the ends into the new loop. Continue until the garland is the length you desire. Attach to walls, shelves, doorways or anywhere you want, with tape or thumbtacks.

Popcorn Garlands

These can be a lot of fun, but it's important to make sure the popcorn goes on the garland and not in your mouth! A variation: Add berries, popcorn, and seeds for an outdoor garland for the birds and small animals that share your space. Remember it's winter for them and they will appreciate the treat!


  • Plain popped corn (Swampy's note: Stale popcorn works better to string than does fresh. Freshly popped corn will split in pieces easier. Stale popcorn gets sort of mooshy so that it doesn't shatter when you stick a needle into it)
  • berries
  • all the things you will put on the garland
  • Dental floss (extra fine, unwaxed). I like to use dental floss, because it is really hard to break.
  • Large needle (it should be sharp to pierce berries and nuts)

Measure out a length of dental floss. 4 to 6 feet (an arm's length) is good; any longer and you have potential knot problems. If you want a really long garland, tie several together. Thread the needle. Tie a big knot at the far end. An alternative is to leave a couple of inches at the end and tie a loop around the first thing you string on the garland. Pass the needle through the popcorn. If you children are too young to handle sharp needles, they can move the popcorn down the length of the floss to the knot. Continue stringing until the garland is full. Hang the garland inside or outside. Remember that popcorn tends to "melt" in the rain. Also, if it's an outside garland, the creatures will probably eat everything in a couple of days, so if you put it out early, it won't last... If you are planning the bird-food garland, consider hanging suet (animal fat) from the garland. Birds really like that when it's cold outside.

Disclaimer: No one involved in this blog or its contents may be held responsible for any adverse reactions arising from following any of the instructions/recipes on this list. It is the reader's personal responsibility to exercise all precautions and use his or her own discretion if following any instructions or advice from this blog.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday Surprise - Yule/Christmas Lore

* The Yule tree (lore, correspondences, decorating, and consecrating) *
From the Earth Witchery Website, which I can no longer find at the link given : (



The Celtic Druids venerated evergreen trees as manifestations of deity and as symbols of the universe. To the Celts, these trees were sacred because they did not die from year to year like deciduous trees. Therefore they represented the eternal aspect of the Goddess who also never dies. Their greenery was symbolic of the hope for the sun's return. The Druids decorated the evergreen trees at Yule with all the images of the things they wished the waxing year to bring. Fruits for a successful harvest, love charms for happiness, nuts for fertility, and coins for wealth adorned the trees. These were forerunners to many of the images on today's Christmas trees. Candles were the forerunners of today's electric tree lights.

In Scandinavia, Yule trees were brought inside to provide a warm and festive place for tree elementals who inhabited the woodland. This was also a good way to coax the native faery folk to participate in Solstice rituals. Some believed the Saxons were the first to place candles in the tree. Gradually sacred tree imagery was absorbed and marginalized by the Christian church--but it was never able to destroy trees' resonance within our collective unconscious completely. We realize when we plant a tree we are encouraging the Earth to breathe. And when we decorate our evergreen trees at Yule, we are making a symbol of our dream world with the objects we hang upon it. Perhaps a chain or garland, reflecting the linking of all together on Earth. Lights--for the light of human consciousness, animal figures who serve as our totems, fruits and colors that nourish and give beauty to our world, gold and silver for prosperity, treats and nuts that blend sweet and bitter--just as in real life. The trees we decorate now with symbols of our perfect worlds actually animate what we esteem and what we hope for in the coming year; as from this night, the light returns, reborn.

Decorating the Tree

It's best to use a live tree, but if you can't, you can perform an outdoor ritual thanking a tree, making sure to leave it a gift when you're finished (either some herbs or food for the animals and birds). Start a seedling for a new tree to be planted at Beltane. If apartment rules or other  conditions prevent you from using a live tree indoors, be sure to bring live evergreen garlands or wreaths into the house as decorations.

  • String popcorn and cranberries and hang them on the Yule tree or an outdoor tree for birds.
  • Decorate pine cones with glue and glitter as symbols of the faeries and place them in the Yule tree.
  • Glue the caps onto acorns and attach with a red string to hang on the Yule tree.
  • Hang little bells on the Yule tree to call the spirits and faeries.
  • Hang robin and wren ornaments on the tree. The robin is the animal equivalent of the Oak King, the wren of the Holly King. Each Yule and Midsummer they play out the same battle as the two kings.
  • Hang 6-spoked snowflakes on the branches of the tree. The Witches Rune, or Hagalaz, has 6 spokes.
  • Hang sun, moon, star, Holly King, faery, or fruit decorations.
  • String electric lights on your tree to encourage the return of the Sun.

Consecrating the Tree

Consecrate the Yule tree by sprinkling it with salted water, passing the smoke of incense (bayberry, pine, spruce, pine, spice, cedar, or cinnamon) through the branches, and walking around the tree with a lighted candle saying:

"By fire and water, air and earth,
I consecrate this tree of rebirth."




* The Holly King and Other Lore *

From the Celtic tradition, we get a pair of ancient pagan images who fight for supremacy at Yule. The Holly King and the Oak King are probably constructs of the Druids to whom these two trees were highly sacred. The Oak King (king of the waxing year) kills the Holly King (king of the waning year) at Yule. The Oak King then reigns until Midsummer when the two battle again, this time with the Holly King as the victor. The Holly King, who has evolved into the present day Santa Claus, wears red, dons a sprig of holly in his hat, and drives a team of eight (total number of solar Sabbats) deer, an animal sacred to the Celtic Gods. Holly and mistletoe are traditional to the season through commemoration of the battle. The holly was hung in honor of the Holly King; the mistletoe (which grows high in the branches of oak trees) in honor of the Oak King. The Oak King and Holly King are mortal enemies at Midsummer and Yule, but they are two sides of a whole, and neither could exist without the other.


Today's Santa is a folk figure with multicultural roots. He embodies  characteristics of Saturn (Roman agricultural god), Cronos (Greek god, also known as Father Time), the Holly King (Celtic god of the dying year), Father Ice/Grandfather Frost (Russian winter god), Odin/Wotan Scandinavian/Teutonic All-Father who rides the sky on an eight-legged horse), Frey (Norse fertility god), the Tomte (a Norse Land Spirit known for giving gifts to children at this time of year), and Thor (Norse sky god who rides the sky in a chariot drawn by goats). Julbock or Julbukk, the Yule goat, from Sweden and Norway, had his beginnings as carrier for the god Thor. Now he carries the Yule elf when he makes his rounds to deliver presents and receive his offering of porridge.

When Early Christians co-opted the Yule holiday, they replaced the ancient Holly King with religious figures like St. Nicholas, who was said to live in Myra (Turkey) in about 300 A.D. Born an only child of a wealthy family, he was orphaned at an early age when both parents died of the plague. He grew up in a monastery and at the age of 17 became one of the youngest priests ever. Many stories are told of his generosity as he gave his wealth away in the form of gifts to those in need, especially children. Legends tell of him either dropping bags of gold down chimneys or throwing the bags through the windows where they landed in the stockings hung from the fireplace to dry. Some years later Nicholas became a bishop--hence the bishop's hat or miter, long flowing gown, white beard and red cape. When the Reformation took place, the new Protestants no longer desired St. Nicholas as their gift-giver as he was too closely tied to the Catholic Church. Therefore, each country or region developed their own gift-giver. In France he was known as Pare Noel. In England he was Father Christmas (always depicted with sprigs of holly, ivy, or mistletoe). Germany knew him as Weihnachtsmann (Christmas man). When the communists took over in Russia and outlawed Christianity, the Russians began to call him Grandfather Frost, who wore blue instead of the traditional red. To the Dutch, he was Sinterklaas (which eventually was mispronounced in America and became Santa Claus). La Befana, a kindly witch, rides a broomstick down the chimney to deliver toys into the stockings of Italian children. These Santas were arrayed in every color of the rainbow- sometimes even in black. But they all had long white beards and carried gifts for the children. All of these Santas, however, never stray far from his earliest beginnings as god of the waning year.

As witches, we reclaim Santa's Pagan heritage.


Santa's reindeer most probably evolved from Herne, the Celtic Horned God. Eight reindeer pull Santa's sleigh, representative of the eight solar Sabbats. In British lore, the stag is one of the five oldest and wisest animals in the world, embodying dignity, power and integrity. From their late Autumn dramatic rutting displays, stags represented strength,  sexuality and fertility. As evidenced by multiple prehistoric excavations of stag antler ritual costumes, the wearing of stag antlers in folk dance recreated the sacred male shaman figure called Lord of the Wild Hunt, Cernunnos, or Herne the Hunter, among others--he who travels between worlds, escorting animal spirits to the afterlife and sparking wisdom and fertility in this world. Likewise, the stag's branching antlers echo the growth of vegetation. In America, the stag represents male ideals: the ability to "walk one's talk," and powerfully, peacefully blend stewardship and care of the tribe with sexual and spiritual integrity.

In Northern European myth, the Mother Goddess lives in a cave, gives birth to the sun child, and can shape shift into a white hind, or doe. Therefore, the white hind was magical, to be protected and never hunted. In myth, graceful running women of the forest--who were actually magical white hinds--brought instant old age or death to hunters who chased them. To the Celts, all deer were especially symbolic of nurturing, gentle and loving femaleness. White deer hide was used to make tribal women's clothing. White deer called "faery cattle" were commonly believed to offer milk to fairies. In Britain amongst the Druids, some men experienced life-transforming epiphanies from spiritual visions or visitations by white hinds, balancing and healing their inner feminine energy. In Europe white hinds truly exist, and are many shades of warm white cream-colors, with pale lashes--otherworldly in their peaceful and modest behavior. To many Native American tribes, deer are models of the graceful and patient mother who exhibits unconditional love and healthy, integrated female energy.


The Wheel of the Year is often symbolized by the wreath. Its circle has no beginning and no end, illustrating that everything in its time comes back to its point of origin and travels onward, over and over again. Scandinavians began the tradition of hanging the wreath at Yule, the beginning of their new year, to commemorate new beginnings in the cycle of life. Today in rural Germany, a giant wreath, known as St. Catherine's Wheel, is a holdover from another pagan custom which involved sympathetic magic to lure the sun's warmth back to the earth. A giant four-spoked wheel with an effigy of a person bound to it, is lighted on fire and rolled down a hill. (The effigy probably hearkens back to a time when human sacrifices were made in plea to the sun.) In some traditions, Yule was a more important holiday for honoring the Sun God than Midsummer. In Winter, Mother Earth was cold and barren without the fertilizing power of Father Sun.


Mistletoe was also known as the golden bough and was held sacred by both the Celtic Druids and the Norse. Mistletoe was used by the Druid priesthood in a very special ceremony held around this time...five days after the New Moon following winter solstice, to be precise. The Druid priests would cut mistletoe from a holy oak tree with a golden sickle. The branches had to be caught before they touched the ground. Celts believed this parasitic plant held the soul of the host tree. The priest then divided the branches into many sprigs and distributed them to the people, who hung them over doorways as protection against thunder, lightning and other evils. The folklore, and the magical powers of this plant, blossomed over the centuries A sprig placed in a baby's cradle would protect the child from faeries. Giving a sprig to the first cow calving after New Year would protect the entire herd.

Now for the kissing part. Although many sources say that kissing under the mistletoe is a purely English custom, there's another, more charming explanation for its origin that extends back into Norse mythology. It's the story of a loving, if overprotective, mother. The Norse god Balder was the best loved of all the gods. His mother was Frigga, goddess of love and beauty. She loved her son so much that she wanted to make sure no harm would come to him. So she went through the world, securing promises from everything that sprang from the four elements--fire, water, air, and earth--that they would not harm her beloved Balder. Leave it to Loki, a sly, trickster spirit, to find the loophole. The loophole was mistletoe. He made an arrow from its wood. To make the prank even nastier, he took the arrow to Hoder, Balder's brother, who was blind. Guiding Holder's hand, Loki directed the arrow at Balder's heart, and he fell dead. Frigga's tears became the mistletoe's white berries. In the version of the story with a happy ending, Balder is restored to life, and Frigga is so grateful that she reverses the reputation of the offending plant--making it a symbol of love and promising to bestow a kiss upon anyone who passes under it. Balder is sometimes seen as the sacrificed and resurrected god, who is restored to his people after the Battle of Ragnarok.


Winter was a time of death and stagnation in the eyes of early humans. The earth was barren and unproductive, shelter was drafty, disease was common, and food was scarce. Little wonder they did all in their power to assure the Sun's return each year. During the festivals of the waning year, fire became a form of sympathetic magic to entice the Sun back to the earth. Bonfires were lit; Flaming wheels rolled down hillsides; Burning candles were placed in windows. Candles were later placed in the boughs of evergreen trees, later evolving into lights on our holiday trees.

Honor the new solar year with light. Do a Solstice Eve ritual in which you meditate in darkness and then welcome the birth of the sun by lighting candles and singing chants and Pagan carols. If you have an indoor fireplace or an outdoor fire circle, burn an oak log as a Yule log and save a bit to start next year's fire. Decorate the inside and/or outside of your home with electric colored lights. Because of the popularity of five pointed stars as holiday symbols, this is a good time to display a pentagram of blue or white lights.

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