The festive energies are at their peak, as many holiday parties and dinners are happening. Homes, buildings, and street posts are flicking with festive lights as so many holidays are celebrated at this time: Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza, and Yule. Yule marks the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere (Litha, the Summer Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere), which means it is the shortest day of the year.
Yule falls on December 21st, which it often does every year, and it is one of the eight Sabbats that pagans celebrate. Let’s review the sentiment behind Yule, as well as common pagan traditions, and then do a collective Winter Solstice tarot reading.
Yule Is About Rebirth And Renewal
Yule is a festival of the sun, and it is about rebirth and renewal, which is known as Midwinter. Samhain marked the death of the year, and Yule is when a new year is born. Since this Sabbat celebrates the return of the sun that has been waning to the point it reaches its lowest point during the Winter Solstice, the sun slowly begins to wax each day after the solstice. Light is a significant element in this Sabbat, so plenty of lights are flickering at this time of year. It does not matter whether they are lighting from bonfires, holiday lights, candles, etc, but these all represent the sun’s rebirth.
Yule provides the opportunity for you, whether you are pagan or not, to reflect on the year as you look forward to the upcoming new year. While this is a time for reflection, Yule is a time to spend time in nature (if the weather allows it) and to connect with your friends and loved ones. Before reviewing the common Yule traditions, let’s briefly review the history.
Europeans have celebrated the Winter Solstice for thousands of years. When you look at traditional winter customs, you can see the Norse and the Germanic pagans initially called the festival Jol. The celebration was partly to prepare for the long winter ahead of them as locals and farmers would head over to the heathen temple to bring food, and they did a lot of toasting to many gods, as Odin was the main one.
They used evergreen trees to represent new life, decorated them with ornaments, started giving gifts, and did caroling. There is speculation that Yule has roots in the ancient Roman week-long holiday, Saturnalia, which was celebrated around the time of the Winter Solstice and involved enjoying feasts, giving gifts, and celebrating and honoring Saturn, which happens to be the ruler of Capricorn. The season of Capricorn begins on the day of the Winter Solstice. The Celtic druids had their Yule celebrations.
Mistletoe comes from oak trees and was a blessing during the Winter Solstice by Celtic druids. They believed that the sun stayed stationary for 12 days and lit logs, known as Yule logs, to ward off evil and attract good luck. Wreaths made with oak or evergreen leaves were also known to represent life and to ward off evil.
Pagans and Wiccans today say that Yule is a time when the dark half of the year, represented by Holly King, gives strength to the Oak King, meaning the light time of the year. The Oak King is reborn during Yule, develops, and becomes more potent during Imbolc and Ostara until it reaches its peak during Litha. Then, after that, the Oak King loses its power as the Holly King begins to gain strength during Mabon.
Even though you know that Yule is a pagan celebration and one of the eight Sabbats, you can see that Christmas decorations stemmed from Yule decorations. Why is that?
The Christmas tree, feasts, ornaments, wreaths, logs in the fireplace, lights, and you can see how all of these from Yule traditions are now used for Christmas. When Christianity phased paganism out during the sixth and seventh centuries in Europe, Christmas celebrations included the pagan Yule traditions.
That is because people in European towns did not want to sacrifice those Yule traditions when they began to celebrate Christian holidays, so that is why they were incorporated into them. It is the same for Easter regarding the rabbits and eggs, which are also Ostara Sabbat traditions celebrating the Vernal Equinox. Yule traditions have stayed with Christian holiday traditions since then. Now, let’s go over how pagans celebrate Yule and how you can, too, even if you are not pagan but want to get into the Midwinter spirit.
How To Celebrate Yule
Yule is the birth of a new year, and this is the time for reflection and release; it is a great Sabbat to create plans and do some goal-setting. You don’t have to be pagan to reflect and release what is no longer good for you and to do some planning for the upcoming year.
What you can always do is make an evergreen wreath using pine, ivy, mistletoe, and yew, which represents prosperity and life. You can also create a solstice bush by putting those plants in the soil in a pot if that is what you would instead do. Yew is a tree that represents rebirth, pine is healing, mistletoe brings abundance, and ivy and holly keep away negativity.
You can also light a yule log by taking an oak log and putting dried berries, pinecones, holly, cinnamon sticks, and mistletoe, and you can either put it in your fireplace or create a bonfire. The purpose is to release anything from the past that no longer serves you that you do not want to carry into the new year. It also is a way to welcome the sun’s reappearance.
And don’t forget about having a Yule feast with friends, family, or anyone you choose. You can enjoy any food you wish, and you will also want to do a wishing ritual. Think about the goals you want to attain and how you will go after them so you can turn them into reality. You can light a candle and visualize these goals manifesting.
Don’t forget to declutter, as decluttering is also a way to remove what you no longer need, and you will also want to sage your home to remove any negative energies lurking among the clutter.
If you don’t want to create a wreath, get too crafty, or light logs on fire, you can always create a Yule altar.
If you want to create your altar for Yule, you can use any small table for it and set it in an area that you consider sacred to meditate and do tarot readings for yourself. The seasonal colors are red, white, and green, so any cloth with those colors will do. Red is about passion and prosperity, white is purity, and green is fertility and prosperity, which you want to bring into the new year. Therefore, put white, red, and green candles on your altar, as candles in gold and silver would work too to celebrate the sun’s return.
You can also add pine, holly, oak leaves, yew leaves, evergreen leaves, mistletoe on the altar, and birch branches. Therefore, you will use these to keep negative forces at bay and bring fresh starts and prosperity. You can also hang bells on your altar for the same reason. You can add nuts such as walnuts, hazelnuts, and pecans. The decoration of your altar is up to you, but those are the colors and items you will want to keep for celebrating Yule. And you will want to do a tarot reading at the altar. Let’s do a collective one and see what energies you will face this Yule.
Yule Tarot Reading for 2023
You will want to do your Yule tarot spread to see what energy to expect for the season. However, I did a collective four-card Yule spread, as you can lay them apart, with the first card being on the left, leading to the fourth card on the right. The first card represents the types of gifts Yule is bringing to you. The second card represents your blessings to acknowledge, and the third indicates what you need to let go of to make room for what you need. The fourth card tells you what area in your life you need to focus on after the new year as the sun begins to wax again.
The cards I got were the first card, the Knight of Wands; the second card, the Emperor; the third card, the Six of Swords; and the fourth card, Two of Pentacles. Let’s review what they mean for you.
Card One: Knight of Wands
The first card represents the gifts the season brings you, and you get the Knight of Wands. The Knight of Wands represents passion, energy, and action. This card suggests that your desires drive you and that you are ready for new challenges. It signifies that this season is bringing you excitement and enthusiasm that you may have been missing for some time, and the message from the Knight of Wands is for you to pursue your goals with confidence and determination. You can use this gift to fulfill your goals in the new year. Let’s go over the next card.
Card Two: Emperor
The second card encourages you to acknowledge your blessings and keep them, and you get the Emperor. The Emperor symbolizes authority, stability, and leadership. This card suggests that you have it in you to take control of your life and make rational decisions. It represents a time of structure and organization. The Emperor advises establishing a solid foundation and taking responsibility for your actions. Therefore, remember the times in the past when you accomplished something that took a lot of discipline and hard work. That will remind you that you can do it again, especially if you have a lot of self-doubt clouding your vision. Your ability to stay disciplined to accomplish what you need is a blessing to acknowledge! Let’s go and look at the third card.
Card Three: Six of Swords
The third card represents what you need to let go of to make room for better things, and the Six of Swords comes up. The Six of Swords represents transition, moving on, and finding peace. This card suggests that you are leaving behind a challenging situation or a troubled period. It signifies a journey towards a calmer and more stable future. The Six of Swords encourages you to embrace change and trust that better times are ahead. Therefore, this card is highly fitting for this position as you can leave behind what did not work for you over the past year so you can work through the pain and disappointments to create some fresh starts next year.
Card Four: Two of Pentacles
The fourth card tells you what area in your life you need to focus on after the new year as the sun begins to wax again and the Two of Pentacles comes up. The Two of Pentacles represents balance, adaptability, and juggling multiple responsibilities. This card suggests that you must prioritize what is essential in your life as you manage various aspects, such as work, relationships, and finances in the new year. There will be a need to find equilibrium and prioritize your tasks effectively. The Two of Pentacles advises you to focus on being flexible and adaptable to handle the challenges that come your way.
Overall, this tarot spread suggests Yule gives you the gift of action and passion (Knight of Wands) while acknowledging that you can be good at maintaining stability and leadership (Emperor). You will want to leave behind the problematic phase and move towards a more peaceful future (Six of Swords). However, you may need to find balance and adaptability in managing your responsibilities (Two of Pentacles). Therefore, the message from this Yule spread is to embrace change, take control of your life, and prioritize effectively to achieve success and stability.
Yule is a Sabbat that marks rebirth and renewal, as it is also known as Midwinter, and it celebrates the emergence of the sun as it reaches its lowest point and the start of a new year. It is the time to reflect on the year that has passed and set goals for the upcoming year. It is a time to connect with friends and your loved ones so you can all celebrate the Midwinter celebrations together.
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