About.com:12 Days of Yule Devotionals (Day 6)

About.com

 

Day 6: A Sunset Prayer for Yule                              
Patti Wigington
From Patti Wigington, your Guide to Paganism /Wicca                                                                           
As the sun descends into the horizon on the longest night of the year, take a moment to ponder what you will see when you wake the next day. 
 

A Sunset Prayer for Yule                            

Set aside some time to meditate upon the meaning of this time of year, and what it signifies for you and your life.


The longest night has come once more,

the sun has set, and darkness fallen.

The trees are bare, the earth asleep,

and the skies are cold and black.

Yet tonight we rejoice, in this longest night,

embracing the darkness that enfolds us.

We welcome the night and all that it holds,

as the light of the stars shines down.     

                        

 

Additional Reading                            

Make those long winter nights a little more refreshing with some freshly blended incense. Put together a batch of Winter Nights Yule Incense, and burn it during rituals, or just to make your home smell comforting in the cold of winter.
 

Tomorrow: A Nordic Yule Blessing                             

This email is written by:                                                                      Patti Wigington                             

Paganism /Wicca Guide                                         

Dealing With Stress at Yule-How to Have a Low-Stress Holiday

Dealing With Stress at Yule

-How to Have a Low-Stress Holiday

By , About.com Guide

It should be the happiest time of year, right? After all, the Yule season is when we celebrate the return of the sun, and the days start to get a little brighter. The mundane world is observing Christmas and Hanukah, gifts are being given all over the place — it should be a season of great joy. Yet for many people, late fall and early winter are a time when frustrations begin to build, and anxiety (and often depression) set in. Between getting together with family, preparing big meals, shopping for gifts, decorating the house, and spending money on others, for many people Yule can be a time of overwhelming stress. Here are a few tips on reducing your stress levels during the Yule season.

Set your limits.

Are you in charge of the community coat drive, the local toy roundup, and getting your entire PTO’s fundraiser up and running? Step back! Be willing to say “No” when someone asks you to commit more time and energy than you have to give. We all want to help others at this time of year, but if you take on more than you really are capable of, you’ll become resentful and angry – and that’s no way to spend the Yule season. Learning to say “No” might be the best gift you can give yourself this year.

Enlist help.

Feeling a bit overwhelmed by the eighteen boxes of Yule décor in your basement? Fine — put the kids to work. If you don’t have kids — or if yours are too young to decorate — put on a pot of wassail and invite a few friends over for a decorating party. It will take the stress out of the situation if you’re surrounded by people whose company you enjoy. Likewise, if you’re hosting a holiday dinner, ask others to show up early to set the table or to bring part of the meal as a side dish. I’ve learned that if I plan ahead, and just ask, I can usually get someone else to commit to taking care of cleanup afterwards!

Don’t overspend.

One of the biggest holiday stress-outs is the knowledge that you’ll be paying off Yule until June. Don’t let this happen. Make a budget, and stick to it. For more on how to do this, read about How to Have a Budget Friendly Yule. Also remember, you don’t have to go crazy with the gifts. Do you want to teach your children about the value of the holiday season, or that whoever gets more stuff wins? In many families, parents have learned to limit the number of gifts each person gets — in mine, each kid gets one really big gift, and then three smaller gifts such as a DVD, a pair of cute winter pajamas, and a game to play or a book to read.

Set boundaries.

A lot of people stress out over family relationships during the holidays. If you’re one of those people, you need to decide ahead of time how you’re going to deal with family members who aggravate you. Got a non-Pagan family member who just won’t leave you alone? Brush up on coping strategies at Surivivng the Holidays with Your Non-Pagan Family.

Decompress.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed in the middle of the season, and you know you still have things that need to get done, take a break. Turn off the phone, shut the door, and go have some Me Time. Take a one-hour power nap, enjoy a bubble bath with some nice scented candles, invite a friend out for a quick coffee date. Set aside a few minutes each day to meditate and get yourself grounded. You’ll appreciate it in the long run.

Recognize burnout.

A big problem many people seem to have is they just fail to realize they’re burning themselves out. Stress creeps up on us, and then we tend to justify it by saying, “Well, it’s the holidays.” Learn to recognize the signs of burnout, and react accordingly. Some signs include:

  • Depleted levels of physical energy
  • Lowered immune system, feeling run-down or ill
  • Lack of interest in things that you normally enjoy
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Negative, pessimistic outlook
  • Anger directed at people who don’t deserve it, like kids and sales clerks

If you start seeing these behaviors in yourself, it’s time to take a step back and recognize that you’re stressing out. Now that you’ve discovered the problem, take time to fix it, so that you and the people around you can have a happy and healthy Yule season.

How to Make a Yule Log

How to Make a Yule Log

By , About.com Guide

 

As the Wheel of the Year turns once more, the days get shorter, the skies become gray, and it seems as though the sun is dying. In this time of darkness, we pause on the Solstice (usually around December 21st, although not always on the same date) and realize that something wonderful is happening.

On Yule, the sun stops its decline into the south. For a few days, it seems as though it’s rising in exactly the same place… and then the amazing, the wonderful, the miraculous happens. The light begins to return.

The sun begins its journey back to the north, and once again we are reminded that we have something worth celebrating.  In families of all different spiritual paths, the return of the light is celebrated, with Menorahs, Kwanzaa candles, bonfires, and brightly lit Christmas trees. On Yule, many Pagan and Wiccan families celebrate the return of the sun by adding light into their homes. One of our family’s favorite traditions – and one that children can do easily – is to make a Yule log for a family-sized celebration.

A holiday celebration that began in Norway, on the night of the winter solstice it was common to hoist a giant log onto the hearth to celebrate the return of the sun each year. The Norsemen believed that the sun was a giant wheel of fire which rolled away from the earth, and then began rolling back again on the winter solstice.

As Christianity spread through Europe, the tradition became part of Christmas Eve festivities. The father or master of the house would sprinkle the log with libations of mead, oil or salt. Once the log was burned in the hearth, the ashes were scattered about the house to protect the family within from hostile spirits.

Because each type of wood is associated with various magickal and spiritual properties, logs from different types of trees might be burned to get a variety of effects. Aspen is the wood of choice for spiritual understanding, while the mighty oak is symbolic of strength and wisdom. A family hoping for a year of prosperity might burn a log of pine, while a couple hoping to be blessed with fertility would drag a bough of birch to their hearth.

In our house, we usually make our Yule log out of pine, but you can make yours of any type of wood you choose. You can select one based on its magickal properties, or you can just use whatever’s handy. To make a basic Yule log, you will need the following:

  • A log about 14 – 18” long
  • Pinecones
  • Dried berries, such as cranberries
  • Cuttings of mistletoe, holly, pine needles, and ivy
  • Feathers and cinnamon sticks
  • Some festive ribbon – use paper or cloth ribbon, not the synthetic or wire-lined type
  • A hot glue gun

 

All of these – except for the ribbon and the hot glue gun — are things you and your children can gather outside.  You might wish to start collecting them earlier in the year, and saving them.  Encourage your children to only pick up items they find on the ground, and not to take any cuttings from live plants.

Begin by wrapping the log loosely with the ribbon. Leave enough space that you can insert your branches, cuttings and feathers under the ribbon. In our house, we place five feathers on our Yule log – one for each member of the family. Once you’ve gotten your branches and cuttings in place, begin gluing on the pinecones, cinnamon sticks and berries. Add as much or as little as you like. Remember to keep the hot glue gun away from small children.

Once you’ve decorated your Yule log, the question arises of what to do with it. For starters, use it as a centerpiece for your holiday table. A Yule log looks lovely on a table surrounded by candles and holiday greenery.

Another way to use your Yule log is to burn it as our ancestors did so many centuries ago. In our family, before we burn our log we each write down a wish on a piece of paper, and then insert it into the ribbons. It’s our wish for the upcoming year, and we keep it to ourselves in hopes that it will come true.

If you have a fireplace, you can certainly burn your Yule log in it, but we prefer to do ours outside. We have a fire pit in the back yard, and on the night of the winter solstice, we gather out there with blankets, mittens, and mugs full of warm drinks as we burn our log. While we watch the flames consume it, we discuss how thankful we are for the good things that have come our way this year, and how we hope for abundance, good health, and happiness in the next.

 

About.com Guide

 

About.com: 12 Days of Yule Devotionals (Day 1)

About.com
Day 1: A Prayer to the Earth at Yule                              
Patti Wigington
From Patti Wigington, your Guide to Paganism /Wicca                                                                           
Welcome to the 12 Days of Yule Devotionals! We’ll begin today by taking a moment to honor the earth at the time of the Winter Solstice.
A Prayer to the Earth at Yule                            

Just because the earth is cold doesn’t mean there’s nothing going on down there in the soil. Think about what lies dormant in your own life right now, and consider what may bloom a few months from now.

 

Cold and dark, this time of year, the earth lies dormant, awaiting the return of the sun, and with it, life. Far beneath the frozen surface, a heartbeat waits, until the moment is right, to spring.

Additional Reading                            

Cultures around the world have celebrated the winter solstice for eons, and each has its own unique set of traditions. Take a moment today to get to learn about some of the customs of winter.
Tomorrow: A Sunrise Prayer for Yule                            

                                        This email is written by:                                                                      Patti Wigington                                                          Paganism / Wicca Guide                                        

The WOTC Wishes You & Yours A Very Happy & Blessed Litha!

Litha Comments & Graphics Good morning to all my dear friends! I must start out by apologizing to you for yesterday. I did not do a “good morning, how ya’ll doing?” or any kind of post at all to start things off. I had posting on the brain, I realized that I was running late. And that was it, got to post, got to post! Worse than a damn robot, lol! But I didn’t realize it till I was all the way into the Moon Phase and I felt so bad. Then I decided I would do a “Good afternoon” post. Well, I don’t remember what came up but that didn’t happen either. Again, I am so sorry.

 

Well the wheel has turned to one of our Sabbats and I am at a dilemma. My dilemma is when to celebrate it.  I know I have read some articles that proclaim today as Litha/MidSummer. Well you see, the Tradition I grew up in was one that practice the Ways of the Old. They celebrated Litha/MidSummer on June 21. So what’s a witch to do? I am going to be very diplomatic about this. I am going to wish you a very happy & blessed Litha/MidSummer on both days! How does that sound? I should make everyone happy, shouldn’t I? Then I remember also reading there are some that celebrate Litha/MidSummer from June 20 to June 23. Oh, my! It’s enough to make a poor witch’s head spin, lol!

 

For those of you celebrating Litha/MidSummer today,from the bottom of my heart,I wish you and yours a
Very Happy & Blessed Litha!

Lady A

Magickal Graphics

A Midsummer’s Celebration

 by Mike Nichols

The young maid stole through the cottage door, And blushed as she sought the Plant of pow’r; — “Thou silver glow-worm, O lend me thy light, I must gather the mystic St. John’s wort tonight, The wonderful herb, whose leaf will decide If the coming year shall make me a bride.”

In addition to the four great festivals of the Pagan Celtic year, there are four lesser holidays as well: the two solstices, and the two equinoxes. In folklore, these are referred to as the four “quarter days” of the year, and modern Witches call them the four “Lesser Sabbats”, or the four “Low Holidays”. The summer solstice is one of them.

Technically, a solstice is an astronomical point and, due to the calendar creep of the leap-year cycle, the date may vary by a few days depending on the year. The summer solstice occurs when the sun reaches the Tropic of Cancer, and we experience the longest day and the shortest night of the year. Astrologers know this as the date on which the sun enters the sign of Cancer.

However, since most European peasants were not accomplished at reading an ephemeris or did not live close enough to Salisbury Plain to trot over to Stonehenge and sight down its main avenue, they celebrated the event on a fixed calendar date, June 24. The slight forward displacement of the traditional date is the result of multitudinous calendrical changes down through the ages. It is analogous to the winter solstice celebration, which is astronomically on or about December 21, but is celebrated on the traditional date of December 25, Yule, later adopted by the Christians.

Again, it must be remembered that the Celts reckoned their days from sundown to sundown, so the June 24 festivities actually begin on the previous sundown (our June 23). This was the date of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Which brings up another point: our modern calendars are quite misguided in suggesting that ‘summer begins’ on the solstice.  According to the old folk calendar, summer begins on May Day and ends on Lammas (August 1), with the summer solstice, midway between the two, marking midsummer. This makes more logical sense than suggesting that summer begins on the day when the sun’s power begins to wane and the days grow shorter.

Although our Pagan ancestors probably preferred June 24 (and indeed most European folk festivals today use this date), the sensibility of modern Witches seems to prefer the actual solstice point, beginning the celebration on its eve, or the sunset immediately preceding the solstice point. Again, it gives modern Pagans a range of dates to choose from with, hopefully, a weekend embedded in it.

Just as the Pagan Midwinter celebration of Yule was adopted by Christians as “Christmas” (December 25), so too the Pagan Midsummer celebration was adopted by them as the Feast of John the Baptist (June 24). Occurring 180 degrees apart on the wheel of the year, the Midwinter celebration commemorates the birth of Jesus, while the Midsummer celebration commemorates the birth of John, the prophet who was born six months before Jesus in order to announce his arrival.

Although modern Witches often refer to the holiday by the rather generic name of “Midsummer’s Eve”, it is more probable that our Pagan ancestors of a few hundred years ago actually used the Christian name for the holiday, “St. John’s Eve”. This is evident from the wealth of folklore that surrounds the summer solstice (i.e., that it is a night especially sacred to the faerie folk), but which is inevitably ascribed to “St. John’s Eve”, with no mention of the sun’s position. It could also be argued that a coven’s claim to antiquity might be judged by what name it gives the holidays. (Incidentally, the name ‘Litha’ for the holiday is a modern usage, possibly based on a Saxon word that means the opposite of Yule. Still, there is little historical justification for its use in this context.) But weren’t our Pagan ancestors offended by the use of the name of a Christian saint for a pre-Christian holiday?

Well, to begin with, their theological sensibilities may not have been as finely honed as our own. But secondly and more  mportantly, St. John himself was often seen as a rather Pagan figure.  He was, after all, called “the Oak King”. His connection to the wilderness (from whence “the voice cried out”) was often emphasized by the rustic nature of his shrines. Many statues show him as a horned figure (as is also the case with Moses).  Christian iconographers mumble embarrassed explanations about “horns of light”, while modern Pagans giggle and happily refer to such statues as “Pan the Baptist”. And to clench matters, many depictions of John actually show him with the lower torso of a satyr, cloven hooves and all! Obviously, this kind of John the Baptist is more properly a Jack in the Green! Also obvious is that behind the medieval conception of St. John lies a distant, shadowy Pagan Deity, perhaps the archetypal Wild Man of the wood, whose face stares down at us through the foliate masks that adorn so much church architecture. Thus, medieval Pagans may have had fewer problems adapting than we might suppose.

In England, it was the ancient custom on St. John’s Eve to light large bonfires after sundown, which served the double purpose of providing light to the revelers and warding off evil spirits.  This was known as “setting the watch”. People often jumped through the fires for good luck. In addition to these fires, the streets were lined with lanterns, and people carried cressets (pivoted lanterns atop poles) as they wandered from one bonfire to another. These wandering, garland-bedecked bands were called a “marching watch”. Often they were attended by morris dancers, and traditional players dressed as a unicorn, a dragon, and six hobbyhorse riders. Just as May Day was a time to renew the boundary of one’s own property, so Midsummer’s Eve was a time to ward the boundary of the city.

Customs surrounding St. John’s Eve are many and varied.  At the very least, most young folk plan to stay up throughout the whole of this shortest night. Certain courageous souls might spend the night keeping watch in the center of a circle of standing stones. To do so would certainly result in either death, madness, or (hopefully) the power of inspiration to become a great poet or bard. (This is, by the way, identical to certain incidents in the first branch of The Mabinogion.) This was also the night when the serpents of the island would roll themselves into a hissing, writhing ball in order to engender the “glain”, also called the “serpent’s egg”, “snake stone”, or “Druid’s egg”. Anyone in possession of this hard glass bubble would wield incredible magical powers. Even Merlyn himself (accompanied by his black dog) went in search of it, according to one ancient Welsh story.

Snakes were not the only creatures active on Midsummer’s Eve. According to British faery lore, this night was second only to Halloween for its importance to the Wee Folk, who especially enjoyed a ridling on such a fine summer’s night. In order to see them, you had only to gather fern seed at the stroke of midnight and rub it onto your eyelids. But be sure to carry a little bit of rue in your pocket, or you might well be “pixie-led”. Or, failing the rue, you might simply turn your jacket inside out, which should keep you from harm’s way. But if even this fails, you must seek out one of the “ley lines”, the old straight tracks, and stay upon it to your destination. This will keep you safe from any malevolent power, as will crossing a stream of “living” (running) water.

Other customs included decking the house (especially over the front door) with birch, fennel, St. John’s wort, orpin, and white lilies. Five plants were thought to have special magical properties on this night: rue, roses, St. John’s wort, vervain, and trefoil. Indeed, Midsummer’s Eve in Spain is called the “Night of the Verbena (Vervain)”. St. John’s wort was especially honored by young maidens who picked it in the hopes of divining a future lover.

And the glow-worm came With its silvery flame, And sparkled and shone Through the night of St. John, And soon has the young maid her love-knot tied.

There are also many mythical associations with the summer solstice, not the least of which concerns the seasonal life of the God of the sun. Inasmuch as I believe that I have recently discovered certain associations and correspondences not hitherto realized, I have elected to treat this subject in some depth in my ‘Death of Llew’ essay.  Suffice it to say here, that I disagree with the generally accepted idea that the Sun God meets his death at the summer solstice. I believe there is good reason to see the Sun God at his zenith—his peak of power—on this day, and that his death at the hands of his rival would not occur for another quarter of a year. Material drawn from the Welsh mythos seems to support this thesis. In Irish mythology, midsummer is the occasion of the first battle between the Fir Bolgs and the Tuatha De Danaan.

Altogether, Midsummer is a favorite holiday for many Witches in that it is so hospitable to outdoor celebrations.  The warm summer night seems to invite it. And if the celebrants are not, in fact, skyclad, then you may be fairly certain that the long ritual robes of winter have yielded place to short, tunic-style apparel. As with the longer gowns, tradition dictates that one should wear nothing underneath—the next best thing to skyclad, to be sure. (Incidentally, now you know the real answer to the old Scottish joke, “What is worn beneath the kilt?”)

The two chief icons of the holiday are the spear (symbol of the Sun God in his glory) and the summer cauldron (symbol of the Goddess in her bounty). The precise meaning of these two symbols, which I believe I have recently discovered, will be explored in the essay on the death of Llew. But it is interesting to note here that modern Witches often use these same symbols in their Midsummer rituals. And one occasionally hears the alternative consecration formula, “As the spear is to the male, so the cauldron is to the female.” With these mythic associations, it is no wonder that Midsummer is such a joyous and magical occasion!


Document Copyright © 1983 – 2009 by Mike Nichols. Text editing courtesy of Acorn Guild Press. Website redesign by Bengalhome Internet Services, © 2009

Eyes of the Wolf Spell (Wolf Moon)

Eyes of the Wolf Spell

(Wolf Moon)
 
 
As the first full moon after the winter solstice or Yule, the Wolf Moon is one of the most important of the high moons. A full moon occurs when the sun and the moon are aligned on opposite sides of the earth. This alignment of the two celestial bodies has a strong effect on the earth. This alignment of the two celestial bodies has a strong effect on the earth, producing a time when energy is high. This is why full moon rituals can be incredibly powerful times for doing magick.
 
When looking through the eyes of the wolf, the idea is to perceive the true nature of people, events and experiences. Expand your perception and awareness using the instincts of the wolf. The wolf is part of a pack that use their knowledge and wits to survive a time when the earth is cold and barren.
 
This is also when new patterns are conceived, setting the stage for what is to come. This is also the ideal time for foretelling the future, clairvoyance, and divination practices.
 
At midnight, begin by drawing a circle of light. This is done by standing at your altar and pounding the stick end of your wand on the altar nine times. Pick up you athame and point it toward the north point of your circle. Starting and ending in the north, draw a magickal circle of light clockwise around the circle. Next, call in the elements of earth, air, fire and water.
 
Standing in the middle of the circle, call in the powers of the wolf:
 
“On this full moon night at this hour
I call now upon the ancient animal powers
To guide me in the ways of the wolf
Where instinct and wit prevail
Through darkness, wind, rain and hail
I am the wolf, the wolf is me
So be it! Blessed be!
 
As you enjoy your evening, imagine seeing through the eyes of the wolf. Imagine dreaming with the eyes of the wolf. In the morning pull up the circle and thank the elements. Also than the wolf for its guidance and power.

Ladies of Winter Candle Spell (Wolf Moon)

Ladies of Winter Candle Spell

Wolf Moon
 
 
The Ladies of Winter live on the star to the north of the North Star. They bring sleet, hail, and snow, and the solstice sun. Mother Berchta is the mother of the Ladies of Winter. She carries a magick Yule wand and wears an enormous overcoat. She is tall and appears as either a beautiful woman or an ugly wrinkled hag with white eyes. She is often on her horse and accompanied by a troop of elves, faeries and ghosts. It is customary to light a candle in her honor to bring abundance to you.
 
For this spell, you will need a white candle and jasmine-scented oil.
 
Dress the candle by rubbing a few drops of the jasmine oil into the candle body. As you do so, imagine what you want to ask from Mother Berchta. Be clear as to what you want.
 
Light the candle and dedicate it to Mother Berchta. Say:

“I dedicate this candle to Mother Berchta tonight.”
 
Take several minutes to gaze at the candlelight and think about Mother Berchta bringing abundance and good fortune into your life. Be clear as to what you want. Remember the Ladies of Winter reward the kind spirited and punish the mean spirited. When you are done, allow the candle to safely burn down.

ABOUT OIMELC

ABOUT OIMELC

The Church calls it St. Brigid’s Day, but Brigid (or Bride) is simply the
ancient Celtic name for the Goddess as maiden.

Here in America we know it as Groundhog Day, a day of weather divination. And
Iomelc was always a time of weather divination.

It’s also called Valentine’s Day (but moved a couple of weeks away), because
love divination was also practiced on the Day of the Maiden (or Bride).

It’s winter’s end. The bridge between the cold of winter and the promise of
spring. Iomelc was the time for caring of the sheep in ancient Britain.

It’s the midpoint between Yule — the rebirth of the sun as the wheel of the
year turns — and Lady Day (Ostara or Easter) — the full moon of the vernal
equinox.

OIMELC – February 2

OIMELC – February 2

Down with Rosemary and so
Down with baies and mistletoe;
Down with Holly, live and all
Wherewith ys drest the Yuletide Hall;
That so the superstitious find
No one least Branch there left behind;
For look, how many leaves there be
Neglected there, maids, trust to me,
So many goblins you shall see.
–Robert Herrick

Oimelc – Imbolc in the Saxon – marks the first stirring of life in the earth.
The Yule season originally ended at Oimelc. But with increasing organization and
industrialization, increasing demands for labor and production, the holiday kept
shrinking, first to the two weeks ending at Twelfth Night, then to a single week
ending at New Year’s, then to a single day.

Oimelc begins a season of purification similar to that preceding Yule. It ends
at Ostara. No marriages, initiations or puberty rites should be celebrated
between Oimelc and Ostara.

The candles and torches at Oimelc signify the divine life-force awakening
dormant life to new growth.

THEMES

Growth of roots begin again. Bare branches begin to swell with leaf buds, and
growth appears at the tips of evergreen branches. The tools of agriculture are
being make ready for Spring.

Xian feasts of St. Brigid, and Celtic feast of Brigit, the maiden aspect of the
triple goddess and mother of Dagda. Her symbol is the white swan. A Roman feast
of Bacchus and Ceres. The Lupercalia, a feast of Pan. The Nephelim or Titans,
those offspring of human-divine unions said to have ruled Atlantis.

Grannus, a mysterious Celtic god whom the Romans identified with Apollo.

PURPOSE OF THE RITES

To awaken life in the Earth. Fire tires to strengthen the young Sun, to bring
the fertilizing, purifying, protective and vitalizing influence of fire to the
fields, orchards, domestic animals, and people. To drive away winter. To charm
candles for household use throughout the year.

FOLK CUSTOMS

The three functions of Oimelc – end of Yule, feast of candles or torches, and
beginning of a purificatory season – are divided by the Xian calendar among
Twelfth Night, Candlemas and Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras, Carnival). The customs
of all three feasts are derived from Oimelc, with at most a thin Xian gloss.

Parades of giant figures (Titans?) in rural towns in France and at Mardi Gras
and Carnival celebrations. A figure representing the Spirit of Winter or Death,
sometime made of straw, sometimes resembling a snowman, is drowned, burnt or in
once case, stuffed with fireworks and exploded. They symbol of Montreal’s Winter
Carnival is the giant figure of Bonhomme di Neige (snowman).

Groundhog Day, Chinese New Year and St. Valentine’s Day customs.

The French provinces are so rich in Oimelc customs they cannot be listed here.
Refer to “The Golden Bough”.

Wassailing the trees: at midnight, carolers carry a bucket of ale, cider or
lamb’s wool in a torchlight procession through the orchards. The leader dips a
piece of toast in the drink and sedges it in the fork of each tree, with the
traditional cheer (variations exist) of: “Hats full, holes full, barrels full,
and the little heap under the stairs!”.

Who finds the bean in the Twelfth Night cake becomes king of the feast; who
finds the pea becomes queen – never mind the gender of the finders. Rag-bag
finery and gilt-paper crowns identify the king and queen. The rulers give
ridiculous orders to the guests, who must obey their every command. They are
waited on obsequiously, and everything they do is remarked and announced
admiringly and importantly: “The King drinks!”, “The Queen sneezes!” and
everyone politely imitates the ruler’s example.

SYMBOLIC DECORATIONS

Snowdrops are picked for vases, but otherwise no special decorative effects are
indicated. Go carnival, balloons and confetti.

SOCIAL ACTIVITIES

Parades, with showers of confetti, gala balls, masks, street dancing, mumming,
winter sports, ice and snow sculpture.

THE RITE

Dress in dark colors with much silver jewelry. Outdoors, after dark on the Even,
have the site arranged with a fire in the cauldron and the altar draped in
white, at the Northeast. The fire may be composed all or in part of Yule greens.

Go in a torchlight procession to the Circle. Include a stamping dance, possibly
beating the ground with sticks, before the Invocation. The invocation may end
with the calling of Hertha, a Teutonic goddess of the earth and the hearth. Call
her name three times and at each call beat on the ground three times with the
palms of both hands.

A figure representing Winter should be burned in the fire. Communion may consist
of Sabbat Cakes or a Twelfth Night cake (there are many traditional recipes) and
cider or wassail. A procession may leave the Circle for a time to wassail a
nearby orchard. Couples may leap the bonfire. Supplies of candles brought by the
coveners are blessed.

Boys puberty rites may be celebrated. These usually include mock plowing by the
boys.

Close the Circle and go indoors for the feast.