Originally written 2016, updated: Dec. 5, 2021
It was difficult for me to write about the Yule Sabbat for two reasons: The first is because there is so much out there already on the magic and folklore of Yule and I didn’t want to be repetitive. Secondly, there is not much growing outside in nature – making it less inspiring for me to write about.
In Witchcraft, many of our rituals are focused around the seasonal changes in nature. When it comes to winter, we instinctively don’t want winter to necessarily happen. So as part of our own methods of achieving harmony and balance with our environment we shift a focus more towards magical things that can be done indoors: such as the magic of the hearth, the using of dried herbal preparations and herbal infusions… crafting, cleaning and preparing items. It gives us a little break to focus on the inside environment of our home and esoteric lives.
So what are some of the magical activities and rituals that we might do for Yule?
One of the first things we do at this particular celestial Sabbat is perform what is called the “Entering in of Death.” This is a barren time of all of Nature (at least here in the Northeast) and we honor that time of death that occurs between Hallowmas and Yule with a somber ritual at least three days before the actual celebration of this Sabbat. As we need sleep when the night comes, so too does Mother Nature. A few somber words are spoken quietly in the temple and then the temple is sealed off so that as Nature rests, so does the coven temple. If any candles or spells are in progress at this time, they are taken out of the temple so that the temple can mark a somber period of magical silence.
Our magical weapons/tools are also cleansed during this time to remove from them any stale vibrations they may have picked up, making them clean and refreshed before “Calling Forth the Child of Promise” at the Sabbat ritual proper.
After the Sabbat Ritual proper, a Yule log will typically be decorated to make a centerpiece for the middle of the Sabbat Feast Table with at least three candles included… sometimes red candles and sometimes green. The High Priestess of the coven performs an invocation over the dinner and the guests at the head of the table for this Yuletide Feast. This is typically one of the three formal dinners the High Priestess will preside over during the year. There are recommended foods to be made in our tradition for the Sabbat, though, in the spirit of “Witches make do” sometimes what is prepared is changed depending on desire and dietary needs.
The Yule Log is later burned in the hearth if possible. If not, a decorative Yule log will be flanked with red candles that are ceremonially lit before partaking of the Sabbat feast following the ceremony.
We will decorate the magical circle with evergreens. This is easy to do by going outdoors and cutting some pine and holly and bringing them indoors. If you are lucky, the nature spirits may feel welcome to follow you –for bringing these evergreens indoors for decoration, you are letting the nature spirits know they are welcome to come in out of the cold and be warmed inside during this time. The same theme is invoked when we decorate and trim the Yule tree.
Then, when the day of the Sabbat roles around, the ceremony typically starts off in the somber attitude, and then with the summoning forth the Child of Promise, the attitude becomes one of thankfulness, gratitude and thoughts of goodwill to man, animals and nature. A re-dedication is made to the works of white witchcraft and the Craft as a whole. Prayers are made to bring back the blessings of earth’s renewed light, which is also symbolic of our own inner light. Also, an asking and prayer of Supreme Being to kindle light and love within us.
The candles are anointed with Bayberry oil and if we are fortunate, we might even find candles made of Bayberry to burn during the night of the Winter Solstice. We like, when we can; to burn the bayberry candles from tip to the socket – for magical lore states that when burned “from tip to the socket; prosperity and peace to the home and money to the pockets!“
So above you learned about what some covens will do for Yule…. but what about if your coven doesn’t celebrate Yule? Or what do you do if you can’t be with the coven, or you prefer to practice Wicca solitary? Here is an example of something you can do:
Because Yule is symbolic of the light or spark being alive and bright inside the womb or the tomb of the Great Mother Earth, so we symbolize this with a candle inside a cauldron.
Take a large or medium sized cauldron and put sand inside it to protect it. Place a candleholder inside the cauldron and place a candle inside it. Place holly and pine, or whatever type of evergreens that grow in your area, around the outside of the cauldron, decoratively.
Write for yourself an invocation to the Great Mother Goddess and the Great Father Horned God, about life being renewed once again while you light the candle. The prime symbolism of the God-power is great celestial Solar-Fire. The symbolism is clear, that the Solar Rays of Spring and Summer will once again grow and return and the Earth will respond by being warmed by the increasing solar fire.
Also, because our thoughts are turned to a more reflective nature, it is a great time to work healing prayers and incantations for family and friends in need of healing. It is a way of giving back, magically, to our friends and loved ones.
However that you choose to celebrate this celestial Sabbat, we hope that the renewed and increasing light of the sun grows and glows within you. Blessed Be!
If you wish to know more about a full Sabbat cycle, more info can be found in The Sacred Pentagraph by Tarostar. Click on the book photo to learn more.