Quality Herbals for Holistic Living

Yule Lore

Also called: Yule, Jul, Saturnalia, Christmas, solar/secular New Year, Winster Solstice

Scientifically speaking, a solstice is either of the two events of the year when the sun is at its greatest distance from the equatorial plane. The name is derived from Latin sol (sun) andsistere (stand still), because at the solstice, the Sun reaches a maximum or a minimum.  The cause of the seasons is that the rotation axis of the Earth is not perpendicular to its orbital plane, but at an angle. As a consequence, for half a year the northern hemisphere tips to the Sun, with the maximum around 21 June (summer Soltice), while for the other half year the earth tips away from the sun, with the maximum around 21 December (winter solstice).   Spiritually, Yule is one of the four minor Sabbats, which celebrates the rebirth of the Sun, the Sun God and honors the Horned God. Yule is the longest night of the year, when the balance is suspended and then gives way to the coming light. It is a time to look on the past year’s achievements and to celebrate with family and friends. In ancient times, the Winter Solstice corresponded with the Roman Saturnalia (Dec. 17-24), pagans fertility rites and various rites of Sun worship. This day is the official first day of winter. The Goddess gives birth to the Sun Child and hope for new light is born. The origins of most of the Christian Christmas traditions come from the Pagan Yule celebration, such as the Christmas tree, the colors red and green and gift giving. Yule is also known as the Winter Solstice, Midwinter, Alban Arthan, Finn’s Day, Festival of Sol, Yuletide, Great Day of the Cauldron, and Festival of Growth.  Children were escorted from house to house with gifts of clove spiked apples and oranges which were laid in baskets of evergreen boughs and wheat stalks dusted with flour. The apples and oranges represented the sun, the boughs were symbolic of immortality, the wheat stalks portrayed the harvest, and the flour was accomplishment of triumph, light, and life. Holly, mistletoe, and ivy not only decorated the outside, but also the inside of homes. It was to extend invitation to Nature Sprites to come and join the celebration. A sprig of Holly was kept near the door all year long as a constant invitation for good fortune to pay visit to the residents.

The ceremonial Yule log was the highlight of the festival. In accordance to tradition, the log must either have been harvested from the householder’s land, or given as a gift – it must never have been bought. Once dragged into the house and placed in the fireplace it was decorated in seasonal greenery, doused with cider or ale, and dusted with flour before set ablaze by a piece of last years log, (held onto for just this purpose). The log would burn throughout the night, then smolder for 12 days after before being ceremonially put out. Ash is the traditional wood of the Yule log. It is the sacred wood of the world tree from Norse Mythology also known as Yggdrasil. An herb of the Sun, Ash brings light into the hearth at the Solstice.

Yule is the birth of the Sun God, who will eventually chase away winter and bring summer and life back into the planet.  Although winter looks bare and cold, it is a time of hope and joy – a celebration of the warm seasons that lay ahead.  The days will grow longer instead of shorter and we can look forward to warmth of the sun being brought back into our days and nights.

Yule Gods and Goddess

Goddesses: Albina (Tuscan), Angerona (Roman), Anna Perenna (Roman), Fortuna (Roman), Gaia (Greek), Grian (Irish), Heket (Egyptian), Isis (Egyptian), Kefa (Egyptian), Lucina (Roman), Persephone (Greek), Rhiannon (Welsh)

Gods: all reborn and Sun Gods; Apollo (Greco-Roman), Attis (Anatolian), Balder (Norse), Cronos (Greek), Helios (Greek), Hyperion (Greek), Janus (Roman), Lugh (Irish), Oak/Holly King (Anglo-Celtic), Odin (Norse), Osiris (Egyptian), Ra (Egyptian), Saturn (Roman), Sol (Roman)

Yule Herbs

Holly, mistletoe, evergreen, poinsettia, bay, pine, ginger, myrrh, valerian, cinnamon, nutmeg, oak, orange.

Yule Incense

Rosemary, myrrh, nutmeg, saffron, cedar, pine, wintergreen, ginger, bayberry.

Yule Incense Recipe
by Scott Cunningham

2 parts frankincense
2 parts pine needles or resin
1 part cedar
1 part juniper berries

Yule Incense
From Wylundt’s Book of Incense

1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. pine
1 tsp. cedar
1 tsp. frankincense
1 tsp. myrrh
few drops mulberry oil

Yule Incense
From Wylundt’s Book of Incense
1 part cypress
1 part oak bark
1 part juniper berries

Yule Stones

Bloodstone, ruby, garnet, cat’s eye, clear quartz, jet, ruby, diamond, garnet, alexandrite, kunzite, citrine, green tourmaline, blue topaz, pearls

Yule Animals

Stags, squirrels, wren/robin, phoenix, trolls, memecolion.

Yule Foods
Roasted turkey, nuts, apples, caraway rolls, dried fruit, fruitcakes, gingerbread men, mulled wine, eggnog, wassail.

Yule Gingerbread
by Terri Paajanen

Holiday cookie cutters can turn your gingerbread into a festive treat.


3 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter
3 eggs
4 tbs milk
1/2 cup light molasses
2 tbs dark molasses
2 tbs ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda


Preheat your oven to 375F. Combine all the dry ingredients (except baking soda) in a large mixing bowl. Add 3 tbs of milk into a large saucepan along with the molasses (both) and butter. Melt together over low heat.

Add beaten eggs and flour mixture to the melted ingredients. Dissolve baking soda in remaining 1 tbs of milk, then add to the batter. Pour batter into a greased 10-inch baking pan. Bake for approximately 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean.


by Terri Paajanen

One variety of wassail, or hot mulled apple cider. Make up a batch of this before you go Yule carolling.


4 litres apple juice or cider
1 lemon, chopped
1 orange, chopped
1 lime, chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground anise


Mix ingredients in a large enamel pot, and simmer for about an hour. Serve hot. Adding brandy or rum is a nice touch when served for adults

Roast Port with Rosemary
By Terri Paajanen

A very simple recipe that can play center-stage on your Yule table.


4 lb pork roast
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Rosemary, dried
Olive oil


Preheat your oven to 325F. Place the roast in a pan, then rub the meat first with olive oil and then the chopped garlic and rosemary. Pierce the pork with a knife and stick in some pieces of garlic and rosemary.
Cook for approximately 35-40 minutes per pound of meat.

Yule Altar

Colors: red, green, white, gold.
Decorations: mistletoe, holly, small Yule log, strings of colored lights, a candle in the shape of Kris Kringle, homemade wreath, presents wrapped in colorful paper.

Yule Spells and Ritual Work

Peace, harmony, love, increased happiness, a healthier planet, Personal renewal, world peace, honoring family & friends

Yule Activities

Yule Log

The Yule log has not survived into modern celebrations for the most part, and for most modern Heathens would be difficult to do without a fireplace or wood burning stove. You may therefore wish to set up a symbolic Yule log. You can carve it with wishes for the New Year, garland it, do what you wish. If you have a place you can burn it outside during Yuletide, you may wish to do so. Traditionally, the Yule log was brought in on Mothers’ Night, it was then set ablaze and hoped to burn all Twelve Nights (remember this log was nearly an entire tree to be burned in the long pits of a long house). Different areas had different customs concerning the Yule log. Everywhere the log was garlanded and decorated with ribbons prior to the procession to the longhouse. The procession was, as most procession during the holidays, a joyous one. Once burning no one could squint in the presence of the log, nor were barefooted women allowed around it. In Yorkshire, England, they practiced what is called mumping or gooding. Children would go begging and singing from house to house as the log was brought in. In other areas, the children were allowed to wassail the log the first night and drink to it.

Sing Pagan Solstice Carols

There are hundreds of pagan carols out there.  I strongly suggest you search for some that your family will enjoy!

Here are a few examples:

Joy to the World
(It Came Upon a midnight clear..)
Joy to the World, the Light has come
Let every heart, prepare Him room
And Heaven and Nature sing
And Heaven and Nature sing
And He-av’n and Heaven and Nature
Welcome our Lord, who brings us Light
Our Lady gives him birth!
His Living Light, to warm our hearts,
And wake the sleeping Earth (x3)
Light we the fires to greet our Lord
Our Light, our Life, our Lord!
Let every voice, sing holy praise
And Heaven and Nature sing (x3)


Silent Night
Silent night, Solstice Night
All is calm, all is bright
Nature slumbers in forest and glen
Till in Springtime She wakes again
Sleeping spirits grow strong!
Sleeping spirits grow strong!

Silent night, Solstice Night
Silver moon shining bright
Snowfall blankets the slumbering Earth
Yule fires welcome the Sun’s rebirth
Hark, the Light is reborn!
Hark, the Light is reborn!

Silent night, Solstice Night
Quiet rest till the Light
Turning ever the rolling Wheel
Brings the Winter to comfort and heal
Rest your spirit in peace!
Rest your spirit in peace!


Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful!
Oh, come, all ye faithful
Gather round the Yule fire
Oh, come ye, oh, come ye,
To call the Sun!
Fires within us
Call the Fire above us
O, come, let us invoke Him!
O, come, let us invoke Him!
O, come, let us invoke Him!
Our Lord, the Sun!

Yea, Lord, we greet Thee!
Born again at Yuletide!
Yule fires and candles flames
Are lighted for You!
Come to thy children
Calling for thy blessing!
O, come, let us invoke Him! (x3)
Our Lord, the Sun!