A Simple Solitary Yule Ritual
By Scott Cunningham in “A Guide for the Solitary Practioner”
The altar is adorned with evergreens such as pine, rosemary, bay, juniper and cedar, and the same can be laid to mark the Circle of Stones. Dried leaves can also be placed on the altar. The cauldron, resting on the altar on a heat proof surface (or placed before it if too large), should be filled with ignitable spirit (alcohol), or a red candle can be placed within it. At outdoor rites, lay a fire within the cauldron to be lit during ritual.
1) Arrange the altar, light the candles and incense, and cast the Circle of Stones.
2) Recite the Blessing Chant.
3) Invoke the Goddess and God.
4) Stand before the cauldron and gaze within it. Say these or similar words:
I sorrow not,
though the world is wrapped in sleep.
I sorrow not,
though the icy winds blast.
I sorrow not,
though the snow falls hard and deep.
I sorrow not,
this too shall soon be past.
5) Ignite the cauldron (or candle), using long matches or a taper. As the flame(s) leap up say:
I light this fire in Your honor, Mother Goddess
You have created life from death;
warmth from cold;
The Sun lives once again;
the time of light is waxing.
ever returning God of the Sun!
Hail Mother of All!
6) Circle the altar and cauldron slowly, clockwise, watching the flames. Say the following chant for some time:
The wheel turns; the power burns.
7) Meditate upon the Sun, on the hidden energies lying dormant in winter, not only in the Earth but within ourselves. Think of birth not as the start of life but as its continuance. Welcome the return of the God. After a time cease and stand once again before the altar and flaming caldron. Say:
Great God of the Sun,
I welcome Your return.
May You shine brightly upon the Goddess;
May You shine brightly upon the Earth,
scattering seeds and fertilizing the land.
All blessings upon You,
Reborn One of the Sun!
8) Works of magick, if necessary, may follow. Celebrate the Simple Feast, the release the Circle.
Solitary Yule Ritual
Black votive candle
1) Place the gold God candle at right top of altar, and the white Goddess candle at the top left.2) Place your Cauldron to the right of the altar, with the black votive candle, Holly sprig around it, inside.
3) Cover cauldron with lid or cover plate. Place the green candle and mistletoe where they will be behind you at the beginning of the ritual.
1) Cast the circle.
“From the darkness is born the light,
From void, fulfillment emerges.
The darkest night of the year is at the threshold,
Open now the door, and honor the darkness.”
2) Take the lid/plate off the cauldron and light the black votive candle inside. Give silent honor to the Holly King, the ruler of the dark half of the year. Meditate on the seasons of the past year, and how their lessons have brought you to where you are today. When ready, begin again:
“Dark my surroundings, and cold be this night
But Your labor, Blessed Mother, has reborn the sacred Light.
The child divine, the most honored Sun
Shall return with the sunrise again; Two will be One.”
3) Remove the holly from around the black votive candle. With your projective hand (right if you’re right-handed, left if you’re left-handed), present the holly to the four elements.4) Then place it behind you, to signify the death of the Holly King. Turn back to the altar.
5) With your receptive hand, reach behind you, and bring forward the mistletoe and the green candle.
6) Present them to the elements, slide the mistletoe over the green candle and place the candle in the cauldron. Light the green candle with the black votive candle and say:
“Behold the rebirth of the King of the Woodlands!
Behold the Oak King, strong and vital he rises!”
7) Snuff the black votive candle and with your projective hand, place it behind you. Turn back to the cauldron, close your eyes, and silently honor the Oak King. Begin again:
“Awake now Your Mother, Your Lover, Your Lady
Awake now the Goddess of Life, Death, Rebirth.”
8) Take the green candle out of the cauldron and light the white Goddess candle on the altar. Put the green candle back into the cauldron. Take the white Goddess candle with both hands and hold out at arm’s length over the cauldron:
“Awaken, my Lady, look upon Your divine child,
His rebirth while You slumbered was subtle and silent.
The Stag King, the Green Man, Lord of Fertility,
He awaits Your wakening, gentle and benevolent.”
9) Place the white Goddess candle back in its holder. Assume the Goddess position. Say:
“All hail the Oak King; His rebirth, a promise.
All hail the divine child, Giver of Life.
All hail the blessed Sun, reborn to the Mother
For He retakes His throne at the end of Solstice Night!”
10) Meditation. Cakes and Ale.
11) Face the cauldron and the green candle still burning bright.
“Before my circle tonight, I close with blessings
I ask for this house and my kin.
Tomorrow at daybreak, when I arise
A special flame I will carry within.
And a gold candle upon my altar I’ll light
Adding my will to the Sun King’s intent
To climb aloft in the vaulted skies.
And for strength back to me; the strength I’ve sent.”
12) Snuff the green candle. Place the mistletoe on the pentacle. Close the circle.
13) Leave the gold God candle on your altar to light upon rising in the morning.
Winter Solstice Ritual
In addition to your usual tools, you will need:
- A Green Altar Cloth
- A Cauldron w/Lid or Cover Plate
- Holly Sprig Wreath
- Mistletoe Sprig Wreath
- 12 Low Vibration Stones (flat oval river rock work well)
- 1 Black Votive Candle, 1 Green 12″ Taper Candle, 1 White 12″ Taper Candle, 1 Gold (12hr) Pillar Candle
- Pine or Yule Incense
- Bowl of Water w/ Pine Sprig in it
- Plate of Sand
- Other Personal Items of choice
This ritual showed be performed right after sunset. About an hour before, sweep area moving in a deosil manner. Yule symbols such as Poinsettias, Pine Cones, and even a decorated Yule Log nearby (if too big for altar) adds to the ambiance.
1) Place the proper candles and symbols at the four cardinal directions.
2) Place the gold God pillar candle at right top of altar.
3) Place the white Goddess taper candle at the top left.
4) Place your Pentacle (or a plate with a Pentagram drawn on it) in the center of the altar.
5) Place your Cauldron to the right of the altar, with the black votive candle, Holly sprig wreath around it , inside. Cover cauldron with lid or cover plate.
6) Place the green taper candle and mistletoe wreath where they will be behind you at the beginning of the ritual.
7) Outline your circle perimeter with 11 of the low vibration stones (save 12th to close circle when you enter.
8) Place the rest of your tools and props according to personal preference.
9) Take a shower or bath for purity. Sit quietly for a period to ground and center.
10) When ready put on some soothing music associated with the Sabbat and your ritual.
11) Enter the standing stone circle and close with 12th stone.
1) Cast circle by envisioning flames of Yule colors red, green, and gold coming up between the stones. When all become a continuous line, step up to the altar and begin:
“From the darkness is born the light, From void, fulfillment emerges… The darkest night of the year’s at the threshold, Open now the door, and honor the darkness.”
2) Take the lid/plate off the cauldron and light the black votive candle inside. Step back from the cauldron and give silent honor to the Holly King, the ruler of the dark half of the year. Call quarters, start by lighting yellow candle in the East:
“Powers of Air, step forth from the darkness, Enter my circle , as dark gives ‘way to light. Bring along with you the essence of pine trees, Remind me of Springtime As I face Solstice Night.”
3) Light the pine incense and place on Pentacle/Center Plate. Light the red candle in the South:
“Powers of Fire, step forth from the darkness, Enter my circle, as dark gives ‘way to light, Bring along with you the first glint of tomorrow, Remind me of Summer As I face Solstice Night.”
4) Pick up the Athame and brandish it in the flame of the candle to reflect the light. Place on the Pentacle/Center Plate. Light the blue candle in the West:
“Powers of Water, step forth from the darkness, Enter my circle, as dark gives ‘way to light, Bring along with you bittersweet memories Remind me of Autumn As I face Solstice Night.”
5) Pick up the bowl of water, sprinkle water with pine sprig in Pentacle/Center Plate. Light brown candle in the North:
“Powers of Earth, step forth from the darkness, Enter my circle, as dark gives ‘way to light, Bring along with you the land that now slumbers, Remind me of Winter And this cold Solstice Night.”
6) Pick up the plate of sand, sprinkle sand in a line around the other symbols. Step back from the alter for a moment and contemplate the seasons of the past year, and how their lessons have brought you to where you are today. When ready, begin again:
“Dark my surroundings, and cold be this night But Thy labor, Blessed Mother Has reborn the Sacred Light… The Child Divine, The most honored Sun Shall return with the sunrise Again, Two will be One.”
7) Remove the Holly wreath from around the black votive candle. With your right hand, present it to the four elements in a deosil manner.
8) Finally, in a clockwise motion, place it behind you, to signify the death, “passing”, of the Holly King.
9) Turn back to the altar. Then with your left hand, reach behind you, and in a clockwise motion bring forward the Mistletoe wreath and the green candle. Present them to the elements, slide the wreath over the green candle and place the candle in its holder in the cauldron. Light the green candle with the black votive candle:
“Hark! Behold the Rebirth of the King of the Woodlands! Behold the Oak King, strong and vital he rises!” Snuff the black votive candle and with your right hand, place it behind you in a clockwise motion. Turn back to the cauldron, close your eyes, and silently honor the Oak King. Begin again: “Awake now Thy Mother, Thy Lover, Thy Lady – Awake now Thy Goddess of Life, Death, Rebirth.”
10) Take the green candle out of the cauldron and light the white Goddess candle on the altar. Replace the green candle in the cauldron. Take the white Goddess candle with both hands and hold out at arm’s length over the cauldron:
“Awaken, my Lady, look upon Thyne Divine Child, His rebirth while You slumbered Was subtle and silent. The Stag King, the Green Man, Lord of Fertility, He awaits Thy wakening Gentle and benevolent”
11) Place the white Goddess candle back in its holder at the left top of altar. Step back and assume the Goddess position. In a bold voice:
“All hail the Oak King, His rebirth; a promise All hail the Divine Child, Giver of Life All hail the Blessed Sun, reborn to the Mother For he retakes His throne at the end of Solstice Night!”
12) Now is the time for meditation and any spellworkings. Spellworkings associated with Yule include those for peace, harmony, love, and happiness. Next celebrate with the Cakes and Ale (Fruitcake* and Spiced Cider *) ceremony, saving some for the wee Folkes, outside.
13) Thank the Goddess and snuff Her candle. Thank and release the elements:
“Carry sweet tidings, ’round the world and beyond, I charge thee as messengers Earth, Water, Fire, and Air Let all rejoice loudly in the Oak King’s return Teach all that you meet, with the glad tidings you bear.”
14) Snuff each Quarter candle in a widdershins manner. Step back and face the cauldron and the green candle still burning bright.
“Before my circle, tonight, I close Blessings I ask for this house and my kin Tomorrow at daybreak, when I arise A special flame I will carry, within… And a gold candle upon my altar I’ll light Adding my will to the Sun King’s intent To climb aloft in the vaulted skies And for strength back to me; three times, strength I’ve sent.”
15) Snuff the green candle. Take the Mistletoe wreath and place it on the other symbols on the Pentacle/Center Plate. Release the circle. Clean up, leaving the gold God pillar candle in center front to light upon rising in the morning.
You are done.
Adapted by Akasha Ap Emrys to share with all her friends and those of like mind–
Copyright © 1997-99 Akasha, Herne and The Celtic Connection wicca.com. All rights
Family Yule Ritual
Because this is not a supper ritual we don’t do the standard Circle casting and calling of the quarters for it. Instead we just establish sacred time and Welcome the Goddess and the God.
This candle ritual is based on one by Ceisiwr Serith in his book THE PAGAN FAMILY. The best part about this ritual is that the kids have such fun doing it. Now when we talk about getting ready for Yule they know which ritual it will be: “Oh, goody! We get to turn off all the lights!” Although it’s a “fun” ritual for them, they’re actually remembering that Yule is The Winter Solstice and that means the dark time is coming to an end. We’ve established a family tradition which I hope they’ll carry on with their own kids. )
SPECIAL NOTES: This is the Winter Solstice. Solstice means “sun stands still.” This is the longest night of the year, the night that darkness rules. It also marks the turning though. From here on the days will slowly be getting a little bit longer and the light a little bit stronger as the Wheel turns back towards Springtime. Yule is halfway around the Wheel Year from Midsummer, which is the Summer Solstice. It’s the first official day of Winter. Most of the customs that come to us today about Christmas originated in Pagan times with Yule. Like bringing a tree into the house, and decorating it with fruit and popcorn. Or putting candles in the windows. And let’s not forget the holly and the ivy. Or the songs, like Deck the Halls. Or the stories. One of our family’s favorites is “THE FIRST SONG.” It was written by Andras Arthen of MotherTongue and can be found on their album: THIS WINTER’S NIGHT. I will include it in a separate posting for those who would like it.
EXTRA SUPPLIES: Seasonal decorations, a bell, the Sun candle (we use a 9-inch yellow pillar candle), a small votive candle for each person at the table (it’s nice if your child can have their favorite color) and the safety lighter.
Begin by having the children turn off all the lights all over the house, to simulate the dark of the year.
Be sure to explain to younger kids why you’re doing this, before you start, so they don’t get scared. If you have an upstairs have them start there first. Making sure you leave a light on on the stairs so they can find their way back down. Younger children will probably need an escort, since the dark is scary for them, even if this ritual is supposed to be fun. Work your way back towards the ritual table, turning everything off as you go. When you’re ready everyone should be gathered around the table and the house should be in complete darkness, except for one candle to read by.
The Adult says quietly:
Tonight is the Winter Solstice
The night that we celebrate Yule.
Tonight is the longest night of the year
The night when darkness will rule.
Making sure the safety lighter is right at hand, the Adult blows out the last candle, plunging the room into darkness. Keep the little ones close so they don’t get scared because the house will be very dark and very quiet. Sit there in the quiet and let the dark grow. After a minute the adult says:
But the light will turn this night
Click the lighter and let flame burn brightly for a second. Then end with:
And turn the dark to light once more.
The adult then lights the Sun candle and says:
Tonight the dark time ends.
Pause for a moment and then continue:
Since Midsummer the Wheel has turned
Bringing us into the dark time.
But tonight the dark ends.
It is Yule, the Winter Solstice.
And from here the days will get longer
The Sun will start to grow stronger
Winter’s hold will be loosened
And soon Spring will come back.
The adult lights his/her candle from the Sun candle and places it in the middle of the table saying:
The Wheel is turning
The light is returning!
Then each person at the table, starting with the adults and proceeding to each child from the oldest, lights their candle from the sun candle and repeats:
The Wheel is turning
The light is returning!
When everyone has had their turn and all the candles are lit, bask in the glow of the candle light. Now is a good time to talk about the importance of light to the different celebrations of this holiday season.
Pagans have the Yule log, Christians light Advent candles, Jews light the menorah for Hanukkah and African-Americans, the kinara for Kwanzaa. (If you’re looking for a neat holiday video for the kids, pick up THE PUZZLE PLACE Christmas tape. It doesn’t actually say “pagan” but it handles the whole light thing very nicely) The meaning of the light might vary from culture to culture but they have in common that all their rituals take place on or near the Winter Solstice. This then should be a time of great celebration and rejoicing. Yule might be the longest night of the year, but it marks the return of the Sun. The change won’t come over night of course, but the Wheel has turned and spring is on the way.
When you’re ready send the kids hurrying through the house to turn all the lights back on — and I mean ALL the lights. Every light in every room should be turned on (at least for a little while) to drive away all the darkness and shadows.
When everyone is back at the table the Adult says:
Winter is a time of darkness.
But it doesn’t last forever.
It is only a stop on the Wheel
And soon the Wheel will turn again
And bring us back to Spring.
This is the lesson the Earth teaches us,
That no matter how dark it gets
The light always returns.
The night will always end
And a new day begin.
Now you can put out the Yule candles. The Adult goes first and says:
May the light of the Yule candles
Burn in our hearts
All throughout the Winter
And through the coming year.
Blessings of the Season on us all.
Each person extinguishes their candle (using a candle snuffer or long metal spoon for safety) in the same order they lit them. As they put it out have them say: Blessings of the season on us all. The ritual is over!
Excerpts from A WICCAN PRIMER: Rituals for Children ©1996 Wind*Dancer