Winter Solstice. . . Yule . . .
This festive season is a time for Celebration: the end of the calendar year, with much to be grateful for. Even in difficult times, there is always something for which we are thankful: friendships, family, new possibilities, and more.
It is a time to light candles, share gifts and tasty treats with friends and family, remind ourselves of the importance of Joy and celebrate our very existence and all that WE have birthed throughout our lifetime.
For many of our ancestors, the Winter Solstice was a celebration of the return of light, a successful harvest and the promises of a new year. And this was not a one-day event. No, they celebrated for twelve days. No work was done during this time and, eventually, these days of celebration merged into many Christian traditions, such as the Twelve Days of Christmas.
In contemporary Christian tradition, these days of celebration often start on Christmas Eve (also known as Mother’s Night), ending at Epiphany on January 6th, also celebrated in some parts of Ireland and Great Britain as Nollaig na mBan (Women’s Little Christmas in Irish Gaelic).
Some of my pagan ancestors celebrated the Solstice with the dual aspects of the Oak King and the Holly King, dual aspects of the Horned God. At Yule (Winter Solstice), we welcome the rebirth of the Sun (the Oak King) and at Litha (Summer Solstice), the Holly King reigns supreme.
There is some evidence that each day of the twelve was marked with a special significance, beginning on the First Day of Solstice (also known as Mother’s Night) and ending on Yule Night. You could use the 12 days quite simply, perhaps as a reflection of each of the previous twelve months or to look forward to the coming twelve months.
In one tradition (source: The Pagan’s Path), the twelve nights honour the Triple Goddess (Maiden-Mother-Crone) and Father Sun/Spirit. In Norse traditions, various gods and goddess of the Norse pantheon are celebrated.
Consider using these correspondences in your Soul Work over the twelve days, or create your own in a way that is unique to your beliefs and spirituality:
- Dec. 20 to Dec. 23. During the 1st 3 days:
The virgin Maiden Goddess is honored as your guide for moving forward into the new year, to set you on the right and positive path.
- Dec. 23 to Dec. 26. The 2nd set of 3 days:
The Mother Goddess is honored for fertility and all your coming endeavors.
- Dec. 26 to Dec 29. The 3rd set of 3 days:
These 3 days are set aside for the rebirth of the God, and honoring his guidance through the physical world.
- Dec. 29 to Jan. 1: The final set of 3 days:
The last 3 days are set aside for the Old Crone Goddess who is honored for wisdom and as your teacher into the cosmic lessons of life and spirit. In modern times, under the solar calendar, she might also be honored as the waning year giving way to the new year.
Some begin the celebrations the first night of Winter Solstice, while others celebrate Mother’s Night beginning at sunset on Solstice Eve (similar to Celtic traditions). Choose what works best for you.
- Mother’s Night / Modranecht
- The Wild Hunt
- High Feast of Yule, sacred to Thor and Frey
- Sacred to Ægir, Njörðr & Freya (or sacred to the Vanir)
- Sacred to Community
- Sacred to Eir and Healing
- Sacred to Thor
- Sacred to Skadi & Ullr
- Sacred to Odin
- Sacred to Sunna & the Ancestors
- Sacred to the Goddesses & Valkyrie
- Oath Night
How will YOU celebrate the Twelve Days of Solstice?