Happy Yule and a merry solstice to all!
Yule is always one of the busiest times of year for me; as I mentioned last year I have usually approached Yule form a strictly Germanic/Norse perspective but have recently started trying to incorporate more Irish and Druidic aspects. Since the heathen Yule celebration lasts for 12 nights its been hard to work in anything else - which is complicated by the very limited Irish folklore and practices. This year I am going to attempt to juggle four different types of celebration.
Last night I helped run an open neopagan Yule ritual. We gathered and focused on sending loving energy to any who are suffering, to help heal those who need healing after the tragedies of the last week. We also wove bracelets for ourselves while focusing on goals we want to nurture in the coming months as the light of the sun grows. And of course we lit candles on a Yule log in honor of the solstice.
Because last night was also Mother's Night in Heathenry my family and I also lit candles for the disir and our female ancestors. We held a small blot to Frigga, offering milk and water to her. We do this in thanks for their protection and also to ask for blessings in the new year. I drew a rune for divination and pulled Othala, which I believe is a good sign of connection to the ancestors, in this context.
Today, on the actual solstice, I will honor Grian, in a Druidic ritual. My family will light our Yule log at home, and we will hold our annual holiday movie night, which the children are very excited about. The solstice itself tends to be very family oriented for me, which is a nice break in the otherwise hectic schedule of the holiday. For the ritual to honor Grian we will bake a sun cake, as we do for Aine at midsummer, and offer pieces of it to her and to our ancestors and the daoine sidhe. We will also offer her sugar cookies and spiced cider.
It's my Kindred's 6th anniversary this year so we are planning to hold a Yule blot on the 23rd. this is always a very festive meeting with lots of food and good converstaion after a blot to honor Odin as the Julfather. Each year we choose different Aesir to focus on ; last year it was Freyr, and the year before it was Odin and Frigga together. After the blot we each pull a rune to see what our omen for the year to come is, and I pull one for the Kindred as a whole. My Kindred sister, Mel, is an exceptional cook, so feasting is always something to look forward to, and its fun to watch the kids play and enjoy the celebration.
In our home this year Santa is arriving on the 23rd as well, with present opening occurring very early in the morning, so on the evening of the 22nd we will be honoring the Julenisse (with porridge). We decided it was important for the kids to have the joy of waking up to presents under the Yule tree and find the idea of Santa very pagan, but we can be a bit flexible on when he comes, looking at a day close to the solstice that we will all be home together. I know that some people who have Odin, as Julfather, come with gifts riding Sleipnir, but by the time I heard of that idea my oldest was already invested in Santa, so we have stuck with what she initially grew up with.
After this, leading up to New Year's eve, I will also blot to Frau Holle, Freyr, and Thor, as well as make offerings to my ancestors and the land spirits. And of course I will celebrate a secular Christmas with my extended family on the 25th. On New Year's eve, the official end of the 12 days of Yule celebration, I smudge the entire house with juniper, and at exactly midnight I open the front door to let the old year out and welcome the new year in. I also leave out a small loaf of bread, asking for abunadance and prosperity in the year to come. It will be a hectic couple of weeks, but it is always filled with fun and good food.
I hope your Yule is just as much fun, and wish you all a good New Year.