Yule, also known as the Winter Solstice, is a time of great symbolism and power. It marks the impending return of the sun, when the days begin to get a longer. Yule rituals can focus on peace, harmony and increased happiness, introspect or planning for the future. A popular and traditional ritual for yule is the burning of a yule log.
A yule log is an important traditional yule symbol and a central part of the decorations. The yule log symbolises the light conquering the darkness. This began with the celtic legend of the Oak King and the Holly King. The two gods fought, the oak king winning and reigning until midsummer, where the Holly King battles with the Old King and this time defeats him.
What you need:
- A log
- Items to decorate it with
The sourcing of your yule log is as important of the ceremony of burning it. It is considered bad luck to buy a Yule log, instead it must be gifted or sourced yourself. Remember that wood will need drying out before being put on the fire, so source your log in advance.
If possible choose a piece of an oak tree to symbolise the Oak King. Oak is also a symbol of healing, strength and wisdom. Other good chooses are holly to symbolise protection and inspire visions or birch to signify new beginnings.
You can decorate your yule log with feathers, pine cones, berries and holly. It can be dosed with ale or cider and dusted with flour.
If you haven’t got an indoor fire, you can perform this outside. On the night of the Winter Solstice gather with your friends and family. Wait until dark, if inside turn off all the lights. Begin by sitting in quiet contemplation. Then share with them the story of the tradition of the yule log. Put your yule log into the fireplace and set it alight. When it is burning you can recite these words:
May the log burn
May the wheel turn
May the evil spurn
May the Sun return
This is a traditional prayer of unknown origin to be said whilst the log is burning.
If you don’t have a fireplace or anywhere to burn one outside, you can still have your own yule log ritual. For this you will need a log which has been cut so it will sit upright. This log will hold three candles. Choose a green, red and a white candle to represent the oak king, the holly king and the goddess. Drill holes the right size to fit your candles.