Winter Solstice (Yule) by Christine Jette

I don't know anything about the Winter Solstice rituals or Yule, so I thought maybe others would enjoy learning about the history of Yule and Christine's suggestions for rituals and celebration. She includes a recipe, too! This article is excerpted from her book, Tarot for All Seasons: Celebrating the Days and Nights of Power, copyright (c) Christine Jette.

Winter Solstice: December 21 or 22

Yule celebrates the Goddess for giving birth to a son, the God. The Goddess draws light into her womb during the darkest time of the year, from Samhain to Yule. She gives birth to the light, her son the God, at the Winter Solstice. Because ancient pagans honored divine birth at Yule, it is no accident that the Christian Church chose December 25 as the birthday of their own divine Son.

Since the God is symbolized by the Sun, the Winter Solstice (also known as 'the birth of light') marks the point of the year when the Sun is reborn as well. In the northern hemisphere, the winter solstice falls on December 21 or 22, when the sun seems to stand still at its most southeastern point over the Tropic of Capricorn. This is the longest night and shortest day of the year, after which daylight hours grow longer. From this point on, the sun rises a little earlier, giving more light to the cold days of winter.

Yule is both a time of balance and a time of change. The Anglo-Saxon word for the Winter Solstice is 'Yule', derived from the Nordic word 'iul', meaning "wheel", related to the sacred circle or wheel of nature. In an agricultural society, survival meant having enough food. The Yule ritual symbolically hurried the end of a harsh winter to celebrate the bounty of spring, when food was once again plentiful. 

Yule was the day when Druids honored the battle between the Holly King and the Oak King by cutting the sacred mistletoe from the oak tree and letting it fall to the ground. The Holly King has symbolized death and darkness since Samhain. At Yule, the Oak King, who represents light and life, defeats the Holly King. 

Great fires were lit to celebrate the return of the Sun. The act of burning a Yule log at Christmas is a surviving remnant of that Druid custom, but also shares a relationship with the entire Season of Light-Chanukah, Kwanza and St. Lucia's Day are but three life-affirming holidays during the darkest time of year. Ancient pagan peoples brought fir trees, holly, ivy and pine boughs into their homes at Yule as a reminder of returning light and life. The Christian customs of displaying Christmas trees and decorating with evergreens are directly related to this Yule tradition. 

In present time, the Goddess gives birth to the God at Yule and we are reminded that birth is a continuance of life, not its beginning, and the ultimate result of death is rebirth. It is a time for balancing our nature, spirit and physical body. Meditations focus on the hidden energies lying dormant within the Earth and us during winter. It is also a time of returning hope and we gather to celebrate and make merry. Children receive gifts from Father Winter, we decorate our homes and good food abounds. Yule reminds us to take care of each other, the Earth and all Her creatures in the gentle, kind and magical season of goodwill. 

The Winter Solstice/Yule Ritual
(Around December 21 or 22)

Yule is the season for peace, returning hope and restoring balance. It is the perfect time for planning, making wishes and seeking visions. Clear quartz crystals, garnet, ruby and green tourmaline will enhance the energies of Yule, when worn or placed around the home. After deciding on your magical working(s) for the Yule season, focus your intention to realize your desire. Remember, focused will remains the core of magic. 

Yule Tarot Cards

Place the Star, No. 17, on your altar as a sign of returning hope. Justice, No. 11, restores balance while the Sun, No. 19, symbolizes the hidden energies lying dormant in the winter and welcomes the return of the God. Use the Nine of Cups for making wishes and the Two of Wands for seeking a vision. 

The Scents of Yule

Pine, cedar, balsam, fir, cinnamon, clove, mistletoe, orange, frankincense, myrrh, rosemary, bay and juniper all add atmosphere, beauty and depth to your winter solstice celebrations.

 Magical Brews of Yule

Any recipe for wassail(*); hibiscus, cranberry, apple, orange, cinnamon or ginger tea. Mulled cider or red wine with spices such as cinnamon and clove. 

Yule Candles

Use a large red candle set in a bowl or cauldron to symbolize the birth of the Sun. Green represents life, ever present and renewable, gold for sunlight and white for the purity of new fallen snow.

(*)Christine’s Winter Wassail

Yield: 11/2 Gallons (24 8-oz. Servings)

4 C. boiling water
4 apple spice or orange spice teabags (flavored black teas have caffeine, herbal tea does not)
½ gallon cider
½ gallon cranberry juice
1 C. orange juice
½ C. lemon juice
¼ to ½ C. brown sugar according to desired sweetness
1 tsp. Cloves (substitute whole allspice if you don’t like cloves)
2 sticks cinnamon broken in half
Stick cinnamon or orange slices as desired for garnish

Place the teabags in the boiling water and steep for five minutes. Remove teabags from the tea concentrate and set aside. While you are waiting for the tea to steep, put spices (cloves and cinnamon) in a tea ball. Beginning with the cider, mix the remaining ingredients together in a large kettle and pour in the tea concentrate. Stir. Add the tea ball with spices. Simmer all ingredients together for one-half hour on low heat. Stir occasionally. As you stir, visualize love and warmth and send your good intentions into the brew. Remove tea ball and serve warm in punch cups or mugs. Garnish each mug with a stick of cinnamon or orange slice. Enjoy! 

May be kept warm for hours in a crockpot on low setting. Can be stored in the frig for several days and heated as needed. 

Microwave instructions: Use cheesecloth instead of tea ball and a micro-safe container. Follow instructions for assembly. Heat uncovered on HIGH, ten minutes per gallon. Ovens vary. Check frequently for desired serving temperature. 

Important: Do not boil wassail! Boiling destroys its flavor. 


Leave out the teabags and 4 cups of water. This decreases the yield by one quart. 

Add one liter red wine to mixture and simmer. This increases the yield to 2 gallons. 

For a sweeter taste, omit wine and add 1 ounce of apple, cranberry or orange liqueur to each mug at serving time. 

Wassail recipe may be halved or doubled depending on your needs. 

Gift idea: Pack some or all of the following ingredients in a pretty basket or bowl: a box or packet of tea, jar of whole allspice or cloves, cinnamon sticks, brown sugar, two holiday mugs, a bottle of red wine or liqueur of choice, even a gift card to the grocery store for the purchase of  the remaining ingredients. Tie it all in colored cellophane or paper wrap and add a festive ribbon or ornament. Attach the recipe and a tea ball and give to a special friend. 

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Tarot Reflections is published by the American Tarot Association - Copyright (C) 2007

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