Yule

Magical Attributes: Generosity, goodwill, empathy, service, and depending on which goodies you put into the dough other blessings will abound.

yulebread

  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron
  • 3 tablespoons hot water
  • 2 envelopes active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (105-115 degrees F)
  • 1/4 sup sugar, plus 1/4 teaspoon
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 4 cups sifted flour
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups of any combination of currents, candied fruits, nuts, raisins, chocolate chips,

Soak the saffron in the hot water for 1 1/2 hours. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and 1/4 teaspoon sugar in the warm water. Mix the milk, remaining sugar, butter and salt; cool. Add the egg, milk mixture and saffron to the yeast, beat until smooth.

Sprinkle your combination of goodies with two teaspoons of the flour. Mix until evenly coated. Mix the rest of the flour with the yeast mixture…fold in your combination of goodies and put on a well floured surface and kneed until smooth.

Place in greased bowl, turn once, let rise in warm place until doubled, about an hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Knead dough twice.

Next it’s your choice…divide into 24 pieces and roll into small buns…or…devide in half and bake as loaves or roll into log shape and bake…cover and let rise for 30 minutes. Bake for about 10 minutes, reduce to 350 degrees and bake another 10 minutes..brush the tops with butter and bake 5 more minutes…always check to be sure it’s cooking properly as depending on which way you decide to make it it may take a little longer to cook.

author unknown

easy_anise_cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise seed

Beat the eggs until lemon color. Add the sugar. Beat. Grind up the anise seed with a mortar and pestle. Sift in the flour and add the ground anise seed. Drop by spoonful or use a (cookie press) onto a cookie sheet. Refrigerate overnight. Bake in a 300 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes (until cookies are firm, but not brown.) Store in a tin for several days before serving.

Source: Pathwalkers.net

A festive, sweet, and light-colored bread, celebrating the return of the Sun, and the promise of next season’s harvest.

  • holiday-rum-eggnog-bread-recipezaar-l4 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 tbs. butter
  • 1 6 oz. packet Sun Maid Sun Ripened Dried Fruit Bits
  • Equal amount chopped pecans
  • 1 1/2 cup egg nog
  • 1 pkg. dry yeast, in 1/2 cup warm water

Warm everything to room temperature. Pitch yeast in warm water, with a pinch of sugar. Mix flour, sugar, and salt; cut in softened butter. Mix in fruit and nuts. When yeast is good and frothy, mix in egg nog and yeast mixture and knead, adding flour as necessary. Let rise about an hour, punch down dough, form into a ball, and let rise again; preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bake approximately 30-45 minutes until done.

source

yule61

Also known as Mithras (for the Persian Sun God), Saturnalia (for the Roman God of sowing and husbandry) and The Great Day of the Cauldron (from Druid Legend). It is the celebration of the return, or rebirth, of the Sun God, the Lord of Life. The celebrations were traditionally performed with the utmost solemnity, yet also with the highest rejoicing, for they resolve the paradox of Death and Rebirth. It represents the redemption of the world from Death and Darkness, as such it is a celebration of hope and joy amidst the gloom of winter.

The word Yule can be traced to the Celtic word `Hioul” which means wheel. This festival is an important point in the turning of the wheel of the year. Wreaths were made to symbolize this wheel, combining solar significance with tree-god significance. In ancient times Celts venerated trees as earthly representatives of the Gods, and it was felt that nothing short of the sacrifice of a mighty tree-god would cause the receding sun to take pity on them and return.

The burning of the Yule log was thought, through sympathetic magick, to increase the brightness and strength of the Sun, and would therefore bring good luck. Passersby would tip their hat or nod in salutation to the log. It is traditional to cut the log from oak or from a slow-burning fruit tree. The fire was lit from a piece of the previous years Yule log, which had been saved for this purpose. It was believed that this piece of the old log was a charm against fire, because it would refuse to burn until it was time to light its successor. A wish was also made while pouring wine over the burning log. It was believed to be bad luck if the log burned out before the 12 days of Yuletide were over. The ashes from the fire were spread in the fields to bring fertility to the next crop.

The Wassail bowl is another favored part of Yule celebrations. A large bowl or pot was filled with wassail, a mixture of cider and spices, and warmed over the Yule fire. The meaning of the word wassail is to be `hale or hearty’, and was the reason for the many toasts and salutations made from the bowl. It was also common for a procession to go to the nearest orchard and wassail the trees, thus blessing them and encouraging them to bear a good yield in the coming season. Libations of wassail were also poured over the roots of the trees, and cider drenched cakes were left in the forks of the older trees as an offering to the trees spirit.

Mistletoe is a regeneration symbol, considered to be the Essence of Life due to the resemblance of the juice of the berries to male semen. It was often gathered at this time. Evergreen boughs are also symbols of renewal. Evergreens were decorated to show honor to the tree spirits. The lights on modern trees were the candles of old, and represent the newly born sun god. Trees were not cut down and brought indoors.

The Sacred Seed of Life, having been nurtured by the foster mother Tailltiu, sprang forth from her breast, and was born. As the Wyrrd had foretold, here was the Child of Promise, son of the Gods and of the Earth. This baby was the Sun God, born in the Rule of Darkness, by the magick of the Gods. He was destined to grow in strength and knowledge. It was his task to bring back life and warmth to the land, and to wrest the power from the Lord of Darkness. To appease Cernunnos, who is at the peak of his strength, the people made sacrifices of roasted boar. To distract Callieach, the Wise Ones, or Witches invoked her to teach them of her mysteries. To aid the new-born Sun God the Celts felled a giant oak tree, and burned the log as a sacrifice, that the sun would gain strength from it, and grow.

Despite the powers of Cernunnos and Cailleach, the signs of new life were still upon the land. The sacred seeds which had fallen onto the barren branches of the winter-dead trees had come to life, and thus became the Mistletoe, which could be seen hanging from the oaks in the forests. Upon the land these sacred seeds had grown into the sweet smelling evergreens, and thus they were decreed to be a part of the celebration.

In honor of this magickal birth the people decorated the evergreens with candles and other symbols of life. The Druids told of Hu-Gadarn, the first druid, who had fled from the Atlalntean flood with his family on this day on the Ark, “The Great Cauldron” in which they brought the Essence of Life, and the knowledge of magick into the world. They would also tell tales of the Killing of the Wren, and of the Battle between the Oak King and the Holly King. Throughout the land the people rejoiced, and there was light in the midst of the darkness.

Blessed Be

Lady Galadriel

Art from:

Grove of the Ancient Pagan Store

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From the earliest times the twelve days have been regarded as a time when supernatural events can easily happen, when the dead are close at hand and might often be seen.

One reads of the Wild Hunt, or the Fairy Host riding across the lands of Britain and Germany in particular, led by characters such as King Arthur, Woden, and Arawn, the Celtic god of the Underworld. In Ireland these supernatural hunters are known as the Yule Host, and in common with all these bands they are believed to gather up wandering souls and carry them away to the Otherworld.

The Twelve Days of Christmas stand outside of “ordinary time,” and celebrations focus on the return of the sun and a continuation of the eternal cycle of life.

The days from Christmas Eve on December 24th to Epiphany on the 6th of January (actually fourteen days as the first and last are not included in the twelve) really exist out of linear time. They are, in a sense, the fruit of the past year, one day for each month that has passed. Over the centuries the dates have changed – sometimes radically.

Here’s a list of commonly accepted dates and traditions:

When researching lore and magicks for the Twelve Days of Christmas I found a lot of disagreement as to the dates. So, from Wikipedia we have this explanation and additional information:

The Twelve Days of Christmas are the festive days beginning Christmas Day (25 December). This period is also known as Christmastide and Twelvetide. The Twelfth Night of Christmas is always on the evening of 5 January, but the Twelfth Day can either precede or follow the Twelfth Night according to which Christian tradition is followed. Twelfth Night is followed by the Feast of the Epiphany on 6 January. In some traditions, the first day of Epiphany (6 January) and the twelfth day of Christmas overlap.

Over the centuries, differing churches and sects of Christianity have changed the actual traditions, time frame and their interpretations. St. Stephen’s Day (or Boxing Day), for example, is 26 December in the Western Church and 27 December in the Eastern Church.Boxing Day, on December 26, is observed as a legal holiday in parts of the Commonwealth of Nations. 28 December is Childermas or the Feast of the Innocents.

Currently, the twelve days and nights are celebrated in widely varying ways around the world. For example, some give gifts only on Christmas Day, some only on Twelfth Night, and some each of the twelve nights.

In England in the Middle Ages, this period was one of continuous feasting and merrymaking, which climaxed on Twelfth Night, the traditional end of the Christmas season. Continue reading

wassail-celebration

Wassailing the trees occurred on old “twelfth night”, the 12th night after Christmas eve, or January 17th on the old calendar. (Other calendars show the date as January 5th.)

Obviously traditions varied, but in Devonshire, Herefordshire and in other parts of the West Country of England (as well as elsewhere no doubt) families would hold a feast with cakes, cider and in some areas beer and ale too. After a time of eating and drinking everyone trooped out to the orchard to wassail the trees, and wake them up from winter for the coming season as well as scare off any bad energy, spirits or demons.

Ale, beer or cider soaked toast, in some areas special cakes, would be placed in the tree branches or in a fork of the tree, and then be splashed with more cider. Trees might be beaten with sticks, pounded on, pots and pans clanged, and in appropriate eras, guns that had been loaded with just powder (no shot) would be fired at the trees.

While this went on, others in the group bowed their heads and sang the special “wassail song”.

Variations include:

Old apple tree, we’ll wassail thee
And hoping thou wilt bear
The Lord does know where we shall be
To be merry another year.
To blow well and to bear well
And so merry let us be
Let every man drink up his cup
And health to the old apple tree

(Spoken)

Apples now, hat-fulls, three bushel bag-fulls,
tallets ole-fulls, barn’s floor-fulls,
little heap under the stairs
Hip Hip Hooroo
Hip Hip Hooroo
Hip Hip Hooroo

source: Folk Info

teniers_david_the_younger_twelfth_night_the_king_drinks

In Old England, The Twelfth Night marked the end of the winter festival that started on Samhain. The Lord of Misrule symbolizes the world turning upside down with the coming of winter. In the middle ages, the Twelfth Night began on the eve of December 25th moving forward 12 days to January 6th, hence the name the twelve days of Christmas.

The Twelfth Night festival marked the onset of the winter solstice, the point in late December when the sun, whose daily arc had reached its lowest, darkest, coldest point, began its rise toward the longer, warmer days and the coming of spring. On December 25th, the ceremonial Yule log was hauled in to start the hearth fire around which its members and visitors would gather throughout the rest of the Christmas festival days.

Twelfth Night was the final frenzy of feasting, drinking and merry making before the townspeople returned to daily life for the remainder of winter. A grand cake was the focus of the celebratory feast as well as Wassail, Fig Pudding and other generous tasty handmade dishes.

 On this night, it was customary for the assembled company to toast each other from the wassail bowl. In Old English, wassail means “Be in good health,” but the term came to be applied to the drink itself (usually spiced ale). See our recipe for Traditional Wassail. It was also traditional to cook the most wonderful pastries, cakes, and pies. Some included practical jokes. The “four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie” was no myth. Live birds were placed in a cooked pastry crust. When guests cut into the pie, the birds flew about the room which delighted all. A kinder tradition included placing bread soaked with cider in tree branches for the birds to eat.

In the ancient times of the Roman Saturnalia, the “king of the feast” was elected by beans, and the Twelfth Night cakes included a bean–or, later, a ring or coin. Whoever was given the slice with the prize became the queen and king for the night and much parading and merriment followed.

In the church calendar, Twelfth Night is the evening before Epiphany (January 6). Because the three wise men (or kings) arrived in Bethlehem bearing gifts for the infant Jesus, Epiphany is also called Three Kings Day and a traditional time of gift giving.

Sources: White Magick Alchemy and Almanac.com

bringing-in-the-boars-head

The sixth day of Christmas (Dec 30)  is the day of “Bringing in the Boar.” Two traditions honor the importance of the boar at Solstice tide. In Scandinavia, Frey, the god of sunshine, rode across the sky on his golden-bristled boar. Gulli-burstin, who was seen as a solar image, his spikes representing the rays of the sun.

In the ancient Norse tradition, the intention was to gain favor from Frey in the new year. The boar’s head with an apple in his mouth was carried into the banquet hall on a gold or silver dish to the sounds of trumpets and the songs of minstrels.

In Scandinavia and England Saint Stephen (whose feast day is Dec 26) is shown as tending to horses and bringing a boar’s head to a Yuletide banquet. Christmas ham is an old tradition in Sweden and may have originated as a winter solstice boar sacrifice to Freyr.

Here’s a song from 1607:

The Boar is dead,
Lo, here is his head,
What man could have done more
Than his head off to strike,
Meleager like.
And bring it as I do before.

His living spoiled,
Where good men toiled,
Which makes kind Ceres sorry;
But now, dead and drawn,
he is very good brawn,
And we have brought it for ye.

Then set down the swineherd,
The foe of the vineyard,
Let Baccus crown his fall;
Let this boar’s head and mustard,
Stand for pig,goose and custard,
And so ye are welcome all.

From: The Winter Solstice and other sources.

laughing-mona

The Feast of Fools, the fifth day of Christmas, (Dec 29), is a day when the normal order of things was ceremonially reversed, has been neglected for a long while – unfortunately, as it could well serve in our own times as a safe way of letting off steam. Essentially, it allowed people who were restricted from even the most casual of pleasure by the Church, to act in an abandoned way. It was also a time of festivity that was both part of, and sometimes even superseded, Christmas.

So, why not celebrate the Feast of Fools by having your own party where things get reversed, where your guests are invited to act as foolish as they can? Here are some ideas:

  • Invite your guests to wear silly clothes
  • Provide a box of silly or outrageous accessories – hats, shoes, wigs, gloves… use your imagination
  • Have everyone paint their faces, or fingernails in wild colors (men as well as women)
  • Organize a food fight or a pie throwing contest.
  • Provide helium balloons so every one can talk funny.

For a great party game ask your guests to each write down a forfeit – an action that involves something very silly such as shaving with real cream, singing the words of one song to the tune of another, juggling with oranges – whatever they like. Then each guest should pull out a forfeit from the hat and do their best to obey the instruction.

If you are alone, you can still act the fool. Here are some suggestions:

  • Make goofy faces at yourself in the mirror
  • Wear your own clothes inside out and backwards
  • Make a video or other recording of yourself laughing hysterically (fake it until you make it).

Above all, let this be a day of joyful fun and blissful games…

From: The Winter Solstice

ancient-greek-women-4In Athens and other parts of ancient Greece, there is a month that corresponds to roughly December/January that is named Poseideon for the sea-god Poseidon. The Poseidonia of Aegina may have taken place in the same month. Presumably on or around the Winter Solstice.

There were 16 days of feasting with rites of Aphrodite concluding the festival. Like the Roman festival of Saturnalia, the Poseidonia became so popular it was extended so that Athenaeus makes it 2 months long.

Poseidon as savior of ships, protector of those who voyage in ships, and God of the lapping waters both salt and fresh important for agriculture, is thanked for the many gifts that came from faraway places that were likely given at that time. The immense trade and distribution was nearly all through shipping, relatively little overland, whether it be perfume from Cyprus or pottery from Corinth.

It is interesting today that Agios Nikolaos (Saint Nikolas) is the Patron Saint of seafarers in the Orthodox Church. Celebrating Poseidon’s Festival seems to be lost in modern practice. It likely entailed bonfires, feasting, cutting of trees (probably decorated), and very likely gift giving. As God of begetting, that aspect was not forgotten.

The most complete account of the festival is Noel Robertson’s article Poseidon’s Festival at the Winter Solstice, The Classical Quarterly, New Series, Vol. 34, No. 1. (1984), pp. 1-16:

“The record shows that Poseidon was once worshiped in every part of Greece as a god of general importance to the community.”

“The festival falls near the winter solstice, and the ritual business marked by jollity and license, belongs to the general type of solstice festival known the world over. At Poseidon’s festival, however, the sportive conduct has a definite purpose; this purpose arises from the fundamental agrarian background if Mediterranean society, and may bring us close to the origin of solstice festivals.”

“It has scarcely been noticed that festivals of Poseidon, more than those of any other Greek deity, fall at just this time of year; yet the evidence is extensive.”

“The festival Poseidea and some of the rites in question are often claimed for Poseidon the sea-god, but at this season sailing is furthest from one’s mind, and fishing on the shore is by no means an overriding concern. Such details as we have point elsewhere, to Poseidon as the god of fresh water who fructifies Demeter’s fields.”

One of Poseidon’s epithets is prosklystios, ‘of the lapping water’. He is also invoked as Poseidon phytalmios which implies natural fertility and human procreation. There are also implications in the legends that imply bonfires at the winter solstice.

Noel Robertson concludes:

“…the celebrants feast to satiety, then turn to lascivious teasing. What is the ritual purpose of such conduct? It obviously suits Poseidon’s mythical reputation as the most lustful of gods, who far surpasses Apollo and Zeus in the number of his liaisons and his offspring. Poseidon the seducer is the god of springs and rivers; his women typically succumb while bathing or drawing water; the type of the river god is a rampant bull. But the ritual likewise treats Poseidon as a procreant force; witness the epithets phytalmios, genesios, pater, etc. as interpreted above. The myths and the ritual reflect the same belief. The rushing waters are a proponent male power, just as the fields which they fertilize are a prolific female. Both water and the fields, both Poseidon and Demeter, can be made to operate by sympathetic magic. The rites of our winter festival rouse Poseidon and bring the rushing waters…”

It is interesting that that Theophrastus tells us that the silver fir was important in ship building, especially for masts. The ‘tannenbaum’ is a silver fir. It is also interesting to compare with the Roman Saturnalia which may very well have borrowed from the Poseidea.

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