Wheel of the Year
This beautiful second stop on the new Wheel of the Year represents the rebirth of the Sun! During Yule, we celebrate the ability to begin cultivating strength.
As the Holly King dies and The Goddess gives birth to the Oak King, we realize that we must thank and release the internal struggles that we worked through during the dark half of the year. Then, we welcome in the strength to use the lessons from our prior hardships. We celebrate the light that always comes after the dark, the peace that comes after the struggle.
- The Gods Of Yule: Apollo, Attis, Balder, Bacchus, Dionysus. The Green Man, Helios, Lugh, The Oak King, Odin, Ra, Sol
- The Goddesses of Yule: Aphrodite, Brigid, Demeter, Fortuna, Gaia, Hel, Holle, Ishtar, Isis
Yule Spell Work: Spell craft performed for Yule should be for peace, harmony, hope, strength, love, and increased happiness. Unconditional love, World healing, and World peace.
Symbolism of Yule:
- Hope after darkness,
- Lights to bring back the Sun,
- Rebirth of the Sun
At the Winter Solstice, the two god themes of the year’s cycle coincide – even more dramatically than they do at the Summer Solstice. Yule (from the Norse iul, meaning wheel) marks the death and the rebirth of the Sun God; it also marks the vanquishing of the Holly King, the god of the Waning Year, by the Oak King, the God of the Waxing Year.
The Goddess, who was Death-in-Life at Midsummer, now shows her Life-in-Death aspect; for although at this season she is the leprous white lady, Queen of the cold darkness, yet this is her moment for giving birth to the Child of Promise, the Son-Lover who will re-fertilize her and bring back light and warmth to her Kingdom.
- Symbols: Evergreens, Holly, Mistletoe, Poinsettias, Lights, Yule Log, Wreaths, Bells, Gifts, Stars, Sun, Snow, Ornaments, Garland, Santa Claus, Reindeer
Activities Of Yule:
Modern Christmas celebrations are full of pagan symbology. Santa Claus is the Holly King, the sleigh is the solar chariot, the eight reindeer are the eight Sabbats, their horns represent the Horned God, the North Pole symbolizes the Land of Shadows and the dying solar year, and the gifts are meant both to welcome the Oak King as the sun reborn and as a reminder of the gift of the Holly King, who must depart for the Oak King to rule.
- For prosperity: burn ash wood.
Activities include: caroling, wassailing , burning the Yule log, decorating the Yule tree, exchanging of gifts, feeding animals, birds with grains and seeds, become a part of nature, acts of kindness, wreath on the door, mistletoe indoors, kissing under the mistletoe, food and clothing donations, sunflower seeds outside for birds, ring the bell to greet the Solstice Morn, and perform magick for a peaceful planet.
- For Yule blessings: Gather up Yule greens after 12th night and save. At Imbolg, burn the greens to banish winter and usher in spring.
Foods of Yule:
Cookies and caraway cakes soaked in cider, nuts, eggnog, ginger tea, warm and warming drinks, spiced cider, wassail, or lamb’s wool (ale, sugar, nutmeg, roasted apples), figgy pudding, mincemeat pies, and fruit cakes, apple cider, spiced cinnamon cakes and cookies, dried fruits, eggnog, gingerbread, mulled wine, roasted meats, spiced meats, roasted apples.
Trees for Yule:
- Oak : Endurance, Strength, Triumph, Protection.
- Yew : Last Day of Solar Year; Death
- Silver Fir: Winter Solstice Day; Birth.
- Birch: Month following Winter Solstice; Beginnings.
The Animals of Yule:
Bears. Deer, Owls, Phoenix, Reindeer, Snow Geese, Squirrels. Stags, Cardinals, Wrens, and Ravens.
Gold, Green, Red, White, Silver, Yellow, Orange
Herbs for Yule:
- Bay Laurel, Blessed Thistle, Chamomile, Cinnamon, Evergreen Trees, Holly, Ivy, Juniper, Mistletoe, Pine, Poinsettias, Rosemary, Sage, Wintergreen, Holly, Fir, Birch,
Sun plants like mistletoe, balsam, and fir, and also any dried herbs from Summer, are predominant this time of year because they contain light and warmth.
On Yule, when witches decorate their houses, they do so from the doorway inward, this inviting the light inside. We adorn doorways and mantles with evergreen boughs, bunches of dried summer herbs and Witches cords in reds, blacks, greens, and golds. Our ancient ancestors brought an evergreen tree inside to mystically ensure there would be light all year round. The evergreen retains sunlight, staying green all year, and reminds us that life is forever present and renewable.
Other Yule herbs, plants, flowers and seeds:
- Pine cones, Pine needles, Oak leaves, Yule log ashes, Hazel bark, Apple leaf, Dried apples
Incense and Oils for Yule:
Cedar, Cinnamon, Clove, Frankincense, Juniper, Myrrh, Orange, Pine, Ginger, Wintergreen
Gemstones for Yule:
Rubies, Bloodstones, Garnets, Emeralds, Diamonds, Clear Quartz
Being the time of rebirth, this is a great time to remove anything that holds us back and to sow the seeds for the upcoming year. Success spells are best cast this evening. Many people also perform blessings, not only for themselves and their families, but for others as well. Cleansing your home and altar and banishing negativity can also be done this night. Whatever you do, make sure your heart is filled with peace, love, and joy and work magic to bring merriment to others.
According to Celtic tree mythology, the Silver Fir is the tree of the day of the Winter Solstice. The Winter Solstice. This usually takes place on December 20th or 21st, although it does sometimes occur on the 22nd or 23rd (check your calendar as it changes from year to year).
- Latin name: Abies alba.
- Celtic name: Ailim (pronounced: Ahl’ em).
- Folk or Common names: Common Silver Fir, Balm of Gilead Fir, Balsam Fir, American Silver Fir.
- Parts Used: Needles, wood, sap
Magical History and Associations:
The Silver Fir is associated with the moon and with the planet of Jupiter. Its colors are piebald and light or pale blue. Its birds are the eagle and the Lapwing, and its animal association is the red cow. Its stones are Tourmaline and Amber – and it is a feminine herb. This tree belongs to the triple aspect Goddess in Celtic lore, offering learning, choice and progress. The tree is sacred to many Goddesses: Artemis (the Greek Goddess of Childbirth), Diana and Druantia among them. It is also sacred to the Gods Osiris and Attis, both who were imprisoned in Fir/Pine trees.
Burn to cleanse a room of negative vibes. This is a wonderful incense for healing and strengthening the physical, emotional, and spiritual body. The scent opens the heart and increases endurance.
The Silver Fir is used for magick involving power, insight, progression, protection, change, feminine rebirth, and birth. The Silver Fir and the Yew are sisters standing next to each other in the circle of the year and their foliage is almost identical. However the Yew is known as the tree of death and the Silver Fir is the tree of birth or rebirth. The Silver Fir was a sacred tree to the Druids who felt that it stood for hope. The Silver Fir wood is used for shape-shifting and magic involving change, since it offers a clear perception of the present and the future.
The wood chips are sometimes used as incense and the wood can be used in the construction of magickal musical instruments. Burning the needles of the Silver Fir or sweeping around the bed with a branch that has been blessed will protect a new born baby and its mother. In the Orkney area of Scotland, the new mother and baby are ‘sained’ by whirling a fir-candle three times around her bed.
For a ‘Weather Witch’ the cones of the Silver Fir warn of wet weather and foretells when a dry season approaches. Charms made of Fir can be given as good luck tokens to departing friends. In its appearance (and in its current, and undoubtedly ancient, use) the Silver Fir is the quintessential Yule tree. Its branches can be used as decorations at Yule time either as wreaths or as garland, where it will provide protection for the household and its occupants.
- Year of Moons, Season of Trees
- Tree Medicine Tree Magic
- A Druid’s Herbal
- Celtic Astrology
- Glamoury: Magic of the Celtic Green World
- The Book of Druidry
The Poplar or Aspen is the sacred Tree of the Fall Equinox – (Aprox. September 22).
There is a bit of confusion about poplar, aspen, and cottonwood trees. The tree referred to here is the genus “populus” which includes true poplars, as well as related trees such as cottonwood and aspen).
Here’s a quick list:
- Balsam Poplar (Populus balsamifera)
- Eastern Cottonwood (Populus deltoides)
- Bigtooth Aspen (Populus grandidentata)
- Black Poplar (Populus nigra)
- European Aspen (Populus tremula)
- Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides)
- Black Cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa)
As far as I could discover, the Aspen and Poplar tree magickal lore overlap, and can be used interchangeably, unless otherwise indicated. The lore does not refer to the Yellow Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), or Balm of Gilead (Populus candicans) which have different attributes and magickal qualities
- Celtic name: Eadha (pronounced: “Eh’ uh”).
- Folk or Common names: All Poplar – Popple, Alamo, Aspen; Trembling Poplar – American Aspen, White Poplar, or Quaking Aspen; Balm of Gilead – bombagillia.
- Ruler: Saturn
- Type: Plant
- Magickal form: Buds
Carry poplar buds with you when seeking employment. Crush and add them to traditional money incense when you work on commission and need to attract more funds. The poplar buds may also be added to divination blends and make a great ingredient for psychics wishing to attract more business, as well as improving their powers.
The Poplar’s ability to resist and to shield, its association with speech, language and the Winds indicates an ability to endure and conquer. The Poplar is known as the “Tree that Transcends Fear”. Poplars symbolize the magick of joy, the aging of the year, resurrection and hope – and are connected to the Otherworld. Poplar can be used in magick done for success, passage and transformation, Hope, rebirth, divinations, shielding, endurance, agility in speech and language, protection, and love – and as an aid in astral projection.
Poplar can be used in protection charms of all kinds. Poplar is a good wood to burn in balefires and ritual fires since it offers protection. Shields can be made of Poplar since the wood is thought to offer protection from injury or death. Carrying Poplar helps to overcome the urge to give way under the burden of worldly pressures, and aids in determination. Poplar buds can also be carried to attract money and can be burned as an incense to create financial security.
Siberian reindeer-hunting cultures carved small goddess statues of Poplar (Aspen) wood. Groats and fat were then offered to the figures with this prayer:
“Help us to keep healthy!
Help us to hunt much game!”
Poplar buds are also sometimes added to flying ointments and was also used in astral travel. A medieval recipe for a flying ointment called for Cinquefoil, Poplar leaves, soot and bat’s blood obtained at the wake of the new moon.
The trembling leaves of the Poplar tree can be ‘read’ to divine messages from the God and Goddess, and also from spirits that drift into woods. The Poplar is the sacred World Tree of the Lakota nation. For the sun dance ceremony, a Poplar is carefully cut and lowered, then is re-erected in the center of the dance circle. While being carried the Poplar must never touch the ground. Green branches, a buffalo skull and eagle feathers were used to decorate the Poplar for this ceremony.
A country name for the aspen is the Shivver-tree, a name which in some districts is also given to the poplar. The leaves of both trees tremble at the slightest stirring of air, so that they seem to move without ceasing when all around is still. Because of this, both trees were formerly credited with the power to cure agues and fevers.
A very old magical tradition held that ailments could most efficaciously be treated by something that resembled their effects; and since ague causes the patient to shake and tremble, he was likely to be healed by the shaking tree.
In his Folk-Lore of the Northern Counties, William Henderson relates the story of a Lincolnshire girl who was thus cured of ague. She was advised to pin a lock of her hair to an aspen, saying as she did so:
“Aspen tree, aspen tree,
I prithee to shake and shiver
Instead of me.”
As was usual in such charms, her journey home had then to be made in complete silence, otherwise the magic would not work. She followed the advice given, and many years later, when she was an old woman, she told Henderson’s informant that she had never been troubled with ague again.
Another method was to bore a small hole in the tree trunk, insert the patient’s nail parings, and close the hole securely. As the bark grew once more over the opening, so the disease would disappear.
Two widespread legends are told to account for the aspen’s trembling. One is that it was condemned to shiver thus for evermore because it was the only tree that would not bow down to Our Lord when He passed through the forest. The other is that it shudders perpetually with horror because its wood was used to make the Cross on Calvary.
The poplar shares with the aspen the country name of Shivver-tree because like those of the latter, its leaves tremble. It also shares, and for the same reason, the aspen’s power to cure agues and fevers. R.M. Heanley records a Lincolnshire charm in which the patient cut off a lock of his hair and wrapped round a black poplar branch, saying as he did so:
When Christ our Lord was on the Cross,
Then didst thou sadly shivver and toss.
My aches and pains thou now must take,
Instead of me I bid thee shake.
He then had to go straight home, speaking to no one on the way, after which he would be free from ague forever. Heanley adds that some people considered it necessary to fast for twelve hours before attempting this charm.
The constant shaking of the poplar is often accounted for by the legend that its wood was used in the construction of the Cross. Medieval Legends of Christ (1934), mentions two explanatory legends. One is that it was under a poplar that Our Lord prayed during His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, and that the tree has trembled in sympathy ever since. The other is that it was cursed because, alone among the trees, it refused to mourn at the Crucifixion, saying that Christ died for sinners, “but I am innocent, and His suffering is no concern of mine.”
Poplar leaves were supposed to be one of the ingredients of the witches’ flying ointments.
Magical History and Associations:
In Gaelic tongue the tree was called Peble and Pophuil in the celtic way. Poplar is generally a plant of Jupiter, Saturn and the Sun and is associated with the element of water. Its color is rufous (red) and the bird associated with Poplar is the Whistling Swan. The stones associated with Poplar are Amber, Citrine Quartz, Sapphire and Swan Fluorite. The Anglo-Saxon rune poem seems to refer to the Poplar as being associated with the rune “berkano”.
Heracles wore a crown of Poplar leaves in triumph after killing the giant Cacus (the evil one) and retrieving Cerberus from Hades. The upper surface of the Poplar leaves was thus darkened from Hades’ smokey fumes. Poplar trees are sacred to the Mesopotamian goddess Ua-Ildak. The Grass King of Grossvargula, who was seen as having fertilizing powers, went on horseback wearing a pyramid of Poplar branches and a crown. He led a procession of young men about the town and was then stripped of his branches beneath the Silver Lindens of Sommerberg.
Poplar (Aspen) is said to be the tree of the Autumn Equinox and of old age, and is known as the shield makers’ tree. The Black Poplar was a funeral tree sacred to Hecate as death goddess, to Egeria, and to Mother Earth. Plato makes a reference to the use of Black Poplar and Silver Fir as an aid in divination. The Silver Fir standing for hope assured and the Black Poplar for loss of hope. The Grove of Persephone in the Far West contained Black Poplars and old Willows.
In ancient Ireland, the coffin makers measuring rod was made of Aspen, apparently to remind the dead that this was not the end. In Christian lore, the quaking Poplar (Aspen) was used to construct Christ’s cross, and the leaves of the tree quiver when they remember this fact.
Poplar can be used as a tonic, chiefly used in treating fevers. The infusion has been found helpful in treating chronic diarrhea. The sap collected from the buds can be used to make a healing ointment and can be used as an external application in bruises, swellings, and some skin diseases. Teas can be made from the Poplar buds and are useful in helping treat arthritis and rheumatism.
Purpose: Re-dedication to the Lord and Lady, beginning of the harvest, honoring the Sun God, honoring the pregnant Goddess
Dynamics/Meaning: Crowning of the Sun God, death of the Oak King, assumption of the Holly King, end the ordeal of the Green Man
Tools, Symbols and Decorations: The sun, oak, birch & fir branches, sun flowers, lilies, red/maize/yellow or gold flower, love amulets, seashells, summer fruits and flowers, feather/flower door wreath, sun wheel, fire, circles of stone, sun dials and swords/blades, bird feathers, Witches’ ladder.
Colors: Blue, green, gold, yellow and red.
Foods: Honey, fresh vegetables, lemons, oranges, summer fruits, summer squash, pumpernickel bread, ale, carrot drinks, mead.
Goddesses: Mother Earth, Mother Nature, Venus, Aphrodite, Yemaya, Astarte, Freya, Hathor, Ishtar, all Goddesses of love, passion, beauty and the Sea, and Pregnant, lusty Goddesses, Green Forest Mother; Great One of the Stars, Goddess of the Wells
Gods: Father Sun/Sky, Oak King, Holly King, Arthur, Gods at peak power and strength.
Animals/Mythical Beings: Wren, robin, horses, cattle, satyrs, faeries, firebird, dragon, thunderbird
Gemstones: Lapis lazuli, diamond, tiger’s eye, all green gemstones, especially emerald and jade
Herbs: Anise, mugwort, chamomile, rose, wild rose, oak blossoms, lily, cinquefoil, lavender, fennel, elder, mistletoe, hemp, thyme, larkspur, nettle, wisteria, vervain ( verbena), St. John’s wort, heartsease, rue, fern, wormwood, pine,heather, yarrow, oak and holly trees
Incense/Oil: Heliotrope, saffron, orange, frankincense and myrrh, wisteria, cinnamon, mint, rose, lemon, lavender, sandalwood, pine
Rituals/Magicks: Nature spirit/fey communion, planet healing, divination, love and protection magicks. The battle between Oak King, God of the waxing year and Holly King, God of the waning year (can be a ritual play), or act out scenes from the Bard’s (an incarnation of Merlin) “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, re-dedication of faith, rites of inspiration.
Customs: Bonfires, processions, all night vigil, singing, feasting, celebrating with others, cutting divining rods, dowsing rods and wands, herb gathering, handfastings, weddings, Druidic gathering of mistletoe in oak groves, needfires, leaping between two fires, mistletoe (without berries, use as a protection amulet), women walking naked through gardens to ensure continued fertility, enjoying the seasonal fruits and vegetables, honor the Mother’s fullness, richness and abundance, put garlands of St. John’s Wort placed over doors/ windows and a sprig in the car for protection.
- Black – Absorb and dispel negative influences, Mystery, Rememberance, Eternity, Constancy
- Blue – Healing, Peace, Astral projection, Fidelity, Sleep, Unity
- Brown – Animals, Helps connect to the rythms and energies of the Earth
- Gold – Activity, Money, The God, The Sun
- Green – Abundance, Calm, Fertility, Prosperity, Neutralize difficult situations, Renewal, Freshness, Hope
- Indigo – Clairvoyance, Healing, Past lives
- Orange – Attraction, Energy, Friendship, Willpower, Endurance, Strength
- Pink – Romantic love, Peace
- Purple – Communication with higher level beings, Connection with the Divine, Ending quarrels, Healing, Tranquility, Patience, Trust, Deep Sleep, Healing serious illnesses
- Red – Courage, Lust, New life, Desire, Passion, Sexuality, Strength, Enthusiasm
- Red Violet – Hidden knowledge
- Silver – Psychic abilities, Spirituality, The Goddess, The Moon
- Turquoise – Spiritual Knowledge
- White – Good fortune, Healing, Purification, Virgin Goddess
- Yellow – Creativity, Communication, Intellect, Knowledge, Youth, Mind Power, Light, Purity, Happiness, Wisdom
See Also: The Magickal Meanings of Colors
- Nature Spirits: Plant faeries
- Herbs: Basil, chives, dragons blood, geranium, thistle
- Colors: Crimson red, gold
- Flowers: Daisy, sweetpea
- Scents: Pine, bay, bergamot, patchouli
- Stones: Ruby, garnet, sard
- Trees: Pine, bay, hazel
- Animals: Bear, wolf
- Birds: Hawk, magpie
- Deities: Kali, Hathor, Anahita, Ceres, Ishtar, Venus, Bast
- Birth stone: Diamond
- Birth flower: Daisy or sweet pea
- Zodiac Signs: Aries (until April 19) and Taurus (April 20 onwards).
Energy into creating and producing; return balance to the nerves; change; self confidence; self reliance; take advantage of opportunities; work on temper and emotional flare-ups and selfishness.
- Nature Spirits: Mer-people, Air and Water beings who are connected with spring rains and storms.
- Herbs: High John root, yellow dock, wood betony, Irish moss
- Colors: Pale green, red-violet
- Scents: Honeysuckle, apple blossom
- Stones: Aquamarine, bloodstone
- Trees: Alder, dogwood
- Animals: Cougar, hedgehog, boar
- Birds: Sea crow, sea eagle
- Deities: Black Isis, the Morrigan, Hecate, Cybele, Astarte, Athene, Minerva, Artemis, Luna
Energy breaks into the open; growing, prospering, exploring. New beginnings; balance of Light and Dark. Breaking illusions. Seeing the truth in your life however much it may hurt.
Each month the moon waxes and wanes through its cycle, touching each star sign for a few days. As it changes rapidly, so can the emotional states of those people who have strong lunar alliances in their natal charts, hence the moons name, lunar, came from the word lunatic!
When the moon is waning, it’s on the cycle of diminishing; therefore, it’s a good time to end anything that isn’t working, which allows something new to enter your life. It’s also a prime time for clearing and cleaning.
When the moon is waxing, it’s on the cycle of becoming fuller, and thought to be a more prosperous time. This is the time for gathering up, for bringing in, for growing and adding to.
The strongest period for the full moon is the period either side of the full moon, 1-3 days. However, the period just before the full moon, keep in mind that the moon is still in its waxing cycle still becoming fuller, and directly after the full moon it then begins its waning diminishing cycle.
The new moon period is known to be a magic wish time, with its strongest time 1 to 3 days after the new moon and also just before the full moon. The time just before the full moon begins to diminish is a very powerful time to cast your dreams, goals and wishes to the universe for creation. This is one of the intense energy times to do spells, rituals, prayers and re-in force your positive thoughts.
An Eclipse signifies an intense time of energy, which can spark the beginning or end of relationships and situations, and can have an effect before and for months after the eclipse. A solar eclipse occurs on the new moon and a lunar eclipse occurs on the full moon.
Read more: NY Daily News Horoscopes
- Nature Spirits: house faeries, both of the home itself and of house plants
- Herbs: balm of Gilead, hyssop, myrrh, sage, spikenard
- Colors: light blue, violet
- Flowers: primrose
- Scents: wisteria, heliotrope
- Stones: amethyst, jasper, rock crystal
- Trees: rowan, laurel, cedar
- Animals: otter, unicorn
- Birds: eagle, chickadee
- Deities: Brigit, Juno, Kuan Yin, Diana, Demeter, Persephone, Aphrodite
Energy working toward the surface; A good time for spell work on purification, growth, healing. Loving the self. Accepting responsibility for past errors, forgiving yourself, and making future plans.
- Nature Spirits: gnomes, brownies
- Herbs: marjoram, holy thistle, nuts and cones
- Colors: brilliant white, blue-violet, black
- Flowers: snowdrop, crocus
- Scents: musk, mimosa
- Stones: garnet, onyx, jet, chrysoprase
- Trees: birch
- Animals: fox, coyote
- Birds: pheasant, blue jay
- Deities: Freyja, Inanna, Sarasvati, Hera, Ch’ang-O, Sinn
Sluggish; below the surface; A good time for spell work having to do with beginning and conceiving; protection; reversing spells; conserving energy by working on personal problems that involve no one else; getting your various bodies to work smoothly together for the same goals.