Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Solstice/Yule cards by Wendy Andrew

This is my fifth year of writing a Yule post. I was hard-pressed to find images that I have not used in the past, but I finally came up with a few. I was also-hard pressed to write something about Yule that I have not written before. In the end, I borrowed the written material from the Internet, altering it just a bit. Since Yule IS a pagan holiday, don't be surprised to find images of goddesses, fairies, elves, Druids, oak and holly kings, a unicorn and even a dragon in the art below.

"FESTIVE DRUID" Yule card by English artist Briar

Yule is a pagan holiday that celebrates the winter solstice - the shortest darkest day of the year - but also the rebirth of the Sun. In our symbolism of the year as a constantly turning wheel, this is the spoke where the Oak King (representing the light half of the year) vanquishes the Holly King (representing the dark half of the year), and thus ensures that the light and warmth of the sun will begin to increase each day.

"SPIRIT OF YULE" by Jillian

As the longest night of the year, some people believe that Yule is akin to the Long, Dark Night of Soul. Yule celebrations often echo both of these sentiments, often beginning in silent darkness and ending in a blaze of light, fire, and laughter.

"YULE STAG" card by Briar

While Yule is most often juxtaposed with Christmas today, Yule and Winter Solstice celebrations far outdate the Christian Christmas celebration. December 25th, the popular date to celebrate Christ’s birth, was also the birth date of Mithras, the ancient Persian Sun god of light and the guardian against evil.

 By Shona M. MacDonald

Christianity didn’t even celebrate “Christmas” until the fourth century, and even as late as 1740, it was a normal workday for the Puritans in the New World of America. They viewed Christmas as a pagan holiday, and forbade any celebrations and/or decorations of acknowledgement of the day.

"THE OAK KING" by Yuri Leitch

Yes, try as one might, one cannot erase the pagan aspects of this holiday. Most of today’s Christmas traditions are pagan in nature, derived from both old Yule and Solstice traditions, and include holly wreaths, decorated Christmas trees, the Yule log, kissing under the mistletoe, and the jolly old man himself, Santa Claus.

"YULE GODDESS" by J. M. Leotti

In today’s society, living firs and pines are cut and then placed in homes to be decorated with ornaments, lights, and the crowning star. In days long past, though, the decorated tree was a living tree, either one standing outside the home or which was brought into the home in a planter. Firs and pines were not chosen at random to be the tree of choice; they represent today, as they did in ancient times, the “life-in-death” nature of the season. It seems almost a parody that we today buy cut, dead trees to represent the important symbolism of the season.


Living trees were also brought into the home to provide a warm place of residence for the wood spirits, who would then look kindly upon the family during the year. Foodstuffs such as apples and cinnamon sticks were hung on the branches so the spirits would have plenty to eat in this barren time of year, and bells were hung from the branches so that their tinkling could announce the presence of a spirit. The five-pointed star, symbol of the five elements of earth, air, fire, water, and spirit, would be placed at the top of the tree and crystals hung to represent icicles.


Yule, being a Sun celebration, was most often noted by the lighting of the Yule Log, a large log burned throughout the Yuletide celebrations and then saved as a protective charm until the next Yule, when it was used to start the new Yule fire. The red and green colors of the season are probably derived from the colors of the trees, mistletoe, and holly berries found in abundance at this time of year. They are, however, also a form of sympathetic magick, with red representing the warmth of the sun and green representing the growth of new plants, aspects everyone wishes to draw into their lives at this time of the year.

Artist Unknown

Yule is a time of rebirth; of new beginnings and the setting of new goals for oneself. It is a time of putting aside regrets, resentments, and that which causes us unhappiness. But before we can rid ourselves of these, we must know them intimately. And thus, the season starts in the silent darkness of the cold winter’s night; a time when we cannot escape ourselves through pleasurable outside diversions. The beginning celebrations are a time of meditation and inward thoughts; of recognizing the cold sorrows of the season of barrenness as both those within the frosted panes of our souls, as well as those raging outside the frosted window.

(The helpful little dragon assists his
mistress in gathering holly and mistletoe)


Kath said...

Lovely images Julie. I was interested to see you showed one by Uri Leitch,he is a lovely unassuming man, who lives here in Glastonbury and who teaches my son martial arts.
We are off to the sostice celebrations at Chalice well tomorrow. Blessings on you and yours, Kath

Julie said...

From my e-mail, from Lawrie Foster:

Hi Julie.....What a wonderful posting and inspiring pictures. Thanks so much. I have enjoyed your blog since Halloween...
Hope all is going well with you. Have a Blessed Yule and New Year


PS....Do you know the book "Pagan Christmas"? A most fascinating read about the traditions of plants etc and how they
have come into our beliefs.

Elderberry-Rob said...

What a beautiful post, My mother's family were pagan. Our tree often went in the garden and was festooned with food for the birds - we had lots of holly and mistletoe everywhere and a big coal fire. We made stars from milk bottle tops. You made a lovely post here and it has the essense of Christmas as I remember it in my family home - thankyou. Blessings to you. Betty

Healing Woman said...

Beautiful images and words. Thank you so much!

Medieval Muse said...

Beautiful!! I am in love with the Woodland Guardians art. Do you have a link to the artist?

Holiday blessings to you and yours.

Lila Rostenberg said...

Merry Christmas to you dear Julie!

Hope your time with family is wonderful!

Rowan said...

Very lovely images.
A blessed Yule to you.

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

Just lovely - I shall read this over and over!

Anonymous said...

The "Winter Solstice" might be Willow Arlenea. It reminds me of her style and looks familiar. She created the artwork for the Tarot of Transformation.

Lovely page!

A passerby ... Barbara

Unknown said...

Just found your blog. Love it!

makua7 said...

Julie - I also just found your blog today and it's beautiful. The piece that you could not read is from Willow Arlenea, I recognized her artwork right away. I know there are many pieces you could use from in there, so I wanted to pass on the information. Thanks for all the great information about the Yule! Here is Willow's website, I've been following it for years! Blessings. Jeanne