Winter Solstice

Hi everyone! 5 days left until the Winter Solstice! WHOOHOO!

I’ve got my Yule log ready to burn for Winter Solstice night, I made a couple of pomanders earlier this morning and I thought I’d post a little info about the first day of Winter!

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There are two recurring themes for this time of year. The first is the yearly battle between the Oak King and the Holly King. They are the dual sides of the Horned God’s nature as he fights for the favor of the Goddess. They are also two sides of the whole and neither could exist without the other. On the Winter Solstice, the Holly King and the Oak King do battle, with the Oak King, ruler of the Waxing year, being victorious and the Holly King, ruler of the Waning year, dying and receding back to Caer Arianrhod.

At Beltane, the Oak King mates, dies and is resurrected by the Goddess only to be killed by the Holly King on the Summer Solstice. As the Oak King slips into Caer Arianrhod, the Holly King, at Lughnassadh, mates, dies and is reborn to the Goddess just as the Oak King does at Beltane. The Holly King, God of the Waning Year, lives out his time until it begins anew at the following Winter Solstice.

The second theme is that of the Sun God who is born of the Goddess on the Winter Solstice as a new babe. This is the longest night of the year. It is the night of the birth of the sun and every night after this gets a little shorter as the days grow longer with the Sun King’s return to the sky. We are now turning toward the light half of the year. While it is still bitter cold outside and snow is still apt to fall for a few more months, it is apparent that the sun is growing taller in the sky and that His return is imminent. His growth is celebrated at Imbolc. He is flourishing at Ostara. He takes the Goddess as His bride at Beltane. Summer Solstice sees the consummation of Their marriage as the God dies. He is mourned at Lughnassadh and sleeps in the womb of the Goddess at the Autumnal Equinox. At Samhain He is awaiting to be reborn and at Winter Solstice he is here once more rising in the sky and beginning His cycle to once again warm and thaw the Earth after Her long slumber. And so, at this time, we celebrate the re-birth of the Goddess’s royal seed.

Depending on what you read, Caer Arianrhod is either a star that never sets below earth’s horizon or a castle to which our souls go between incarnations. It is interesting to speculate about the Southern Hemisphere’s role in this Holy Day. Their seasons are opposite ours in the Northern Hemisphere so it’s possible that instead of going to Caer Arianrhod when each King dies, they go to the Southern Hemisphere to live out their respective seasons there until it is time to return to us in the North.

Also Called- Winter Solstice is called “Mean Geimredh”, mid-winter, in Irish, “Alban Arthan”, the point of roughness, in Wales, “Modranicht”, mother night, to the Anglo-Saxon’s, “Deuorius Riuri”, great divine winter feast, in the Coligny Calendar and “Yule.” The word “Yule,” according to Bede and various other authorities of the olden time is derived from an archaic Norse word “Jol,” meaning “a wheel.” Others include Midwinter, Yuletide, Vigil Festival, Wren Day and of course, Christmas.

Traditions- Yule logs, evergreen trees, holly, ivy, kissing under mistletoe, bonfires at dawn vigils, bell ringing, burning the roots of a fallen oak tree, evergreen boughs.

Symbols- Yule tree, pine boughs, stag horns, reindeer, mistletoe, green and red bows- a symbol of the Sun God who is reborn at this time, stag of 7 tines.

Food- white wine, white cake, mead, sugar cookies, apples, oranges, lemon.

Herbs- bitter herbs, mint, juniper, pine/cedar/juniper mix, sandalwood, pine, holly, ivy, mistletoe, cedar, bay, rosemary, nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, cloves, bayberry.

Stones- rubies, bloodstones, garnets, emeralds, diamonds.

Colors- red, green, gold, white, silver, yellow, orange.

Deities- Brigid, Isis, Demeter, Gaea, Diana, The Great Mother; Cernunnos, Apollo, Ra, Odin, Lugh, Mabon.

Time of Day– Dawn

Astrological Sign- Capricorn

Element- Earth

Direction- North

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The Oak King and the Holly King do Battle

 

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