Yule Ritual (Submitted by Alastar)

Preparation: For decorating the altar use pine cones, evergreen boughs, strings of miniature lights, and red and green ribbons or streamers. Prepare the altar with the God and Goddess candles and the supplies for casting the circle. Include a white pillow, a miniature evergreen tree, a cauldron, a Corn Dolly, and a male Corn Dolly made from grape vines (this can be called the Grape Dolly). The Grape Dolly should be dressed in green, yellow, and black. The Corn Dolly should be dressed in white, red, and black to appear pregnant. The God candle and Grape Dolly should be placed in the cauldron. Buy yourself a small gift either for your altar or to prepare you for the new year. Wrap this and place it on the altar. Begin by casting the circle, remembering to invoke the God, yet leaving his candle unlit.

Here I am on this night, Yule, Midwinter, the Winter Solstice, the Nativity of the Sun, the time of the longest night. I am here to understand life, death, and rebirth, and to give reverence to those who have endured each.

Bow your head to think about how Yule fits in one of the three groups above and how it fits in the Wheel of the Year.

I stand at the gate between the living and the dead on this night when the light is at its least and the dark is at its most. I am here to witness the birth of my God, the Divine Child, the waxing Sun God, the chosen consort of his Moon Mother. Rebirth. . . a necessary transition on the Wheel of the Year.

Take the Goddess candle and light the God candle. Place this Goddess candle just outside the cauldron. Set the Grape Dolly next to the Corn Dolly outside the cauldron.

Reborn is the beloved Divine Child, one of the three faces of my God, and soon to go to rest is the beloved Crone, one of the three faces of my Goddess. I watch as the God travels to the Earth and the Goddess travels to the Land of Spirit to turn the Wheel of the Year. The Elder Gods wish to bestow upon us the gift of knowledge. Thus they shall speak.

Hold the Grape Dolly and Corn Dolly up high, one in each hand. Say:

These wise words are their gifts. "The Wheel of the Year shall continue to turn until the end of time. These lives are merely preparation for that time. Although it is preparation, it is also life. Never neglect happiness. Make life happy for yourself and for others. Give and you shall receive. Now is the time to rest and prepare for the rest of your lives and the rest of your seasons. Make it joyous." So mote it be.

Return the Dollies to the altar, placing the Grape Dolly where it had been sitting, and placing the Corn Dolly asleep on the white pillow. Blow out her candle. Say:

The Gods have shown me the way. Now, on this night of Yule, the time of the closing of one year and beginning of another, I must rest, await, and prepare for the return of the Sun and the seasons.

Open the gift you brought. If it is something for your altar or home, bless and dedicate it to its purposes. If it something to help you in the new year, think about each way that it should help you. This should help in two ways: it will put to good use the excess energy in the circle, and it will cause the gift to be more successful in serving you. You can now conclude the ritual.

May the new year bring happiness to all. I shall never forget the turning of the Wheel. Only then, in forgetfulness and neglect, will it ever fail me.

Close the circle. Serve yourself nuts, fruit cakes, and egg nog to lighten the spirits. Cookies can be made in the shapes of trees, stars, suns, and moon crescents. You can leave the miniature tree on the altar until Imbolc to remind you of the continuity of life and the Wheel of the Year. Also leave the Corn Dolly on the pillow to remind you of the sleeping Goddess. Decorate your house and tree with candles or, the more modern alternative, miniature light sets to help lure back the waxing sun.

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