Yule this year fell on the 21st December and marks the Winter Solstice – the shortest day and longest night of the year. It was a nice sunny but cold day and I started my day early with a brisk walk to the small fields near our home. It’s a small pocket of nature within our town and a nice place to reflect on and experience life away from my computer and the daily grind. I also harvested a small conifer branch for my ritual and then returned home.
My ritual this year was slightly different than my usual Yule one. I normally don’t have much private time on Yule as I tend to do the ritual later in the day and my partner and housemate are home. I always keep my rituals private so they often end up rushed and with the door closed. This year both my partner and housemate were in work until the afternoon so I had all morning to perform the ritual.
I had roughly jotted down my ritual plan a few days prior and hadn’t really realised that I’d been so influenced by Shinto until I had gone out to collect the evergreen branch. I was planning to use the branch as an offering to the God and a temporary vessel for him to reside in for the ritual. This seems to be a theme in my worship; with Bast I pray that she will use the statue I have of her cat form as a vessel, with Inari-Okami the ofuda is used and with Ryujin-sama I have a goshintai. I also have a goshintai I will bless and offer to Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto on the new year.
All these objects have a similar theme – they act as a temporary vessel in which a deity can reside so that I can worship them. Of course they are not essential but I feel it is a great sign of respect, like offering a guest a seat instead of asking them to stand.
I had originally planned to bake some biscuits or a cake to use as an offering but due to health issues the past week I wasn’t able to. Instead I offered some digestive biscuits, coffee, candles and incense. I also lit Loki’s candle as he is associated with this time of year and he seems to enjoy all the festivities.
This ritual very much represented the act of recycling – I didn’t purchase new candles or an altar cloth. Instead I used old candles that had been in my drawer, I used wrapping paper as a ‘cloth’ and I used tinsel as a decoration. Although I feel it’s nice to have new things for the altar I’ve been struggling financially and so I did my best. And of course the deities do not judge and do not mind. It’s our intent that matters the most.
I read out the prayers that I had written and took some time to reflect on the returning sun. I meditated and saw the God in the form of Cernunnos in a lush green field, playing music under a high burning sun. This comforted me greatly as seasonal depression is something that affects me greatly. Knowing that the winter will soon recede and give way to spring is a great inspiration.
Connecting with the God
During the ritual I discovered something interesting – that I really struggled to address and connect with the masculine energy that I was worshipping. I’ve never had a problem with feminine (Bast, Ceridwen) or even androgynous (Inari, Loki) energies but when it came to connecting with the God (in this case, Cernunnos), I felt intimidated. It was as if it was speaking another language and I was struggling to understand.
This doesn’t worry me too much. For a while I experienced androphobia thanks to something that happened to me when I was a teenager and it’s only in recent years through therapy and exposure that I’ve come to deal with it better. It may also be because I am trans – masculine energy is sometimes very overwhelming to me and I’ve always seen it as something that I have to force myself to be in order to be valid as a transman. I merely accepted this and continued the ritual, making a note to communicate with the masculine deities more in the future.
After my ritual I did a tarot reading for the new year which suggested through The Emperor that I really do need to connect with masculine energy more. Life is all about balance after all and it’s important in my practice. So I made a pledge that I will focus on this in 2019 and thanked the deities for this important insight.
It makes sense to me honestly. I spend so much time connecting with the feminine and with androgyny that much of my practice is inner development in the shadows, centered around the moon and the unseen. I barely spend time on sun worship or stepping into the light. So this new year will be the time for that and I am grateful for this nudge in that direction.
Do you celebrate Yule? What are your practices like?
Thanks for reading and I would love to hear your comments on this. Blessed Yule everyone!