Winter has well and truly made an entrance. For the first time since last year, I awoke to the frosty white layer blanketing the roofs, cars and trees around me. As I made my way across the grass, I took a moment to enjoy the crunch of the frozen ground under my feet and ponder over the icy tracks I have made. It is cold, I am pretty sure that my nose is beginning to glow red but I absolutely love this time of year. Everything, I mean everything, looks slightly prettier when adorned with its frozen frosting and it all nature just seems a little more fragile. Soon the sun will rise above the roofs and melt away any evidence that it was this cold, my frozen footprints will disappear along with the feeling of stillness that this winter scene brings.
As a Witch, I try to appreciate the everyday magic in nature and when my morning starts as like I described above, I’ve witnessed something special. All just feels calm, almost like you awoke before the world was ready for you and she hasn’t quite prepared herself yet. As we move into December, these early morning treats brighten my tired eyes and as nature wakes, so do I. But it’s during this chilly month of December I look forward to the upcoming Winter Soltices. From the 1st of this month, I can embrace the warm, jolly season in all its glory and prepare for the upcoming festivities which climax at Yule on the 21st December. Yule is the Winter Solstice; it is the shortest day and longest night of the year. Here we say goodbye to the Holly King, we welcome the returning of the sun and The Oak King.
There are many ways in which I will mark this season, variest evergreens will be brought into the home for decoration. These are a reminder that during these dark times, life will come again. Holly, Ivy, Pine and Mistletoe are traditional often placed on the mantlepiece or made into wreaths to be hung on doors. Pine is, of course, better known as a Christmas trees and seems to be a staple of every household. I pride myself on using vintage decorations, some passed down to me by my family and others brought from charity shops. They remind me of Christmas’ that have passed, and loved ones who may no longer present to celebrate with us. There are many different stories of how the tradition of the Christmas tree came around but my favourite is that the tree was brought into the warm home to welcome the wood spirits into the house for the winter. This just seems to completely encapsulate the feeling of this magical time of year. Mistletoe and Holly are both plants of protection, but care must be taken when harvesting Mistletoe as if it touches the ground all magic is lost. It is also believed that Mistletoe harvested from an Oak tree may be more potent in its magic. Kissing under this magical plant is said to bring fertility and luck. However, if you are refused this small pleasure it may be a sign you will be single in for the upcoming year.
Yule is also known as a fire festival and of course, I could not write a blog without mentioning the Yule Log. Traditionally this is a large piece of Oak which is set alight in the hearth of the home using a piece of wood saved from previous years log. It must burn until it is deliberately extinguished, the length of time is up to you but it must never be left to burn out by itself as this can bring bad luck your way. Once put out and cooled, the ashes can be used for a number of different things but my choice will be to make Black Salt. Also, do not forget to keep a small bit too light next years Yule Log, a fantastic tradition for all the family to enjoy.
There are so many different ways in which to celebrate, most families will have their own traditions which they probably have done throughout their whole life’s, keeping it going throughout the generations. Now that it magic! However, you choose to celebrate I do wish you a wonderful time and hope that beneath all the festivities you pay a small thought to the Winter Solstice. I hope you look forward to the upcoming year and all it has to offer.