Ritual, Tarot, Wheel of the Year

Yule, the Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice Yule

December 19th-21st (northern hemisphere)

The next winter solstice is Wednesday, December 21, 2022

The Winter Solstice marks the longest night of the year and celebrates the rebirth of the sun. The earth is well into her slumber and cloaked in snow. Diamond dust drifts in the sky and glitters in what little streams of light the clouds allow. The waters have transformed to ice. The Winter Crone’s presence can be felt when walking the serpentine path under the baren bones of branches.

The Goddess Holda

All over the world people are celebrating the return of the Sun. If you search hard enough you may see our modern winter time holidays reflected in ancient festivals and myths. The Goddess Holda was both a light and dark Goddess. She was either the white veiled maiden or the grey crone with wild hair. In the form of the dark Goddess she brought fog and snow. Holda was the protectress of children and at solstice she rewarded good children with gifts. Naughty children were transformed into fairy changlings. Offerings of food were placed to her on rooftops during yuletide.

The Evergreen Tree at Yule

The female reindeer keeps her horns well past Winter Solstice, but the male reindeer sheds his horns in Autumn. The Deer Mother held the life giving sun in her horns and on the longest night of the year, she flew across the sky. Many cultures told myths and stories about a winter Goddess who labored through the night to birth the sun God/dess. Sometimes riding in a sleigh to return the strength of the sun to the land. Yule Eve was “Mother’s Night” to honor the female deities, ancestors, the Disír, mothers and pregnant women. Bringing a tree inside was to keep the wood spirits warm during the coldest months. The trees were decorated with sun symbols and fruits. The evergreen was a symbol of life.

Winter Solstice Rituals

To celebrate the Winter Solstice I have a few simple rituals I like to partake in.

On Mother’s Night I like to slide a ring from each of my passed on grandmothers on to a small deer shed that sits on my altar. I give thanks for these women. I think about the beautiful understanding that I am connected in an unbroken chain to all of the women of that direct line.

“It is often said that the first sound we hear in the womb is our mother’s heartbeat. Actually, the first sound to to vibrate our newly developed hearing is the pulse of our mother’s blood through her veins and arteries. We vibrate to that primordial rhythm even before we have ears to hear. Before we were conceived, we existed in part as an egg in our mothers ovary. All the eggs a woman will ever carry, form in her ovaries while she is a four month old fetus in the womb of her mother. This means our cellular life as an egg begins in the womb of our grandmother. Each of us spent 5 months in our grandmother’s womb and she in turn formed within the womb of her grandmother. We vibrate to the rhythm of our mother’s blood before she herself is born and this pulse in the thread of blood that runs all the way back through the grandmother’s to the first mother. We all share the blood of the first mother, we are truly children of one blood.”

-Layne Redmond from When The Drummers Were Women

I think about my paternal grandmother’s spirit, and the words I wrote for her funeral. This is not a sad moment for me. It makes me happy to honor and connect with these women.

Yule Gifts, Altars, and Legends

On the solstice my family will go outside for a walk through the woods in the dark or bring gifts of food for the animals. My daughter opens one Solstice gift. And we talk about the return of the sun and I will share stories with her of Sun Goddesses, deer mothers and snow hags.

My daughter loves to help me decorate my winter altar. We gather and arrange evergreen boughs, golden and silver candles, sun stone and amber, a bowl of snow, dried cedar and cinnamon sticks anything that feels festive! On the solstice during a quiet moment I lay some cards.

Yule Ritual and Tarot Spread

Winter Solstice Tarot Spread

  1. What do you have to give?
  2. What gifts do you need to receive?
  3. What can you learn from the darkness?
  4. Where is the light being rebirthed in my life?
  5. What should I celebrate?
woman with rings on her fingers and thumbs holding a white crystal in winter
Winter Crystal photo by Trista Gunnarson (c) 2018

About the Wheel of The Year

Wheel of the Year pagan watercolor (c) 2018 TianaThe wheel of the year is a round of festivals that celebrate the cyclical nature of the Earth. The wheel of the year integrates festivals from many ancient cultures. Living your life in accordance with the seasons and rhythms of nature will help bring you into balance and leave you feeling in tune with your non linear, cyclical self. Learn about all the other festivals on the wheel of the year in the Learning Center.

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  • Tiana

    Tiana writes about a wide range of esoteric practices, including earth-based spirituality, ritual and tarot.

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