Can you sense our human desire for warmth, light, companionship and safety when the days get darker? It’s a very natural thing to experience. During the winter days, we flock together, celebrate, eat, drink, reminisce and chant. Our joy brings light to these dark annual moments.
Then again, we’re often tempted to fill our days with too many social obligations.
You could’ve started your December month freshly rolling out of Thanksgiving. Here in The Netherlands, we start the last month of the year with Sinterklaas. This festivity is similar to Santa climbing through the chimney and surprising all the “good children” with presents. After which, we quickly move on to Christmas.
These days are generally spent amongst family and friends, accompanied by rituals that either focus on the birth of baby Jesus, Santa and his fairy friends, a visit by the Krampus, or non of the above.
When I hear people refer to festival stress, I wonder how we’ve warped the Yule invitation of turning our energy inward and tending to our inner flame to something so external and, sometimes, beyond what we personally desire.
So how can we do both? Spend these moments more balanced and with awareness while still being part of all the fun?
The end of the year demands us to level our inner light and tend to our life force.
This will prevent us from giving all our attention and energy away, so we don’t have to suffer from festival fatigue and can actually accomplish our New Year’s resolutions. 🙂
Here’s why …
The folkloric allegory of the Holly King and the Oak King, who personify winter and summer, depicts it perfectly.
Both Kings are in a constant battle over the seasonal cycles, light and dark, renewal and growth.
In spring, the Oak King reigns over nature, bringing fertility, light and growth. At his peak on Midsummer, he’s overpowered by the Holly King, who in turn gains his full power by the autumn equinox and reigns over nature by Midwinter. The days are short, the ground is cold, and all potential has retracted into the Earth.
But it’s on Midwinter the Oak King is born again. Now it’s he who takes over the throne, and come spring, we witness the promise of his fortitude. At the peak of the Oak King’s reign, the perpetual battle between the Kings starts again.
By creating your own Yule ritual of course! The winter solstice, Yule, introduces Yuletide. Yuletide starts on the shortest day of the year and lasts until the 1st of January. During this time, the birth of the Oak King is celebrated.
Remembering that we’re just at the cusp of the promise of light returning is key. Due to the Earth’s axis, we still have to battle through some dark mornings. Even after the winter solstice, the mornings are still getting longer. It’s essential to balance the external and internal qualities of life.
This doesn’t mean that Yuletide is celebrated in silence. By any means, Yule traditionally is a lavish, very celebratory and social festivity.
It’s a beautiful way of celebrating transformation and the new Light Year ahead.
Ask yourself: What do I leave behind? As if you’ve been shedding skin in the ever-prevailing darkness that entered life after the summer solstice.
But even more so, what do I want to focus upon? It is as if the promise of light returning can enlarge that energy and focal point. See how your New Year’s resolution ties into this preparatory period?
I love to celebrate this time of awareness by burning a Yule Log.
Since I don’t have a fireplace to light my oak log, I anoint a candle that can burn for at least 288 hours (12 days) as my Yule Log substitute.
Oak is traditionally used during this festivity, representing longevity, strength, fertility, wisdom and, of course, the Oak King. So I make sure to add some oak leaves and acorns to my altar.
This whole ritual is about creating moments of gratitude for what has already come to pass. When doing this, visualise that your feelings of gratitude emit an energy of light which you send out into the new year.
It’s like creating a spell of attraction, drawing in all the things that make you feel even more appreciative. And who doesn’t want to experience more of the things they love?
What you need:
- oak log or a candle (or multiple if you want to weave this spell for 12 days)
- fireplace or altar with representations of the Oak King
- herbs and/or oils (e.g., lavender, basil, bergamot, sage, rosewood, myrrh, frankincense, vetiver, vanilla)
- feeling moments of gratitude
Sit with your log (be it wood or wax), pen and paper, and find feeling moments of gratitude. I like to divide these in no particular order:
- peak accomplishments
- forgiveness received & given
- opportunities seized
Know that you can tweak or add this list however you desire.
Write down at least one memory you genuinely feel residing in the body for each area. Afterwards, find corresponding oils and/or herbs. One for each life area. Use your intuition. When in doubt, you’ll easily find information about the qualities of herbs and oils online.
Rub the oils on the wax or log whilst feeling gratitude. If you’re working with herbs only, use a bit of base oil (such as olive or almond) to anoint your candle, so the spices stick to your candle’s surface.
Don’t use cinnamon or any other inflammatory ingredients. If you insist on applying them, place them on your altar or use them with caution when burning your log.
If you want to decorate the wax or wood with a knife, go ahead – be creative, but please take good care of your fingers 🙂
This year I am using two candles, which are needed to cover the whole Yuletide. Therefore it’s easy to prepare one candle first, and as the moment of switching candles comes close, I’ll address the second one. But feel free to decorate all your wood or wax in one go.
Wishing you a merry time and all blessings be,
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Be careful if you decide to keep fire or flame burning. Safety first! My candles or placed very safely and in a layer of water. If in doubt, never leave a fire unattended. Snuff your candle (instead of blowing it out).