For my final journal entry on Yule… It’s going to be a bit different. Less clinical, less step by step. Let’s just talk. Pull up a chair.
For my final journal entry on Yule… It’s going to be a bit different. Less clinical, less step by step. Let’s just talk. Pull up a chair.
There are only three nights of Yule remaining. Nine candles dance at the front of the altar, casting bright lights to dance off the icons of this home’s Patronesses. While the dead and the breath of nature are all integral to the health and power of every Druid, our relationship with the Gods is one of the most if not the most special bond we hold in our practice. This ninth night of Yule is dedicated to honoring the Goddesses of our home and thanking them for the great words and deeds they have exchanged with us this year.
The intimacy of this bond led me to a ritual slightly different than the previous nights. The candles were lit and I just read to them in turn, from an earlier prepared script, detailing my sincere emotions about knowing each of them…
Artio. You were the first to call to me. You came through the hands of a dear friend and have been beside me ever since. You have been a fast friend, a kind mother, and a fierce guide. I’ve felt your heart, heard your voice, the warm trickle of blood rent from your savage claws. My love for you is so deep and should our paths ever part, I’ll forever carry your blood within me.
Nantosuelta, Lady of the stream, friend of Raven and Hive. Where a bear may feast, a raven may crow. I was led to you on my journey, following a trail of black feathers, mischievous song, and bird houses…. So many bird houses. You have been a welcome ally in our home, ensuring a purity of being and lending the aid of your flock to guide visitations between the realms.
Nehalennia. You are the latest to sit at our altar. Our meeting was long overdue, the ocean a forest long ignored by my fool, longing heart. When I felt the courage to pour my heart out at you, to surrender myself to the beauty over which you survey, your voice finally came to me. And it echoed again and again, louder and louder. I could have never assumed that your guiding light might find its way to the heart of our home altar, but here we are. I thank you for your protection in all my travels and treasure our moments together where the sea strikes the sand.
Also too I would give honor to Sucellus and Belenus. You both have been kind to us this year and hope to know you better in the coming days. Too, love goes to the many Gods and Goddesses we honored in this year’s Grove rights.
We have arrived on the eighth night and on this night we sing the praises of the robust Evergreen. In the east and west both, the mighty Evergreen stand in summer lights and in the darkest and longest nights. A boon to animal and man in the cold winter, these robust Evergreen are a mighty symbol of immortality and renewal.
On this day we honor the great spirit of the Evergreen, which will stand forever between the waters and the stars, a great spirit of health and well-being in this dark time of the year.
We light the lantern, touching eight candles of Yule with the sacred flame.
Evergreen, we honor you on this eighth night of Yule!
With perseverance you grow, in the face of overwhelming obstacles,
in circumstances that make you stronger,
you transcend the odds, rising in strength,
renewing after every dark night.
Teach us, by your everlasting presence,
to persevere through dark and cold,
to wait and weather the most furious storms,
to bloom ever-green and shining no matter the gloom of the sky.
Your power to harm and to heal are balanced within.
Teach us to balance within ourselves,
for our greater good and for the good of our tribes.
Evergreen, shining tree of wisdom and strength,
Accept our offering!
An offering of cool, clean water is given.
The days grow longer, the nights grow shorter. Winter is still very much upon us but as we dance and celebrate the return of the Sun to the skies, so does the Goddess of Winter, for His light melts her beautiful snow and ice, returning the water to the cold where She reigns, coloring the mountaintops with sparkling white that he might, again, cast his light upon in their dance… All while the Earthmother slumbers in the cold.
On this night we honor the hag of white, Callieach Bheara, who strikes the earth to ice with her ancient staff. She who is most ancient. She who cavorts playfully upon the peaks even here, where the ocean resists her hoary touch, where the warmth of spring rules near endlessly even on the longest nights. Still, even though this place is not blanketed by your ice and snow, we still honor and respect your time of the year and we still feel your frigid winds on late nights and early mornings.
The lantern is lit and seven candles of Yule are kissed by the holy flame.
White maiden, hag of many faces,
Callieach, we honor you.
You of ice and snow,
you, herald of Winter and mistress of the cold!
We honor you with wine and with praise.
With your icy breath and your frigid stave
you breathe white blankets over far fields,
blow cold wind down from the mountain’s peak,
storing the waters of the land as we wait for the return of Spring.
Starry skies reflect your light,
from tundra fields of sleeping earth,
keeping watch over all the land,
who sleeps beneath a quilt of snow.
Winter Goddess, we honor you.
Winter Goddess, accept our offerings!
An offering of wine is poured. (My hand slipped a bit during my giving so She got a little extra. Also I made a mess.)
Tonight, when the fifth light is lit, we honor the spirits of the home. While we, man and animal both, inhabit this place we call home other spirits are just as alive within these four walls. The Housewights, the spirits of this place, are with us always, have been with others, and will be with those who set here when we should depart. They protect, bear ancient wisdom, and sometimes engage in a little light mischief. To honor the spirits of our home, whom we find often very joyous and playful, I prepared a humorous little poem just for them.
As always, the flame is lit, and the Yule candles brought to life in turn.
On this night the fifth candle is lit and we pay honor to you, kin of our home,
those beings who share this space with us, neighbors and friends all.
We honor you.
We have spent many years under this roof together.
You have heard our joys and triumphs.
You have witnessed our sorrows and pains.
You have heard our laughter and anger and prayers.
You have secreted away treasures in the dark, and left mischief.
You, dear house-kin, are family.
I have prepared a poem of mirth to share with you, in the spirit of the mischief and joy you bring to us.
The offering is given in a space set aside for them.
Tonight we honor you for the important place you hold in the home.
We share that you may know our heart’s fullness and that it might be worthy to fill this space in which you have long resided.
House-kin, accept our offerings.
On this evening where three Yule lights dance we give thanks to our kin in nature. They are our allies in the middle world, neighbors of inspiration and harmony, integral to the life that roams, flies, swims, and burrows in the Earthmother’s embrace.
The lantern is lit, the beacon flame shared with the first three Yule candles.
On this, the third day of Yule, we honor the creatures of the land,
those who share our space in the middle realm in peace and harmony.
You who are our friends and neighbors,
spirits of this place all, we honor you.
A plate of meat is placed upon the altar.
As these offerings rest in the glow of these flames, seated upon this sacred space,
may the blessings we have given through this holy work flow into this plate,
so you might share in our blessings together.
Nature-Kin, accept our offerings!
The plate is then taken outside, the offerings delivered to a dedicated space, the Nature-Kin told aloud that the gifts are for them.
We stand again, friends. The second flame rises with Belenus, with the Sun. He left us to journey through the below and rose again this morning, pulling a great quilt of rain behind him over the land. Today is not only a holy day of great joy, celebrating the return of the Sun to the sky, but it is also a night to honor family. Family takes many forms, particularly today. Family is blood and spirit, near and far.
Tonight’s ritual is devoted to all those relationships of special meaning to our hearts and lives. As the light of the fires grows on our altar we honor those who make our world shine by sharing it with us.
The lantern is lit, the flame shared to the first two candles of Yule.
On this, the second night of Yule we honor those people whom we call family.
Our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers,
our aunts and uncles and cousins,
our life partners and our children.
Whether by blood and bone or by heart and hand,
we honor those whom we call our tribe.
We call to the Earthmother that she may provide for them, to ensure they never know hunger.
An offering of corn meal is given.
We call to the Skyfather that he may shine upon their path, that they may know wisdom and direction.
Oil is censed for offering.
We call out to the Gods and Goddesses, that they know safety, security, and be made whole and holy, healed swiftly from all ails.
An offering of wine is made.
Kindreds all, accept our offerings!
This morning I woke up far, far too early. One one hand it was pretty necessary for me to witness the sunrise for my first observed Winter Solstice, but it was also necessary because I had to leave for work. It was one of those blessed moments of synchronicity coupled with a level of exhaustion just right enough to let the magic flow in and out.
As I have done for each day of Yule thus far I spent time on my commute for prayer, thought, and love and shared my sentiments as such with my internet friends and family:
“We’ve survived the long night without being devoured by wolves, the light of the sky is kindled once more, and we shake the coat of snow from our bodies as we stand again in the Earthmother’s embrace.
As we light the second flame of Yule we honor family. In this time of instant international correspondence many of us find our families more full than ever before. Family inspires and supports, embraces and throws, shouts and soothes. Family makes us whole. Life is ever so much more powerful when tied to many others.
Those I call family are nearly too many to name, but I wish to honor you all on this holy occasion.
Linda Watson-Jacobs and her husband, Mark.
My life-mate Tristan and those that brought him to the world, Debbie Gehman and Dave. Jay and Teo and their branches too.
Raymond Benninger and Michael for always being there for me.
John and David Jr Warriner and their circle for so many laughs and support.
Laura Bertrand and her husband and son, a family I thought I’d never have in my adult years.
Of course all of my family at work in all lands and lines of businesses, whom I truly feel priveliged to know.
Blessings be too to my MMO families through the year. To Sword and Quill, my friends with the Thundering Hammer, dear old friends of The Broomstick Gang and of course all the magical girls of Tiro Finale who adopted me as an honorary magical girl early in 2014 when I was broken and full of despair, in fear I might never walk again.
Last but not least Matthew Johnson who met me many moons ago under false pretenses and is stuck with me whether he likes it or not. (I still feel embarrassed about the whole Marr thing)
Family is a strange and powerful thing. A field of many seeds, trees begetting trees, plants blending and blooming all together, giving shade for one another. Be you bear or squirrel or deciduous giant we still share this home together and we’d be but a barren wasteland without each other.
Blessings be to my family and the families of our families on this bright and beautiful day of praise.”
On this evening, the longest night of the year, we say farewell to Belenus as he dives below the horizon once again, on His longest journey in the dark. As the light faded in the early evening I offered thanks and well wishes as he began his travel through the dark below, eager to again feel his light once more after a long-awaited sunrise.
The evening here in California was extremely nice. It was warm and calm, His warmth having settled upon us and tucked in with a blanket of clouds, though the night also felt eerily quiet and still.
This first night of Yule is also a time to honor the mothers, those who give birth and nurture and teach, those who give so much of themselves so light can be kindled further generation after generation. We give thanks to you, O mothers, on this long night.
The lantern is lit, the heart of the altar, the font of the Gods. From this flame I capture the heat for the first light of Yule.
On this, the first night of Yule, when the world prepares to wait out the longest night and seek the return of the sun, we pay honor to those who waited with us in our times of trouble and celebrated with us in our triumphs over adversity.
Tonight, we honor the Mothers of Old.
Mothers of our lines, Mothers of our Hearts,
Mothers of my Mother’s Mothers, we invite to our fire this day.
Those who celebrated our joys, those who despaired beside us in our trials and heartaches,
Those who toiled to keep us healthy and well, those who gave so that we might receive,
Mothers, we honor you.
We give to you this gift
An offering of wine is given. (what mom doesn’t love wine?)
That you may be filled with the nourishment with which you filled us
And the warmth brought to our lives every day.
Mothers, accept our offering.
Earlier in the day, as I knew my schedule would be complex and stressful (late night, early morning at work… Making room for Yule somewhere) I took time on my commute to sit and pray and honor the many mothers in my life today. What follows is a copy of the sentiments shared before the sunset today on Facebook.
“This evening, as we light the first light of Yule, we honor the mothers. Mothers that are, mothers that were, mothers yet to be, the very heart of birth and nurture. Be their names known, their faces set to memory, or no, tonight it is they who recieve gifts and blessings, as they gave unto us so that we might find joy and prosperity in this time we have between the stars and the waters.
Terri Jarvis brought me into this world, her first child, with such spirit and a warm heart, surrounded too by her mother and my grandmother, the honored and wise Janet Whitbeck, who guides us still from the waters deep below the earth.
Honor too goes to Karen Whitbeck, my mother’s sister, who had a hand in shaping my youth more than she likely knows.
Linda Watson-Jacobs you were a mother, a grandmother, a wise woman, a hearth-warmer. You absolutely did not need to take a second child into your home but when I needed shelter you provided. There are never enough thanks I can give for your work and support.
Laura Bertrand too, a dear old friend of many years, now herself a mother to a beautiful and terrifyingly smart young boy. Blessings and bounty be upon you, little bird.
Brightest blessings be upon the mothers of my heart as well… Raltia, Autumn, and Nyehba whom I miss dearly and pray her spirit is at peace.
Let me also honor with such love and gratitude the hard working hands of Grey Catsidhe, a mother who never ceases to make me smile.
Of course I would be heartbroken to not mention Lauren Neuman who has, indeed, been a mother to the great, warm tree that has sprouted from my heart this year. The one who introduced me to Druidry, the one who spoke with me hours upon hours, who listened as well as taught, who formed a circle of inspiration with me as my branches grew and we grew together.
To all these mothers of my blood, of my heart, or my spirit… To those named and unnamed. To the mothers of today and the mothers of old and the mothers of my mother’s mothers we honor you, we thank you, we give you these offerings so that you may feast and know sweetness and know kind words as you have provided for us.
To all the mothers, we love you. Thank you.”
I then realized, to my horror, I had forgotten one very important person…
“I suddenly realized after carefully crafting words of love for the many, many mother trees in my life that I forgot one of the largest evergreens in the glade.
Permit me a moment to honor Debbie Gehman, mother to two wonderful children, bearer of my life mate, wife to a caring husband, for without her I would likely be loveless, homeless, crippled, or worse.
Deb, you’ve been a powerful force of care in my life for so many years now and without you I fear I’d not be here today.
Please don’t disown me for somehow forgetting you.”
Happy Yule everyone! Many blessings and warm hugs to you all! It is on this day, the first night of Yule, when we greet the Winter Wanderer. They dance between worlds, even in these times when sunlight strains against the growing night, guiding guests to our flame.
Our home’s honored gatekeeper, Nantosuelta, receives offering and thanks this night for her jet-feathered companion flies beside her, perches atop her dovecote, and sings in the night. A beautiful and wise guide for those seeking passage, indeed.
Too, this night, we prepare the vessels for the flame that will slowly spread across the altar as each evening of this season greets us. I wanted to truly provide an adequately festive increase in offering and light for this very special time and as a result I find the altar increasingly more crowded than ever. A protective, sealing bowl has been brought to cat-proof more robust offerings overnight, that those coming to join our home may enjoy them without fear of mischief or harm. The twelve candles in addition to the center flame have also been added and blessed, prepared to light the way in coming nights.
On this night all the lights, all the tools brought here for Yule are gathered and blessed with clean water.
May you be made pure that our words and offerings be pure.
The candles and tools are censed with oils.
May you be made sacred so all passing through you are sacred.
May our words and offerings pass through you to attain the holy,
as blessings and gifts to the Kindreds.
So be it.
The lantern is lit, the vessel from which we shall light each of the twelve candles of Yule.
We begin by lighting the first flame of our Solstice rite,
and bless this space in preparation of the work to come.
On the eve of the Yuletide season we greet you, Winter Wanderer.
You who dares walk between the realms in this time of darkness,
when the spirits of all worlds move freely among us.
We humbly offer these gifts of wine and bread to nourish you on your travels,
and bid welcome to those whom you lead to our fire.
May the light of our fire shine bright for all who come in peace,
friends and kin all.
Winter Wanderer, may your travels bring blessings of prosperity and love
in every place you rest.
Winter Wanderer, accept our offerings!
It is with these words, these gifts, and this warm flame that the altar is set and this space is made whole and holy for this most beautiful of seasons. May all come together around the flames of Yule, hand in hand, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers and children all, to welcome the rise of the sun once more to the Earth Mother’s snow-laden, slumbering embrace.
Sidenote: I witnessed the sunrise and sunset both today. It was the first time I’ve seen both in a day in quite some time, if ever. It was something to behold. I pray it never leaves my heart.
It was not very long ago that I realized Christmas was very nearly upon us. Where in prior years I spent a good deal of time throughout October and November planning gifts to purchase and scrawling out my wish list to Santa, 2016 just sorta snuck up and hit me in the back of the head with the season. My 33rd birthday kind of came and went and then I was here. Sitting at my computer with a flute of wine, an Air Wick candle pumping some fireplace scent into the air, realizing full well that I would not make the usual Christmas deadlines.
Sickness and absence and bills all swirled together in a tempest which made buying presents for my family an impossibility. We came to an understanding on this as it seemed the axe swung both ways this year. We still wish to give gifts but it will likely be over several weeks, likely also after the traditional day of giving. This will also be the first year celebrating the season spiritually in our home as I prepare words and offerings for all the days that remain in this month. In a way this season feels emptier than before. There are no wrapped boxes to be seen, no tree erected, no lights strung around the rooms. Yet there is another fullness to be found. The cup is not half empty, nor is it half full. But there are two cups to be filled this year. We’re making room.
As well the altar grows ever more crowded. What was once merely a space for things has become a holy site for great workings to flow in and out of this home. It is certainly what one might call unorthodox, a simple length of marble countertop cut out of a cluttered urban home, but I made room for it. Too, today’s acquisition of a wreathe of branches and a decorative crop of berries, pushed in where it could rest.
I am up far too late in the evening recording these thoughts but I wanted to remember this moment… The eve of the eve of my first Yule as a practicing Druid, looking back on how my life has changed. The many times I felt I had no more room and had to cut parts of myself out to make room for new parts. The pain and anguish I felt. The late nights and early mornings crying with my husband, my mentor, and my friends. How can I do this? Can I truly walk with the Gods, the Earth Mother, the Spirits of this Earth? Am I worthy of their eye? Can I be the man I was and still be the man I am? Should I strive to be the man I imagine? All too many times I felt too full. Far too full to grow.
As the darkest days come upon us and the fiery beard of Belenus takes the stage to rise again I look at the flame dancing on that marble countertop, look at the ornaments and tools and wares and remember where they came from, how they feel, and how they speak. I look at the runes and the stones and the sticks and they feel like seven lifetimes have been lived in less than a year. The space, the time, the self… Somehow… Somehow… We found the room.
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