12-21-12 Winter Solstice Rituals

SOLSTICE BLESSINGS!!
I hope that everyone’s day is blessed!
For today’s intention I am going to offer a few small rituals. These are possibilities and it’s ok if you
can not or do not have access to the materials! The act of feeling joy and sending out love and light into
the universe is ritual enough!
Yule

(December 21)
Yule is celebrated at the winter Solstice, and the precise date is governed by the astronomical forces of
the universe, but it’s typically around December 21st or 22nd. This the time of the longest night of the
year, and shortest day. From this day onward, the days will start getting longer. So we celebrate the
return of light and warmth of the Sun.
Along a more mythological story-line, the God is reborn at Yule after sacrificing himself at Samhain’s
harvest. The Goddess has mourned him through the dark months of November and December, and now rejoices
at his return. She is seen in her virgin, Maiden aspect at this time of year.

This idea of rebirth, is how Yule got tied in with the Christian story of the birth of Jesus. Though the
holiday has become heavily Christianized, most of the traditions are based on older, Pagan beliefs.

How To Hold a Family Yule Log Ceremony- posted by Shay Hetherington

If your family enjoys ritual, you can welcome back the sun at Yule with this simple winter ceremony.
The first thing you’ll need is a Yule Log. If you make it a week or two in advance, you can enjoy it
as a centerpiece prior to burning it in the ceremony. You’ll also need a fire, so if you can do this
ritual outside, that’s even better. As the Yule Log burns, all members of the family should surround
it, forming a circle.

Difficulty: Average
Time Required: Varied

What You Need
• A Yule Log
• Family and friends to share the ceremony

… Here’s How:
1. If you normally cast a circle, do so at this time.
This first section is for the adults – if there is more than one grownup,
they can take turns saying the lines, or say them together:
The Wheel has turned once more, and
the earth has gone to sleep.
The leaves are gone, the crops have returned to the ground.
On this darkest of nights, we celebrate the light.
Tomorrow, the sun will return,
its journey continuing as it always does.
Welcome back, warmth.
Welcome back, light.
Welcome back, life.
2. The entire group now moves deosil – clockwise, or sun wise – around the fire.
When each member has returned to his or her original position, it is time for
the children to add their part. This section can be divided amongst the children,
so that each gets a chance to speak.
Shadows go away, darkness is no more,
as the light of the sun comes back to us.
Warm the earth.
Warm the ground.
Warm the sky.
Warm our hearts.
Welcome back, sun.
3. Finally, each member of the group should take a moment to tell the others one thing
that they are thankful for about their family – things like “I am happy that Mom cooks
us such wonderful food,” or “I’m proud of Alex because he helps people who need it.”
When everyone has had a chance to speak, walk sunwise once more around the fire, and
end the rite. If possible, save a bit of this year’s Yule log to add to the fire for
next year’s ceremony.

How To Hold a Goddess Ritual for Yule – Solitary Rite

Yule is the time of the Winter Solstice, and for some Wiccans, it’s a time to say goodbye
to the old, and welcome the new. As the sun returns to the earth, life begins once more.
This ritual can be performed by a solitary practitioner, either male or female. It’s also
easily adaptable to a small group of people.

Difficulty: Average
… Time Required: Varied
Here’s How:

Perform this ritual on the evening of the Winter Solstice. If you normally wear a ritual
robe or ceremonial gown, do so — and feel free to embellish for the season! Consider a
crown of holly, a special Yule-themed robe, or adding holiday bling to your existing robe.
Sparkly is good! Decorate your altar with a Yule log or tree (although obviously the tree
might have to go on the floor, rather than the altar itself), lots of seasonal symbolism,
and candles — after all, Yule is a celebration of light.

You’ll also want to have some holiday incense on your altar. Frankincense, cinnamon, myrrh —
all are appropriate to the season; don’t light it just yet, though. Finally, have two candles
in seasonal colors.

If you normally cast a circle, do so now.

To begin the ritual, sit on the floor near your altar — don’t light the candles just yet.
Take a few moments to remember what it was like for our ancestors at this time of year.
The harvest had been brought in, and they knew that in a few months, their stockpiles of
food would be running low. It was the season of Death, the time when the earth went dormant
once more, sleeping until the spring returned. Our ancestors knew that despite the darkness
of this night, soon the light would return to the earth, bringing with it life. This night,
the Winter Solstice, welcomes back the Sun, the ultimate giver of light.

Light the first candle, and say:

Tonight is the night of the Solstice,
the longest night of the year.
As the Wheel turns once more, I know that
tomorrow, the Sun will begin its journey back to us.
With it, new life will begin,
a blessing from Earth to her children.

Light the second candle, and say:

It is the season of the winter goddess.
Tonight I celebrate the festival of the winter solstice,
the rebirth of the Sun, and the return of light to the Earth.
As the Wheel of the Year turns once more,
I honor the eternal cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth.

Light the remaining candles on the altar at this time, and if you have decorative holiday lighting,
turn it on. Return to your place at the altar, and face the holiday tree or Yule log. Raise your arms
up to the tree, and say:

Today I honor the god of the forest,
the King of nature, who rules the season.
I give my thanks to the beautiful goddess,
whose blessings bring new life to the earth.
This gift I offer you tonight,
sending my prayers to you upon the air.

Light your incense, and if you’d like to make an offering of food, bread, or something else, do so now.
As the smoke of the incense rises to the night sky, meditate on what changes you’d like to see before
the next Sabbat. Reflect upon the time of the season. Although winter is here, life lies dormant beneath
the soil. What new things will you bring to fruition for yourself when the planting season returns?
How will you change yourself, and maintain your spirit throughout the cold months? When you are ready,
either end the rite, or continue on with additional rituals, such as Cakes and Ale or Drawing Down the Moon.

Tips:

If you don’t have a ritual robe, you can take a cleansing bath before the rite, and then wear a simple
cotton or other organic material. Another option would be to make a robe as a Yule gift to yourself!
What You Need

A pair of seasonally-colored candles
Incense in a Yule-themed scent
Candles, lights, and sparkly things as you like!

________________________________________________________________________
For Litha (people in the southern Hemisphere)
Midsummer

(June 21)
Midsummer, Summer Solstice, June 20-23, dependent on actual astronomical event) Held on the longest day of the year, the Solstice is the celebration of light’s triumph over darkness and that of the bountiful beauty that light brings into life. Flowers are common in the circle, roses and bright cheerful wildflower are upon the altar and usually worn by all. It is the changing point of the year, and the celebration of the spiral dance of the year is common among Wiccans. It a celebration with much joy, and much feasting. Many Wiccans will attire themselves in bright colors and equally bright adornments of flowers. Litha’s usual food fare may include honeycakes or cornbread. Litha is not celebrated by all sects nor in the same way. In the past, bonfires were leapt to encourage fertility, purification, health and love. Midsummer is a classic time for magick of all kinds.
Litha is the Summer Solstice, also known as Mid-Summer. This day is the direct counterpoint of the darkness of Yule. (Which is in my part of the world, the Northern Hemisphere) Marking the longest day of the year. From this point the days now begin to grow shorter. This is the traditional time for Witches to harvest their magical herbs because the magical powers are at there strongest on this day. Gardens are now blooming, and summer is in full swing! Get outside with the children, if you have, and play!

This is the time to be outside, mixing with the flowers and greenery around you. Letting the energies of the earth flow into you. Light fires to honor the Sun, and the God aspect of it. If you are able, jump threw the flames will purify and rejuvenate your energies. I also will do this with my magic items. This is also a good time to do any type of magical work, especially love or healing energy.

This is the time the fairies come out and play…On this night it is believed that Fairy magic and the power of the God and Goddess is at it’s most powerful, and also the night the fay come out and dance among the flowers and grass and such. Enjoying the beauty and color of flowers and fruits as they wish you would do to. They dance upon them to celebrate and empower the new life that has grown around them, and you.

Stones good for this time of year are as follows:

Amber, Amethyst, Aquamarine, Bloodstone, Quartz, pearl, Onyx, Opal, Salt, Sapphire, Sunstone, and Turquoise…to name a few

Fruits wines, and ciders are good drinks for Litha, as well as fresh fruit (especially if you grew it).

Colors for Litha are green, white, blue, and yellows

Crystals are also a good thing to add to your Alter and seen as offerings as they are part of the earth. Crystals you can use are Malachite, Lapis, Sodalite, and Citrine. You can also include symbols of Litha. A picture of the sun or fire, also oak leaves (as they are the gods tree) or lavender and mistletoe.
Here is a chant you can say as you go about your day…simply thanking the god and goddess for being there, and all that you have been given…

Each day that comes, my strength does grow
Oh Lord and Lady I’ve come to know
You haer my prayers and answer me
Your love and bounty sets me free
This Litha day your power and grace
They purify and bless this place
Accept these gifts I leave for you
My love, as ever, always true…

Our ritual for Litha!
What you will need:

Seasonal flowers and items to decorate your altar
The means to create a small fire. A fire pit outside will work wonderfully, but an indoor fireplace is also fine. If you cannot build a fire, use some candles (red or gold are best).
Some herbs representative of happiness; lavender and vervian are traditional
A small square of fabric and a ribbon; natural materials are best
A bowl or plate of seasonal fruits or other foods and a glass of fruit juice, red wine, or some other appropriate drink
An offering bowl (only needed if you are not working outside and/or if you cannot build a fire)

Decorate your altar or working space with summery items. Seasonal flowers and fruits are especially good. Cast your circle and mark it out by walking clockwise around it and laying flowers around its perimeter. Build the fire or light the candles and speak the following words:

At this time of life and joy when summer’s reached its height
I honor the season and the sun with these flames burning bright
And as the year begins to wane, I’ll keep with me this light
To fill my heart and warm me when the day turns on to night

Feel the warmth of the flames and imagine their light filling you. Sit by the fire (or candles) and place the herbs in the center of the square of fabric. Fold the fabric up around the herbs and tie it off to make a pouch. Push all your troubles, pains, sorrows, etc., into the pouch. Throw it into the fire if you’ve built one. If you are using candles, place it on your altar for now.

Walk clockwise around your fire or circle, if your fire is not in the center, simply walk clockwise around your circle and say the following words:

Turn, turn, turn, turn, the Litha fire is burning
Walk the circle, chant the song, the year’s great wheel is turning

As you walk and chant, reflect on the year — now that it is halfway through, what have you learned? What has come to pass? What is yet to come? Picture a great wheel turning, a representation of the steady passage of time. Continue this active meditation for as long as you like. When you are ready to stop, sit by your altar again and place the food, drink, and offering bowl (if needed) in front of you. Speak a small and personal expression of gratitude for all that the Earth has provided and for the food and drink before you. Throw a bit of the food into the fire and pour some of the drink onto the ground (or put them into an offering bowl if you are not outside and/or you do not have a fire).

Close your circle and end your ritual, putting out the fire or candles last. Go outside and bury the offerings if needed. If your ritual used candles and you did not burn the herb pouch, keep it on your altar until you can throw it into a fire. If you cannot, you can bury the pouch.

this is the long night.
this is the dark night.
this is the cold night.
this is the night of last hope.
this is the night of the little spark.
… this is the night of turning from darkness.
this is the night of turning toward light.
this is the night of wonder.
the long night is here:
come to us, you spirits;
together let us fill the long night with light,
calling all beings to warm themselves at our fires.
-ceisiwr serith, book of pagan prayer.

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