Yule: Honoring The Winter Solstice

Yule: Honoring The Winter Solstice

What is a solstice?

When the Sun enters Capricorn on or around December 21st, it signals the seasonal Solstice. Solstices and equinoxes are calculated when the Sun reaches 0 degrees of the cardinal signs: Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn, signifying the turning of the wheel into each new season. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, the winter solstice is the shortest day of the year, where the dark presides over more of our waking hours. If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s the opposite — the Sun shines longer than any other day. 
The word “solstice” combines the Latin words sol (the Sun) and sistere (to stand still). Symbolically, this is a time of hush and pause, but also celebration. In the north, the Winter Solstice is a symbolic rebirth. It’s when the Sun has reached its lowest point — and from this day on, the light begins increasing again. In the south, the light has reached its glorious culmination. Both events are threshold moments and transitions to honor.
At Samhain, the Goddess followed the God into the Underworld and the Earth began its long winter slumber. As the Wheel turns to Yule, the Goddess is with child and gives birth to the tiny Oak King, God of the waxing Sun. The Old God or Holly King is defeated and returns to the Underworld to rest until Summer Solstice when he will again be reborn as Lord of the waning Sun.

The Oak King & The Holly King

A central myth for this time of year is of the fight between the Holly King and the Oak King. In Celtic mythology, both take turns ruling for half of the year, both fight for the favor and love of the Goddess and both surrender their life force for the well-being of the land. In truth, they are one.

This battle has a few different perspective based on traditions. From Wiccan and neo-pagan perspectives, the solar year is the result of a cyclic battle between the Holly King, the representation of darkness, and the Oak King, the representation of light. The Holly King is at the height of his power at the winter solstice, but it is also at this moment that the Oak King is reborn. He gains power, defeating the Holly King at the spring equinox, and comes to the height of his power at the summer solstice, when the Holly King is reborn again. The cycle repeats eternally through the Wheel of the Year.

They are seen as two sides of a whole –  birth and regeneration, and death and decay. It is not a battle between good and evil, but the harmony of life where birth and death are both integral parts. The Holly King is also seen as part of the inspiration for Santa Claus as he was depicted wearing a sprig of Holly.

The myth is a reminder that nothing lasts forever. Each one brings gifts that are needed – a time for growth, activity and blooming, a time for withdrawing, letting things pass and slowing down.


Like every festival in the wheel of the year, Yule/the winter solstice is a reminder to honor our connection to the natural world. It is a way we can celebrate the change in seasons without traditional holidays, gifts, or decorations. Instead, we can honor winter through rituals and self-care, looking specifically to our ancestors and heritage for inspiration.
Get outside and forage on the day of the solstice to connect with the earth and season. Forage pine cones, sticks, and evergreens to make your own crafts, ornaments, and decorations for your home and altar. Bringing in flowers and plants from outside stems from solstice traditions of recognizing life during the dead of winter. Since these were the plants that thrived during the winter months, they were brought in to decorate one’s home during the holidays.
Wake up early on the day of the winter solstice to watch the sunrise. Close your eyes, feel the sun’s warmth on your face. Observe how the sun lights up the world around you. Bring a journal and write down any thoughts that come to mind. When the sun peeks over the horizon, toast the sun with words such as these: “Sunshine of my soul, radiant and beloved star, I salute you. I welcome you. I thank you.”

Make/burn a yule log. You may even find one from foraging. Bring it home and decorate it with candles, ribbon, and spruce branches. You could use it as a centerpiece for your dinner table or on your altar. If you have a fireplace you may even burn it on the day of the solstice. Or burn it outside in a bonfire.
  • Because each type of wood is associated with various magical and spiritual properties, logs from different types of trees might be burned to get a variety of effects. Aspen is the wood of choice for spiritual understanding, while the mighty oak is symbolic of strength and wisdom. A family hoping for a year of prosperity might burn a log of pine, while a couple hoping to be blessed with fertility would drag a bough of birch to their hearth.

Create a solstice altar with items that bring you joy and peace, and surround it with candles. Light the candles as a symbol of the sun’s ability to give us both life and light.

Make a traditional winter feast with warming foods to eat the night of December 21. Have fun creating a meal that warms and nourishes the body while being surrounded by loved ones.

Make handmade orange pomander balls to honor the sun or the natural world.

    Step 1: Carve out lines of the orange skin using a peeler. Then, using a toothpick or skewer, begin to poke holes in your oranges following any pattern you like. (I like to make rune shapes with mine for extra protection around the home). Be sure to space your holes about 1/4-inch apart since the orange pomander balls will shrink as they dry.

    Step 2:  insert cloves into the holes.

    Step 3: dry or display your orange pomander balls. If you choose to display your pomander balls without preserving them, you’ll want to place them in the refrigerator at night to prolong their freshness.

    You can run wire through the balls to hang as ornaments, garland, or a wreath. Orange and clove pomander balls take only minutes to make, but they can last quite a long time when cared for properly.

    Make a Wishing Pinecone

    Write your wishes for the next year onto small pieces of paper. Roll them up towards you and stick into your pinecone. Seal the deal by dripping melted wax over it all. You can dust your pinecone with herbs, spices, oils that correspond to your wishes. Add natural twine to the top and hang on your tree or burn in your fire on the Winter Solstice to put your intentions in motion.

    Make one using our Yule Ritual Kit

    Bless your home with a cinnamon broom or wash your front door and sweep your doorstep. 

    Like all festivals, Yule is a portal: a sacred moment when we step from one energy into another, and when we are empowered to let go of the old and welcome in the new. That’s why it’s a powerful symbolic ritual to physically and energetically cleanse your entry. After all, your front door is always a point of power: it’s the point where the energy of the world at large becomes the unique energy that swirls around and defines your personal realm; and by extension, your life experience.

    Draw a winter solstice bath, adding citrus essential oils, or orange slices to symbolize the energy of the sun.

     Yule Correspondences

    Animals: Bear, Boar, Squirrel, Stag, Sow, Tiger

    Birds: Eagle, Kingfisher, Lapwing, Owl, Robin, Snow Goose, Wren

    Colours: Gold, Green, Red, Silver, White

    Goddesses: Aphrodite, Fortuna, Gaia, Hel, Holle, Ishtar, Isis

    Gods: Apollo, Attis, Balder, Dionysus, the Green Man, Lugh, Odin, Ra

    Herbs & Spices: Cinnamon, Clove, Pine, Nutmeg, Juniper, Cedar, Cardamom, Chestnut, Holly, Blessed Thistle, Chamomile, Ivy, Mistletoe, Rosemary, Sage

    Incense: Cedar, Frankincense, Juniper, Myrrh, Pine

    Metals: Gold, Silver

    Stones: Bloodstone, Clear Quartz, Diamond, Emerald, Garnet, Ruby, Onyx, Snowflake Obsidian

    Trees: Apple, Birch, Cedar, Chestnut, Fir, Holly, Juniper, Oak, Pine, Yew

    Zodiac: Capricorn, Sagittarius

    Spell workings of Yule: new beginnings, the future, balance, gratitude, release, peace, harmony, love, and increased happiness.


    Witching you a very merry solstice 🌟🕯❤️️

    Have you tried one of these Yule/Solstice celebration ideas? Or do you have favorite traditions or rituals of your own? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

    1 comment



    Love this! Will definitely be utilizing

    Love this! Will definitely be utilizing

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