What is a solstice?
The Oak King & The Holly King
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.