Imagine you are living on the plains or the forest millennia or even half a millennia in the past. You and your family work hard year by year and day by day growing the crops and hunting the meat to sustain you and ourselves and those nearby in a communal setting. You know the land, the sun, the game, the wind, the moon. You in your body feel the comings and goings of the year. The dark and the light pull at your heart and your fiber. When the light fades, the darkness grows – it’s inevitable. So is the fear in your body that this year, perhaps the light isn’t coming back. So like your father and your father before him, you feel the urge to ask the Goddess, for of course mother Earth that provides the corn to sustain you is a Goddess, and her prince partner the God who has always blessed your hunt for help.
This is one of the many reasons why the people who are our ancestors saw fit to celebrate, honor and provide physical manifestation that has in turn created a pantheon of ritual that become directly related to the way we celebrate our holidays and the turning of the year.
Winter Solstice, or Yule, is upon us and it is the end time when the Dark falls to the Light, the God begins his triumphant rebirth in the sun on the land and we as people remember that the year is born again; that we have not been abandoned and we are grateful but also recognize the importance of the dark, for without the dark there would be no light.
OK, huge preamble to put in context my recent crafting project with my friends, teachers, students and families of Inner Circle Sanctuary last night. We had a public crafting night to make Yule Logs. BAM! Another reason to shop at Joann’s (Joann’s, for all of your Wicca crafting needs, and more!). I bought daddy’s first glue gun and a bunch of raffia.
Funny story, I had to go buy a log, because people, we aren’t making Bouche Noel’s (which would be another awesome get together, maybe there is a Kitchen Witch Esbat coming?). I was told to go to a feed and tack store, and there happens to be Jones Feed and Tack around the corner from my house. I was a little self-conscious asking the elder, gruff, weathered man in a sweat soaked bandana cutting firewood where I could locate a foot long, round log about the size to place in my hearth from which I would decorate with candles, raffia and burlap. I didn’t need to be; he looked me right in the eye and asked
“You are making a Yule Log aren’t you”?
I laughed and he went on to tell me at least three other folks had come in that week looking for the exact same thing. He did ask me what we did with them, so I shared a little of what I knew about traditionally what the log represented (hope for rebirth of the light). Funny thing was, he didn’t look oddly at me or anything, he nodded and said that he thought that sounded nice. I get it; he makes his living off the land and probably understands why I do what I do more than most.
Coming together where we do for most of our public nights and sabbat practices, we set up four long tables for the creation, and two for the food that we all love to bring. Wiccans eat ladies and gentlemen, and not just the fat of babies, we eat sometimes like it’s going out of style. And coffee; if you want to have a witch be your bestie, bring them a nonfat skinny vanilla latte or hell, just black as the night, and your crops are guaranteed to stand taller than your neighbors. But I digress, Yule logs…
I and Michael were in charge of drilling out the candle holes in these beasts, while of course Lady Ravenfeather stepped in to drill as well, awesome. One thing I can say, everybody in our group contributes. I was only drilling because I brought the drill, but any one of us regardless of age, gender or station always, ALWAYS steps up to help where needed, whether that is making sure the glue guns are loaded, the ribbon is ready, the soup is on or even the holes are drilled. It is a great community. But these logs, damn.
I believe that some of these logs were from the times our ancestors celebrated Yule, because they did not give up the hole easily. So drilling took place among the scents of pine and cedar and burning wood. Awesome stuff people.
The tables had every kind of crafting supply you can imagine, possibly purchased at Joann’s (for all of your Yule need, Joann’s!). Ribbon of green and red, burlap, holly, mistletoe, evergreen boughs, doves, handmade snowflakes, stars, twenty or so glue guns, bling, and pinecones; man, the pinecones!
As we planned out the Pinterest or Tumblr worthy logs in our heads, and gathered together the crafting supplies we would need the children played, the people ate, we laughed we talked of our friends and family. I have to tell you, this is one of my favorite things and separate from the self-confidence, the divine experience and the wisdom I gain within ICS, the feeling of community and friendship I feel with my peers is awesome. I was raised a little bit as a loner, so it has taken me a little bit to feel “part-of” this community as it is. I am sure I share that with some of my peers, but this also is divine in the metaphoric and literal meaning. We create magic by being together, I truly believe it.
Again, as we glued, trimmed and blinged out our logs, our elders shared the traditions of what the log represents, the reasons we use certain colors and what we should be doing with our log. I asked permission, so I want to share a little of that because it is a nice share.
My preamble set the tone, our ancestors would fear that the light would not return and would ask the God and Goddess for light to return to the land to sustain life. The log represents the dark surrounding the light, the actual sun is within the log. We place a red candle on the log to represent fire, the warmth of the sun. The green candle represents the earth, the land, the reason we need the sun and the white candle represents illumination from the sun. The log is decorated not just because it is pretty, but to please the Gods. The candles are lit on the solstice and the log is burned at Imbolg (traditionally) to release the sun and allow the warmth of spring to return to the land.
Everyone’s logs looked amazing. From big and beefy to small and natural, everyone did an amazing job. Lady Joyanna made a log for Lady Morgana, and that was really nice. All in all, this night of crafting and fellowship (Sponsored by Joann’s (?), for all of your pagan needs), was a lot of fun. I had been surly for the last twenty-four hours, but this lightened my heart (I told you it is divine), and I look forward to seeing my friends soon for Yule.
I am sure I have left some things out by fault or intent, so please leave a comment and share your Yule tidings and traditions.
Blessed be my friends!
YULE LOG NEEDS
One log about a foot in length, as wide as you see fit. A Half log is just fine as well.
3 wax tapers; one red, one green and one white
A Drill with a ¾ inch to 1 inch bite to drill the holes for the tapers
Decorations; if you can go natural, all the better, you will be burning this at some point
Glue Gun, tack or other adhesive
Friends and food (of course)
If you are able, make a log for yourself and make one to give to a friend or loved one.