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Celebrating Yuletide, From Mother Night to Twelfth Night!

Celebration of Yuletide centers around two principles: The first of these is that Yule is indeed a tide, or an extended period of several days, and not just a single event occurring on one specific day. More exactly, Yule begins on December 20th, or Mother Night, and continues until January 1st, or Twelfth Night. Each day of this period is thought of as a month of the year which is ending, so that Yuletide is the summary, a distillation, of the passing year. Families, kindreds, or other groups should recognize both dates in some way, if their Yule season is to be truly complete.

The second principle is that all the main Gods and Goddesses are to be honored at the Yule ritual (blot), emphasizing the unity of the Holy Powers and thus the unity of the Folk of which they are a part. (This, of course, is not to say that other blessings, devoted to one’s patron among the Gods or Goddesses, or to one’s ancestors, cannot also be done during the season.)

 

Mother Night:  A time to honor all the major Aesir and Vanir  –

Mother Night, so called because it gives birth to the remaining days of the tide, features the blessing to all the Holy Powers. One way of incorporating this into the blessing is a call-and-response that invokes the major deities and their functions, with the gothi or gythja saying, for example:

“Odin, give wisdom and victory!”

( After which the the assembled folk respond to the format of “Hail, Odin!…Odin, hail!” for the deity in question.)

“Frigga, hold us to your breast!”…(”Hail, Frigga!” and so forth…)

“Thor, ward us with your mighty hammer!”…

“Idun, keep us life-filled and young!”…

“Tyr, make us steadfast and true!”…

“Balder, shine your brightness on us!”…

“Ullr, help us prosper in hard times!”…

“Skadi, teach us the way of the wild!”…

“Frey, give us joyful vigor!”…

“Freya, bring us pleasure and plenty!”…

“Be with us, all you holy Aesir and Vanir!”…

 

A  Call-and-Response for the Returning Sun

Another call-and-response formula can be used at just about any time during the Yule season.  I have employed the following one to honor the Sun upon her return, with the gothi or gythja saying:

“Though Northlands are covered with snow”…

(The assembled folk reply with “Sunna is now reborn!” after each.)

“As wintry winds now blow”…

“While forests are filled with fog”…

“And flames devour the log”…

“Though bears sleep in the lair”…

“And kinsmen meet with care”…

“While folk fill horns of mead”…

“And good folk boast of deeds”…

While the Gods our hope inspire…

“And folk watch flickering fires”…

“As Yule logs blaze all bright”…

“With darkness-daunting light”…

“Winter ice begins to flee”…

“By the sunwheel we are free!”

 

Twelfth Night

Yuletide culminates with Twelfth Night, featuring the making of Yule vows and the burning of the sunwheel. A blessing, either to all the Holy Powers or to the God or Goddess of choice, may be given as well.

The vows may be taken on the traditional boar. Since most of us do not have a boar lounging in our living rooms or out at the Hof, a reasonable substitute is to bake a loaf of bread in the shape of a boar and carry it around the table, where the folk stand and make vow with one hand on the bread-beast. A portion of the boar is broken off for the people to eat, and a remainder is burned with the sunwheel and thus shared with the Gods. Caution: Oaths are not taken lightly. If you cannot keep your oath, remain silent. It is always okay to pass!

The sunwheel, along with the Gods’ part of the boar, can be placed in the fire. As it burns, all can chant –

“Turning year and burning wheel,

Give us wisdom, joy and weal!”

The chanting should cease on some prearranged cue, so that the folk may quietly think on the year that is ending and the new one that is upon them.

In conclusion, Yuletide is one of the most important times of year for those of us who follow the Way of our ancestors. Celebrate it from beginning to end, honoring all the Gods and Goddesses, and you will be rewarded with joy and might!

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