Yule - The Northern feast of light
I am happy. I was thinking about what Christmas means to me today. When I was a child and even a few years ago, I enjoyed the tradition of Christmas. I was reading the Christmas story every year, decorating the house and tree with my mom, reading Christmas poems, baking cookies, singing Christmas carols and playing them on my guitar... It used to be a very special time for me and I enjoyed making the feast as peaceful as possible for my whole family.
Today I see Christmas in a different light.
I don't call myself a Christian anymore even though I appreciate what Jesus did for the Jews who were following the rules of the cruel, hateful, egocentric god of the Old Testament. He showed them that god means love, that we are god's children and that our sins are forgiven if regretted. He showed the wonders that we are capable of if we have control over our own mind and that we don't need a church or temple - you are closer to god in your own chamber.
Me personally, I don't feel anywhere closer to the holy and divine than in nature, in the forrest surrounded by beautiful old trees. That's where our Northern ancestors had their altars and celebrated their rituals. The forrest was a sacred place. They didn't take more than needed from nature and saw the holy in every tree and living being. They were in balance with Mother Nature.
You can see it in who their gods and goddesses were and what they were standing for: Freya - the goddess of beauty and fertility. Thor - the god of lightning and thunder (and weather in general). Odin - the god father (birth), god of war and death (circle of life and death). Sol - the goddess of sun and light. Dag - the god of the day - who is the son of Nott - the goddess of the night. ... All of their gods and goddesses were associated with nature and natural processes. So birth, sun, night and death were all holy for our Northern ancestors.
I read more and more about the Northern traditions and rituals, the old religion we once had - before the Christian church came and burned the holy trees and priests and murdered the steadfast believers. Christianity came in a bloody way even though Jesus never wanted anybody to get hurt and respected different believes and religions. The church was an instrument of the power-hungry conquerers. They used it to control the free people. The Northern people had a beautiful relationship to nature, they were independent and powerful. They were proud and glorious, living in family units, seeing the holy in everything, following rules that protected the solidarity in the community - and knew the heroic fight and war. Women were honored and respected, managed the household and fulfilled the holy act of spiritual sex and birth. Then church came.
For making Christianity more plausible to the people, the conquerors mixed their old traditions and rituals with the Christian and therefore Jewish ones. They even changed the Bible in the way it pleased them and cut many, many parts that they disagreed with.
They cut Sabbat which was on Saturday because the Romans believed in the Sun-god who's holy day was Sunday. So Sunday, which was originally the first day of the week, became the seventh on which you would go to church. They made Mother Mary become a pregnant virgin to make her "pure" even though the natural act of conception was a holy act in the old Roman and Northern religion. And they recreated the Northern feast of light (Yule) which starts on the 21st of December - the shortest day and longest night of the year - and goes until the 1st of January. They put it onto the 25th of December and called it Christmas, Jesus birthday, and ended it on the 6th of January, the Three Kingsday. Congruously the Three Kingsday is also called Twelthtide - the twelfth day. Yule was twelve days long - each day standing for one month of the year.
On Yule, our Northern ancestors celebrated the adventing of the sun which started rising earlier and setting later again. It was the time of the year when they thanked the gods and nature and prepared mentally for the new year. They said good-bye to the old and welcomed the new. The dark season ended and the lightful one began. The natural process is associated with light and darkness, life, fertility and death, past, present and future. Therefore the colors of Yule were green (conifers - life), red (menstruation blood - life, fertility; blood - life, death) and gold (the rising sun - life).
To celebrate Yule on your own, you can orientate yourself on what the old rituals were. I light a (natural, non-toxic) candle every day, open the window and meditate. I recapulate the last year and am thankful for the beautiful and challenging situations and moments that have passed. I sort my experiences and forgive and say goodbye to everything that I don't want to have in my life anymore - certain emotions, situations, reactions, thoughts or people. I appreciate the things that I have learned and that have made me stronger - and I welcome the good and new that I want to attract into my life.
It's the time to think about what you want in your life, what your dreams and goals are - and what you need to receive it. Cartomancy and runes are a beautiful ritual to find out about your desires, current situation and possibilities. The first night's dreams of Yule are standing for the first month of the year, the second night's dreams for the second month of the year etc. So it's good to remember them, write them down and interpret them.
It's a powerful time of the year, a great possibility for spiritual growth and confession to your roots. It's the time for becoming aware and conscious and becoming sensible for your soul, body and mind.
I hope that you enjoy Yule as much as I do. The beautiful feast of light. I send you blessings.