Wiccan Wheel of the Year: Yule Correspondences and Associations for the Winter Solstice
Winter Solstice Correspondences
It's beginning to look a lot like—Solstice! The Wheel of the Year plunges us into the depths of darkness, but that's okay. There's nowhere to go from here but up; the Wheel continues to turn, turning us toward the light, filling us with hope and inspiration for the future. So take some time out in this busy week to celebrate the Solstice and all it stands for!
If you're planning your Yule celebrations, you may be wondering what you need to have—especially if you're new to Wicca and this is your first Solstice. If you asked me what you need, I would answer, "You don't need anything; it's just about you and your Gods!"
But if you want to decorate, to set up your altar or plan some seasonal appropriate activities, you certainly should! It can truly make the season bright and make the occasion more cheerful. Make the most of this sacred night, whether celebrating alone or with friends. Use some of the seasons most common correspondences and traditional associations.
A Blessed Solstice Moment
The Yule Altar
The secular calender marks the Winter Solstice as the beginning of winter, but the Wiccan Wheel of the Year holds the Solstice as the zenith of the season. Winter began at Samhain, and will continue until Imbolc. If you like to turn your altar or start your invocations in the seasonally appropriate direction, you would face North—the direction of the icy winds that blast, the dark of night and that time between death (pondered in the fall) and renewed life (welcomed in the spring).
I tend to keep the Solstice altar simple. A snowy altar cloth and maybe a little seasonal greenery. One thing I always have on my altar is the cauldron, and inside of it I place a large candle (my annual sun candle). This is symbolic for the womb of the mother Goddess (the cauldron) giving birth to the Sun/Sun God (candle flame).
A Beautiful Tribute to the Sun
Deities honored during the solstice generally incude Sun Gods or Gods associated with light. You'll also find Yule altars everywhere honoring Gods associated with rebirth. Some Gods you might invoke at Yule include Apollo, Balder, Helios, Horus, Osiris, Mithras, Ra, or Saturn. Of course, if you lean towards the Norse deities or Asatru traditions, you'll want to honor Odin in this time as he takes off to lead the annual wild hunt.
The Mother Goddess in any form is the focus of Solstice, as it's seen as a time when she gives birth to the Sun/Sun God. Your ritual might include prayers to Arianrhod, Ceres, Cerridwen, Demeter, Freya, Gaia, Isis, Juno, Morrigan, or Nephthys.
Gods and Goddesses of the Solstice
You probably already know many seasonal symbols for Yule. They've been incorporated into other Winter holidays you may be more familiar with, but most have come down to us from our Pagan ancestors across Europe and have roots in antiquity.
The colors of the season are green (for the evergreen trees), red and gold (for the fiery sun), and white or pale blue (for the snow and ice). Seasonal plants of winter are primarily evergreens, which remind us of the eternal promise of spring. Put up a Yule Tree if you like, and decorate it heartily with symbols of winter like snowflakes and ice crystals (quartz crystals are great for that). Alternatively, decorate it with solar symbols like sun ornaments, citrus fruit pomanders and strings of lights.
Everyone should have a Yule log. Even if you don't have a fireplace, it makes a beautiful decoration; just pluck a scrap from a tree lot and put it someplace prominent. Decorate it if you want. Perhaps with leaves and berries, or glittery solar symbols—whatever is your style. Drill holes into the top of it to make it a candle holder and it can be a nice alternative for people who don't have a fireplace to burn it.
Holly, mistletoe, bayberry, and poinsettias are also seasonally appropriate. The furry critters of the woodlands, majestic stags, snow white doves, and bright red cardinals are the poster animals for the season. Most of the more festive decorations you'll find for Christmas and Hanukkah can be used for your Solstice décor, as it all revolves around the same things—the Winter season and light.
Music for Yule
Yule Food and Drink
The flavors of the season are warm and comforting flavors, with hints of spice and tempting scents that warm you on cold winter nights. My family traditionally has a ham for Solstice dinner; pork dishes are great this time of year. Any kind of roasted poultry—chicken, turkey, duck—will also do, especially with roasted chestnut stuffing or root veggies. Dried fruits, poached pears and citrus fruits are delicious this time of year.
In my house on the eve of the Solstice, we bake—cinnamon bread, challah, sometimes bubble bread or miniature pies. Of course, gingerbread usually makes its way onto the table. How can you not have gingerbread this season? Along with that, there's usually a host of holiday cookies. From the simple, traditional sugar cookies cut and iced to more elaborate recipes. These usually are packaged for friends and family and given as holiday gifts.
For a drink, break out your favorite eggnog recipe and indulge. If eggnog isn't your thing, how about a hot milk toddy? Another option is mulled wine or cider will do, particularly with spices like cinnamon and ginger. Hot cocoa and herbal teas are also warm and comforting.
Homemade Spiced Tea to Warm You on Solstice Night
Here's our family's favorite holiday tea.
- Green apple
- Cinnamon sticks
- Peel and roughly chop ginger and a green apple (remove the seeds) and throw them in a pot of water along with a cinnamon stick.
- Bring ingredients to a boil.
- Reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes.
- Pour into cups with a strainer.
- Add honey and enjoy hot.
Yule Magical Workings
Think about the winter, not just what our Pagan ancestors once did, but what we do now. It's a time of hibernation now, just as it was for them. Our ancestors used to be mostly stuck indoors. Now, we're just stuck in our daily bump and grind. It's cold, dark and the weather is bad for many at this time of year so they don't get out much. It's a time to hole up and plan for when we re-emerge in the Spring. We make New Year's resolutions, we spend the winter planning for the spring garden, the places we want to go for vacation next year or the home improvement projects we want to start.
The Winter Solstice is a good time for planning.This time of year is a good time to do spells to help you prepare you to tackle those plans. Spells for wisdom, clarity, guidance, strength, and energy are perfect for the Solstice season. More than anything, turn your eyes forward now and don't look back. Put the past, the losses, the failures, and all those things you've been working so hard to let go of behind you and concentrate on a bright and prosperous future.