Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Happy Yule from The Sirens! December 21, 2021

 

Photo courtesy of Miikaa Luotio

Brightest Yule Blessings to you and yours! Our celebration was short and sweet, but we're thrilled that you were able to join us! We'll be back again in Spring, as the wheel turns. Before we leave, though, we have a little more to do!

First, let's announce the winner of the Tree of Life Apothecary Giveaway!

Jonquil Alexia! 

Congratulations!


Now, on to our final Yule celebration...

Today's Article: Celebrating Yule The Herbal Ally Way

with Jim Sayers


Let’s celebrate the season of Yule together – the Herbal Ally Way! The season of Yule is the land beyond the gate of Samhain. Where Samhain is the darkening, Yule is the darkness.  Blessed be the Holy Darkness!  

  This year has been heartbreaking for most and the uncertainty of the year to come is troubling for many.  As Witches and Magickal Practitioners-doing “The Work,” we are the organizers, activists, healers, water protectors, and so much more in our daily lives.  Traditions around Yule developed during trying times as well and our ancestors incorporated many Herbs and spices into their celebrations.  These Herbal Allies lend not just their medicinal value for health of the Body but also their Magickal/Spirit properties which help to protect and heal the Mind and Spirit as well.  Remember that while dealing with serious issues that surround us- It is alright to have fun! That is doing “The Work,” too!

  As the darkest night of the year approaches, out of tradition we begin adorning our homes with boxwood wreaths, mistletoe above our doors and aromatic evergreen trees.  This need to bring “the green” indoors around the Winter Solstice is not a new phenomenon.  These plant-based rituals have evolved from a variety of different traditions. This brings us to our first Herbal Ally of Yule which is the Noble White Pine.  We will only visit with five of our friends for the purpose of brevity but look for additional supporting posts by following myself or  The Herbal Ally Way on Facebook.  


 White Pine (Pinus strobus)

Body: The needles are loaded with vitamin C and were traditionally used as a folk remedy to prevent scurvy.  Pine may be comforting throughout the cold of winter and early spring. With its amazing aroma, Pine is wonderful to add to herbal teas, syrups, scrubs or to use as a “Steam.”

Hot Infusion:  1 tsp dried needles to 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and allow to steep for 15  minutes covered.  Sweeten to taste.

Mind & Spirit: A pine branch hung over your door is said to invite joyful energy inside.  A pine branch hug over the bed wards against illness.  Add pine and pinecones to a fire to protect your hearth. (Be careful-Burns hot)  I like to add to a simple simmer pot for the same effect.

One of the traditions that may have led to that of the Yule/Solstice or Christmas tree is the Germanic/Scandinavian belief in the World Tree on who's branches hung the stars and the planets themselves.  We mimic that tradition with our ornaments handing from the evergreen bowers in our own homes.  A common decoration is dried orange slices, because they are a representation of the sun and the returning light or when the days begin to grow longer after the winter solstice.  Many of you may also remember the stories of our own grandparents who were overjoyed to received a gift of oranges for the holiday which were a symbol of good luck and fortune.

Orange  (Citrus aurantium)

Body:  Warms the stomach as well as the heart.  Known to clear phlegm and stop a cough.  Orange peel is known to have a sedative effect, lowers blood pressure, and is known to stimulate digestion.  All great things when overeating during the holidays. Hot Infusion:  1 tsp dried orange peel to 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and allow to steep for 15  minutes covered.  Sweeten to taste.  Delicious blended with the pine needles as well.

Mind & Spirit:  The dried peel and seeds may be added to love sachets.  Orange peel makes a great aromatic addition to prosperity incense or simmer pots.  

A traditional orange pomander is often crafted with cinnamon amongst other spices as well.  Cinnamon is a warm, fiery spice associated with the powers of the sun, which makes it a perfect aroma to use during Yule and at the winter solstice, which, of course, marks the return of the sun.


Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum)

Body:  Is known to increase appetite.  Helps to alleviate bloating and flatulence.  Any condition requiring warmth and increase of circulation including the common cold and flu as well as cold hands and feet.  Dissolve 1 tsp in boiling water and inhale steam for coughs and respiratory irritation.  May also use 5 drops of essential oil rather than the powder itself.

Mind & Spirit:  Cinnamon when burned as an incense or when added to a simmer pot raises spiritual vibrations and attracts prosperity and aids in healing.  Stimulates psychic ability and may be drank as a tea or may be made into an anointing oil for this purpose.

When we think of this season we often think of the comfort foods of home.  Unfortunately, we all may have the tendency to overindulge in these delights.  That is where one of my favorite overlooked spices comes into play.  Coriander.


Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)

Body:  Coriander is beneficial for alleviating flatulence, colic and diarrhea as well as constipation by aiding in the secretion of digestive enzymes.  Excellent added to baked goods especially cookies to aid in digestion.  Just a pinch here and there will improve your ability to overindulge without feeling awful afterward.

Mind & Spirit:  Coriander has forever been used in Love spells-incorporating into a warmed wine is a traditional Love potion to be given to one's objet de désir.  It can also be crushed into a powder and burned to attract love and desire.

I could not imagine a winter without the Elder Mother herself.  Elderberries are a traditional addition to cakes, preserves, cookies, wassail as well as many other foods in Europe during Yule as well as the winter season in general.  She is one of my stand out herbal allies and I will often spend time amongst her branches in meditation as well.


Elder (Sambucus nigra)

Body:  The berries and flowers of elderberry are packed with antioxidants and vitamins that may boost your immune system. They can help tame inflammation, lessen stress, and help protect your heart, too. We use elderberry to help prevent and ease cold and flu symptoms in our home.

Mind & Spirit:  To make a wish come true-Using a freshly cut Elder Stick-ask permission of the Elder plant first- draw a circle in the dirt around oneself.  Standing in the center state your wish or prayer out loud.  Being a plant attributed to the Queen of the Faeries herself, Elder is known to aid one in their journeys to the realm of the fae.

If this has inspired you to reconnect with the traditional Herbal Ally Way of our ancestors you are welcome to make use of this Herbal Ally Way Meditation.  By choosing just one herb a month you can build your healing knowledge as well as spirit connection to the world of Herbal Allies.  Included is a sample working calender of fun workings around the herb itself.  Recipes for a traditional medicinal infusion, tincture and oil are included as well.  Blank pages to begin a herbal journal are at this link as well.  

https://drive.google.com/file/d/12aVx8EoH69BSOVDYyTapsXsXzOC72O92/view?usp=sharing

Blessed Yule as well a Communion with your Herbal Allies!



We have two recipes today!


 Traditional Wassail

Submitted by Jim Sayers

Wassail is a hot, mulled punch that is often associated with Yuletide caroling but can be made and enjoyed any time of the year, especially on a cold winter day.


A Traditional Wassail with Herbal Allies

Please visit The House of Life Botanicals to learn more about Herbal Allies!

What you’ll need:

6 Cups Apple Cider – support a local apple orchard if you can!

1 Cup Orange juice

½ Cup Fresh Cranberries

1/8 cup Dried Elderberries

1/8 cup Dried Rosehips if available

1 Fresh Orange sliced thinly

Fresh ginger root ½ inch of root

Ground turmeric-Pinch

Pink and black pepper corn=Just a pinch

Star anise for garnish

Coriander/Ground- Pinch or two

Cinnamon stick – whole stick

Nutmeg-1/4 tsp

2 Whole Cloves

Any type of brown liquor – dark rum, bourbon, brandy

Directions:

1. Slice your orange and put it in the bottom of a pot

2. Add in apple cider. This is going to be the base so multiply recipe accordingly.

3. Add in orange juice

4. Zest in some fresh ginger

5. Add a pinch of turmeric

6. Add pinch of peppercorns

7. Add in elderberries, cranberries and rosehips

8. Add in 2 pieces of clove

9. Add in your Coriander

10. Add in cinnamon stick

11. Add in nutmeg

12. Put on burner and let it steep at a low simmer for about 15 minutes

13. Pour about an ounce of brandy into a mug once the rest of the cider has reached a simmer

14. Fill the rest of the mug with the mix from the pot

15. Garnish with a star anise, cinnamon or anything else you want!

Serve and enjoy!


Recipe #2: Crafting a Traditional Yule Log

with Rowan Sliger

One of the most recognized – and often intimidating – desserts of the season is the Yule Log. A modern, edible version of the real logs traditionally decorated and burned through the days of Yule, this dessert is delicious, pretty and really fun to make. Most commonly made with chocolate frosting to resemble the bark of the “log”, this cake can be made any way you like. Here’s my favorite version that’s simpler than you’d think. Have fun with the whole process!


For The Cake

  • 4 Tbsp salted butter, melted
  • 6 large eggs, separated”
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¾ c sugar
  • ¾ c all-purpose flour
  • ¼ c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp baking powder extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ c strong brewed coffee (use your favorite coffee!), room temperature
  • ¼ c powdered sugar


For the Filling

  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • ½ c powdered sugar
  • 1 c heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla


For The Frosting

  • 12 oz semisweet chocolate chips
  • ¾ c heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp light corn syrup
  • decorative sugar, cranberries, etc


Directions

1. For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350˚. Butter a 12-by-17- inch rimmed baking sheet. Line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on all sides. Butter the parchment. 

2. Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until frothy. Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar and beat on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 2 minutes. 

3. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder in a medium bowl. In a separate large bowl, combine the egg yolks, the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and the vanilla. Beat on high speed until thick and creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in the melted butter and coffee until combined. 

4. Add the flour mixture to the yolk mixture and beat on low speed until well combined. Fold a spoonful of the beaten egg whites into the batter until no streaks remain. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites until combined.

5. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, gently nudging the batter so it fills the corners. Give the pan a little shimmy to even it out. Bake until the top just starts to spring back when gently pressed, 10 to 12 minutes (the top might still feel a little tacky). Do not overbake or the cake will crack. 

6. Place a clean dish towel on a large wire rack. Dust with 2 tablespoons powdered sugar. While the cake is still hot, loosen the edges from the pan, then turn out the cake onto the towel; carefully remove the parchment. Dust the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons powdered sugar. 

7. Starting at one of the long sides, use the towel to tightly roll up the cake with the towel inside. Position the cake seam-side down and let cool about 1 hour. 

8. For the filling: Beat the cream cheese in a large bowl with a mixer on low speed until just smooth. Add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Gradually beat in the heavy cream 1/4 cup at a time, making sure the mixture is smooth before adding more cream. Increase the speed to medium high and beat until stiff peaks form, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat for a few more seconds, just to combine.

9. Carefully unroll the cooled cake and spread evenly with the filling, leaving a 1/4- to 1/2-inch border on all sides. Re-roll the cake, using the towel to help you. Cover the cake roll with parchment paper and then tightly wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 2 hours. 

10. Meanwhile, for the frosting: Put the chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring the heavy cream and corn syrup to a simmer in a saucepan, then pour over the chocolate. Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Let thicken at room temperature until spreadable, about 2 hours. 

11. Unwrap the cake on a cutting board. Cut off one-fourth of the cake on a sharp diagonal for the branch. Position the branch against the remaining cake roll on a platter. Cover the cake with the frosting using an offset spatula, then drag a fork through the frosting to create a bark-like texture. Garnish as you’d like.


Today's Music: The Sacred Flame - Peter Gundry


submitted by Jaye Todd


Jaye has also graciously sent in a Yule Story for your enjoyment!





Today's Craft: Creating Your Own Herbal Ally Candle


With Jim Sayers


How to Create your own Herbal Ally Yule Candle.  

This is great to add qualities of your new Herbal Allies to your Magickal Yuletide workings or to just imbue your home with their essence.


Components:

Candle-Paraffin or Beeswax
Dried Rosehips/Seeded
Dried Elderberries
Cardamon
Cinnamon
Dried Pine Needles
Dried Orange Peel

Directions:

1. Take a few pinches of each herb till desired balance is achieved-use your judgment.  Don't go too heavy on the pine though as it burns hot.  
2. You may write a line or charging poem about each herb as you add it to the mixture.  Adding your intention and empowering your Herbal Ally Candles.
3. Add ingredients to a mortar and pestle and grind together.  May use a blender and pulse if desired.
4. Lay candles on parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
5. Take a crafting heat gun and gently heat a small portion of the candle until it is shiny.  Take a pinch of your prepared herbs and sprinkle on melted area.  Pressing herbs into the wax.  
6. Continue doing so all around the candle until desired coverage is achieved.
7. When burning your candle-Never leave unattended.


Grand Prize Giveaway!


We have several sirens who've graciously submitted for this. It's a winner-take-all prize. 
Each U.S.  person who has previously entered (with a valid entry) for giveaways during this Yule celebration is already submitted. This giveaway (due to high shipping costs) is for U.S. residents only.

For an extra entry, riddle me this:

I’m a cookie you might like to eat, 
Some might say I’m a favored Christmas treat. 
I have brown arms, eyes, and don’t forget my feet.
What am I?

Reminder: WE NEED YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS!

Here is a sneak peek at your prizes!

From Author River Eno




  2 UF novels and 3 Alt History anthologies, valued at $65!
Follow her on Facebook  Instagram
Visit her site: River Eno




From The Starspun Witch


Follow her on Facebook

Custom Crystal Bundle

stock photo: indicative of what you might receive


Intuitively picked custom crystal bundle
For this giveaway you will receive a custom crystal bundle intuitively hand picked by me. You
will choose the focus/intention of your bundle and I will personally select the crystals from my
stock that I best feel will help you with your goals.
The bundle will be valued at $25.00 but the number of crystals in the bundle can vary based on
the crystals chosen and their associated value. However, there will be a minimum of 5 crystals in
your bundle (but could be more depending on what is chosen). Please note: the crystals chosen
for your bundle are subject to what I have in stock.



Readings from The Neuse River Witch!



Value- $90.00
Follow her here:

One each of the following:



A single photo reading.

Winner will send me a single photo.. The photo should be full body if possible with no filters applied. I will read the photo and create a document to share with my findings.



An Oracle Reading - 3 Cards

Winner will receive a three card reading  which includes a past present and future reading.


Giveaway from Jim Sayers from The House of Life Botanicals!



Follow Jim on Instagram
        Facebook

Healing Hag Candle value: $22


Herbal Allies BOS Pages value: $25



From Silvia's Spirits





Follow on Facebook
Silvia's Spirits Website

Yule Little Spirit
Value: $30





From The Gaeilge Moonchild
Follow on Facebook


Irish Turf/Peat incense and burner.
Genuine turf/peat from the Tipperary bog lands which provides an authentic scent that can be smelt throughout the countryside in Ireland. Comes with slate stone burner and 6 incense sods.
Value $18.50

Ogham Divination Reading 


(30 minutes minimum – online)
It is said that Ogma, the Celtic god of wisdom, learning and eloquence created the Ogham alphabet and gifted it to humanity. Each Ogham is called a few and is associated with what the Celts regarded as sacred trees or plants. Each tree or plant has its own correspondence and meaning which can be used in divination.
Value $41



From The Bone Song Witch


Find her on Facebook
 Website: Bonesongs.com





Totem Hunter Report 
Value $150
To many of the indigenous people of the world (from which we all come), animals have always been our teachers and guides. It is said that each of us is born with certain ‘medicines’ to help heal others and the earth itself, on both a physical and spiritual level. Medicine, in this respect, is not pills, prescriptions, diagnosis, etc., but the gifts you bring with you to the world.
Each of your totems brings a specific tool, wisdom, and guidance, and are there for you to tap into and commune with whenever you like. This report is provided via email in pdf format. I look forward to reading for you!


Total Grand Prize Giveaway Value: $466.50!


The winner will be chosen via random.org and announced at 3pm EST today on the Sirens Life Facebook page (winner will be notified in advance via email). 

Good luck to everyone and a very Happy Yule to you and yours!


Monday, December 20, 2021

Yule Celebration: December 20

 

Photo courtesy of Yevhen Buzuk


Welcome back to our penultimate Yule celebration day! Before we move forward, let's announce the winner of yesterday's wreath giveaway from Enchanted Wreaths by Lynn!

Dawn Leith-Dougherty!


Congratulations!

Now, let's get to our "new business":

The 12 Days of Yule

with Alexis Kennedy

Yule. For many of us, this word is most associated with the Winter Solstice on December 21. Many folks will stay up through the longest night to welcome the return of the Sun. Did you know that in various older European traditions, Yule was (and is!) celebrated for 12 nights? That's right! From December 21 to January 1, many of our ancestors honored this season. In this post, I'm going to share with you some traditions, and some ideas for creating your own "12 Days of Yule".

In Asatru and Norse Heathenry, the 12 Days begins on the evening of December 20th, so if you want to join in, tonight's your night!

December 20: This is known as Mother's Night. It is sacred to Frigg, Freya, and the Desir. Celebrations center around the females of the family, particularly mothers, and the virtue of Industriousness.

Ideas: 

  • Honor the 'mothers' in your life through simple chores, giving them a night out or cook a meal for them, anything that honors that person in the way she would like to be honored. 
  • Create a vision board with goals for the year on it. Write down three bucket list items you'd like to make happen in the new year.
  • Clean out closets, clean your house top to bottom. Really cleanse it. Sainne (smudge, cleanse with smoke) all of the rooms in your house. 
  • Clean your email box(es), organize files, put all of your known scheduled activities into one calendar, etc.
  • Clean up your yard if you have things cluttered about.

In what other ways can you honor the virtue of Industriousness? 

December 21: The Wild Hunt- sacred to Odin and Ullr. This night focuses on hearth and home, and staying indoors to avoid the wild hunt. This was the night when Odin would ride and gather up lost souls. This celebrates the virtue of Perseverance.

Ideas: 

  • Have a fire in the fireplace (or light a candle if you don't have one). This is traditional Yule night, as well, so feel free to incorporate whatever Winter Solstice activities you have planned into this night. Make something special to eat/drink. Invite family (whatever that means to you) over and enjoy the warmth of friendship and camaraderie.
  • Honor Odin with a dark beer 'sacrifice' to an oak tree. 
  • Hang trinkets into trees to invite the wood spirits back from their slumber.
  • Create mirror wards to hang or bury around your property.

  • Celebrate the return of the sun.

Perseverance is the virtue that gets us through the cold winters of our lives (physically and spiritually). In what other ways can you honor this virtue?


December 22: The High Feast of Yule, and the beginning of the runic year. Sacred to Thor and Freyr.  Burning a Yule log, and jumping the flames for good luck in the new year, rekindling friendships, taking oaths, and setting goals are all done on this night. This celebrates the virtue of Courage.

Courage is not the absence of fear. Courageous people do feel fear, but they are able to manage and overcome their fear so that it does not stop them taking action. They often use the fear to ensure that they are not overly confident and that they take the appropriate actions. Courage isn’t necessarily about running into a fight with your guns blazing. 

"For many people, it’s more about standing up for what you believe in and what you know to be right and just, even if it’s not the popular opinion. Many Heathens agree that it takes a lot of courage to live by the Nine Noble Virtues, particularly if you live in an area that’s spiritually conservative, and is generally ruled by Ten of the Other Guy’s Rules. Living your beliefs in the face of opposition requires as much courage as going into battle."- https://www.learnreligions.com/noble-virtues-of-asatru-2561539

Ideas:

  • Cultivate or make plans to plant Borage in the new year. Borage is the plant ally of courage. 
  • Create a Courage Jar. In your journal, write down all of the attributes of courage that you want to embody. Each time you display one of these, write it down, place it in a jar. Next December 22, review all of the times you were courageous, and celebrate yourself!
  • Make oaths for the coming year, but make them wisely, as the Old Gods will hold you to your oaths. Breaking an oath is a dangerous thing.
  • Create a fire in a cauldron or fire pit. Jump the flames for good luck in the new year.

In what other ways can you honor the virtue of Courage?


 December 23: The Fourth Night of Yule. Sacred to Aegir, Niord, and Freya. This is the day to remind one's self of the importance of friendship, and strengthen the bonds of kinship. Feasting is a big part of this day, and it celebrates the virtue of Community.

Ideas:

  • Have a potluck with your friends, where each person brings a dish and/or drink to share. Pass out papers and have each person write down the qualities of friendship they admire in the rest of the members. Go around the room and have each person read them out loud.
  • Volunteer at a shelter, soup kitchen, home for the elderly, etc.
  • Join a local community group or volunteer to help at an event that supports your community.
  • Hold a virtual event with friends around the world and let them know how much you value them.

In what other ways can you celebrate the virtue of Community?

December 24: The Fifth Night of Yule. This is the day to celebrate and remember the virtue of Hospitality. It is prevalent in nearly every ancient culture.

Ideas:
  • Donate clothing to a homeless shelter.
  • Donate money/time to a cause that helps others in need.
  • Start a fundraiser to help someone you know
  • Share your good fortune in a way that is welcoming
Hospitality is more than just opening your door to a guest. It's about treating others with respect, and being part of the community. For our ancestors, hospitality wasn’t a question of simply being nice, it was often a matter of survival. A traveler might find himself wandering for days or more without seeing another living soul. Arriving in a new village meant not just food and water, but also companionship and safety.

Traditionally, once a guest had eaten at your table, it meant they were also granted your protection while under your roof. 

The Havamal says:
"Fire is needed by the newcomer
Whose knees are frozen numb;
Meat and clean linen a man needs
Who has fared across the fells,
Water, too, that he may wash before eating,
Hand cloth’s and a hearty welcome,
Courteous words, then courteous silence
That he may tell his tale."

In what other ways can you honor the virtue of Hospitality?

December 25: The Sixth Night of Yule. Sacred to Eir and Healing. This is the day to honor the health of yourself and your loved ones. This celebrates the virtue of Discipline. 

As this is traditionally Christmas Day (and yes, it is a secular holiday as well), many folks will be a bit worn out from celebrating. However, the virtue of self-discipline is perfect for a night when it might be easier to ignore everything but that celebration. 

Discipline includes using one's personal will to uphold honor and other virtues. It’s not easy to be an ethical and just person in today’s society — it often takes some degree of work, and a lot of mental discipline. Will comes into play with that. Upholding the virtues is a choice, and it’s a much simpler path to follow to just ignore them and do what society expects or what’s easy. Discipline is the ability to show your courage, your loyalty, your sense of self-reliance, in the face of personal challenges.

Ideas:

  • Ensure that everything is cleaned up and ready for tomorrow
  • Create a schedule that helps keep you on track for cleaning, working, laundry, mundane chores, etc.
  • Take a break from all of this, and just relax. Honor the spirit of self-care as part of self-discipline
  • Help a loved one relax- take over their chores, draw a bath, light candles, put on some soft music.

In what other ways can you celebrate the virtue of Discipline?


December 26: The Seventh Night of Yule. Sacred to Thor. This is the day to remember our impact on our community. Sif is also honored on this day, as both Thor and Sif are protectors of children. This celebrates the virtue of Fidelity.

Fidelity is complex, and involves remaining true to the Gods, kinsmen, a spouse, and community. Much like honor, fidelity is something to be remembered. In many early heathen cultures, an oath was seen as a sacred contract — someone who broke a vow, whether it was to a wife, a friend, or a business partner, was considered a shameful and dishonorable person indeed. The Nine Noble Virtues all tie in together — if you fail to adhere to one, you may have trouble following the others. The concept of fidelity is one of loyalty. If you let down a friend or member of your Kindred or the Gods, then you’re turning your back on your entire community and all that they stand for.

Ideas:

  • Define what Fidelity means to you. Write it down. Meditate upon this subject. Really hold it in your thoughts.
  • Write a sacred contract with yourself to keep you safe, even from yourself. Honor yourself as worthy of a vow.
  • Honor a person that displays this virtue. What traits do they portray that you can emulate?

In what other ways can you honor this virtue?


December 27: The Eighth Night of Yule: Sacred to Scathi and Ullr. This is the day to honor the hunters, and the virtue of Truth.

There are different types of truth — spiritual truth and actual truth. The Havamal says:

"Swear no oath

But what you mean to abide by:

A halter awaits the word breaker,

Villainous is the wolf-of-vows."

The concept of Truth is a powerful one, and stands as a reminder that we must speak of what we know as Truth, rather than what we think others wish to hear.

Ideas:

  • Reflect upon the Havamal's words. Words are powerful. To speak truth is a difficult and rewarding thing. 
  • Create a truth amulet that you can wear, or keep with you that will remind you the you can speak your truth rather than tell others what they need to hear. The truth can be spoken gently and with love, because of its power.

In what other ways can you honor the virtue of Truth?


December 28: The Ninth Night of Yule: Sacred to Odin. Celebrates the virtue of Honor.

Honor: one's reputation and moral compass. Honor plays a significant role in the daily life of many Heathens and Asatruar. This virtue reminds us that our deeds, words, and reputation will outlive our bodies, and that the person we are in life will be remembered for a long time. The epic poem Beowulf cautions, "For a noble man death is better than a shameful life."

Ideas:

  • Define the terms "reputation" and "moral compass." What do they mean to you? How do they reflect upon who you really are?
  • How does one establish a reputation that can outlive their bodies?
  • Read the poem, "Beowulf," or watch a movie version. Do you see honor in the lives of those depicted? How so? In what ways does this translate to your own life?
  • Light a candle for those you have known who have displayed this virtue.

In what other ways can you honor the virtue of Honor?

December 29: The Tenth Night of Yule: Sacred to Sunna and ancestors. Celebrates Justice. Offerings to Slepnir (Hay) and Alfar (apples) are done on this night.

Ideas:

  • Create a hay and apple offering for Slepnir and Alfar. Leave them outside on this night.
  • Create a likeness of Slepnir and/or Alfar. Place on your altar or other place of honor.
  • Bake something you love that has apple in it, and dedicate to Alfar.
  • Read the stories of Slepnir and Alfar to yourself or family members.
  • Drink mulled cider.
  • Celebrate your ancestors and justice.

December 30: The Eleventh Night of Yule: Sacred to the Valkyries. On this day, the virtue of Self-reliance is honored.

Self-Reliance is the virtue taking care of oneself, while still maintaining relationships with Deity. It’s important to honor the gods, but also to take care of the body and mind. To do this, many Asatru find a balance between doing for others and doing for the self. To thrive as part of a community, we must also be able to thrive as individuals.

  • Create a work-out plan that helps you stay healthy
  • Review your habits. Are you able to make healthier choices? What holds you back from this? What changes can you make? How can you create more balance in your life? In what ways can you help yourself to thrive so you can help others to do the same? Write them down, and really take the time to come up with a workable plan.
  • Honor the Valkyries with a simple gift of mead or beer, left under a tree or in an appropriate place outside.


December 31: The Twelfth Night of Yule: Sacred to all the Gods and Goddesses. This is the culmination of the 12 nights, and is spent feasting (pork is the main dish), swearing oaths on Thor's hammer, acknowledging the passing year, and and the new one. Oaths and words spoken are said to carry heavy weight on this night. Time to make goals. Wisdom is celebrated.

  • This is secular New Year's Eve. One could leave an offering of pork, beer/mead, and something sweet to the gods.
  • Swear your oaths on Thor's Hammer. Again, make sure you understand the weight of making an oath.
  • Mimir is the god of knowledge and wisdom. He is also thought to be a water sprite. Leave an offering by a natural water source. Be sure it won't contaminate the environment.
  • Dance. Celebrate. Enjoy this amazing life as the gift it is.
  • Feast!
May your celebrations be joyful and filled with honor and love.



Today's Music: Wardruna "Andvevarljord" - Song of the Spirit-Weavers"


Submitted by Alexis Kennedy


Today's Recipe: Russian Tea Cakes 


Submitted by Alexis Kennedy


You've probably seen these in some form or another, as they seem to be a universal recipe. We always called them, "Russian Tea Cakes," and they were a Yuletide treat for years, in my home. Easy to make, just watch your oven, as they are all different. You don't want to burn them. They should melt in your mouth ;)


Ingredients: 
1 cup butter, softened to room temperature (put 2 sticks of butter out on the counter for 30 mins)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped walnuts* 
⅓ cup confectioners' sugar for decoration

*optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). 
In a medium bowl, cream butter and vanilla until smooth. Combine the 6 tablespoons confectioners' sugar and flour; stir into the butter mixture until just blended. Mix in the chopped walnuts. Roll dough into 1 inch balls, and place them 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven. When cool, roll in remaining confectioners' sugar. I also like to roll mine in the sugar a second time.

Nutrition Facts
Per Serving: 102 calories; protein 1.3g; carbohydrates 8.2g; fat 7.3g; cholesterol 13.6mg; sodium 36.6mg.


Today's Giveaway: Tree Of Life Apothecary Giveaway - Siren’s Life, Yule 2021



Ritual and House Blessing Kit

Includes:  Brass with mother-of-pearl inlay incense burner, tin of Yule Energetic Herbal Incense Blend, palo santo stick, one tube of charcoal tablets, 3 oz. bag of sand (for protecting your censer, lay hot coal on top of sand), charcoal tongs, sample size bags of Tree Of Life’s Everyday Hearth & Home Blend and Pinion Pine resin. $40 value


Here's how to enter:

US Residents:

1. Go to Tree of Life Apothecary's Etsy site, peruse the wares, and come back here with a comment (don't forget your email address!) telling us your favorite item!

Bonus entries: (each one of these is one entry)

Make this Etsy site one of your favorites- comment that you did
Like/Follow Siren's Life Facebook Page - comment that you did
Like/Follow Tree of Life Apothecary's Facebook Page- comment that you did


Canadians, answer this question for four entries:

"I light up during the winter, but fade away after the new year. What am I?"


Winner is assigned a number via spreadsheet and is selected via random.org. The sponsor (Alexis Kennedy) is the one who provides this service, and is not eligible for giveaways.

We will announce the winner in tomorrow's blog post. All entries are eligible for the grand prize giveaway, announced on December 21.

That's all for today! Tomorrow is our last day of celebration, and we will announce the grand prize winner!

See you then!

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Yule Celebration: December 19

 

Photo courtesy of Ksenia Yakoleva 


Welcome Back! It's time to announce our winner from yesterday's Wardruna Skald Album Giveaway!

Jaye Todd!

Congratulations! 


Today's Story: Yuletime Travel


by Author River Eno

 Holly took a long breath and closed her eyes. Her thoughts passed through a space of dense fog, as always happened during travel, and then she landed on a dark, deserted road. A large house stood ahead of her. She walked toward it but was roughly thrust back into her body. Her eyes popped open. The cauldron in front of her blazed hot with burning mugwort. The attic was quiet and dark.

She sat cross legged on the wood floor, next to the small window looking out into the wild back garden. She’d wrapped herself in the warm blanket her partner, Finley, gave her last year at solstice. It was midnight and had just started snowing, sprinkling the tall pines in the garden with white. Perfect conditions to do a bit of astral travel. Something, for all of Holly’s years of witchery and magik, she could not quite manage.

Meditation was similar, she’d never learned the art of it. She could manifest, and she could infuse an object or situation with her intent. She was a master in tarot and there wasn’t a ghost nearby she could not hear. But for all she could do, she could not travel the astral plane. At least not well.

Tonight, she’d hoped things would be different. She’d met someone. No, not met. They’d know each other for years, and had spent time on dates with each other’s partners, only recently a fondness had grown. Finley, ever the encouraging poly partner, told her to go for it. They lived quite far apart, but she had visited them once, so she thought she’d try to visit on the astral plane even though she rarely had luck doing it. On this solstice, with the snow falling, with the Oak and Holly kings at war and with magik afoot, Holly had a good feeling. Until she was so rudely tossed back into her body.

Oddly enough, she felt it was because she wasn’t dressed properly. She hadn’t ever given much thought to the clothing she wore while traveling. She frowned at her pajamas.

So, Holly envisioned herself in jeans and a sweatshirt while going through the fog and … no luck. One step toward the house and then back in the attic she was, over and over. She sighed but refused to lose hope. Taking another deep breath, she relaxed her body and this time she chose to allow her subconscious to guide her choices.

She closed her eyes, passed through the mist and landed on the road. She felt different. She looked down and was wearing a pair of worn maroon corduroys, a peach-colored, thermal shirt and black boots. It was an old, comfortable outfit. One of her favorites. And it did feel … right.

She walked along the dark road toward the house, stopping at the wooden gate surrounding the property. It was tall and locked. But locks were easy as she and her new love were followers of Hecate. She rested her hands on the gate and thought of the lock’s mechanisms, the twists and turns and then the click. The gate lock sprung, she pushed it open and stepped inside.

Immediately Holly felt a presence, a wall of unpleasant energy; the house was warded. Her friend, ever cautious, made her smile. This apotropaic magik she knew well and could hold her own against, but also, she wasn’t evil or there to harm, so the magik didn’t need to deflect or be afraid. As she tried to move forward the wards sent her to a different spot around the back of the house, although no closer. When she tried to move forward again, she was sent back to the front of the house.

She sighed but shook her astral body free of tension. She had come too far to be pushed out. And after all this time, she thought she was beginning to understand traveling, and why she’d had no luck with it. She needed to be willing to give herself over to the experience, be malleable, let it guide her to the next level. Not the other way around. She needed to give a piece of herself, even at the expense of her comfort, which wasn’t so different from other magiks she’d often worked in.

The weight of the warding spell was intimidating, forceful, but Holly called it to come closer. The heat of it didn’t ease, but it didn’t heighten, and she asked it to step inside her body to see her intentions. A chill raced up her back and then she easily moved forward one step and then another.

Pleased, Holly walked the driveway, up the stone path, passed the front door and around toward the back of the house. Through the screen-covered back porch, she saw a light on in the kitchen and then another light over a shed nearby. She turned to the large garden and was stopped by a scarecrow standing in the snow on one tall leg. It’s large radish-like head and gaping teeth rather disconcerting.

“Hey, you,” Holly whispered.

Scarecrow hopped its long stick body up and down. The snowy wind blew its dark tatters of clothing. It was clear the ward wanted contact to explore her further.

Holly stepped up to it and was whisked into the air. She held tightly as it danced and whirled her around the garden. Its lone leg hopping in the snow to music she couldn’t hear until she was breathless, and it dropped her onto a snow-covered garden bed. She lay only a moment before sinking. She didn’t fret. This was how the ward would learn who she was, she knew that. This was how it would infuse her with its magik.

Holly twirled low in the earth. Whispers in the darkness and senescence in the damp soil pressed around her. After timeless moments entwined with plant roots and small living creatures the magik raised her to the surface and pushed her to stand.

She stood dazed but invigorated. The snow fell steadily, and the vanilla scent of white oak mingling with the florals of holly permeated the garden. A cold wind passed coating her in pine. The scents of Yule filled her with purpose.

She walked her new love’s garden and then circled around to the back porch, noting the changes since her physical visit. The light was still on in the house … and there, finally she saw them. They were talking to someone, laughing, and heading toward the sliding glass doors leading to the porch. It opened and closed noisily, and she caught a scent of bayberry and woodsmoke wafting from the house.

She watched them strike a match and light a candle on the small table by the door. They picked it up and moved to the edge of the porch, placed the candle on the ledge and took a sip of a drink they held. They looked out into the night, and she wondered if they felt her presence. Even with the screen between them she could see clear enough and her heart leapt in her chest. After only speaking on the phone for so long, she’d forgotten how attractive they were. How sexy.

They stood quietly, seeming to contemplate, before putting their hand flat on the screen and then turning to go back inside.

“Wait,” Holly called.

They turned sharply and walked back out. Looking into the garden a few moments more, they blew the candle out and stood in the dark. Holly walked closer, but felt uneasy, a sudden lightness in her body. She was losing agency, her body calling her back. She quickly reached her hand out, “Happy Yule,” she said.

Holly’s eyes opened. The moon had moved across the sky and the attic was dark save for the embers of mugwort in her cauldron. She couldn’t contain her happiness. Not only had she traveled quite successfully, but her new love’s scent surrounded her. She heard their voice in her head as she was separated fully.

“I love you, Holly.”


Today's Music: The Wolf Song- Nordic Lullaby- "Song of the Spirit Weavers

Submitted by Renee' Sosanna Olson





Today's Craft: Yule Witch Ball with Jaye Todd


When you hear the words witch ball, images of witches gathered in a ball room may pop into your head but that is not what is meant.

A witches ball is usually a hollow sphere that has been filled with various herbs and crystals according to the makers desire to protect the home from negative energies, ill fortune and intentions and also bad spirits. Not only will a witches ball protect you but it is also thought that they can bring luck and prosperity to you.

This Yule I’d like to share with you all my Witch ball craft with you. I will share the herbs and crystals that I am using and also the reasoning behind including each element.
If you wish to create a witch ball and want to create your own mixture of contents then go for it… follow that intuition and do what is right for you.
For this craft you will need

  • Star Anise
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  •  Ground Nutmeg
  • Rosemary (dried or fresh)
  • Basil
  •  Clear Quartz
  • Red Jasper
  • Rose Quartz
  • Fillable bauble (preferably glass)

Firstly cleanse your bauble using an incense stick of your choosing, I’m using Dragons Blood for its cleansing properties. Don’t forget to cleanse both inside and out.


First up we are going to add some of the ground nutmeg into the ball (you can use a funnel or a coned sheet of paper to make it easier), this is being added to bring clarity and health into the home for the coming year.

Next up we will add some rosemary this is for remembrance of those who walked the path before us and purification of the home in which it will be hung.

Once you have the desired amount of rosemary in the ball you can add some Basil. This is to bestow love and protection for your home and its inhabitants.

Now it’s time to add the crystals. First up we are using rose quartz, this is the stone of unconditional love and peace of heart.  Now you can add the Clear Quartz for clarity, optimism and to promote luck, harmony and well-being. Remember that Clear Quartz is known as the master crystal and can be used to replace any crystal. The final crystal that we are going to include is Red Jasper. We are using this one as it represents health, goal setting and manifesting ideas. With the New Year just around the corner now is a great time to set your goals and being manifesting those ideas.

Finally we are going to add a stick of cinnamon. You can use ground cinnamon but I prefer to use the sticks as it’s pleasing to the eye. We are adding this element to attract abundance and success for you and your household and a star anise for a little added love and protection.
Once you have added everything you can replace the top of the bauble and finish with some ribbon or yarn and a charm if you so wish.

The last step is to find a place to hang your ball, you can hang near a door, in a window or simply hang near your altar to ward off bad spirits and negative energies etc for the coming year.


Have a blessed Yule.

Jaye ~ The Gaeilge Moonchild


Today's Recipe: Scandinavian Glogg

with Dawn Leith-Dougherty

Scandinavian Glögg

 


  • Large magnum bottle inexpensive red table wine such as cabernet or pinot noir
  • Small bottle of Port wine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups or so of brandy (I like apple brandy, but use what you like)
  • Candied orange slices and ginger slices
  • 4 cardamom pods cracked
  • Add to cheesecloth and tie up: a couple fresh cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, 6-8 whole cloves, orange peels, 3-4 star anise
  • Handful of golden raisins and handful of almond slivers
  • Optional, whole orange studded with cloves*

 In a bowl cut 4 to 6 strips of fresh orange peels (as little white pith as possible) and a couple slices of fresh ginger, cover with sugar, let sit 8 to 10 hours or overnight.

 Add wine to large pitcher and steep with the cheesecloth herbs/peels, add loose golden raisins and almonds. Steep overnight in refrigerator

 Simmer low in pot together until sugar is dissolved. Turn off and add the brandy. Remove cheesecloth. Add with the bottle of port to a crock pot turned to the warm setting (or leave in pot on stove on warm) with the cloved whole orange. Ladle out to serve with a cinnamon stick and a few raisins and almonds in mugs.

 *NOTES*

This recipe is as varied as you can imagine, and many families have their own versions similar to this one, the recipe above is the one I use. Many people choose to add a shot of bourbon or vodka to the mugs upon serving, or in place of the brandy. The spice and fruit/nut measurements are just guidelines, just add as much or as little as you like. Remember, this is a very strong SPICED alcoholic beverage, so don’t skimp on the flavors. This recipe can be scaled down or scaled up accordingly, this recipe makes a very full crock pot. This would be easy to make with a cider instead of wine for those who do not drink. 


Today's Giveaway: Wreath of Winner's Choice 

From: Enchanted Wreaths by Lynn

This giveaway from Enchanted Wreaths will be the Winner's choice from the available selection in my shop. Instagram.com/enchantedlynn

Here are a few that as of right now are available but please check out my IG for more. US residents only. 


To enter: Go to  Instagram.com/enchantedlynn . Peruse the site, then:

Come back, comment below as to which is your favorite wreath.  Remember: this is open to US residents only today, and you MUST enter your email into your comment, or submit your information to our Sirens Winter Solstice Registration form to keep your information confidential. Failure to provide an email address voids your eligibility.

Winner is assigned a number via spreadsheet and is selected via random.org. The sponsor (Alexis Kennedy) is the one who provides this service, and is not eligible for giveaways.

We will announce the winner in tomorrow's blog post. All entries are eligible for the grand prize giveaway, announced on December 21.


That's it for today! We'll see you tomorrow for more frolicking and merriment! Happy Yule!

Happy Yule from The Sirens! December 21, 2021

  Photo courtesy of Miikaa Luotio Brightest Yule Blessings to you and yours! Our celebration was short and sweet, but we're thrilled tha...