Friday, December 17, 2021

Yule Celebration- December 17

 


Welcome to the Sirens Yule Celebration!

We're here for a short time to bring you some Yuletide cheer! Let's get this party started!


A Yule to Remember


By Johanna Lawson


The winter holidays of my childhood were always different than those of my peers. I grew up in a Roman Catholic yet somewhat pagan-ish household. My parents sort of had a "what if they're right" kind of attitude, so they baptized my sisters and I, and put us through Catholic elementary school. However, we rarely went to church and were not held to the doctrine being taught to us at school. Instead, we were taught to keep our minds open and to embrace nature, which held the true meaning of life and brought true inner peace. Our Christmas celebrations reflected this. 

Our home was not decked out in lights and all things Christmas. Instead, my mother hung vintage Christmas postcards, originally mailed in the 1910's and 1920's that found their way into the antique stores she haunted, on strands of red velvet ribbons in the windows of our sun porch. The mantle was full of evergreens and holly, candles, woodland creatures, and a small manger scene at the center. Our Christmas tree, which my father and I usually carried from a neighborhood tree lot outside our local Italian deli, was small but beautiful with colored lights (white lights in later years) and old glass ornaments handed down through the past two or three generations. Sprigs of mistletoe were hung in doorways. Every Christmas Eve, my mother would light a bayberry candle, letting it burn its way down, saying that it was "for luck". She would turn on "Christmas music", not the traditional Christmas carols but rather folk songs about winter.  We would then make merry with the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a long-held Italian family tradition. Of course, like all kids, we opened gifts Christmas morning, delighting in the books and toys we received and the treats in our Christmas stockings. It was all so very simple, so very beautiful, and more pagan than Catholic, more like Yule.

Fast forward several years to when I met my husband. By that time, I had explored the Pagan path, been initiated into Wicca, and was a practicing witch, in the broom closet to most but not to him or my family. He too was raised in a Catholic household but one that adhered much more to the religion than did mine. Our first Christmas together, we went to buy our Christmas tree and he was shocked that I picked out one that was not more than 5-feet tall. In fact, it fit into the back seat of our car! He called it the "Charlie Brown Christmas tree". Bewildered a bit by his reaction, I questioned him about what his Christmases were like growing up. He explained that his family did Christmas much differently, which I soon found out when I went to his parents' house that first Christmas. Wow! Christmas seemed to explode from every corner of his childhood home - lights and garland everywhere, inside and out, figurines of Santa, elves, snowmen and reindeer, multiple manger scenes, and an immense tree full of large-bulb colored lights, ornaments, and white garland, like snow weighing down the branches. Even the kitchen and bathroom were decorated! It was overwhelming and a bit of a culture shock for me. 

How would I make his Christmases past and mine work together to become our new Christmases present and future? How was I going to balance Yule and this type of Christmas? How was this ever going to work?

At first, I threw myself into making Christmas what he knew but added a Victorian flare to all our decorating. I thought that would bring the Old World feel of my childhood Christmas to the 20th century feel of his and perhaps infuse a bit of Yule into the mix. Although we had the huge tree, I insisted on white lights and gold garland to emphasize the return of the Sun and vases full of evergreens and holly around the house. I started collecting Old World Santas to put around the house. We purchased a Christmas village and put up an elaborate display of lit houses, pine trees, and little figurines of people doing various winter and holiday tasks and blanketed it with buffalo snow. Once we moved from our apartment to our house, I carried on the tradition of the vintage postcards in the windows, but we also added white icicle lights and pine garland to the outside, a nod to my husband's childhood. With the addition of our son, our home was soon exploding with all things Christmas come every December. It was very festive and we all delighted in it each year but something was definitely missing for me.

As the years moved forward and I came out of the broom closet, I began to long for the more nature-centered Christmas Eve of my childhood. Yes, we went every Christmas Eve to my mother's where I was able to immerse myself in it again, to be with that warm, cozy, bright, simple feeling of winter setting in, to wrap myself in that web of ancient comfort and celebration my mother had weaved for me as a child, but it wasn't mine anymore, especially after she passed away. I wanted my own and I wanted it to be as Pagan, as Old World as possible. I couldn't tear down the holiday for my husband and son and rebuild it for just myself. I asked myself the question again. How was I going to balance Yule and this type of Christmas?

Yule was my answer. I had already balanced Samhain and Halloween, Ostara and Easter, so I could easily do this. Yule would become my Christmas Eve. I started about 12 years ago with creating the Yule log, a piece of a Christmas tree trunk with three holes drilled in it to hold bayberry taper candles and adorned with pine, cedar, holly, and pinecones. This became the centerpiece of my Yule altar, located prominently in my dining room. Around it, I placed reindeer, a smiling Sun, small ceramic Old World Santas, a Holly King, and a giant vase of holiday evergreens. A few years later, I swapped out our angel tree topper for a gorgeous flaming sun, its shining smiling face a mosaic of sparkling jeweled colors rising from the top center of our Yule/Christmas tree. I also began reading all I could find about Elen of the Ways, the wild antlered goddess. For some reason, I was very drawn to her and closely associated her with winter. I added a statue of Elen of the Ways to my altar, standing her with the reindeer. It felt so right! I also scaled back on all the little average Christmas knick knacks around the house, removing the cluttered energy they gave off, and breathed a deep sigh of relief and satisfaction when I did. These small changes made Yule what it is for me today.

Yule for me now is a very special time of the year. It’s familiar, like the feeling of my Mom’s arms around me in a holiday hug. It begins with greeting the sun as it rises in the east. I fill my day with holiday tasks like gift wrapping, card writing, and baking the Yule log cake, something looked to with great anticipation. All alight, strands of fairy lights tucked into garlands and evergreen arrangements throughout the house and the white lights of the Yule tree elevate the yuletide energy. The bayberry candles of my Yule log burn all day and long into the night, spreading that “luck”. I revel in the scent of pine, cinnamon, and citrus wafting through the air. Those old winter folk songs are the soundtrack of the day, spreading joy and bringing an occasional tear as memories of my mother at Christmas Eve spring back into my mind.

Evening brings the Yule meal, the menu of which is never the same but is based upon what I feel like cooking. My husband, son and I exchange our small pagan-themed gifts, dig into the Yule log cake, drink coffee spiked with spirits, and just enjoy being with each other. Depending on the weather, I later head outside and burn last year’s Yule log in the chiminea and spend some time with nature or spend time at my altar, working yuletide magick until it’s time to settle my head for a long winter’s nap. I tuck myself into the warmth and comfort of my bed, snuggle close to my hubby, his body always like a radiator under the covers, and begin to descend into the depths of sleep while visions of longer, brighter, warmer days dance in my head.


Today's Yule Music

Submitted by Kourtney Leaf
Lindsey Sterling: Sugar Plum Fairy



Today's Craft: Yule Countdown Calendar with Jaye Todd


Spiral yule countdown calendar



With this craft you can count down the days until the winter solstice. With minimal materials required this is definitely something that everyone can have a go at.
With the darkest part of the year knocking on the door you can countdown the days by lighting a candle every evening until the night of Yule.

You can use natural materials to decorate the surround of the spiral… things like evergreen branches, pine cones, mistletoe and cinnamon.
For this craft you will need…

·         Air drying clay

·         21 birthday cake candles

·         Paint

·         Fire retardant sealant

·         Some materials from nature

Step one: Take a piece of air drying clay and roll into a sausage shape. The amount of clay you use will depend on how big you want your spiral to be.



Step two: Once you have your sausage shape, place into a spiral shape and place on some baking paper.

Step three: Using one of the birthday cake candles, evenly space 21 holes into the clay starting in the centre and working your way out.



Step four: Leave to dry for 24/48 hours until there are no wet patches in the clay and it is completely solid.

Step five: Paint your spiral in a colour of your choosing. The colours that correspond with Yule are… Red, Green, White, Gold, Silver, Purple and Blue.

Step six: once the paint is completely dry, apply a coat of the fire retardant sealant.

Step seven: Using the materials from nature you can create a place to sit your spiral on.

Step eight: Insert a candle into each of the holes that you created in step three.

Step nine: Light a candle on each evening in the lead up to Yule until the night of the Solstice.




Today's Recipe: Monkey Cake with River Eno


Monkey Cake

We’ve been making Monkey Cake since I was a young child, and I'm not going to tell you my age!! We usually made it around the holidays. I’ve seen many versions, slight variations, but mostly the same ingredients and delicious outcome.


I prefer to use a Bundt pan because it’s a bit fancy. But I know some like to use a tube pan, either is totally fine.


What I love about this recipe is that it is so easy to make vegan, as Earth Balance vegan butter is one for one for regular butter. And there are now, at least, 8 different vegan biscuits sold in most supermarkets! I usually use Immaculate Bakery biscuits, but here are 5 others you could use:

1)    Pillsbury Grands – Southern Homestyle

2)    Pillsbury Grands – Southern Homestyle Buttermilk

3)    Pillsbury Grands – Flaky layers Sweet Hawaiian

4)    Pillsbury Flaky Layers Buttermilk

5)    Annies Organic Flaky

 
Ingredients;

 1)     2 16 ounce containers (8 biscuits each – using three of these brand biscuit is way too much) of Flaky Organic Biscuits by Immaculate Bakery

2)     1 cup of organic sugar (or white if you prefer)

3)     11/2 Tablespoons of organic cinnamon

4)     1 and 1/2 sticks of Earth Balance (12 ounces)

Additions:

5)     ¼ cup chopped organic walnuts

6)     ¼ cup of organic yellow raisins

7)    Whatever your favorite add-on might be

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

 Cut each biscuit into four equal pieces


Combine the cup of sugar and cinnamon in a bowl or bag (we always use a bag).

 


Drop or roll the pieces of dough in the cinnamon sugar mixture and gently arrange them in the prepared Bundt pan.

Add and arrange your raisins or walnuts at this time.

 In a small saucepan combine Earth Balance and cinnamon sugar and heat until melted about one minute.

Pour the mixture over the cinnamon sugared dough pieces in the Bundt pan. Put more raisins or nuts on top if you like. I think you could also dress this up for the Yuletide season with dried fruits or pecans or other bits you love!
 

Bake in a preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes.  Let stand for five minutes. Using oven mitts, turn out onto a plate and allow the pan to sit upside down for a few moments, letting the butter and melted sugar mixture drizzle down the now puffed pieces of dough.

 

Yule Giveaway!



Travel Altar/Hidden Altar




Originally designed to provide a “hidden in plain sight” altar for witches who couldn’t freely practice their craft, these books are great travel cases too. Created from books saved from the shredder, I intentionally choose completely mundane titles that draw no interest whatsoever. Useful as hidden storage for your altar or for any items you want to keep private. This particular altar case hides inside The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. If this title would stand out too much on the winner’s shelves, we can discuss other available titles. 




Winner will receive the book and some standard altar items – 2 white candles and candle holders, a palo santo stick, charcoal, a bottle to hold your moon water (or whatever you’d like), a stone of your choice and an altar cloth. 


How to enter: 

Go to: Wormwood and Sage Etsy Shop. Find your favorite item, come back and tell us what you liked best in the comments below.

Bonus: (1 comment=1 entry)
Favorite the Wormwood and Sage Etsy Shop - tell us that you did in the comments.
Like the Wormwood and Sage Facebook Page
Follow Wormwood and Sage on Instagram


We must have your name and email address to notify you should you win. You may enter it into the comments below, or enter it here, for privacy's sake.


That's all for today!

Thank you for participating! Happy Yuletide!

21 comments:

  1. I liked the Wormwood and Sage etsy shop

    ReplyDelete
  2. I liked the Wormwood and Sage Facebook page

    ReplyDelete
  3. I follow Wormwood and Sage on Instagram

    ReplyDelete
  4. Replies
    1. Because we had you on file from Samhain, I allowed your entries. Please use our Winter solstic reg form to sign up for these giveaways. Thank you!

      Delete
  5. I loved the crescent moon wreath on etsy

    ReplyDelete
  6. I favorited the Wormwood ad Sage etsy shop. And I adore the Crescent Moon wreath and the Star can't shine without darkness sticker.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I hearted the wormwood and sage etsy shop and looked through all the listings

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Going forward, please share your email address, either in comments or via our Winter Solstice Registration form. That way, you will be eligible for the prizes. Since I don't know who this is, I can't reach out to you if you win.

      Delete
  8. I followed wormwood and sage on instagram

    ReplyDelete
  9. i liked the wormwood and sage page on FB

    ReplyDelete
  10. loved all the postings today on the blog! finally getting into the spirit of the holidays! <*)

    ReplyDelete
  11. I favorited Wormwood Etsy shop

    ReplyDelete
  12. I love the Be Furiously Happy sticker

    ReplyDelete
  13. I like Wormwood and Sage on FB

    ReplyDelete
  14. I like Wormwood and Sage on IG

    ReplyDelete
  15. The crescent moon wreath is gorgeous, and still my favorite! I love mine! ❤️

    ReplyDelete
  16. I love that there is a vegan recipe! <3 Thank you!

    ReplyDelete

Happy Yule from The Sirens! December 21, 2021

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