The Yule Rites - from Woden's Folk website here
(This article has been reposted here with kind permission from WF). I think that all my readers interested in the Germanic pagan origins of Yule will find the article a worthwhile read!
The rites for Yuletide are of extreme importance to us as a Folk; the Germanic peoples held this particular time of year to be especially sacred to them. This was because it was a time when the Powers of Light triumph over the Powers of Darkness, as the Sun is reborn at the Mothers’ Night or Winter Sun-Wend. The importance of this period of the Germanic year was never lost to us, which is why the Judaeo-Christians had to replace it with their own most important festival – Christmas. Even our own Yule-Father (Woden) was retained as “Father Christmas” or “Santa Clause” (the latter from the Dutch “Sinta Klaas”).
Today, this important time of the year has been totally distorted; what they could not destroy before they have managed to make into a complete mockery! The “Christmas” period now starts at the end of August when cheap-skate rubbish is poured into the shops – year after year – ready for the “celebration” of this period of the year. Festivities are still held, but they are a mockery of the true religious festivals of this time of the year. Ritual drinking and merriment has given way to parties and drinking sprees; the essence is the same, but the form is a total mockery of a former important religious festival.
"Christmas", of course, is merely one of the regular “rip-off” times when the money-boys rake in millions from the inert sheep-like masses. Easter, Halloween and Firework Night are some of the other times of the year when great profit is made from foolish people who should have better things to spend their money on.
The idea behind our Wodenic Yule-Tide is to replace this wanton commercialism with a true religious festival; this is not just a “one-day” thing (Winter Solstice as some “pagans” seem to feel enough) but a full month of religious rites, centred round a set form. People with young children need not feel that they need to drop “Christmas Day” either, for this should be incorporated into the festival, but in a form suited to our Religious Faith. There is a real reason for this, since the term Sunstead (Germanic) or Solstice (Latin) actually means – “to stand still”. This is simply because the Sun appears to stand still on the horizon at this particular time of the year (and the Summer Sunstead too). This tells us a little about the true meaning of the Sunstead, for the original day would have been nearer to December 22nd, which would have been the time the Sun “stands still”; this would last for three days taking us up to December 25th when the Sun would be reborn as harbinger of the New Year. So there really is no need to drop the “Christmas Day”, which can now be turned into Yule-Day and celebrated as the rebirth of the Sun.
THE YULE-RITES –Firstly you will need to get hold of a Sacred Wheel which is a 6-spoked wheel that will be used not only as a Yule-Wheel but also for ritual use throughout the year. This can be bought new from a heathen supplier (which is rather expensive) or bought second-hand as an old fashioned wooded wheel with metal rim (this is cheaper and is far better since it has an “older” feel about it. This wheel would have a diameter of about 2 ft. and have six spokes. It should be stained dark brown and can (if you wish) be decorated with runes. With the old wooden wheel you will need to ensure that it sits on a flat surface. Into the hub of the Sacred Wheel you should place a young forked twig about 2’6” tall; this has no branches and should be either smoothed off or left with the bark on. The whole thing symbolizes the Tree of Life, but the usual ‘Christmas Tree’ (Yule Tree) can still be used as well.
Red ribbons will be used to hang a Yule-Wreath from the forked twig; this is placed around half way up the twig. The wreath can be made by using a wooden hoop, bound with small pine twigs or fir twigs. Four red candles should be fastened safely to the Yule-Wreath. The reason will be made clearer later.
You will celebrate this festival by starting on Woden’s Day which is December 6th and was co-opted by the Christians as “St. Nickolas’ Day” (“Old Nick” being Nikor or Nikuda, names of Woden). On this day Woden saddles his White Horse; he was known as “Ruprecht” (Hruodpercht = The Shining One with Glory – i.e. “Rupert” in English). On this day the Woden Rite is done, preferably with the whole family.
The Candle Rite –
- Four candles are put on the Yule-Tree (as stated before); the first candle is lit on the first Sunday of December, two candles on the second Sunday, three on the third, and finally the four red candles are lit together on the Winter Sunstead (December 21st – 22nd). This symbolizes the Winter Sunwend Fires (which should still be lit outdoors if possible), and also the Sun in the Underworld.
- At the same time, four different candles are place around the base of the Yule Wheel; all four candles are lit on the first Sunday in December, decreasing to three on the second, two the third, and one on the Winter Sunwend. This symbolizes the Waning Sun or Dying Sun, and when the one candle is lit this should be done for the three days (with the other four candles) over until the Yule-Day.
- This last of the four waning lights should be placed inside the Julleuchter (Yule-Lighter), and kept on for the three days until Yule-Day. On the Yule-Day Eve the candle on the top of the Yule-Lighter should be lit to symbolize the Reborn Sun. (Since the Sun is actually ‘reborn’ on December 25th this would be done on December 24th.)
- The Sun in the Underworld (awaiting rebirth as the Son of the Sun) is symbolized by the Fylfot-Swastika (*), and thus it is also relevant to use a Fylfot candle-holder, either made oneself or bought from a heathen supplier. This can be used instead of the four red candles since it will have four candle-holders.
The Yule-Tales – each one of the following tales should be told to the children every Yule-Sunday throughout December; these should be done with the lighting of the candles. You should explain the meaning to the children and the family -
1st Yule Sunday - “Little Red Riding Hood”.
The child with the Red Cap (The Sun) goes into the dark wood to visit the old mother (Earth Mother) and is swallowed up by a Wolf (taken into the Underworld). The young hunter (Sun-Hero) slays the Wolf and brings her freedom; with it the rebirth of the year.
2nd Yule Sunday - “Snow White”.The princely child goes into the deep wood, reaches the Kingdom of the Dwarfs (Mother Earth) but is ‘slain’ by the bad step-mother. She sleeps on a mountain in a Glass Coffin (Ice Winter) and is freed and brought home by a young hero (Sun-Hero).
3rd Yule Sunday - “Maiden Marlene”.The princess with the Golden Hair (The Sun-Goddess) is imprisoned in a tower (death of the Sun). The world becomes barren & empty. The Prince (Sun-Hero) tries to free her but is thwarted by the bad bride (the bad one), until the time is right and he recognises the right bride and brings her home.
4th Yule Sunday - “Sleeping Beauty”.The Princess (Sun-Goddess) reaches the tower of the Spinning Old Woman (the bad one), she falls into a deep sleep, the world becomes barren & empty until the young Prince (Sun-Hero) comes and freely walks through the rose hedges because the time was ripe (Winter Sun-Stead). He awakens the Sleeping Princess with a kiss, the world awakes and radiates in New Light. Yuletide Songs can also be used over the Yuletide - these should be re-heathenised ones that are devoid of Christian ideas. Many of the so-called “Christmas Carols” such as “The Holly & the Ivy” are obviously derived from Nature-Worship & Sun-Worship.
The Yule-Baking –Yule baking should be –
1. Large Cake,
2. Gingerbread & Almond Biscuits,
3. Shaped Biscuits.
The large Yule Cake should be served up with a candle in the middle. Old recipes should be used and where possible ingredients should not be made up of the cheap consumer society goods.
Gingerbread cakes & biscuits, made with honey & syrup, should be cut in heart-, star-, or wheel-shapes. Almond cakes should be made in these preferred shapes:-
The cockerel - announcer of the day time.
The boar - The Yule Boar.
The rider - Woden on his horse.
The Hunter - Woden.
The Spinner - Friga/Frau Holle.
The Tree of Life.
The human couple.
In addition hand-formed biscuits can be made into runic shapes; this can be done by rolling the dough into long thick “spaghetti”. The Swastika & Sun-Wheel and the Horseshoe can also be used. These hand-formed almond biscuits should be used to decorate the Yule-Wreath, and should hang upon the Yule-Tree. The modern cheap plastic decorations should never be used on the Sacred Wheel nor the Yule Tree.
The Yule-Tree –When you do your Mothers’ Day Rite you should place a special Yule-Tree on the site of the rites; obviously this should be a small tree suited to being moved easily. This should be the usual evergreen “Christmas Tree”. It should be brought home after the rites and placed in the centre of the Yule-Wheel (or it can be placed separately if you wish). It should be decorated with Yule-Lights. These should preferably be candles, but for reasons of safety you could use modern lights (you can get solar lights now which are more moveable and use no electricity). You can also decorate the tree with the following –
- Red apples, symbolic of forthcoming life, and also the Red Sun.
- Golden and Silver painted nuts or fir-cones.
- Home-baked shaped biscuits.
- Wooden Yule-wheels or fylfot-swastikas representing the Sun again.The Yule-Tree is symbolic of Iggdrasil or the Irminsul – the World Tree. It represents the Sacred Centre. The lights symbolize the stars and shining cosmos, as the Sunstead-Fires shine through the forests of the Ur-Lands of the North.
The Yule-Day –Ideally, the Yule-Day itself should be celebrated in the evening and not in the morning which is usual today. This is a feast of the Newborn Light and the Renewal of Life. It commemorates the birth of the Son (The Son of the Sun), and of thanks to the Mother who gives birth to the Son of the Sun. It also symbolises the growth of the Folk. This is usually a close family affair, but can be adapted for use with a group.
Yule Meal – Traditionally this was carp, goose, boar or hare; the Yule-Boar was a favourite, and is sacred as a Saxon English symbol – the White Boar of the Saxons.
The father should make a short speech before the meal.
The Presents – these should be a surprise and be made especially by the giver.
The Yule-Lighter – The father lights the Yule-Candle on the Yule-Lighter from whence the Yule-Tree candles will get their light. On the Yule-Tree should be 13 (twelve months plus the 13 renewing) or 27 (each month with 9 days) candles. Three candles are placed close together and lit before the whole family, whilst the father says –
“The Light shall burn for our Ancestors who are here with us tonight. This Light shall burn for our Dead Heroes from past conflicts, and this Light shall burn for our Germanic Brothers all over the world, who all celebrate Yuletide with us tonight.”
You can sing “O Tannenbaum” using a translation if this can be found; or again an adaptation can be used. The “Labour Movement” adapted this for their own use, so it is appropriate to take it back from them. The presents are then opened, and tales should be told during the evening, around the fire or candle-light.
The Yule-Lighter (Julleuchter) –This is a clay piece of workmanship that can be bought easily for around 30 – 40 pounds; it has room for a candle within, and one set on top. The one within symbolises the dying Sun, whilst the top one symbolises the reborn Sun. It is usually decorated with a six-spoked rune (Haegl-Rune) and hearts (symbolising the Mother of Earth). This should burn throughout the Twelve Nights of Yule. Originally, these Twelve Nights would have been from December 25th through to January 6th, the latter being Frigg’s Day. Adopting our idea of lighting the Yule-Lighter on the Yule Day Eve would fit with this idea. But you could use two symbols, one using the Mothers’ Night to New Year’s Eve, and the other from Yule-Day to Frigg’s Day. Or use either one, whichever way suits you. There is room for experiment here.
“Everything goes, everything returns,
Eternally rolls the wheel of life,
Everything dies, everything blooms again.
Eternally rolls the wheel of life.
Everything breaks, everything is mended,
Eternally builds the house of life.
Everyone parts, everyone meets again,
Eternally the cycle of life stays true.”
- Friedrich Nietzsche.
Here we have great scope for some real celebrations and old-fashioned merriment; the days for festivities being –
- The Mothers’ Night
- New Year’s Eve
- New Year’s Day
- Frigg’s Day
These can be adapted for your own use, and rituals could (or perhaps should) be performed on each occasion with the Mead-Horn being used for a Symbel with each ritual. Social merriment has always been a part of our tradition, but first we need to reinstate the religious rites that go with the celebrations. Each occasion should be a religious festival and not just an excuse to get blind drunk. Drink and make merry after each rite, and feast too which was a part of our Heathen Tradition. But above all make this a time of celebration of the Reborn Sun and the Reborn Light.
This is your Sacred Wheel and can be used at Easter, Midsummer, and every other important festival of the year. For example, at Easter, the Yule-Wreath will be replaced by a Sunwheel made of hazel or willow twigs, using the catkins for effect at this particular time of the year. This will hang down from the top, but flat against the forked twig.
(*) This seems to be the secret of the Merseburg Charm where the foal of Pol (Balder) is ‘lamed’, hinting at the bent ends of the Fylfot (‘Foal’s Foot’). This represents Pol (the Sun-God) in the Underworld.