Kicking it all off – The Gifts :
In honor of Yule’s Eve, I think it is most appropriate that the first gift of the season be spiritual in nature and come from someone who is themselves Pagan. It is the gift that will set the tone for not only the evening to come, but also for the 12 days to follow. As I am the only true pagan in my children’s lives, this year, I will be doing the gifting.
At the request of my littlest elves, we will kick of our 13 days of Yule with a gift exchange set to Alvin and the Chipmunks holiday music (my littlest ones are 4 after all). We will each open one gift and make a handmade thank you note for the gifter (in this case, me), who will promptly place each of the thank you notes in a special scrapbook set-up just for the occasion.
Since Yule is a time for reflection, I have decided that this Yule’s Eve, each of my older children and my husband will receive a handmade mirror book to journal about their upcoming year with the Craeft. It will also be easily arted to suit their individual needs (a project we intend to take on during our 13 days of Yule or on Twelfth Night after our Naming Ceremony).
For my young ones who do not yet write, I have decided to gift a sketch book style mirror book instead of a traditional journal. The idea is, that after each ritual, celebration or observance, they can draw a picture of what they liked or disliked the most. When the drawing is finished, they may dictate to me their story and I will write it on the page that follows. Since journaling is such a big part of most witches’ lives, I thought – why not start early.
If the mirror books go over as well as I think they will, I am hoping to repeat the tradition year-after-year.
About the Thank You’s:
The concept of HANDMADE thank you cards is one of the main reasons we decided to go with the 13 day gift exchange, so I will undoubtedly discuss this one again with you later; but as this particular tradition is so important to our Solstice season, I have decided to discuss it here as well.
I am trying to instill in my little witchlings that Yule is not about the gifts we are receiving, but about our families and friends reaching out to one another. It is about taking time to acknowledge our love and appreciation for those we share our lives with, and this is why we MAKE our thank you cards as opposed to filling in pre-purchased ones.
Making a thank you card takes time and requires us to tap into our creative energy. It is a way to really acknowledge the gift we have in our relationship with the gifter, as we have to really tap in to our understanding of who the gifter is and how we relate to them in order to produce a truly sincere card. Writing a few words on a store bought card (especially for young children), just doesn’t have the same impact.
I am considering posting a short series of tutorials for making handmade Holiday Cards and Thank You notes over the next few weeks, complete with pictures and possibly video (assuming I can figure out how to post video - lol), if people are interested. So please comment if this is something you would like to have me to do and I will make it a priority.
In the Circle:
OK, so not only will this be our family’s first official Yule celebration, this year will also mark our first family Sabbat ritual, in the circle, at the altar, on Yule – and even better, it will be my children's first Full Moon! During the ritual, we will share our version of the traditional Yule Story and discuss as a family what to expect over the next 12 days. We will light the first of our 13 solstice candles to symbolize the growing light with the return of the sun; and we will light 3 oil lamps to set outside our door where they will burn through the night and welcome the God home.
I am not going to go into the details of our intended ritual here as I just don’t think it is appropriate to do so… However, if you would like to see a general outline of how we plan to proceed, please let me know – I would be more than happy to share. (I will be posting an article specifically detailing our Candle Lighting ritual in the next 48 hours).
Grounding Out with Cakes and Ales
We will close our circle after homemade Crescent Cakes (my special recipe) and a special holiday drink that I have not yet decided on. I am entertaining the idea of homemade Apple Cider, Rich Hot Chocolate – possibly with Espresso, or even Soft Mead (courtesy of pagandad.com). If you have any suggestions, I would LOVE to hear them. We will be sampling recipes over the next few days, so look for our family favorites in my Holiday Recipes article later this week.
A Few Private Moments of Reflection:
Once the children and my husband have left the circle, I will take a few moments in private meditation before then turning the first card of my Sacred Days of Yule Tarot Spread (courtesy of a post by June Kaminsky on BellaOnline.com – http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art26918.asp) onto the Wheel of the Year, located at my private altar. I considered a family reading, but decided that, at least this year – I would like this to be for myself. My own time, if you will, divining with the Universal Current.
This will be my first time using this particular spread, if you have used it or decide to try it this year as will be doing – please share your feedback. I am excited to hear your thoughts.
Finally, we will stay up all night long, listening to holiday music and making homemade ornaments, pine cone fairies, and popcorn-cranberry garland to decorate our tree, while excitedly awaiting the rising sun. Thursday I will post recipes for each of these projects, and if at all possible I will try to include pictures and video. <3
When the sun arrives, we will all take a few moments outside to bask in its life-giving rays, feel the vitamin D as it soaks into our skin and radiates throughout our bodies, and meditate on the year to come.
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I will be posting several articles relating to this series over the next few weeks, so please feel free to follow my blog if you don’t want to miss anything. Also, if you are interested in a brief overview of our 13 Days of Yule tradition – please be sure to check out my guest post on PaganDad.com: http://www.pagandad.com/2010/12/thirteen-days-of-yule.html.
Thank you so much for reading - and I hope you will come back tomorrow. As usual, I am just dying for your feedback and I look forward to hearing from you.
Namaste and Blessed Be,