For thousands of years, humans have celebrated the Winter Solstice and the birth/renewal cycle of life. It falls between December 20th and December 23rd, depending on the year. Our ancestors would gather together on the darkest and longest night of the year to welcome the return of the Sun King or rebirth of the Oak King, knowing that each day afterwards would be a little bit warmer and a little bit more light would shine.
This ritual is an outdoor version, complete with a roaring fire and winter libations, so dress warm and enjoy!
What you’ll need to prepare for this ritual (as written)
Quarter Candles (4 total) in these colors – Red (South,) Yellow (East,) Green (North,) and Blue (West)
Goddess Candle – Large White Candle (I use a three wick candle for the Goddess)
Parchment and pencils for everyone
Small white, red, and black taper candle
Yule Log (we use the same one year after year and keep it stored under our bed)
Goblet or ceremonial cup with spirited libation of wine, ale, or mead
Bonfire or fire circle
3 Female Volunteers are required (a young woman, a mother, and an elder woman)
Any portion of the ritual that is bracketed with <> refers to instructions and should not be spoken aloud.
<Opening Statement – A call to action for the participants to stop talking, gather, and prepare to begin the ritual>
“All ye travelers come gather ‘round, With sky above; on sacred ground, Together we consecrate this meeting place, Outside of time, outside of space, Behold! The circle is cast!”
Join Us as We Call the Quarters
We call out to the AIR Elementals of the East – bearers of the great currents that purify the atmosphere – join us tonight in this great gathering – cleanse our mental plane from negative thoughts, pride, prejudice, and jealousy <light yellow candle>
We call out to the FIRE Elementals of the South – keeper of the great cleansing flames – join us in this great gathering – infuse our every molecule with the spiritual fires of creation so that we may continue to grow <light red candle>
We call out to the WATER Elementals of the West – guardians of the oceans, the lakes, and the rivers – join us in this great gathering – wash away that which has polluted our lives and recharge our souls with your energy <light blue candle>
We call out to the EARTH Elementals of the North – guardians of the four seasons, the soil, and all that depends upon it – join us in this great gathering – share your strength and ensure all living things have the means to flourish <light green candle>
Since the beginning of time, we who hold faith in the laws of nature have gathered on this night to celebrate the rebirth of the Sun. On the Winter Solstice, the darkest and longest of nights, the Goddess becomes the Great Mother and once again gives birth to the Sun and the new yearly cycle. <Light Goddess Candle>
Praises to the Goddess – for it is she who brings new light and hope to all citizens of the Earth. On this longest and darkest night we must look deep within ourselves; into the very core of our souls, for only there we shall find what we seek. Tonight; together, we can open ourselves to experience a new spark of hope for the coming year; our own Sacred Fire, and our own inner Light that we can offer to the world around us.
<No pagan celebration is complete without some form of singing, dancing, and music – use this interlude to find your inner voices and enjoy a night of celebration>
Praises to every man, woman, and child gathered here in the darkness, awaiting the new light that comes with the morning sun!
Blessings upon each one of you as we prepare to welcome that new light within ourselves!
As with a new beginning, also must come an ending – take time now to cast out that which has been a lodestone upon your physical or spiritual life – use the cleansing fires of this gathering to cut the cords which bind your spiritual growth so that you may be renewed with the first light of the morning sun <provide time for each participant to approach the fire and burn anything which might be anchoring them to negative actions or thoughts – if the focus is too large or non-flammable, then have them write it down on a sheet of parchment and burn it>
Burning Prayer <ask everyone to join hands and repeat after the orator>
We cast out that which has burdened our lives, releasing the negative energies back into the ether to be reclaimed and recycled by the Great Guardians who stand watch over all that we do in life. So Mote it Be!
<Please Observe a Moment of Silence to Allow for Individual Meditation on What Each Person Has Released>
As we stand here on the precipice of a new year, we must take time to remember the Goddess in each of her three states and what she offers the world
Remembering the Three Stages of the Goddess
<Ask the three women volunteers to approach and read their particular parts in order>
<Woman #1 – holding the white candle – light then read>
I come to you as a Maiden
Young and free, fresh as springtime
Yet within me a yearning stirs to create, to explore, to share and to give all that I can
<Woman #2 – holding the red candle – light then read>
As a Mother I bring forth the fruit of my creativity
I am growth and abundance and fertility
As I become ripe with child, the earth also erupts with blossoms, flowers, and greenery
<Woman #3 – holding the black candle – light then read>
I am the crone, the ancient wise one, the Lady of Darkness
As my time grows shorter, do not fear, for I shall be reborn and bring forth another cycle of the wheel
<All three read together>
Day is over, Night has Come
Today is Gone, What’s Done is Done
Embrace Your Dreams through the Night
Tomorrow Comes with a Brand New Light!
<The three then simultaneously throw their lit candles into the bonfire>
Consecration of the Yule Log
Yule is the end of the old solar year and the beginning of the new one. Traditionally, the end of the year is a time to look back and reflect but it is also a time to look ahead to the future, to make plans and set goals.
The Yule Log has been part of this celebration for longer than anyone here can remember – once lit, it should never be allowed to burn out on its own as that would be a sign of bad luck in the coming year – it should be purposefully extinguished as a piece will be needed for the next year’s Yule celebration. A Yule log cannot be sold nor purchased – it can be gifted or cut from your own land, just as long as no barter or money changes hands. This log has been burned for many Yule rituals and it carries all the energies of this circle with it.
And so we offer a toast the New Year, to those gathered here both in physical form and in spirit – and as we consecrate this sacred wood, we also pledge to focus our energies to endure, accomplish, and manifest our desires and tasks during the coming cycle.
<Raise the cup in toast to the gathering and then pour the cup’s contents over the Yule log>
“You who have died are now reborn. Lend us your light through the winter months as we await the spring.”
<Place the Yule Log into the fire>
We toast to celebrate the New Year!
We toast to celebrate the coming of the light!
We toast to celebrate friendship and family!
And most important, we toast to togetherness – this community has grown significantly over the last year and we have learned and shared and taught one another in more ways than any of us could have expected. Look to your right and to your left, across from you and behind you – these are your brothers and sisters – this is your family – no one shall ever be in need as long as we have each other – no one shall ever be lonely – no one shall ever go hungry – no one shall ever have to endure the pain of life without a listening ear and strong shoulder to cry upon – we are each a stick, easily bent when alone, but invincible when tied into a tight bundle!
<depending on the weather, you may wish to share food, drinks, or just socialize around the fire – spend as much time as you’d like, but remember to honor the sacred circle and it’s boundaries>
<Closing the Circle>
We offer our thanks to the Goddess; the youthful Maiden, the fertile Mother, and the wise Crone
Live within each of us throughout the coming year.<extinguish Goddess candle>
Power of Earth, leave us with the wisdom of cultivation and conservation so that we may steward the lands for future generations <extinguish green candle>
Power of Water, fill us with the energies of the never-ending tides so that we may fulfill our duties and destinies <extinguish blue candle>
Power of Fire, warm not only our bodies, but our hearts and souls, so that we may give to those who are in need <extinguish red candle>
Power of Air, remind us that strength often comes to us invisible and mysterious and we should have no fear of the unknown <extinguish yellow candle>
“This circle is now open”
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