Happy Yule to all

Happy Yule to everyone. The winter solstice is here again, and so much faster than last year (I must be getting old). This year we decided to break with tradition and go on a coven excursion to the Lismore Lantern Parade for the solstice. There was a Viking recreation village set up in a convenient park to visit and a hunting party drifting around town (looking for boar and elk no doubt).
We started the celebration with lunch and an exchange of Yule gifts then went off to tour the Viking village where we felt right at home. I gathered lots of ideas for building and making things and admired the leather bound warriors who drifted by occasionally or could be seen sitting beside their fires making socks and sharpening axes. Finally we found ourselves a prime spot beside the road to watch the parade go by once night fell (we took thousands of really blurry photos but I have included the best ones below).

Yule gifts
More Yule gifts
Even more Yule gifts

A Viking tent with straw under the canvas floor, what a good idea.

Warriors beside the fire making things with a pole lathe. The seated warrior is naalbinding a pair of socks (more on that later)

Sleeping skins in a tent

A game of chess (sort of) set up to play when the women are finished cooking.

A pegged bed (no nails) I loved this tent, so neat and tidy. The shield by the door tells everyone who’s tent it is.

Some traditional Viking tools: nallbinding needles, sewing needles, card looms, needle holders, spindles and the essential drinking horn.

An old friend who used to come to circle as a child, who knew there was a Viking lurking in there.

Some of the beautiful lanterns at the parade.

The Viking ship sailed by accompanied by a crowd of fur and leather dressed villagers. The smell of leather and wood smoke in the air and the sound of a marching chant and drums just made me goosebumps all over.

Where the wild things are is one of my favourite books.

Gaia in person

The Green Mand was there to welcome the sun back.

A better shot of the long boat.

I have decided to try naalbinding this year as it looks amazingly complicated. I watched several people making socks and pouches at the Viking village. Apparently the Vikings didn’t know how to knit, they made woollen clothing using a sort of macrame with a needle: naalbinding. Check out the video below for a quick explanation and a demonstration…

Look out for a post about naalbinding in the future.

Happy late Yule to all

Happy Yule to all

We were about two weeks late for Yule this year but when we did get to it we had a lot of fun.

Yule is the celebration of the winter solstice; the shortest day of the year which falls on the 21st/22nd of June here in the southern hemisphere. It is the time of the long, dark, cold night that reminds us of the suffering our ancestors went through to survive this time of year, when food is scarce and it seems that the warm days of spring may never come. To answer these feelings we have a feast (showing faith that we will be able to grow more food) and light a fire as a symbol that the sun will return and grows stronger from this time onwards to Litha (summer solstice).

We celebrate Yule by thanking the elements for another year of abundance, telling stories and lighting a candle each to symbolise the rebirth of the Sun. We also have a bonfire and swap handmade presents. This year I got a beautiful crochet poncho. In past years we have decorated an evergreen tree with solar symbols and decorated the circle with branches, but as there are only us old pagans left we toned it down to the essentials.
One element that is always present though is the gluhwein (mulled wine). It warms the blood and makes the long night speed by.

Getting everything ready for the ritual (making a list, checking it twice)

The master bonfire maker.

The apprentice

Our altar, ready to go as the darkness fell. Presents, candles and gluhwein (mulled, spiced wine)

The glorious bonfire, giving us warmth and light.

The candles burned down as the night went on, feasting and talking. They made frozen wax waterfalls.

The bonfire burned down to ashes too, but still kept us warm.
My gorgeous poncho

It makes much more sense to me to hold this celebration at midwinter rather than in December; the symbols all make sense now.
Have a happy Yule everyone.