Coven Yule Ritual (It is rare to read a coven ritual)

A coven ritual is something that you will get to see unless you are a part of that coven. You sure won’t have the opportunity to read or hear about any of their rituals. Before I started writing this, I was thinking about how I use to feel about coven witches. I always thought that were so secretive. Everything was hush, hush. Then it hit me, Solitary witches are the same way. We keep all our spells and rituals secret. We don’t broadcast to the public what we are or what we do. So I guess when you get right down to the nit-gritty, we are all alike, lol! The only difference is a coven witch has kindred spirits and the Solitaries have to wonder through life bumming into their kindreds!

Whatever, we are all Witches and one big family! What’s the important part is that we have found each other. We can fellowship, laugh, cry, share, learn and most of all become friends.

I hope you enjoy reading the ritual.

Coven Yule Ritual
by Julia Phillips

Circle is cast and Quarters erected.

High Priestess:

We now stand at the turning of the year.

Dark Lord:

Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, All fades and passes, day to night.

Dark Lord extinguishes candles leaving only altar candles alight.

High Priestess:

Let us dance for the long year’s end, for the sun sets quickly in the west, and we begin the long night of hope.

Coven do Wheel or Cord dance widdershins about the cauldron  chanting:

Time and Death, Life and Seasons, All must pass, All must change.

Star Child now leaves the circle, and stands behind the veil in the North.

High Priestess stands at the cauldron in the centre, wearing a black veil.

High Priestess:

I am the Hag who engendered you all; I am the Three and the One who is here; I am the log that is ripe for burning; In my end is your hope of beginning.

High Priestess now lifts the cauldron aloft and presents it to each quarter.  She returns to the centre, and lights the cauldron candle, from  which she lights a quarter candle for each member of the coven.  The quarter candles are placed in their respective quarters.

Narrator:

This is the night of the Solstice; the Mother Night.  Now darkness triumphs, and yet gives way and changes to light. Time stops, and all wait while the cauldron  of the Dark King is transformed into the infant Light.  We watch for the dawn when the Mother  again gives birth to the sun, who is the bringer of hope and the  promise of summer. Holly gives way to Oak, the Wren to  the Robin, Old to New.

We stand now in the long night, we pray for the sun’s return. In darkness and shadows the Great Mother  groans. The Mother labours to bring forth the sun from her pain. From her cries of labour comes forth our  cries of welcome; from her toil and anguish our hope is reborn. Let us now call forth the Great Mother, and the Lord of Life, her husband and son.

The Star Child emerges from behind the veil, and lays at the feet of the High Priestess. The High Priestess points to the Star Child and proclaims:

Behold the Child! Here lies our king!

The High Priestess crowns the Star Child with a crown of mistletoe. She  removes her veil and announces:

I am the Mother who brought forth the child; I am the inspiration, and I am the rebirth.

Narrator:

You are the ecstasy of the blessed. You are the light of the sun’s beams. You are the lordly door of welcome. You are the guiding star. Yours is the step of the roe on the hill. Yours is the step of the white-faced mare.          Yours is the grace of the swimming swan. You are the jewel in each mystery.

Coven now do Wheel or Cord dance deosil about the cauldron  chanting:

Power of soil and power of air, Power of fire and power of water, Power that spins the wheel of birth, Spins the wheel of joy and mirth, Spins the wheel of sun and moon, Push, push, push, Open the gate.

Power of spell and magic free, Eternal power that binds the sea, Weaves the web of infinity, Light of dark and light of day, Speed the spokes fast on their way, Push push push – ah ah Open the gate, So Mote It Be!

High Priestess now invokes the Lord of Misrule into the circle. He is  challenged upon entry by the Dark Lord, and must explain who he  is, and why he is there. The Lord of Misrule is now in charge of  the circle, and may behave as he sees fit. At some point, he must  take the burdens of the coven for the previous twelve moons and  pack them in his bag.   Cakes and Wine.

The Lord of Misrule must be ritually hunted as a wren to bring  about his downfall. The coven mime hunting the wren chanting,

Burn the bush, Hunt the wren

When he is discovered, the coven point their athames at his neck  to symbolise his death.

Close ritual.

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A Poem for Yule

Yule Comments & Graphics
A Poem for Yule

by Elspeth Sapphire

I hear the wind howling
The ice has entered my soul
The cold seems endless
The darkness black as coal.

Yet a spark of something
Shines bright through the night
Could it be the dawning
Of approaching light?

For it’s always coldest
In the hours before dawn
Darkness is its deepest,
Facing fears we’ve drawn

How can loneliness dwell
With loved ones nearby?
Why the tiny doubts
Filling me with their cries?

So I turn my face away
Forget the winter’s chill
Celebrate Sun’s return
As my spirit thrills.

~Magickal Graphics~

Midwinter Night’s Eve: Yule by Mike Nichols

To be it wouldn’t be a Sabbat without an article from Mike Nichols. He is absolutely, fabulous Pagan writer. I hope you enjoy this article as much as I do.

 

Midwinter Night’s Eve: Yule
by Mike Nichols

Our Christian friends are often quite surprised at how enthusiastically we Pagans  celebrate the ‘Christmas’ season.  Even though we prefer to use the word ‘Yule’, and our  celebrations may peak a few days before the 25th, we nonetheless follow many of the  traditional customs of the season: decorated trees, carolling, presents, Yule logs, and  mistletoe.  We might even go so far as putting up a ‘Nativity set’, though for us the three  central characters are likely to be interpreted as Mother Nature, Father Time, and the Baby  Sun-God.  None of this will come as a surprise to anyone who knows the true history of the  holiday, of course.

In fact, if truth be known, the holiday of Christmas has always been more Pagan than  Christian, with it’s associations of Nordic divination, Celtic fertility rites, and Roman  Mithraism.  That is why both Martin Luther and John Calvin abhorred it, why the Puritans  refused to acknowledge it, much less celebrate it (to them, no day of the year could be  more holy than the Sabbath), and why it was even made illegal in Boston!  The holiday  was  already too closely associated with the birth of older Pagan gods and heroes.  And many of  them (like Oedipus, Theseus, Hercules, Perseus, Jason, Dionysus, Apollo, Mithra, Horus and  even Arthur) possessed a narrative of birth, death, and resurrection that was uncomfortably  close to that of Jesus. And to make matters worse, many of them pre-dated the Christian  Savior.

Ultimately, of course, the holiday is rooted deeply in the cycle of the year.  It is the  Winter Solstice that is being celebrated, seed-time of the year, the longest night and  shortest day.  It is the birthday of the new Sun King, the Son of God — by whatever name  you choose to call him.  On this darkest of nights, the Goddess becomes the Great Mother  and once again gives birth.  And it makes perfect poetic sense that on the longest night of  the winter, ‘the dark night of our souls’, there springs the new spark of hope, the Sacred  Fire, the Light of the World, the Coel Coeth.

That is why Pagans have as much right to claim this holiday as Christians.  Perhaps even  more so, as the Christians were rather late in laying claim to it, and tried more than once  to reject it.  There had been a tradition in the West that Mary bore the child Jesus on the  twenty-fifth day, but no one could seem to decide on the month. Finally, in 320 C.E., the  Catholic Fathers in Rome decided to make it December, in an effort to co-opt the Mithraic  celebration of the Romans and the Yule celebrations of the Celts and Saxons.

There was never much pretense that the date they finally chose was historically  accurate.  Shepherds just don’t ‘tend their flocks by night’ in the high pastures in the  dead of winter!  But if one wishes to use the New Testament as historical evidence, this  reference may point to sometime in the spring as the time of Jesus’s birth.  This is  because the lambing season occurs in the spring and that is the only time when shepherds  are likely to ‘watch their flocks by night’ — to make sure the lambing goes well.  Knowing  this, the Eastern half of the Church continued to reject December 25, preferring a ‘movable  date’ fixed by their astrologers according to the moon.

Thus, despite its shaky start (for over three centuries, no one knew when Jesus was  supposed to have been born!), December 25 finally began to catch on.  By 529, it was a  civic holiday, and all work or public business (except that of cooks, bakers, or any that  contributed to the delight of the holiday) was prohibited by the Emperor Justinian.  In  563, the Council of Braga forbade fasting on Christmas Day, and four years later the  Council of Tours proclaimed the twelve days from December 25 to Epiphany as a sacred,  festive season.  This last point is perhaps the hardest to impress upon the modern reader,  who is lucky to get a single day off work.  Christmas, in the Middle Ages, was not a  single day, but rather a period of twelve days, from December 25 to January 6.  The Twelve  Days of  Christmas, in fact.  It is certainly lamentable that the modern world has abandoned this  approach, along with the popular Twelfth Night celebrations.

Of course, the Christian version of the holiday spread to many countries no faster than  Christianity itself, which means that ‘Christmas’ wasn’t celebrated in Ireland until the  late fifth century; in England, Switzerland, and Austria until the seventh; in Germany  until the eighth; and in the Slavic lands until the ninth and tenth. Not that these  countries lacked their own mid-winter celebrations of Yuletide.  Long before the world had  heard of Jesus, Pagans had been observing the season by bringing in the Yule log, wishing  on it, and lighting it from the remains of last year’s log.  Riddles were posed and  answered, magic and rituals were practiced, wild boars were sacrificed and consumed along  with large quantities of liquor, corn dollies were carried from house to house while  carolling, fertility rites were practiced (girls standing under a sprig of mistletoe were  subject to a bit more than a kiss), and divinations were cast for the coming Spring.  Many  of these Pagan customs, in an appropriately watered-down form, have entered the mainstream  of Christian celebration, though most celebrants do not realize (or do not mention it, if  they do) their origins.

For modern Witches, Yule (from the Anglo-Saxon ‘Yula’, meaning ‘wheel’ of the year) is  usually celebrated on the actual Winter Solstice, which may vary by a few days, though it  usually occurs on or around December 21st.  It is a Lesser Sabbat or Lower Holiday in the  modern Pagan calendar, one of the four quarter-days of the year, but a very important one.   This year (1988) it occurs on December 21st at 9:28 am CST.  Pagan customs are still  enthusiastically followed. Once, the Yule log had been the center of the celebration.  It  was lighted on the eve of the solstice (it should light on the first try) and must be kept  burning for twelve hours, for good luck.  It should be made of ash.  Later, the Yule log  was replaced by the Yule tree but, instead of burning it, burning candles were placed on  it.  In Christianity, Protestants might claim that Martin Luther invented the custom, and  Catholics might grant St. Boniface the honor, but the custom can demonstrably be traced  back through the Roman Saturnalia all the way to ancient Egypt.  Needless to say, such a  tree should be cut down rather than purchased, and should be disposed of by burning, the  proper way to dispatch any sacred object.

Along with the evergreen, the holly and the ivy and the mistletoe were important plants  of the season, all symbolizing fertility and everlasting life.  Mistletoe was especially  venerated by the Celtic Druids, who cut it with a golden sickle on the sixth night of the  moon, and believed it to be an aphrodisiac.  (Magically — not medicinally!  It’s highly  toxic!)  But aphrodisiacs must have been the smallest part of the Yuletide menu in ancient  times, as contemporary reports indicate that the tables fairly creaked under the strain of  every type of good food.  And drink!  The most popular of which was the ‘wassail cup’  deriving its name from the Anglo-Saxon term ‘waes hael’ (be whole or hale).

Medieval Christmas folklore seems endless: that animals will all kneel down as the Holy  Night arrives, that bees hum the ‘100th psalm’ on Christmas Eve, that a windy Christmas  will bring good luck, that a person born on Christmas Day can see the Little People, that a  cricket on the hearth brings good luck, that if one opens all the doors of the house at  midnight all the evil spirits will depart, that you will have one lucky month for each  Christmas pudding you sample, that the tree must be taken down by Twelfth Night or bad luck  is sure to follow, that ‘if Christmas on a Sunday be, a windy winter we shall see’, that  ‘hours of sun on Christmas Day, so many frosts in the month of May’, that one can use the  Twelve Days of Christmas to predict the weather for each of the twelve months of the coming  year, and so on.

Remembering that most Christmas customs are ultimately based upon older Pagan customs,  it only remains for modern Pagans to reclaim their lost traditions.  In doing so, we can  share many common customs with our Christian friends, albeit with a slightly different  interpretation.  And thus we all share in the beauty of this most magical of seasons, when  the Mother Goddess once again gives birth to the baby Sun-God and sets the wheel in motion  again.  To conclude with a long-overdue paraphrase, ‘Goddess bless us, every one!’

A Must Read To The Children For Winter Solstice

BRAN THE BLESSED, A FAERY KING MYTH

The Yuletide season provides us with an ideal opportunity to reflect on the ancient Welsh myth of Bran the Blessed, a vivid and compassionate tale that embodies the Wiccan values of giving, light, and rebirth. Bran’s story is one of personal sacrifice, conciliation, and a king’s love for his people and land. If he does not meet his obligations to the Goddess, Earth Mother, and the land itself turns against him. Bran’s myth is about how to become a good king.

Bran’s sister, Branwen, is Goddess of the Land, and as such, she is Bran’s reason for being. As Faery King and Guardian of the Cauldron of Rebirth, Bran is committed to his role as champion of Her cause. The Cauldron of Rebirth, originally from Ireland, has the power to bring dead warriors back to life and is a special symbol of the law and power of the land.

In the story, Branwen marries Matholwch, the King of Ireland, in order to form a bond between Britain and Ireland. Branwen’s brother however, is upset by the marriage and kills all of Matholwch’s horses. Bran replaces the horses, but Matholwch is not satisfied. In order to heal the breach, Bran must also give Matholwch the Cauldron of Rebirth. Despite so generous a gift, Matholwch is still not appeased. He mistreats Bran’s sister so badly, Bran must march into Ireland to save her. To prevent his arrival, Matholwch burns the bridge leading across the Shannon River. But Bran shapeshifts into a giant and acts as his own bridge, carrying his men on his enormous shoulders through the sea. Thus we find in Bran’s story the important line, which serves as a lesson to future leaders, “He who would be chief, let him make himself a bridge.”

Without the Cauldron of Rebirth, Bran’s forces are defeated and Bran is wounded. He orders his own beheading and while his men transport his head to be buried in the White Tower of London, Bran teaches everything he has learned from the Goddess’ Cauldron of Rebirth, passing on his wisdom to all future generations. This image of Bran’s head is one of many examples found in Celtic mythology and witchcraft of the skull as a symbol of power and wisdom. The skull is not something to be feared. Modern witches wear skull jewelry, symbolizing the house of the brain.

Yule is a good time of year to think about what we learn of Bran’s myth. This is a magickal moment of the ever-turning wheel: like Bran’s story, it is full of heart and passion, lightness and gravity, hope and realism. This is a time when we reflect on the unconquerable human spirit that the story of Branwen and Bran represents. (Laurie Cabot, Celebrate the Earth)

Cabot goes on to say she believes Yule, more than any other moment on the Wheel of the Year, is indicative of the unity of the Wiccan tradition. At Yule, we desire to cherish the best of all we have, and to seek out and acknowledge what is of great value in others.Yule is an awakening and a thankfulness for our knowledge of and our connection to the Wheel of the Year.

 

Earth Witchery

Today’s Feng Shui Tip for Dec. 21 – ‘Look On The Bright Side Day’ or ‘National Humbug Day?’

Is it a coincidence that the day associated with the end of the Mayan calendar falls on both ‘Look On The Bright Side Day’ and ‘National Humbug Day?’ I always try look on the bright side but I have a little help there, too. Some swear that we are currently going through an awakening, and sometimes this challenge can be exhilarating. But these shifts can often be just plain exhausting, too. In order to keep yourself as balanced as possible while also staying immune to over-exuberance, try a little all-natural remedy called Rhodiola. This herb will also aid in preventing you from succumbing to the Scrooges of the world. This time-tested and most reliable remedy strengthens the nervous system, fights depression, elevates energy, and increases the body’s resistance to outside invaders. A simply perfect alternative to the end of the world worries or those bah humbug blues!

By Ellen Whitehurst for Astrology.com