YULE LORE

YULE LORE

One traditional Yuletide practice is the creation of a Yule tree. This can be a
living, potted tree which can later be planter in the ground, or a cut one.  The
choice is yours.

Appropriate Pagan decorations are fun to make, from strings of dried rosebuds
and cinnamon sticks  (or popcorn and cranberries) for garlands, to bags of
fragrant spices  which are hung from boughs. Quartz crystals can be wrapped with shiny wire and  suspended from sturdy branches to resemble icicles. Apples,
oranges and lemons hanging from boughs are strikingly beautiful, natural
decorations, and were customary in ancient times.

Many enjoy the custom of lighting the Yule log. This is a graphic representation
of the rebirth of the God within the sacred fire of the Mother Goddess. If you
choose to burn  one, select a proper log (traditionally of oak or pine).  Carve
or chalk a figure of the Sun (such as a rayed disc) or the God (a horned circle
or a figure of a man) upon it, with the Boline, and set it alight in the
fireplace at dusk on Yule.   As the log burns, visualize the  Sun shining within
it and think of the coming warmer days.

As to food, nuts, fruits such as apples and pears, cakes of caraways soaked in
cider, and  (for non-vegetarians) pork are traditional fare.  Wassail,
lambswool, hibiscus or ginger tea and fine drinks for the Simple Feast or Yule
Meals.

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Let’s Talk Witch – Let’s Make Some Spicy Wassail, Yum, Yum!

Let’s Talk Witch – Let’s Make Some Spicy Wassail, Yum, Yum!

Wassail was traditionally a hot drink made of ale, sherry, sugar, and spices, with pieces of toast and roasted apples floating in it. It is the legendary drink served on the Feast of the Three Kings with an oversized, decorated sweet yeast bread. The word wassail is derived from the Anglo-Saxon toast waes haeil, or “be whole.” On Christmas or Twelfth Night, revelers would carry a large bowl from door to door, asking for it to be filled, a custom known as wassailing. There are now many versions of wassail, and the palate for hot strong beer is limited, so it has evolved into a spiked juice toddy. The antique French Api apple was probably the apple of choice of the day. It is now called a Lady apple; look for it at Christmas, but any apple will do.

Ingredients:

2 quarts unfiltered apple juice or apple cider

1 quart cranberry juice cocktail

1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

27 whole cloves

15 allspice berries

4 (4-inch) cinnamon sticks

5 small firm cooking apples of your choice

1/2 cup water

1 medium orange

2 cups Calvados

Combine the apple juice, cranberry juice, and brown sugar in a 6-quart slow cooker. Place 12 of the cloves, the allspice berries, and the cinnamon sticks in a small piece of cheesecloth and tie with kitchen twine to make a bag. Add to the slow cooker, cover, and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Stud each apple with 3 of the remaining cloves and place in an 8-by-8-inch baking pan. Add the water and bake until the apples are just a bit tender when pierced with a knife, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

After the juices have stewed for 4 to 5 hours, add the apples to the slow cooker. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the orange peel in wide strips, making sure to avoid the white pith, and add the peels to the slow cooker.

Remove the spice bag and stir in the Calvados. Serve hot (leave the slow cooker on to keep the cocktail warm).

Pagan Wassail

Pagan Wassail

For the Wassail’s Baked Apples:
1 dozen cooking apples
1 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon
butter or margarine
3/4 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons sugar
Core apples and place in an 8 X 8 inch baking pan. Mix sugar and cinnamon, fill apples    with mixture, dot tops with butter. Add boiling water and sugar to pan and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 to 60 minutes.
For the Wassail:
1 cup water
4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon nutmeg, grated (for luck)
1/2 teaspoon mace
2 teaspoons ginger (to prevent arguments)
6 whole cloves (to influence people in high places, and for luck)
1 stick cinnamon (same as cloves)
6 whole allspice
1 dozen eggs, separated
4 bottles sherry
2 cups brandy
Combine first eight ingredients in a saucepan and boil for 5 minutes. Beat egg whites    until stiff. In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks. Fold whites into yolks. Strain spice mixture into egg mixture and stir. Combine sherry and brandy and    bring almost to a boil. Gradually add liquor to spice and egg mixture, stirring rapidly as you do so. Before serving, add baked apples to foaming liquid.    Serve in a large cauldron.
(The above recipe for “Pagan Wassail” in directly quoted from Laurie    Cabot’s book: “Celebrate the Earth: A Year of Holidays in the Pagan Tradition”, pages 71-72, a Delta book, published by Dell Publishing,    1994.)

October Lore — Apples

October Lore

Apples

This is the time of the apple harvest: winesaps, greenings, macintosh, red and yellow delicious, and the antique varieties of sops of wine, sheep nose and smokehouse.  There are apples to fill fruit bowls for immediate eating, apples that keep well for Winter storage, and apples that make the best pie ever.  The back porch smells of hot applesauce laced with cinnamon, which is canned by the case.

Apples have always been magically important.  The Celts “wassailed” their apple trees to insure a bountifull harvest in the coming year. Traditionally wassail was made of hard cider that was heated with spices and had apples floating on top.  These apples, when heated enough, would burst their skins, and the white flesh would form a froth on top of the wassail.  There is much reason to believe that wassailing was performed at Samhain or Halloween as it was at Yule. Samhain is the time of the apple harvest, and there are many traditions in which apples are very important.  Samhain was the New Year of the Celtic calendar, and probably several traditions got shifted to Yuletide when the calendar was changed.  Wassailing the apple trees, no doubt, was one of these.

Candy apples are a traditional trick or treat gift at Halloween. Another tradition is bobbing for apples, or “dooking,” as it is called in Scotland. (Description of how to dook…)  This game may have developed directly from the apples that floated on the wassail of earlier Halloweens.

Another traditional Halloween game is apple on a string. (Description) This game may have evolved from people playing a similar game while the apples still hung on the tree, and this may have been done in imitation of certain animals.  But it is more likely that these games developed in the spirit of fun and play that is the essence of Pagan celebration.

Apples also have a history of being used for healing (“An apple a day keeps the doctor away”), especially for curing warts.  The most typical method is to slice an apple in half and rub both halves over the wart or affliction to be cured. The put the two halves back together and bury them in the Earth while reciting an enchantment to the effect that as the apple wastes away, so will the wart or other affliction.

When an apple is sliced in half horizontally it reveals hidden within its core a five-pointed star.  When an apple is being cut in half for magical purposes it should be cut this way in order to take full advantage of the secret magical sign.  And of course it should be cut with the boline (magically charged white- handled knife).

The apple harvest can be celebrated on the day that it is completed with a meal that features apples, apple fritters, apple pie, or applesauce.  Select one tree to represent all of the apple trees in the orchard, whether it is the oldest, tallest, or most productive.  Draw and consecrate a Circle around the tree and stand within it facing the tree.  holding a cup of spiced cider or apple wine, anoint the tree by drawing a pentacle with a finger dipped in the cup of liquid. Draw the pentacle at eye level on the tree trunk or just below where all the branches begin.  Recite something such as:

Here’s to thee, Apple tree Flowers at Beltane Fruit at Samhain Apple tree, Blessed be!

Then drink a toast to the tree and pour a libation at its roots, and eat the food of the feast within the Circle.

Old Customs

OLD CUSTOMS

The first water drawn from any well or stream on New Year’s morning used
to be called the Flower of the Well, or the Cream of the Well. This water would bring good luck in the new year.

In Mid-January (depending on the area) the apple trees were wassailed.
The word “Wassail” comes from the Anglo-Saxon “Wehal” which means “be of
good health”. Farmers and their families went to the orchards after dark, carrying horns and a large pail of cider. Cider was poured around the roots of a chosen tree, and a piece of toast or cake, soaked in cider, was placed in the branches. A wassailing song was sung to the tree.

Girls can discover their future husband on the Eve of St Agnes by scattering a handful of barley under an apple tree saying: “Barley, barley, I sow thee; That my true love I may see; Take thy rake and follow me.” It is said that the figure of her future husband will follow and take up the seed the girl has scattered.

The cuckoo is considered a lucky bird. Money should be turned in the pocket when the first cuckoo is heard, but never look at the ground while this is done.

Morris Dancers may be seen at Whitsuntide. The Dancers stamp, kick and
jump to waken the earth spirit and bring the crops out of the ground.

On Old Midsummer Day there is a procession in the Isle of Man to Tynwald
Hill. The Governor follows the Sword of State at the head of the procession. They process through lines of guards to a platform. Here the Governor sits on a crimson velvet chair. The Chief Justice reads a list of the Acts of Parliament passed at Westminster during the year. This ceremony shows that the Isle of Man accepts English Acts as law.

On 8 July, the Burry Man walks through the streets of South Queensferry,
West Lothian, Scotland. He is covered in thistle, teazle and burrs, with a head dress made of flowers. He covers his face, and carries a staff in each hand. He talks to no-one but is said to bring good luck to houses he visits.

On the Sunday after August 12th there is a “revel” in Markhamchurch, in Cornwall. The village children chose the “Queen of the Revel” who then leads a procession through the village, riding a white horse.

The Abbots Bromley Horn Dance takes place on the first Sunday after September 4th. This is probably one of the best known of all the “Dances” in the British Isles.

Hot Spiced Wassail

Hot Spiced Wassail

(Non-Alcoholic Version)

4  Cups Cranberry Juice

6  Cinnamon Sticks

5  Cups Apple Cider

1  Orange, studded with whole Cloves

1  Cup water

1  Apple, cored and sliced

½  Cup Brown Sugar

Mix juice, cider, and water in large saucepan or crock pot. Add cinnamon sticks, clove studded orange, and apple slices. Simmer mixture for 4 hours. Serve hot. Makes 12 servings.

Christmas Time Is Pagan!

Miscellaneous Christmas Comments 

Christmas Time Is Pagan!

Author Unknown 

Tune: “Gloria in Excelsis Deo (Angels We Have Heard On High)” 

 

 Christmas time is here again,
Decorations everywhere.
Christmas carols ringing out,
Gentle pagans, we don’t care.

Chorus:

Glorious!
Christmas time is pagan!
Glorious!
Christmas time is pagan!

Modern folks all celebrate
What they learned in Sunday School.
In December, they don’t know
They are celebrating Yule!

Chorus

Let them have their Christmas trees,
Decked in red and green and blue.
We rejoice at every one!
Christmas trees are pagan, too.

Chorus

Bowls of bubbly Christmas cheer,
Fill your cup and quench your thirst.
They think the tradition’s theirs.
Wassail bowls were pagan, first.

Chorus

Every door and window bears
Wreaths of holly, wreaths of pine.
Circles represent the Sun.
Every wreath is yours and mine.

Chorus

Christmas lights on Christmas trees,
Candle flames burn higher and higher,
Let us cheer along, my friends,
As they light their Yuletide fire.

Chorus

There’s a possibility
That this song is yours and mine
‘Cause the tune was known to all
Back in A.D. one-two-nine.

Chorus

     

Magickal Graphics

Hot Cranberry Wassail

Hot Cranberry Wassail
­ 2 1/2 qts. cranberry juice
1 qt. grape juice
2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup rum
1/4 cup orange liqueur
orange slices

Heat juices, water and sugar to boil. Remove from heat. Stir in rum and liqueur and garnish with oranges. Serve hot to keep friends and relatives warm this holiday!