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Yule: Better Together

mythumbnailDecember 2014. Presented for a group of 7 people. Using Silver Spiral standard ritual format 2.2, with minor modifications for this rite.

Materials and Tools:

An altar: white cloth, a beautiful pillar candle as the central candle (unlit), representations of the elements and deities as gathered by the participants (see “Pre-Ritual Notes”); under the altar or on a side altar: a singing bowl, a fallen branch or bundle of evergreens to serve as a ritual broom (see “Pre-Ritual Notes”), a bowl containing one tea light per participant, chant sheets if needed, ritual food (peeled mandarin segments and Yule cookies) on a plate, a pitcher of sparkling apple cider, an offering bowl or plate and an offering goblet, an athame, and one goblet per participant; aside but within sacred space: useful items such as toothbrushes, socks, gloves, granola bars, etc., to be stuffed in stockings and donated to a local homeless charity.

Pre-Ritual Notes:

Each person is assigned their part in advance and sent their speaking parts in advance to make their own cue cards as needed. They will be asked to gather an item from nature in their area to be their quarter or deity representation; the person doing the space cleansing will be asked to bring something to sweep with that also fits the rules.

Rules: The item must be collected from your area for this purpose (you can’t use something you’ve already got or something purchased). You can modify the item only in ways that can be undone or returned to nature: It would be OK to bottle water or soil because it could be poured back out, or to tie gathered sticks into a shape with biodegradable string. The item will be on the altar and carried as the quarter representative, so not too big, please.

Preparation:

In the dark, while everyone else gathers off to the side, one person sweeps the space with the branch or bundle of evergreens while saying (repeatedly if necessarily):

With purpose and intent, I cleanse this space.

The person who cleansed the space welcomes each person into it one at a time with a hug and the greeting:

Welcome to our sacred space.

To which the person entering responds: Blessed be.

Everyone holds hands and closes their eyes while the ritual leader leads the breathing meditation:

Breathe… [Pause for full breath in and full breath out.] Breathe… [Pause for full breath in and full breath out.] Breathe… [Pause for full breath in and full breath out.] Feel the ground beneath you. [Pause for full breath in and full breath out.] Feel the air around you. [Pause for full breath in and full breath out.] Come home to your body. [Pause for full breath in and full breath out.] Prepare to enter sacred space. Blessed be.

All repeat: Blessed be.

Building Sacred Space:

This is where the variation from the standard format comes in: instead of a single circle caster, each element quarter will contribute to casting the circle.

The space cleanser picks up the singing bowl.

The North direction caller picks up the element’s representation from the altar and carries it around the circle clockwise while saying:

We cast this circle in honour of Earth.

All repeat:

We cast this circle in honour of Earth to create and open scared space.

The space cleanser rings the singing bowl.

Each quarter direction caller repeats with their own elements in clockwise order, ending with Spirit. After the last circuit, the space cleanser says:

The space is set. The circle is cast. Blessed Be.

All repeat: Blessed be.

All turn to face North and the direction quarter caller says:

To the North, I send this call: Earth, bless us with your gift of feasts made together year after year as we celebrate this Winter Solstice and every day. Blessed be.

All repeat: Blessed be.

All turn to face East and the direction quarter caller says:

To the East, I send this call: Air, bless us with your gift of songs sung together year after year as we celebrate this Winter Solstice and every day. Blessed be.

All repeat: Blessed be.

All turn to face South and the direction quarter caller says:

To the South, I send this call: Fire, bless us with your gift of hearths enjoyed together year after year as we celebrate this Winter Solstice and every day. Blessed be.

All repeat: Blessed be.

All turn to face West and the direction quarter caller says:

To the West, I send this call: Water, bless us with your gift of toasts offered together year after year as we celebrate this Winter Solstice and every day. Blessed be.

All repeat: Blessed be.

All turn to face the centre of the circle and the direction quarter caller says:

To the Centre, I send this call: Spirit, bless us with your gift of family created year after year as we celebrate this Winter Solstice and every day. Blessed be.

All repeat: Blessed be.

Invocations:

One person invokes the Goddess:

Lady of all winters, year after year, past and future, Goddesses of our tribes, we invite you to our rite. Blessed Be.

All repeat: Blessed be.

Another person invokes the God:

Lord of all sunsets and sunrises, year after year, past and future, Gods of our tribes, we invite you to our rite. Blessed Be.

All repeat: Blessed be.

Centre:

Everyone sits comfortably in a circle. The leader begins the meditation:

Close your eyes.

Take a slow deep breath, drawing it all the way down to the bottom of your lungs.

Release it.

Take a slow deep breath, drawing it all the way down to the bottom of your stomach.

Release it.

Take a slow deep breath, drawing it all the way down to the soles of your feet.

Release it.

Sit in the quiet. Sit alone.

Sit in silence for several minutes. The leader then says:

The Winter Solstice is the darkest night of the year. Nothing grows. Everything is cold and wet. In the past, we needed to be together right now; alone, we would starve and freeze.

In the cold, we gathered foods from our carefully stored autumn harvests and we joined together around fires lit from Yule logs. We sang songs and told stories around those flickering flames, and shared love and hope along with food and drink.

Better together. As it was once, so it is now, and so it will be again.

Start an ohm. As it grows, reach out and join hands. After it fades, everyone opens their eyes and the leader continues:

It is easy to forget that we still need each other. Without people who work in power stations, we’d still freeze. Without people farming and shipping food, we’d still starve. We gather food from grocery stores and join together around artisan candles. We sing songs and tell stories around those flickering flames, and share love and hope along with food and drink.

Better together. As it was once, so it is now, and so it will be again.

Light the centre candle. Each person lights a tea light from the centre candle and places it on the altar while saying: Always part of a whole. After all are lit, the leader continues:

It is easy to forget that we still need nature. Without fuel, there is no warmth. Without soil and rain, there is no food. The food we can gather still comes from dirt and sun, and the heat we can join around still comes from the earth. We can sing to the world and tell stories to the plants, and share love and hope with beings bigger and smaller than us.

Better together. As it was once, so it is now, and so it will be again.

The lyrics are handed out and all sing, repeating the last verse to trance or to fade:

Hey, ho, pentagram glow
Guard this hearth, this home, this land
And we shall be merry

Hey, ho, pentagram glow
Bring us peace and health and light
And we shall be merry

Hey, ho, pentagram glow
Speed our love, our strength, our power
And we shall be merry

Hey, ho, pentagram glow
Grant our dreams, our wish, our will
And we shall be merry

Hey, ho, pentagram glow
North and East and South and West
And we shall be merry

Lyrics by Selena Fox.

Food and Drink:

One person holds the plate of food while another blesses it:

By the Divine, this offering is blessed, and we share this food in the spirit of community. Blessed be.

All repeat: Blessed be.

The person who blessed the food puts a portion of the food in the offering plate or bowl and says:

To the gods and goddesses of our tribes.

The food is passed clockwise with each saying to the next: May you never hunger. The recipient responds: Blessed be.

When the food has been returned to the altar, one person holds the pitcher while the other lowers the athame into it and says:

As the athame is to the lover, so the chalice is to the loved, and joined they are one in truth.

The person holding the pitcher pours a portion into the offering goblet and says:

To the gods and goddesses of our tribes.

As the pitcher is passed clockwise, each fills their neighbour’s goblet while saying Thou art God or Thou art Goddess. The recipient responds: Blessed be.

Once all the goblets have been filled and the pitcher is returned to the altar, the leader toasts: May you never thirst. All respond with Blessed be and drink.

Gift:

As everyone relaxes into chatting, the stocking gifts for the charity are pulled out and the stockings are stuffed as a group.

Devocations:

We will thank and devoke in reverse order.

The same person who invoked the God thanks Him:

Lord of all sunrises and sunsets, year after year, past and future, Gods of our tribes, thank you for your blessings. Go in peace. Blessed be.

All repeat: Blessed be.

The person who invoked the Goddess thanks Her:

Lady of all winters, year after year, past and future, Goddesses of our tribes, thank you for your blessings. Go in peace. Blessed be.

All repeat: Blessed be.

Closing Sacred Space:

All turn to face the direction and the direction quarter caller says:

To the Centre: Spirit, thank you for your gifts. Go in peace. Blessed be.

All repeat: Blessed be.

Repeat for all quarters in reverse order.

The space cleanser picks up the singing bowl again and walks the circle counter-clockwise to take down the circle. At each quarter point, they pause and ring the singing bowl. When they step back into the circle of people, the singing bowl is rung one more time and then the space cleanser says:

The circle is open, but never broken. Merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again!

Post-Ritual Notes:

The food and drink offerings are left outside under a tree.

Everyone is asked to take the item they contributed to the ritual (quarter item or deity representation) back to the area they found it and leave it as an offering to the earth.

The charity stockings are donated to a local homeless shelter for distribution.

Creative Commons License
Yule: Better Together by Melissa Hope is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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