Yule Celebrations

Yule, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Xmas, Saturnalia, Wassail Blot, December 20th - 31st 
Festival of the Fires, Feliz Navidad, Birthday of Mithras, New Year Celebrations, Santa Claus
Brumalia, Christmas Eve, Father Christmas, St. Nicholas, Las Posadas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa
2nd Celebration in the NeoPagan Holy Day Annual Cycle or Wiccan Wheel of the Year 

General Preparations     Quotations     Bibliography     Links    

Prayers     Poems     Notes     December     January     Imbolic

Thanksgiving     November     The Good Life    NeoPagan Druids     Taoists              

Winter     Spring     Nature Spirits     Trees     Flowers     Gardening    

Cloud Hands Blog     Facebook     Green Way Research     Eightfold Way         

Research by
Michael P. Garofalo
Valley Spirit Center, Green Way Research, Red Bluff, North Sacramento Valley, California







Bibliography and Links
Yule, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Saturnalia


Ancient Ways: Reclaiming Pagan Traditions.  By Pauline Campanelli and Dan Campanelli.  St. Paul, Minnesota, Llewellyn Pubs., 1991.  256 pages.  ISBN: 0875420907.  VSCL.  Autumnal Equinox: pp. 137-151.  One of my favorite books. 

Ar nDraiocht Fein (ADF): A Druid Fellowship   The ADF is a legally recognized 501(C)3 Church, and the largest Druid organization in America.  ADF has open public celebrations of the Eight Holy Days of NeoPaganism and any spiritual seeker is welcome to attend. 

The Art of Ritual: A Guide to Creating and Performing Your Own Ceremonies for Growth and Change.  By Renee Beck and Sydney Barbara Metrick .  Berkeley, California, Celestial Arts, 1990.146 pages.  ISBN: 0890875820.  VSCL.    

Associations and Correspondences for the Yule Season 

Astaru Holidays   Germanic and Northern Heathen Celebrations 

Book of Pagan Prayer.  By Ceisiwr Serith.  San Francisco, California, Weiser Books, 2002.  Notes, annotated bibliography, appendices, 286 pages.  ISBN: 1578632552.  VSCL.  Begins with an essay titled "Why and How We Pray" (68 pages) and then a collection of over 500 prayers for NeoPagans. 

Boreas:  Greek God of Northerly Winter Winds (Anemoi)

Calling the Quarters, Casting the Circle, Magickal Protective Sphere, Creating the Sacred Sphere  

Celebrate the Earth: A Year of Holidays in the Pagan Tradition.  By Laurie Cabot and Jean Mills.  Delta, 1994.  288 pages.  ISBN: 0385309201. 

Celebrating the Seasons of Life: Samhain to Ostara.  Lore, Rituals, Activities, and Symbls.  By Ashleen O'Gaea.  Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, New Page Books, 2004.  Bibliography, index, 221 pages.  ISBN: 1564147312.  VSCL.  A good study of four autumn and winter Celebrations in the Wiccan-NeoPagan year.  Rich in details and ideas.  Yule is explained by Ashleen O'Gaea on pp. 71-110. 

Celebrate the Solstice: Honoring the Earth's Seasonal Rhythms Through Festival and Ceremony.  By Richard Heinberg.  Quest Books, 1993.  199 pages.  ISBN: 0835606937. 

Celebrating the Winter Solstice    By Selena Fox

Christmas Archives      By Maria Hubert.  

Christmas Around the World  

Christmas: Associations, Correspondences, Symbols, Meanings  

Christmas Carols - Tim's Christmas Page  

Christmas Carols Page  

Christmas Celebrations   

Christmas Eve  

Christmas Images - Google

Christmas in Mexico

Christmas:   Is Christmas Christian? 

Christmas Lore: Worldwide Christmas Traditions   

Christmas Magazine

Christmas Quotations 

Christmas Poems

Christmas Poems and Songs

Christmas Reflections by Alan Harris 

Christmas Time: The True Spirit of Christmas    Christmas related poetry, prose, history, music, traditions, stories, quotations.

Christmas Trees  

Christmas Trees, Yule Logs, Santa Claus, and Christ

Christmas - Wikipedia

Circles, Groves and Sanctuaries: Sacred Spaces of Today's Pagans.  Compiled by Dan and Pauline Campanelli.  St. Paul, Minnesota, Llewellyn Publications, 1993.  Resources, 268 pages.  ISBN: 0875421083.  Ideas for creating indoor and outdoor altars and sanctuaries.  VSCL.    

December:  Quotes, Poems, Celebrations, Lore, Garden Chores 

Deities of the Winter Solstice  

Divination Methods: Tarot   Most Holy Day rituals include using some method for divination: Runes, Oghams, Tarot, Gazing, or Signs.  I use either the Voyager Tarot or the Crowley Thoth Tarot. 

Draioch: Rites of Celtic Sorcery.  By Ian Corrigan.  2005.  Republished by Jeffrey Wyndham, 2007.  Distributed by Lulu Press.  352 pages.  VSCL. 
Rev. Corrigan has been the Archdruid of Ar nDraiocht Fein (ADF): A Druid Fellowship

A Druid's Herbal for the Sacred Earth Year.   By Ellen Evert Hopman.   Rochester, Vermont, Destiny Books, 1995.  Appendices, bibliography, index, 213 pages.  ISBN: 0892815019.  VSCL. 

The Eight Seasonal Religious Celebrations of NeoPagans   

The Elements of Ritual: Air, Fire, Water and Earth in the Wiccan Circle.  By Deborah Lipp.  Llewellyn Pubs., 2003.  Illustrated edition.  288 pages.  ISBN: 073870301X. 

Exploring the Northern Tradition.  A Guide to the Gods, Lore, Rites, and Celebrations from the Norse, German, and Anglo-Saxon Traditions.  By Galina Drasskova.  Foreword by Swaim Wodening, cofounder of the Angelseaxisce Ealdriht.  Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, New Page Books, 2005.  Index, bibliography, notes, appendix, 200 pages.  ISBN: 1564147916.   VSCL. 

Fairies, Elves, Nature Spirits:  Lands Spirits, Alfs, Wights, Lars, Trolls, Dwarves, Sidhe, Devas, Otherworld, Little Folk, Ancestors, Ghosts 

February:  Quotes, Poems, Celebrations, Lore, Garden Chores 

Feliz Navidad: Making Merry in Mexico 

The Fires of Yule: A Keltelven Guide for Celebrating the Winter Solstice.  By Montague Whitsel.  1st Books Library, 2001.  288 pages.  ISBN: 0759655650. 

The Green Man (Powers of Spring and Summer): Bibliography, Links, Quotes, Information, Lore, Myths, Role  

Gushen Grove:  The word "Gushen" or "Gu Shen" is a phrase from the Chinese book by Lao Tze, The Tao Te Ching (Chapter 6), and it means the "Valley Spirit" - The Dark, Fertile, Empty, and Fathomless Ground of Beings, The Ever Giving Mysterious Mother of Life.  Our sacred circle (nemeton) is in the center of the North Sacramento Valley, south of Red Bluff, California. 

Have Yourself a Very Merry Christmas

High Days, Sacred Days in the Year, High Holy Days of NeoPaganism 

The Holly King and the Oak King 

The Holly King and the Oak King  By Linda J. Paul

In Nature's Honor: Myths and Rituals Celebrating the Earth.  By Patricia Montley.   Boston, Skinner House Books, 2005.  Index, 379 pages.  ISBN: 155896486X  VSCL. 

Ishtar the Lady of Heaven

January:  Quotes, Poems, Celebrations, Lore, Garden Chores 

Labyrinths: Lore, Bibliography, Links, Resources, Quotes

Land Spirits, Nature Spirits:  Fairies, Elves, Alfs, Wights, Trolls, Dwarves, Sidhe, Devas, Otherworld, Little Folk, Ancestors, Ghosts 

Lammas, Lughnasadh, Summer Festival, First Harvest, August 1st

Librarian of Gushen Grove, Valley Spirit Center, Michael P. Garofalo, M.S.L.S., Red Bluff, California, aka The Green Wizard 

The Midwinter Festival of Yule  



Months and Seasons
Quotes, Poems, Sayings, Verses, Lore, Myths, Holidays
Celebrations, Folklore, Reading, Links, Quotations
Information, Weather, Gardening Chores
Compiled by Mike Garofalo




















Mithraic Mysteries   


Mithraism and Early Christianity, Particularly Roman Catholicism 

Mithraism: The Pagan Religion Similar to Christianity, Particularly Roman Catholicism

Months of the Year:  Quotes, Poems, Reading List, Links, Garden Chores, Holidays 

The Mysteries of Druidry: Celtic Mysticism, Theory and Practice.  By Brendan Cathbad Myers, Ph.D.  Foreword by Isaac Bonewits.  Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, New Page Books, 2006.  Notes, Index, 236 pages.  ISBN: 1564148785.  VSCL. 

Nature Mysticism    

Nature Spirits:  Fairies, Elves, Alfs, Wights, Lars, Trolls, Dwarves, Sidhe, Devas, Otherworld, Little Folk, Ancestors, Ghosts 

Neopagan Rites: A Guide to Creating Public Rituals that Work.  By Isaac Bonewits.  Llewellyn Publications, 2007.  240 pages.  ISBN: 0738711993.  VSCL. 

Northern Tradition for the Solitary Practitioner.  A Book of Prayer, Devotional Practice, and the Nine Worlds of the Spirit.  By Galina Krasskova and Raven Kaldera.  Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, New Page Books, 2009.  Index, bibliography, appendices, 254 pages.  ISBN: 9781601630346.   VSCL. 

November:  Quotes, Poems, Celebrations, Lore, Garden Chores 

Oak King  

October:  Quotes, Poems, Celebrations, Lore, Garden Chores 

Old-Fashioned Solstice    

One Old Druid's Final Journey - The Notebooks of the Librarian of Gushen Grove 

Order of Bards Ovates and Druids.   The largest Druid organization in the world.  A complete training program in print and audio versions, discussion groups, library, extensive resources.  I am a member of this Order as a Bardic Grade student.  The OBOD celebrates the Eight Holy Days of NeoPaganism.  I find their liturgical cycle and rituals to be spiritually uplifting, wholesome, life affirming, earth centered, ecologically positive, profound, polytheistic, and open minded.  OBOD is more orientated towards Celtic spirituality. 

Oriental Religions in the West.   By Sir James Frazer, 1922. 

Origins of Christmas.  By Joseph F. Kelley.  Liturgical Press, 2004.  145 pages.  ISBN: 0814629849.   

Pagan Christmas: The Plants, Spirits, and Rituals at the Origins of Yuletide.  By Christian Rätsch and Claudia Müller-Ebeling.  Translated from the German by Katja Lueders and Rafael Lorenzo.  Rochester, Vermont, Inner Traditions, 2006.  Index, bibliography, 213 pages.  ISBN: 1594770921.  VSCL. 

Paganism: An Introduction to Earth-Centered Religions.  Joyce and River Higginbotham.  Woodbury, Minnesota, Llewellyn, 2004.  Bibliography, index, 272 pages.  ISBN: 0738702226. 

Pathways in the Green Valley Blog.   By Michael Garofalo. 

Preparing for the Autumnal Equinox Celebration, Mabon, Alban Elfed, September 21st 

Roman Pagan Holy Days, Seasonal Celebrations, Religious Customs, Roman Pagan Hearth 

Sabbats and Esbats:  Lady of the Earth

The Sabbats: A New Approach to Living the Old Ways.  By Edain McCoy.  St. Paul, Minnesota, Llewellyn Pubs., 1994.  Index, 255 pages.  ISBN: 1567186637.  Practical suggestions for celebrating the pagan holidays in the Wheel of the Year.  VSCL. 

Sacaea (Babylonian) and Saturnalia (Roman)  

Sacred Circles  Bibliography, Links, Quotes, Notes.  Photos of the Valley Spirit Center sacred circle construction project. 

Sacred Fire, Holy Well: A Druid's Grimoire.  By Ian Corrigan.  Tuscon, Arizona, ADF Publishing, Second Edition, 2009.  Gaeilge glossary, bibliography, 318 pages.  ISBN: 0976568128.  VSCL.  Excellent resources for liturgy. 


Saturnalia  By James Grout  

Saturnalia  By Carnaval.Com  

Saturnalia - Wikipedia 

Saturnalia or Brumalia: A Winter Solstice Ritual   By Apollonius Sophistes. 

September:  Quotes, Poems, Celebrations, Lore, Garden Chores 

Sol Invictus and Christmas  

Sol Invictus:  Christ, Constantine, Sol Invictus: The Unconquerable Sun   By Ralph Monday 

Sol Invictus (Roman Sun God, Unconquered Sun, Unconquered One, Mithras) 

The Solitary Druid: A Practitioner's Guide.   By Robert Lee (Skip) Ellison.   New York, Kensington Pub. Co,., Citadel Press, 2005.   Index, bibliography, appendices, 262 pages.  ISBN:  0806526750.  VSCL.  Reverend Ellison has been the Archdruid of Ar nDraiocht Fein (ADF) and Dean of Divination and Beast Mastery - The Grey School of Wizardry.  A solitary ritual for the Winter Solstice is provided by Rev. Ellison on pp. 175 -192 

Solitary Witch: The Ultimate Book of Shadows for the New Generation.  By Silver Ravenwolf.  St. Paul, Minnesota, 2005. Notes, bibliography, appendices, 590 pages.   ISBN: 0738703192.  VSCL. 

The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess.  Rituals, invocations, exercises, and magic.  By Starhawk.  10th Anniversary Edition, Revised and updated.  Bibliography, index, 288 pages.  VSCL.  ISBN: 0062508148.  A very influential work on Goddess worship and pagan religious practices. 

The Spirit of Gardening   3,400 quotes, poems, sayings, and ideas about gardening, gardens, and the Green Way.  Materials organized by 140 topics; and a fully indexed collection with a search engine.  Online since 1999.  Over 6MB of text.  Compiled by Michael P. Garofalo

Summer  -  Quotes, Poems, Sayings and Quips for Gardeners  

Valley Spirit Sacred Circle, Red Bluff, California 

Walkers Between the Worlds:  The Western Mysteries from Shaman to Magus.  By Caitlin and John Matthews.  Rochester, Vermont, Inner Traditios, 1985, 2003.  Bibliography, index, 441 pages.  ISBN: 0892810912.  VSCL. 

Wheel of the Year: Living the Magical Life.  By Pauline Campanelli.  Illustrated by Dan Campanelli.  St. Paul, Minnesota, Llewellyn Publications, 1989, 1993.  ISBN: 0875420915.  VSCL. 

When the Catholics Invented Christmas  

Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner.  By Scott Cunningham.  Llewellyn's Practical Magick Series.  St. Paul, Minnesota, Llewellyn Publications, 1994.  Index, bibliography, glossary, 218 pages.  VSCL.  ISBN: 0875421180.  A very good introduction to the Craft by an open-minded person.  

Winter Greetings and Lore    Excellent information and links from Kathleen Jenks.

Winter Holidays

Winter - Quotes, Poems, and Lore 

Winter Solstice - Ancient Origins

Winter Solstice Celebrations
   Excellent information presented by B. A. Robinson.  References and links provided. 

Winter Solstice Celebrations for Families and Households.   By Selena Fox.   

Winter Solstice:  Associations, Correspondences, Symbols, Meanings

Winter Solstice (Dong Zhi) - Chinese Culture 

Winter Solstice Lore and Rituals by Selena Fox

Winter Solstice: The Sacred Traditions of Christmas.  By John Matthews.  With contributions by Caitlin Matthews.  Wheaton, Illinois, Quest Books, 2003.  Resource lists, 247 pages.  ISBN: 0835608344.   VSCL. 

Winter Solstice - Wikipedia 

Winter Solstice, Yuletide Myth*ing Links by Kathleen Jenks   

Yule Correspondences

Yew: Tree of the Winter Solstice 

Yule: A Celebration of Light and Warmth.  By Dorothy Morrison.  Llewellyn Publications, 2000.  216 pages.  ISBN: 1567184960. 

Yule:  Associations, Correspondences, Symbols, Meanings   

Yule History and Lore  

Yule Lore by Akasha  

Yule: Origins and Customs

Yule: Origins, Lore, Legends and Customs

Yuletide Around the World.   By Kathleen Jenks. 

Yuletide: Greetings and Lore for Yuletide 

Yule - Winter Solstice - Popular Pagan Holidays     





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Yule, Winter Solstice - Table of Associations and Correspondences


Time of Day

Midnight, Nighttime, Dawn

Time of Life

Old Age, 70's-90's, Crone, Senior, Birth, 0-2 Years
Elemental Forces Earth, Snow, Fire, Tree


Holly, Mistletoe, Colored Lights, Candles, Decorated Tree, Ornaments, Nativity Scenes, Boughs, Wreaths, Bells
Customs Caroling, Feasting, Nativity Plays, Sending Christmas Cards, Santa Claus, Gift Giving, Burning the Yule Log, Decorating a Christmas Tree, Ringing Bells


Fruit Cakes, Nuts, Apples, Squash


Rosemary, Frankincense, Bayberry, Mistletoe, Myrrh
Foods Turkey, Ham, Pies, Cranberries, Potatoes
Plants Fir, Pine, Holly, Mistletoe, Poinsettia, Oak, Pinecones
Minerals garnet, cat’s eye, ruby, diamond, bloodstone
Incense Pine, cedar, bayberry, cinnamon


Candles, Spinning Wheels, Saw, Axe


Bona Dea, Demeter, Ops, Brigid, Ameratasu, Beira (Queen of Winter), Frau Holle, Sarasvati, Lucia


Saturn, Kronos, Sol Invicta, Baby Mithras, Oak King, Jupiter, Baby Jesus Christ, Dagda, Baldur, Dionysus
Nature Spirits Santa Claus, Elves, Father Time, Green Man, Gnomes, Trolls  


Rebirth, Nativity, Birth, Generosity, Friendship

Farming Activities

Slaughtering Animals, Chopping Firewood, Indoor Crafts


Reindeer Stag, Robin, Turkey


pine green, snow white, heart red, gold

Sacred Circle (Valley Spirit)

North Pole, Green, Earth




Christmas  (Christians, Non-Christians, Secular) 
Winter Solstice (Wiccan, Druids, Neopagans)












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General Preparations
Yule, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Saturnalia

1.  Thoroughly clean, dust, tidy up, refreshen, improve, and add appropriate seasonal decorations to your home altar.  This should normally be clean and tidy, however an extra cleaning before the Winter Solstice equinox celebration is a way to express your reverence, create a visible reminder of your thoughts and devotional practices, and to offer hospitality to the nature spirits, ancestors, and Shining Ones. If you don't have a home altar, read some books and webpages about setting one up in your home or garden, and then establish one this holiday season.  Typical Winter Solstice colors are green (pine/fir branches, wrapped presents), red (candles, cloth, bowls, pointettia flowers, wrapped presents, ornaments, etc.), and white (candles, bowls, wrapped presents, ornaments). 

2.  Since cutting trees for firewood was an essential task for survival in the winter months, cutting a tree and bringing it indoors and decorating it with ornaments is quite popular in many places.  Of course, burn the tree afterwards in your fireplace along with your regular firewood.  If you have no fireplace, then bring a living potted evergreen plant indoors for a week or so and decorate it, or make a beautiful wreath out of pine branches.  Some people use trees and plants made out of plastic for Christmas decorations, and resuse them for decades.  A few view the "Christmas Tree" tradition as a insult to pagan and/or Christian views, ecologically unsound, and a wasteful clutter in landfill dumps.  Check to make sure your home heating system is efficient, doors and windows are draft free, and wear warm clothing indoors to conserve non-renewable resources. 

3.  Working and meditating in the garden is an important facet of my spiritual path.  I need to regularly reconnect with the earth and the winter season outdoors. I live in Red Bluff, California, USDA Zone 9, Northern Hemisphere.  My late December gardening chores might be quite different from yours, depending upon where you live.  We always have a winter vegetable garden: swiss chard, cabbage, onions, radishes, garlic.  Tend your garden daily.  Weed your vegetable garden.  Review your own lists of chores for December and January, and act accordingly.      

8.  Read about the Winter Solstice, Saturnalia, New Year, and Christmas celebrations around the world.  Add notes gathered from books, magazines, and webpages on the subject to your personal journal.  See my bibliography and links above Visit your local public library or college library to obtain access to books, media and magazines on the subject.  Study about ancient Indo-European religions.  I update my Months webpages on December and January

9.  Add some appropriate Winter Solstice, Saturnalia, Wintertime, New Year or Christmas songs, chants, prayers, reflections, invocations, or poems to your Neo-Pagan Craft Journal, Book of Shadows, blog, website, or Ritual Handbook.  Write in your personal journal.  Most spiritual seekers keep a notebook, journal or log as part of their experimental, creative, magical and experiential work. 

10.  Stay at home.  Improve your home, backyard, or garden.  Eliminate long driving trips.  Do you really need to "Go" anywhere?  Do you really need to fly by airplane to another country?  Explore your backyard, neighborhood, local community, nearby city, county wide area, regional area within 100 miles.  Visit a local "sacred site."  For us, for example, this could be Mt. Shasta, the headwaters spring of the Sacramento River in Mt. Shasta City, the Sacramento River at Woodson Bridge Park, a long walk in the forest below nearby Mt. Lassen, sitting on the shore of Almanor Lake, sitting in my backyard in the moonlight, or visiting a beautiful church or college or park that is nearby.  Watch a DVD on a spiritual subject, sacred place, or inspirational topic.  Learn more about your local environment. 

11.  Read solitary or group rites for the Winter Solstice available in books and webpages (see above).  Create your own ritual for the Winter Solstice or Christmas.  Practice the ritual.  Conduct the ritual at a convenient time for you, or your family and/or friends, as close to the day of the Winter Solstice as possible.  Attend a public Winter Solstice ritual of a local NeoPagan group. 

12.  We enjoy putting up a few colorful electric lights and turning them on for an hour or so every few nights.    

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Quotations, Information, Facts, Lore
Yule, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Saturnalia



"J. G. Frazer in The Golden Bough notes the pagan origin of Christmas: “It was a custom of the heathen to celebrate on the 25th December the birthday of the sun, at which they kindled lights in token of festivity. Accordingly when the doctors of the Church perceived that the Christians had a leaning to this festival, they took counsel and resolved that the true Nativity should be solemnised on that day … Augustine exhorts his Christian brethren not to celebrate that solemn day like the heathen on account of the sun, but on account of him who made the sun.” (p. 472). Frazer argues (pp. 833 & 842) “If the heathen of ancient Europe celebrated, as we have good reason to believe, the season of Midsummer with a great festival of fire, of which the traces have survived in many places, it is natural to suppose that they should also have observed with similar rites the corresponding season of Midwinter; for Midsummer and Midwinter, the summer solstice and the winter solstice, are the two great turning points in the sun’s apparent course through the sky, and from the standpoint of primitive man nothing might seem more appropriate than to kindle fires on earth at the two moments when the fire and heat of the great luminary in heaven begin to wane or to wax … Indeed with respect to Midwinter celebration of Christmas we are left to conjecture; we know from the express testimony of the ancients that it was instituted by the church to supersede an old heathen festival of the birth of the sun, which was apparently conceived to be born again on the shortest day of the year, after which his light and heat were seen to grow till they attained their full maturity at Midsummer … In modern Christendom the ancient fire-festival of the winter solstice appears to survive, or to have survived down to recent years, in the old custom of the Yule log.”"The definition of a Harvest Moon is: the full moon closest to the fall equinox.  The Harvest Moon was thus named because it rises within a half-hour of when the sun sets.  In early days, when farmers had no tractors, it was essential that they work by the light of the moon to bring in the harvest.  This moon is the fullest moon of the year.  When you gaze at it, it looks very large and gives a lot of light throughout the entire night.  No other lunar spectacle is as awesome as the Harvest Moon."
-   The Midwinter Festival of Yule 



"The Saturnalia was the most popular holiday of the Roman year. Catullus (XIV) describes it as "the best of days," and Seneca complains that the "whole mob has let itself go in pleasures" (Epistles, XVIII.3). Pliny the Younger writes that he retired to his room while the rest of the household celebrated (Epistles, II.17.24). It was an occasion for celebration, visits to friends, and the presentation of gifts, particularly wax candles (cerei), perhaps to signify the returning light after the solstice, and sigillaria. Martial wrote Xenia and Apophoreta for the Saturnalia. Both were published in December and intended to accompany the "guest gifts" which were given at that time of year. Aulus Gellius relates in his Attic Nights (XVIII.2) that he and his Roman compatriots would gather at the baths in Athens, where they were studying, and pose difficult questions to one another on the ancient poets, a crown of laurel being dedicated to Saturn if no-one could answer them.   During the holiday, restrictions were relaxed and the social order inverted. Gambling was allowed in public. Slaves were permitted to use dice and did not have to work. Instead of the toga, less formal dinner clothes (synthesis) were permitted, as was the pileus, a felt cap normally worn by the manumitted slave that symbolized the freedom of the season. Within the family, a Lord of Misrule was chosen. Slaves were treated as equals, allowed to wear their masters' clothing, and be waited on at meal time in remembrance of an earlier golden age thought to have been ushered in by the god. In the Saturnalia, Lucian relates that "During My week the serious is barred; no business allowed. Drinking, noise and games and dice, appointing of kings and feasting of slaves, singing naked, clapping of frenzied hands, an occasional ducking of corked faces in icy water—such are the functions over which I preside."
-   James Grout, Saturnalia  



"Sol Invictus (English: Unconquered Sun) was a Roman god, a version of the early sun deity Sol, who emerged in the later Roman Empire. Though ostensibly a manifestation of the traditional Roman sun god, the cult of Sol Invictus as practiced in the later Empire owed much to those of eastern deities, in particular Mithras. The epithet invictus, meaning "unconquered", had been long applied to various Roman deities including Sol, but the popularity of Sol Invictus increased following the reforms of Aurelian in the late 3rd century.    Sol Invictus originated in the god Mithras, who was a Persian god whose worship became popular in the Roman army.  Sol Invictus continued to be associated with Mithras and the Mithraic Mysteries thereafter. For example, an altar or block from near SS. Pietro e Marcellino on the Esquiline in Rome was inscribed with a bilingual inscription by an Imperial freedman named T. Flavius Hyginus, probably between 80-100 AD. It is dedicated to Sol Invictus Mithras.  Mithraism reached the apogee of its popularity during the 2nd and 3rd centuries, spreading at an "astonishing" rate at the same period when Sol Invictus became part of the state cult."
-   Sol Invictus



"Everything that we know about the religious festivals of the pagan Anglo-Saxons comes from a book written by the Christian monk, the Venerable Bede, entitled De temporum ratione, meaning The Reckoning of Time,  in which he described the calendar of the year.  The pagan Anglo-Saxons followed a calendar with twelve lunar months, with the occasional year having thirteen months so that the lunar and solar alignment could be corrected. Bede claimed that the greatest pagan festival was Modraniht (meaning Mother Night), which was situated at the Winter solstice and which marked the start of the Anglo-Saxon year.   Following this festival, in the month of Solmonað (February), Bede claims that the pagans offered cakes to their deities.  Then, in Eostur-monath Aprilis (April), a spring festival was celebrated, dedicated to the goddess Eostre, and the later Christian festival of Easter took its name from this month and its goddess. The month of September was known as Halegmonath, meaning Holy Month, which may indicate that it had special religious significance. The month of November was known as Blod-Monath, meaning Blood Month, and was commemorated with animal sacrifice, both in offering to the gods, and also likely to gather a source of food to be stored over the winter.   Remarking on Bede's account of the Anglo-Saxon year, the historian Brian Branston noted that they "show us a people who of necessity fitted closely into the pattern of the changing year, who were of the earth and what grows in it" and that they were "in fact, a people who were in a symbiotic relationship with mother earth and father sky"."
-   Anglo-Saxon Polytheism  



"The Oak King, the Lord of the Greenwood and golden twin of the waxing year, rules from Midwinter to Midsummer. At Midwinter, he goes to battle with his twin, the Holly King, for the favor of the Goddess. He slays the Holly King, who goes to rest in Caer Arianrhod until they do battle again at Midsummer. The Oak King and Holly King are mortal enemies at Midsummer and Midwinter, but they are two sides of a whole. Neither could exist without the other.    Two themes run throughout the Oak King and Holly King saga. The first, of course, is the two great yearly battles between the two. The second is the sacrificial mating, death, and resurrection of each in his season. At Beltane, the peak of the Oak King's reign, he sacrificially mates with the Great Mother, dies in her embrace, and is resurrected. This is an enactment of the natural fertility theme of the season, and is not uncommon in other mythologies: Osiris, Tammuz, Dionysus, Balder, and Jesus are only a few other gods who die and are resurrected. (The Holly King on the other hand, mates, dies and is resurrected at Lammas.) This aspect of the Oak King and Holly King is not widely discussed, but is an important element in their roles as fertility gods."
The Oak King  



"All paganism is at bottom a worship of nature in some form or other, and in all pagan religions the deepest and most awe-inspiring attribute of nature was its power of re-production. The mystery of birth and becoming was the deepest mystery of nature; it lay at the root of all thoughtful paganism, and appeared in various forms, some of a more innocent, others of a most debasing type. To ancient pagan thinkers, as well as to modern men of science, the key to the hidden secret of the origin and preservation of the universe lay in the mystery of sex. Two energies or agents, one an active and generative, other a feminine, passive, or susceptible one, were everywhere thought to combine for creative purposes; and heaven and earth sun and moon, day and night, were believed to co-operate to the production of being. Upon some such basis as this rested almost all the polytheistic worship of the old civilization; and to it may be traced back, by stage, the separation of divinity into male and female gods; the deification of distinct powers of nature, and the idealization of man's own faculties, desires, and lusts; where every power of his understanding was embodied as an object of adoration, and every impulse of his will became an incarnation of deity."
-   A.T. Jones, Ancient Sun Worship and Its Impact on Christianity



"Although nominally a Christian holiday, Christmas is also widely celebrated by many non-Christians, and many of its popular celebratory customs have pre-Christian or secular themes and origins. Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift-giving, music, an exchange of greeting cards, church celebrations, a special meal, and the display of various decorations; including Christmas trees, lights, garlands, mistletoe, nativity scenes, and holly. In addition, Father Christmas (or Santa Claus) is a popular folklore figure in many countries, associated with the bringing of gifts for children.   Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity among both Christians and non-Christians, the holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses. The economic impact of Christmas is a factor that has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of the world."
Christmas - Wikipedia



"In Celtic mythology the Oak King and the Holly King are twins. Every year at the Winter and Summer Solstices, these two fight for dominance. In actuality, these brothers are two parts of the same thing, the waxing and waning of the yearly cycles of the Earth.    The Holly King rules the waning year, from Midsummer to Yule, and the Oak King rules the waxing year from Yule to Midsummer. The Holly King represents darkness, decay and destruction, and is often seen as Pluto, the Lord of the Underworld , who kidnapped beautiful Persephone and plunged the earth into winter. He also represents inner knowledge and mysteries. The Oak King, on the other hand, represents light, growth and expansion. These two mighty kings fight a symbolic battle to win the Crown of the year, at Yule when the Oak King wins, and at Midsummer when the Holly King wins.   To the early Celts, trees, especially the Oak tree were considered sacred. Oak trees are deciduous, meaning that they go into a dormant state during the winter months. English Christmas Holly trees are evergreen, and maintain their foliage year round. As the cold weather approached and the Oak trees lost their foliage, the Holly trees, which had been hidden amid the leafy Oaks now stood out in their full beauty in the barren landscape.   At Midwinter, it seemed that the Holly King had won and his brother, the mighty Oak King now stood naked in defeat. But, the Holly King did not really win the battle, because as the Sun begins to return once again, The Oak King rallies, and begins to re-establish his supremacy, even though it won’t be until Midsummer when the Oaks will once again be in full foliage."
-  Linda J. Paul,
The Holly King and the Oak King




Julaftonen (Christmas Eve), a watercolor painted 1904–05 by Carl Larsson (1853–1919)



"The ceremonial Yule log was the highlight of the festival. In accordance to tradition, the log must either have been harvested from the householder's land, or given as a gift... it must never have been bought. Once dragged into the house and placed in the fireplace it was decorated in seasonal greenery, doused with cider or ale, and dusted with flour before set ablaze be a piece of last years log, (held onto for just this purpose). The log would burn throughout the night, then smolder for 12 days after before being ceremonially put out. Ash is the traditional wood of the Yule log. It is the sacred world tree of the Teutons, known as Yggdrasil. An herb of the Sun, Ash brings light into the hearth at the Solstice.    A different type of Yule log, and perhaps one more suitable for modern practitioners would be the type that is used as a base to hold three candles. Find a smaller branch of oak or pine, and flatten one side so it sets upright. Drill three holes in the top side to hold red, green, and white (season), green, gold, and black (the Sun God), or white, red, and black (the Great Goddess). Continue to decorate with greenery, red and gold bows, rosebuds, cloves, and dust with flour."
-   Yule Lore by Akasha



"Saturnalia became one of the most popular Roman festivals. It was marked by tomfoolery and reversal of social roles, in which slaves and masters ostensibly switched places.   Saturnalia was introduced around 217 BCE to raise citizen morale after a crushing military defeat at the hands of the Carthaginians.  Originally celebrated for a day, on December 17, its popularity saw it grow until it became a week long extravaganza, ending on the 23rd. Efforts to shorten the celebration were unsuccessful. Augustus tried to reduce it to three days, and Caligula to five. These attempts caused uproar and massive revolts among the Roman citizens.   Saturnalia involved the conventional sacrifices, a couch (lectisternium) set out in front of the temple of Saturn and the untying of the ropes that bound the statue of Saturn during the rest of the year. A Saturnalicius princeps was elected master of ceremonies for the proceedings. Besides the public rites there were a series of holidays and customs celebrated privately. The celebrations included a school holiday, the making and giving of small presents (saturnalia et sigillaricia) and a special market (sigillaria). Gambling was allowed for all, even slaves.    Saturnalia was a time to eat, drink, and be merry. The toga was not worn, but rather the synthesis, i.e. colorful, informal "dinner clothes"; and the pileus (freedman's hat) was worn by everyone. Slaves were exempt from punishment, and treated their masters with (a pretense of) disrespect. The slaves celebrated a banquet: before, with, or served by the masters. Yet the reversal of the social order was mostly superficial; the banquet, for example, would often be prepared by the slaves, and they would prepare their masters' dinner as well. It was license within careful boundaries; it reversed the social order without subverting it.   The customary greeting for the occasion is a "Io, Saturnalia!" — Io (pronounced "e-o") being a Latin interjection related to "ho" (as in "Ho, praise to Saturn")."
Saturnalia - Wikipedia



"The Sun-God rules the seasons. At Yule, he is the new babe, the emodiment of innocence and joy. He represents the infancy of the returning light. At Imolg, his growth is celebrated, as the days are growing longer and light stronger. At Ostara, he is a green, flourishing youth whose eye is taken by the Maiden Goddess. On Beltane, he is the young man in love who takes the Goddess as his bride. Their consummated marriage is celebrated with maypoles and bonfires. At Midsummer, he comsummates his marriage in a union so complete that it becomes a death. He is mourned at Lammas, and at Mabon, he sleeps in the womb of the Goddess. At Samhain, he waits in the Shining Land to be reborn.   The symbolism of the Horned God is also played out the theme of the Holly King and Oak King. The Horned God is the Holly King and the Oak King, two twin gods seen as one complete entity. Each of the twin gods rule for half of a year, fights for the favor of the Goddess, and dies. But the defeated twin is not truly dead, he merely withdraws for six months, some say to Caer Arianrhod, the Castle of the ever-turning Silver Wheel, which is also known as the Wheel of the Stars. This is the enchanted realm of the Goddess Arianrhod where the god must wait and learn before being born again. Arianrhod means "silver wheel" and the castle is the Aurora Borealis. She is the goddess of the astral skies and there she rules as goddess of reincarnation.    The golden Oak King, who is the light twin, rules from midwinter to midsummer. The darksome Holly King rules the dark half of the year from Midsummer to Midwinter."
The Holly King and the Oak King



"Sol Invicta (Sun God): Feast of Sol Invicta, the Unconquered Sun, set in 274 A. D. (December 25th) The dominant cult among Rome's elite during the rise of Christianity.  A sophisticated use of archetypal symbols and rites of initiation to effect high moral standards; “temperance, self-control, and compassion -- even in victory”.  A early model of Masonry which also has roots in the Egyptian temple system."  



"Before the time of Constantine the ancient world was a virtual cornucopia of different religions and cults that existed all over the Roman Empire and eastward into China and India.  As a result of these competing doctrines "when Christianity was only one of several dozen foreign Eastern cults struggling for recognition in Rome, the religious dualism and dogmatic moral teaching of Mithraism set it apart from other sects, creating a stability previously unknown in Roman paganism" (Mithras in the Roman Empire). The striking parallels to Christianity in Mithraism have long been pointed out, for Mithras was said to have been: born of a virgin birth, had twelve followers or disciples, was killed and resurrected, performed miracles, and was known as mankind's savior who was called the light of the world and his virgin birth occurred on December 25. Indeed, the resemblances are so striking in that all of the Christian mysteries were known nearly five hundred years before the birth of Christ that later church fathers claimed that Satan had created all of this prior to Christ's birth so as to confuse the laity. In regard to Mithras Nabaraz wrote: 'According to Persian traditions, the god Mithras was actually incarnated into the human form of the Saviour expected by Zarathustra. Mithras was born of Anahita, an immaculate virgin mother once worshipped as a fertility goddess before the hierarchical reformation. Anahita was said to have conceived the Saviour from the seed of Zarathustra preserved in the waters of Lake Hamun in the Persian province of Sistan.  Mithra's ascension to heaven was said to have occurred in 208 B.C., 64 years after his birth. This birth took place in a cave or grotto, where shepherds attended him and regaled him with gifts, at the winter solstice. This is based on an older myth about birth of Mithra, that his magical birth at the dawn of time was from a rock from which he formed himself using his Will. He holds in his hand a dagger and a torch. A statue from Housesteads shows Mithras being born from the rock while the twelve signs of the zodiac surround him, showing his image as a stellar god who rules the cosmos even at his birth. A serpent [is at} times shown to be coiled around…Mithras or [his] birth stone/egg. (Mithras and Mithraism).' "
-   Christ, Constantine, Sol Invictus: The Unconquerable Sun   By Ralph Monday 



"It was the Yuletide, that men call Christmas though they know in their hearts it is older than Bethlehem and Babylon, older than Memphis and mankind."
- H.P. Lovecraft   



"In Northern Europe, the year's longest night is called "Mother Night" for it was in darkness the goddess Frigga labored to bring the Light to birth once more. The Young Sun, Baldur, who controlled the sun and rain and brings fruitfulness to the fields, was born.  Frigga's blessing is invoked for all birthing women, and a white candle that last burned on the solstice is a charm to provide a safe delivery. The mistletoe's association with the holidays come from the myths of the goddess Frigga. The plant's white berries were formed from Frigga's tears of mourning when her beloved son Baldur was killed by a dart made from mistletoe.  Some versions of the story of  Baldur's death end happily. Baldur is restored to life, and the goddess is so grateful that she reverses the reputation of the baleful plant, making it a symbol of peace and love and promising a kiss to all who pass under it.  Throughout the world gods and goddesses of light were being born during the Winter Solstice. The Egyptian goddess Isis delivered Horus whose symbol was the winged Sun.  Mithras, the Unconquered Sun of Persia, was born during the solstice, as was Amaterasu, the Japanese Goddess of the Sun. Rhea gave birth to Saturn (son of the Father of Time), Hera conceives Hephaestus, and Quetzalcoatl and Lucina ("Little Light") also celebrate birthdays at this time. Lucia, saint or Goddess of Light, is honored from Italy to Sweden, crowned with candles to carry us through the darkness. The birth of Sarasvati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge and the Queen of Heaven, is also celebrated during Yule-tide."
Winter Solstice and the Goddess Freya (Firgga)   



"Reclaim Santa Claus as a Pagan Godform. Today's Santa is a folk figure with multicultural roots. He embodies characteristics of Saturn (Roman agricultural god), Cronos (Greek god, also known as Father Time), the Holly King (Celtic god of the dying year), Father Ice/Grandfather Frost (Russian winter god), Thor (Norse sky god who rides the sky in a chariot drawn by goats), Odin/Wotan (Scandinavian/Teutonic All-Father who rides the sky on an eight-legged horse), Frey (Norse fertility god), and the Tomte (a Norse Land Spirit known for giving gifts to children at this time of year). Santa's reindeer can be viewed as forms of Herne, the Celtic Horned God. Decorate your home with Santa images that reflect His Pagan heritage.    Honor the Goddess as Great Mother. Place Pagan Mother Goddess images around your home. You may also want to include one with a Sun child, such as Isis with Horus. Pagan Goddess forms traditionally linked with this time of year include Tonantzin (Native Mexican corn mother), Holda (Teutonic earth goddess of good fortune), Bona Dea (Roman women's goddess of abundance and prophecy), Ops (Roman goddess of plenty), Au Set/Isis (Egyptian/multicultural All Goddess whose worship continued in Christian times under the name Mary), Lucina/St. Lucy (Roman/Swedish goddess/saint of light), and Befana (Italian Witch who gives gifts to children at this season)."
-   Selena Fox, Celebrating the Winter Solstice   





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Poems, Prayers, Rites, Liturgy, Invocations
Yule, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Saturnalia


"Solstice Sun, Shining Bright!
Shortest Day & Longest Night.
Solstice Wish of Hope & Cheer:
Peace on Earth, throughout the Year!"
-   Selena Fox 



"When Saturn rules, all things are turned around,
and everything becomes its opposite.
Just once each year this Image is filled up;
it's empty while Saturn lies asleep.
We feed Him with the oil that's pressed from corn,
the golden nectar from the nuggets born.
So also we in wisdom store away
our energy to use another day.
Drink deep, Saturn, of this golden oil!
Return our gift and bless our sacred soil!"
-   Saturnalia: A Winter Solstice Ritual 




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Mike Garofalo's Notes

My notes, observations, listing of local activities, and studies on the Yule and Winter Solstice Celebrations: 



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