I'm posting a lot about Yule lately. If it starts to get boring, let me know! I guess I'm just excited about this being the first year that we are going to have a family Ritual. So I thought I would share my thoughts on the symbols of Yule.
First, we have colors. Personally, I use White, Silver, Blue, Red, Green, and Gold/Yellow. Now, a lot of websites tell you what color is for Yule, Imbolc, Litha, etc. without explaining why the author thinks so. This always kind of bugged me, because we are each doing this a different way. I thought we didn't want to be told to do things a certain way! So, my reasons are these, and keep in mind they are my personal reasons and thoughts.
White is the color of the snow, of purity and hope.
Silver is the color of the moonlight on snow, the feminine aspect and tradition.
Blue is the color of the ice in shadow, a feeling a calm, and sincerity.
Red is the color of the Holly Berry, the life force, and strength.
Green is the color of the Evergreen, of rejuvination, luck and success.
Gold is the color of the Sun, reborn; of the male aspect and intelligence.
These to me are the colors of Yule, and to me they all have a special meaning to bring to the holiday. They all bring something nessecary to lasting through the cold winter months, and they symbolize something about the winter months. Then we come to physical symbols. Things like the Yule log, fruit studded with cloves, the Yule Tree, wreathes, and fire. Again, the reasons for these are my own.
Yule Logs are traditionally to be burned for all the nights of Yule, I think this started because of how cold it got and no one wanted to go out for firewood! Being that most of us no longer need to do that, what has the tradition become? More of a "remember when we had to do these things?" tradition. Personally, I like a Yule Log candle holder. It still shows that we remember where we come from, but are not slaves to it.
Clove studded Fruit is another one that shows that we remember how it used to be. When everyone was so excited to have fresh fruit to eat! The reason for the cloves is because they actually helped the fruit to stay fresh for a longer period. Now that we don't need to worry about our fruit going bad anymore (Thank you, supermarkets everywhere!) we still do this as a way to remember how it used to be. I think they smell fabulous, and a clove studded apple is a great addition to a pot of Wassail for decoration and taste.
Yule Trees and Wreathes symbolize the continuation of life. Even if we don't see it under all that snow, life is still going on. The whole northern hemisphere doesn't die off just because it's winter! The Yule tree also symbolizes the strength that our ancestors needed to push through the winter months, seemingly without hope of warmer weather. It still feels like that sometimes, but we all know better.
Fire I think is pretty obvious. Without it, we wouldn't be where we are as a society, people or spieces. Fire keeps us warm, cooks our food, warms our drink, and keeps us alive. At least, it did before the advent of natural gas and electric heaters. Without it, so many of our ancestors would have died off that we wouldn't have a world population in the billions right now.
So there it is...I'm not going to get into gemstones or incense or herbs or food right now. I will have a post on Yule food later in the week, but not today. Everyone has their own favorite things that symbolize the Sabbats to them, but how many of us ever think of why? Do we just take these lists out of books, off of websites, pick them randomly out of the color scheme of the Sears Catalog? If we are going to call ourselves truly spiritual, we need to think about the choices we make and why. It's great to be able to have such a wealth of information about our craft at our fingertips, but unless we think about why we are using it and what for, it's a redundant effort.