Hey, looks like I’m finally caught up! I’ve more or less run out of cap now though and I’ve been using my free points these few days, so lets hope I’ll get soon, so I don’t fall behind again!
As all of you who read my blog know, my reviews often have my own personal insights and points as well, this is to keep what I’ve learned and experienced in mind, as well, so without further ado, the last post of the day:
Part I- Yule and its place in our hearts
1. the history of Yule: How it all began
“These holidays provide us with a time of reflection, resolution, and renewal. A time for gift-giving, good will and kindness. Most important, though, they provide us with rituals to celebrate the balance of light and dark-rituals for welcoming the healing powers of warmth back into our world- and that gives us common ground that draws people together” p3
I have for many years used the winter solstice as a time to reflect on my past, while the land seems to sleep, it becomes a perfect time to be quiet and look within. It is the result of our journey to the underworld. We have to burrow into ourselves like hibernating animals and dig through our muck, sorting out the good from the bad, and learning to let go of the negative parts of ourselves that hold us back. I will be going into more detail on this with the Winter Dark Moon post that I am planning.
It is also a time of renewal, while the seeds in the ground remain dormant, we know that with the rebirth of the sun that what we plant now, will grow in the spring time, so it is worthwhile planting good seeds.
In this chapter of the book, Morrison goes into the history of winter solstice celebrations.
2. Yule Traditions and Symbols
Like the chapter is entitled, the focus here is on Yule symbols and traditions, some of her information cannot be backed up with historical evidence, and seems to be a bit romanticized like the origins of the Candy Cane. But she goes into symbolism of the wreath, bells, tree, chimney, elves, holly, mistletoe, poinsettia, and the Yule log. I am a bit wary of historical accuracy however with most Llewellyn books.
I am also creating my own set of symbols (like combining the symbolism of the bat with Holly, etc), so this was interesting from that perspective.
3. Festivals of Light around the world
In this chapter she talks briefly about Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Yule.
4. Holiday customs around the world
Here she talks about how people celebrate the winter holidays around the world. For Australia (Southern Hemisphere ) she focuses on Christmas which falls in Summer.
In South Africa, malls and many streets are decked with Christmas trees and decorations in December. In my own family and many families I’ve known Christmas dinners and lunches are common, very similar I’m imagining to Americans and other people who celebrate the Solstice in the Northern hemisphere. The main difference here, is that is tends to be sweltering! Many people go the coast and enjoy the beach during December, some go to game farms and have nice family and friend gatherings in the lodges.
I’m not sure how those in African Traditional religions and other cultures celebrate Christmas, but as South Africa becomes more influenced by Media, and more people from ATR become Christian, we are all drawn into similar celebrations. Often those in more tradition cultures combine both traditional and Modern/Christian celebrations.
During Winter as a child we used to gather around the fire, and I would collect any fallen leaves and sticks left over, putting them all over the place, we also used to go to a dam and feed the geese and ducks, something I still enjoy doing!
5. Omens, Superstitions, and Other Magical Goodies
We all know I’m not a fan of superstitions. For those who like reading about folklore and superstitions, this section might be interesting for you. Some of these superstitions are laughable like “Ghosts refuse to come out of hiding on Christmas Day”. Many of these superstitions are associated with Christmas specifically rather than the solstice itself.
6. Yuletide trivia and fun facts
Again many of these are specific to Christmas, rather than the solstice. I’d prefer more focus on pagan celebrations than Christian ones.
Part II Preparing for the Yuletide Season
7. Making room for Yule
Like Morrison, I prefer to do my main cleaning of the year during Winter before the Solstice. I often go through boxes and drawers and hidey holes of crap, and remove tonnes of refuse bags of rubbish. This year, I did the same, I have cleared out at least 6 refuse bags full of junk, papers of scribbles, magazines that I once loved but now irritate me, broken items, and things that I held on to thinking “but maybe I’ll use that”.
As Winter gives me time to reflect, it is during this time that I can be most critical of the things I’ve lugged around for years, things that have been holding me back, stunting my growth. I have made piles of clothes that I wear, clothes that are broken beyond repair and clothes that can be given away to charity. I have a huge bag full of clothes I am giving away, clothes that fit me 7 years ago when I had no hips, that I have no hope in fitting into again even if I did lose weight. It feels good being able to help others with clothes that once made me happy.
In order to allow “good fortune”, wealth and happiness to enter into our lives, all the rubbish that clogs it up, all that stuff that we cling to but does not allow those positive influences in, need to be removed in order for what we want to grow.
Morrison offers her own tips and advice and cleaning rituals that are useful to try. She also offers a success charm to try once everything is clean and fresh.
8. Decking the Halls
“There’s nothing quite like decorating for the winter holidays. Not only is it fun, it also signals the psyche that magic is afoot and gives us a different opportunity to weave that magic through our homes, our lives, and our spirits. Best of all, the world doesn’t know that our decorating frenzy is different from anyone else’s- and that carries a magic all its own.” P 51.
I agree with this almost completely except perhaps for the last sentence, as in the southern hemisphere with the exception of pagans, not many people are decorating their homes with “Yule decorations”.
She gives ideas for a Yule log, an Evergreen Wreath, garlands, a centrepiece, placemats, Yule stockings, sun catchers and window snowflakes.
Of course you have seen some of my own Yule decor, including the Holly Bats, the Yule Spiders, Yule stockings and my Yule Tree!
9. Giving Winter its due
Here she has an idea for bringing “Winter into the home” by giving a project to make a winter scene, and bottled snowflakes.
10. The Yule Tree
Here she goes into her own Tree rituals.
She offers a Tree blessing ritual, which I’m going to use for my little tree (Day 1).
She has a blessing for ornaments, and how to make Swirled, Filled, Glittered and Herbal ornaments for the tree.
11. Holiday Cards
This chapter is pretty much common sense, and is very short, I’m pretty sure this chapter could have been left out.
Part III Gifting, Feasting and Festing
12. Quick and Easy Yule gifts
She has some homemade gifts you can try like a pomander, pine cone fire starters, bath salts, herbal energy sachets, pressed herb and flower candles, spell kits(similar to my spell boxes), incense kits, scented coasters, a kitchen wreath, herbal tea basket, a potpourri lamp, kitty treats, bird feeder cakes, holiday dog collar, and the dog biscuits I shared with you.
13. Wrapping up the season
A small list of tips for wrapping up presents.
14. Let’s Party
A small chapter on decorating your table, which includes, a tablecloth, party placemats napkin rings and place cards.
15. Party Ideas and Games
Another chapter that is a bit of common sense.
16. Eat, Drink and Be Merry
Hmmm, my favourite part of these books, Food!
From here I have made the Ginger bread cookies, which turned out well, if a little light on the burn from ginger :)!
We tried out the Yule log two years ago, but it flopped because it was a swiss roll, it still tasted great, but swiss rolls aren’t yet mastered by me!
There are many sweet, and cake recipes, including another Yule log recipe, crescent cakes, plum pudding, fudge, ambrosia, Yule cookies. There are also other recipes like Quiche, duck and turkey, none of which suit my vegetarian tastes, although I have a Quiche recipe that I can adapt.
She also includes beverages like Sherbet Frappe` and Hot buttered Rum.
Part IV: Creating Personal Traditions
17. Personal Traditions
This is her personal reflection on her own Yule traditions.
18. Daily Event Calendar
This calendar would be helpful to a newbie, or someone who may be stuck trying to figure out their own traditions. For the most part I’m creating my own, and many of these do not fit in my system, but this section is helpful.
She includes a Yule Ritual for the actual solstice and a purging ritual which is very similar to what I’ll be talking about on the Dark moon.
19. Keeping the Holidays happy
She talks about the stress and depression that the season can bring.
She offers some tips to reduce stress.
20. After the Holidays
Tips on how to clean up, remove and store decorations.
She ends with a Charge of the sun God, and in her Appendices, she includes a list of Gods and Goddesses associated with Yule as well as Holiday Greetings in Other Countries.
I give this book 3 out of 5 stars. I believe that there are helpful tips within the book, some of the chapters however err on the side of common sense and seem to have just been space fillers. The book will help beginners. The book has quite a bit of focus on Christmas, which does displease me somewhat, as I was really expecting a book that focused and went into more detail on pagan traditions. There are ways of adapting these traditions though. I’d love to try more of the sweet and cake recipes, but I have one of my own in mind for the challenge, and I am trying not to bake more than once a week, as I don’t have that many people to share it all with anymore since my mom moved to the coast.
As I’m making my own Yule traditions, this book did help me decide on what I like about traditional Yule and what I don’t like about it.
I also wish, like the Halloween book I reviewed for the 7 Days of Samhain, that this book went into more depth and detail about certain things, rather than just scratching the surface of psycho-spiritual experience! Unfortunately most of this book series (the ones I’ve read so far) have not gone deep enough for me, and I’ve felt a bit like Llewellyn wanted to keep it light and sweet(which is nothing new with them).