Image: Yule by Le-Regard-des-Elfes (http://babsartcreations.deviantart.com/art/Yule-337561850)
This year the Winder Solstice falls on the 21 December. It is the shortest day and the longest night. It's a time of new beginnings, as it is associated with fertility and the continuation of life. From now on the sun will get stronger and the days will start getting longer.
The night of the Winter Solstice is also known as Mothers Night, the night the Goddess gives birth to the Sun King, who will re-fertilize her and the earth, bringing back light and warmth to the world. A new spark of hope springs forth – the sacred fire.
We can help the Great Mother give birth by lighting as many lights as we can.
Throughout ancient times, the re-birth of the sun has been celebrated with fire festivals, the festivals of light – from ancient Egypt to ancient Rome, India, China, Japan, Germanic and Norse cultures. It is a celebration of victory over the darkness and the return of the light.
The Winter Solstice is also the first of the 12 Sacred Nights. As our ancestors used the lunar calendar, these 12 nights were left out and were considered not part of the old year and not part of the new year, they were outside of the year, the time between years, and with that they were very holy and truly timeless.
The veil between the worlds is very thin at this time and it is one of the best times for doing our divination for the coming year and cleansing our homes spiritually. During this time we are as sensitive and vulnerable as the newborn light and need protection. That's why our ancestors would hang Holly at the doors and windows to ward against malicious spirits.
During this time we look back at the old and prepare for the new, and get together with neighbours and friends.
The sun seems to be standing still, the old is not yet gone, the new is not yet strong enough. The powers that propel the Wheel of the Year are getting manifested at this time.