Winter Solstice, December 20-23 (varies according to the particular date on the standard calendar according to when the Solstice will occur astronomically).
Longest night of the year, the turning point when the days shall afterwards grow longer as winter begins its passage into the coming spring. It is, in the Goddess worship, the time when she gives forth again to the birth of the Divine Sun child who shall be both child and eventually lover and father of the next child in the cycle.
Winter Solstice for pagans is a time of feasting and the exchanging of gifts and is the original Holiday that the Christian religions modified into their own Christmas, even up to the birth of the child (Most theologians who have spent time studying the birth of Jesus admit he was born in either March or April, not the celebrated Christmas date we all know from the standard calendar – it was moved to this date to help induce Pagans to give up their old ways yet allow them their holidays during the spread of Christianity through Europe and the British Isles).
Traditional adornments are a Yule Log, usually of oak, and a combination of mistletoe and holly (also all later plagiarized into Christian ways).
This is the wonderful celebration of the re-birth of the Sun God. The time when we spiritually and physically aid the Goddess is giving birth to her Consort. We decorate and burn our Yule Logs and hope that our dreams and desires for the future will come to fruition, we dance our Spiral Dance around our altars and concentrate on sending our energies to the Goddess as She goes through the process of labor and delivery. It is the day when all is born anew and begins, quietly, to grow and flourish again.
BLESSED THISTLE--is taken by the priest in the ritual cup to invoke the newly born Sun God.
CHAMOMILE--symbolizes the Sun God and is cast into the Circle as well as used to actually cast the Circle. It is used in the incense and ritual cup. It is good to use in the Ritual Bath prior to the ceremony.
EVERGREEN–any type will do, they are hung everywhere at this time of year in the home and about the Circle. The needles make excellent incense.
FRANKINCENSE–is the best incense for this ritual.
HOLLY–is used along with evergreen to decorate the home and the Circle. It is a sacred herb of the Druids, in the manner of bringing it into the home one is said to also be bringing in the Little people thereby offering them shelter and safety from the harshness of winter.
MISTLETOE–is added to the incense and hung in the doorways to fill the home with extra love and kisses at this time of year. Each person attending the ritual should toss a mistletoe berry into the fire to represent the things personal to them that they desires to grow and increase in strength as the Sun God grows.
PINE--the Christmas tree is OURS people! Go ahead and put up a big one! Decorate it with popcorn, cranberries, pagan symbols, witchballs, lights, mirrors and whatever else you want.
SAGE--is used in the ritual cup.
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