Today is the Winter Solstice, marking the shortest day of the year and the beginning of a new season. Darkness has now reached its peak and from this point on, we witness a gradual lengthening of days and shortening of nights. At Midwinter, I always feel within me a relief, a sense that we have turned a corner, a profound joy that comes from knowing the light is returning to us. A deep knowing that goes beyond me, a seemingly unexplainable connection that transcends my personal history and experience on this Earth. As the years go by, Yule speaks to me more than Christmas does.
This year, we have added a Yule log to our natural Christmas decorations to celebrate the return of the light at Midwinter. It's a piece of oak decorated with greenery and berries found on our land, holly, conifer, bay, rosemary and ivy, bound by a red ribbon. On the longest night of the year, in front of the fire, it becomes the symbol for the light's triumph over darkness and invites us to a moment of reflection and contemplation at the cusp between darkness and light. I have written a little card with these words on: "May the log burn, May the wheel turn, May evil spurn, May the Sun return" and will add it to the fire as a meditative ritual to celebrate Yule.
I enjoyed putting the yule log together, not only because I take pleasure out of creating something with my own hands but also because making it turned into a deep meditative and meaningful experience that touched me deeply. The piece of oak is not dry so we won't burn it now but it felt important to choose it as oak is said to bring healing, strength and wisdom. The evergreen holly, ivy and conifer are symbols of everlasting life and the red berries and ribbon represents life itself, which the returning Sun makes possible.
In what can feel a very pressurised and hectic few weeks, full of materialistic hurry and frenzy, it is worth remembering that on the Winter Solstice, we are celebrating light – the light that will give birth to the Earth in the Spring and the light that kindness and love can spread throughout the world. The Winter Solstice is also an invitation to pause, slow down and welcome Winter as a necessary space for creative gestation, which can often feel at odds with the demands of modern Christmastime.
I value the wisdom of ancient traditions such as Yule, which I find grounding and full of profound meaning that gives me purpose. I feel very lucky that living in the quiet countryside, surrounded by nature, helps me bring these ancient traditions and festivals into my life. This nourishes my soul and feeds my spirit as we journey from darkness to light.
Yule blessings to all - may the returning light and strengthening Sun illuminate your way, today and throughout the year.