Many Blessings my dear
The period between Samhain and Yule was often referred by Pagans as “death period” or “dead time”. Not an unjustified statement If You ask me, considering people had seen Samhain as “the end of the year” even prior to Pagan religions, and also they had been observing Winter Solstice as the start of the New Year. Period in between was undefined, dark, often ( weather related ) cruel , with no celebrations or festivities. In occultism, that would make it an ideal time for learning from mistakes, cleansing of sin, and all the bad emotion n s, confronting our “inner demons”. Not an easy task, at all, but a needed one, for cleansed , be it “with fire”, through this period, would left human relatively pure, and thus properly prepared for the Solstice and the period when the Sun was believed to be “reborn” .
Cleansed like that, repented and renewed, human being would be ready to “take on some new resolutions” , which being a mundane “ritual” taken too lightly and superficially sometimes. And the Winter Solstice, Yule , Sol Invictus part of Saturnalia, call it whatever, is certainly, from an occult perspective best time for resolutions, amendment and gift giving and receiving . Catholic Christians and Orthodox Christians that follow younger ( Julian ) Calendar also commemorate this day , as the day when the our Lord Christ, savior of all human had been born. For Christians, Christmas and Easter are the most joyful holidays of all.
Time when the Sun regains dominion and the time of madness in Rome
Roman festivity of Saturnalia evolved from a single to few days lasing celebrations , to almost a week session of celebration. The 17th of December , had however been reserved to be the main, public merriment, that served to release Roman people of all their inhibitions, laws and constraints, and allow situations and events that otherwise would never take place in Ancien t Rome, of If they would have, they’d been severely punished. All the stigmas , taboos, could be discarded on that day, and people could do what they felt like. Even gamble!
See playing what we nowadays popularly known as “crap-games” or “dicing” , were extremely tabooed or at very least seen as reason for social excommunication , of those that would have take n participation in such. Stakes could have been anything from nuts and coins, to vows and promises . On Saturnalia even the slaves could play! And that is not all slaves could do on such day. They were permitted to talk back, disobey the masters, and in some cases slaves would have also assume the role of the master! They were allowed to sit at the table with their masters, and enjoy the rare privilege of feasting with them. What more they were often served by slave owners themselves, albeit the food would have still been cooked by slaves. These, home-held festivities, could have been “prolonged” and would be done on 18th and 19th ( latter also known as Opalia, devoted to Saturn’s consort Opa ) of December , which were days for domestic celebrations of Saturnalia.
After the central religious celebrations of Saturnalia ( such as Ritus Graecu s ) public celebrations would occur. Mostly in form of public banquets , the so called “convivum publicum”. Anyone could have attended, more so because Saturnalia was free labor day, no one had to work. Not even in courts justice had been administrated, and no war declaration/s could have been made on Saturnalia. Public merriment included lots of food, drink, music , dancing, sometimes costuming and pranks. The king of Saturnalia had also been appointed, so called Saturnalis Princeps, who would rule on guided by silly ideas , whims , and making people do simple or stupid and ridiculous tasks. Being chosen, and “crowned” by mass, it’s safe to assume that it had been some popular person in question, and suffices to illustrate with the example that ( at that point ) future King Nero “held the title” on one occasion . People would go following King on streets, yelling : “Io Saturnalia” a traditional greeting of the holiday , would dance, drink, and according to few historians ( those considered “not so politically correct ) orgies and promiscuous behavior were a common sight. Even among same gender people. These were held traditionally after 3rd day of Saturnalia , and were associated with Bacchus ( Dionisian cult ) and modeled after their bacchanalias.
|Three Wise Men , following star that lead the to|
the birthplace of the Lord Christ
As we can see, all these “customs” have been adopted even nowadays ( even the promiscuous behavior part lol ) , most of them more than likely being adopted from Ancient Greeks, anyhow. Which means, Christians did not “stole” any part of Pagan tradition ( note that most people claiming this are New-Age oriented Pagan and Wiccans , with minor exceptions ) for these are part of “mundane” not religious or spiritual celebration of Equinox. Another thing Pagans of any kind certainly did not “invent” Equinox and Solstices celebrations, for those predate vastly all known Pagan religions, and were commemorated in some form along with the appearance of animism and totemism, If not sooner, in primordial human society. The messeage I tried to send with those is simple, New Agers , try not to give a bad name to proper Pagans. I know quite a few, they are great friends of mine, and I am a Christian. I enjoy their mythos and lore, and we do not fight over “copyrights” on spiritual practice. Now that my little rant us done proceeding with, Siggilaria, and Sol Invictus or the very Winter Equinox celebration in ancient Rome:
Siggilaria, day for sharing and gifts
Siggilaria was a ancient Roman, holiday befalling on 23rd of the December and it’s one of the models for New Age ( among people of Catholic folk also Christmas ) tradition of gift exchange. High value ( priced, expensive ) gifts were acceptable, but the best gifts were considered to be pottery or wax figurines called Siggilaria, that were inexpensive, but depicted well the spirit of mentioned traditions. Pieces of clothes, spoons, knives, forks, knucklebones ( for making dices, as these were considered lucky, much like in Hoodoo, today ) and other alike items were good examples of gifts. Bosses would help, with money their “less ( well ) situated” workers and customers. Another tradition that continues today, or at least it should.
Although traditionally set on Sigillaria, gift giving and exchange tradition, was sometimes, moved to aftermath of the feast slaves could participate in ( feast meal for slaves, mentioned prior in text ) , and sometimes handing the gifts was followed by recitation of the poem, or the poem would be written and attached to the gift in some appropriate way. This could have been somewhat a precursor for gift card tradition, nowadays also a comercionalist’s favorite custom ;)
Sol Invictus and Yule
Sol invictus , was in most parts of the Roman empire celebrated on 25th of December, what was considered to be Winter Solstice , and was thus a holiday dedicated to Sun , and it’s light. Also a date sacred to Roman deity Saturn , all of his aspects ( Benevolent and malevolent ) , and his consort/s such as Opa, Lua and his associates such as Dis Pater ( Roman version of Pluto, Underworld ruler ) and so on. Mithraists thought it’s a holiday associated with “freeing of souls into immortality”, the belif probably being influenced by Porphyry’s ( Neoplationian philosopher ) writings
Sol invictus was associated with Sun, and idea of Sun being monotheistic in a way ( so called solar “monotheism” ) , universal in most , if not all pagan religions, not officially recognized as deity on itself, but in a way worshiped nevertheless. On this day, Sun was starting to “grow once again, bringing victory over dark, cruel and cold part of the year, period of darkness and death. Hence why the candles were / are often lit on this day, to help Sun become stronger again , beacon the Sun or Simply greet it. Mythraic mysteries saw it as the Dies Natalis Solis Invicti which would freely translate “Birthday of the invincible Sun” , and that according to some scholars and common people speculations, influenced Christian’s Christmas tradition. Once again, I respectfully disagree, because most of the celebrations adopted are not part of Christian teachings, despite the fact Christians people may adopt and practice them. The fact that Christmas or Nativity falls on the 25th December is indeed an intentional act of Christian Church, which serves to prevent Christian folk from “overdoing” with what were Pagan customs, however that does not have anything to do with Non Christian population. Furthermore according to that very same logic, Pagans stole and corrupted original Equinox commemorations which have been very spiritual yet atheistic originally. With which I would disagree, personally, as I believe that nature oriented occurrences, such as Solstices and Equinoxes, are if anything spiritually universal and predating any sort of organized religion, than theistic.
Furthermore, according to Talmund, it was Adam ( among the humans ) to first notice the shortening of the days, prior to the Winter Solstice. And being afriad that is might be punishment for his sins, he sat and feasted 8 days prior to the Solstice, and when after the Solstice day started lengthening , he would celebrate for another 8 days. This would make the first period an “atonement period” and the latter “celebration period”, and would illustrate brilliantly the concept I spoke of at the beginning of this post. To properly greet the New Yearn, Nativity, Christmas, Saturnalia, Yule or simply Winter Solstice , we are to purge ourselves of sins and sorrows , prior to it, face our inner demons and hence cleanse. This is one of the reasons why Christians fast 40 prior to the Nativity.
Yule , is sacred to chief Pagan male deity, being the Solar deity, pagan god, who was believed to be reborn on this very day, prior to which the Sun would hang on Eastern Cross , or ladders from sky, for three days. Yule is day for resolution, celebration and worship of their sun god, born form the womb of their goddess. It’s a holiday associated with greeting the Sun , making and lighting the candles , once waxen today bayberry being more popular material. Some aspects of the holiday may differ in different parts of the world. So in Italy, despite being a solar god related holiday, a mythological figure of good witch called “Befanna” plays important role, carrying gifts to good kiddies just like St Nicholas, or Father Christmas ( Santa Claus, Babo Natale in Italian ) does. Universally Yule is associated with new begging/s , mysteries, all sort of resolutions, mysteries, new life , Inner renewal and alike. Northern people ( Northern Europe ) have a legend according to which this is the time, when Oak ( summer king ) and Holly ( winter king ) fight for the dominion over nature. A time when “green men” becomes stronger. Candles are light, amendments made, payers are offered for the world’s peace. Misteltoe branches are hung, and people kiss beneath such ( another popular custom ), and of course the apple wassail which is akin to modern day caroling, only that participants may visit orchards rather than actual houses, performing rites associate with gratitude and abundance, while singing specific, traditional, verses and poems. Lyrics would differ from specific region to region, for example the following one:
Stand fast root, bear well top
Pray the God send us a howling good crop.
Every twig, apples big.
Every bough, apples now.
Pray the God send us a howling good crop.
Every twig, apples big.
Every bough, apples now.
I personally liked, is a XIX century rhyme from Sussex  The rhyme mentions “howling” , which is another ( rarely used ) name for the given tradition.
This particular ritual illustrates finely the concept of abundance, associated with the period, which may encompass, and If so , also transcend wealth and profusion in simple material sense. It’s about providing, creation, production that arrives with the rising Sun, rather than simple greed inspired desires of the ego.
Bonfires mostly build from Oak trees were made on these days to empower and beacon the Sun, and torches were hung from trees, while homes were decorated with evergreen plants and branches, all to entice the Sun and Nature to return  And like in the aforementioned Hebrew tale about Adam, this was done out of the fear that one would experience seeing the day getting shorter, lesser amount of insolation, as well as plants seemingly withering and animals resorting to their caves and secluded lair s. Traditional colors associated with the season were White, Dark red, Light green and Gold, and such associations were transferred to candles which were lit on Yule.
There, we have discussed various traditions and how they’ve come to affect modern day celebrations associated with Yule, Christmas and New Year. I shall try and post in Jaunuary on folk magick and traditions associated with Christmas in January, for as an ( Eastern ) Orthodox Christian , we celebrate the Christmas on 7th of January. And now, on the more practical suggestions and tips, for as I state occasionaly, this blog is about practical magick
Strictly technically speaking, 25th of December is not a day for spellwork for traditionalists, but for ecclectic and all those willing to use spiritual energies of the day, here are few tips:
Blessing ritual for the home
To be performed on 21st of December . I imagined this as an eclectic rituals, devoted to natural principles everyone can tap in. Considering the aim and power source/s , this ritual may be brilliant for Candlemass ( Imboloc ) as well and Osthara ( Spring Equinox ).
You will need:
· A white, yellow or gold candle
· Sunstone ( or in lack of thereof , Citrine, or Quartz crystal, or any associated planetary to the Sun )
· A jar with spring water
As the sun rises on the East , light the candle and holding lit candle in one, and Sun stone in other hand, facing the east say:
“Rise Sun, Rise, and hurry my way,
Bring me light and blessing on this day,Bring thy light, bring thy warmth, defeat the cold,
Cleanse the iniquity, restore tranquility,
I greet You, I salute You and take joy in Your empowerment
Sun bring us health, and abundance,
Joy, luck and intelligence.
Were You rays dwell, no evil may remain.
This is my will
So mote it be! “
Carry the candle and the stone throughout every room, as You speak positive affirmations or simply visualize rooms being infused and bathed by light of Sun , Your family happy and home filled with wealth.
Now place the Sunstone along in the jar with the Spring water and leave it exposed to Sun light for until the Midday has passed. Then use the water to sprinkle some throughout Your house, and water Your plants. To even further enhance the ritual effect You can use Rosemary twig as an aspergent, and saying some soothing words of power.
Combine the following ingredients:
· Bay Laurel leaf, dry· Rosemary
· Cedar wood chips or powder
· Pine needles
· Rue , dry grinded
· Cinnamon, powder
· OPTIONAL: Pinch of Saffron
Can also be burned for exorcism and spirit work.
Also try this formula:
· Acacia resin· Frankincense tears
· OPTIONAL: Benzoin resin
You can use the this one to cleanse or bless any object, as devotion style ( Winter Solstice ) incense, to fumigate the house. Add Bay Laurel and/or Allspice to make it a very good Success incense, or add Bay Laurel, and Rosemary to accent more the uncrossing and exorcism note of the incense.
Candle dedication ritual
As simple as:
Write and/or state Your petitions regarding Blessings ( for others as well, whole world population ) , Peace and Wellbeing. If You have written those down on a piece of paper fold thrice to ( towards oneself ) and place under the white candle and light it.
Write and/or sate Your petitions regarding health , well being, strength and love. If You have written those down on a piece of paper fold thrice to ( towards oneself ) and place under the dark red candle and light it.
Write and/or state Your petitions for abundance, fertility, growth and economical stability. If You have written those down on a piece of paper fold thrice to ( towards oneself ) and place under the light green candle and light it.
Write and/or state Your petitions for success ( in business , school etc or simply in general ) , wisdom, defeating diseases, luck and steady income. . If You have written those down on a piece of paper fold thrice to ( towards oneself ) and place under the light yellow of gold candle and light it.
Let the candles burn all the way down , and collect the remaining wax, paper, and bury them in Your own yard or in pot with some long living plant.
NOTES: This article was written and composed by myself, therfore should You desire to use any part of it elswhere feel free but add credits Shadow of shadows magick place, Shadowfirstname.lastname@example.org or a direct link to this post.
CREDITS AND REFRENCES:
 as found on : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Wassail
 paraphrased from “Encyclopedia of Ancient magic and wisdom” by Cassandra Eason
References: “Golden Bough” Sir James A. Frazer
“Life, myth and art in Ancient Rome” Tony Allan
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturnalia IMAGE CREDITS: Both images used here are for illustrative and explanatory purposes only without any ill will, and are from sources :