Most calendars are linear. You see them beautifully illustrated, showing one month at a time; you see them showing a whole year at a glance, printed in neat rows of three or four months each. This reflects our acceptance of time as linear, and our tendency to forget that the past has anything to do with the present or the future.
Wicca’s calendar, the Wheel of the Year, is different. Wicca’s calendar is round, reflecting our understanding that life is not linear, but cyclical. As a round table allows everyone seated to see everyone else and keeps anyone’s position at the table from being more important than anyone else’s, so does Wicca’s round calendar, the Wheel, let us see the relationship of each Sabbat to the others, and keep any from being more significant than any other.At Yule, which occurs at the time of the winter solstice in December, the Lady gives birth to the Lord and rests from her labor.At the Winter Solstice, the two god themes of the year's cycle coincide -- even more dramatically than they do at the Summer Solstice. Yule (from the Norse iul, meaning wheel) marks the death and the rebirth of the Sun God; it also marks the vanquishing of the Holly King, the god of the Waning Year, by the Oak King, the God of the Waxing Year. The Goddess, who was Death-in-Life at Midsummer, now shows her Life-in-Death aspect; for although at this season she is the leprous white lady, Queen of the cold darkness, yet this is her moment for giving birth to the Child of Promise, the Son-Lover who will re-fertilize her and bring back light and warmth to her Kingdom.
From Eight Sabbats for WitchesEight Sabbats for Witches by the Stewart & Janet Farrar.
Modern Christmas celebrations are full of pagan symbology. Santa Claus is the Holly King, the sleigh is the solar chariot, the eight reindeer are the eight Sabbats, their horns represent the Horned God, the North Pole symbolizes the Land of Shadows and the dying solar year, and the gifts are meant both to welcome the Oak King as the sun reborn and as a reminder of the gift of the Holly King, who must depart for the Oak King to rule.
Sun plants like mistletoe, balsam, and fir, and also any dried herbs from Summer, are predominant this time of year because they contain light and warmth. On Yule, when witches decorate their houses, they do so from the doorway inward, this inviting the light inside. We adorn doorways and mantles with evergreen boughs, bunches of dried summer herbs and Witches cords in reds, blacks, greens, and golds. Ancient ancestors brought an evergreen tree inside to mystically ensure there would be light all year round. The evergreen retains sunlight, staying green all year, and reminds us that life is forever present and renewable.
Other Yule herbs, plants, flowers and seeds:
Holly, mistletoe, pine cones, pine needles, oak leaves, Yule log ashes, fir, birch, hazel bark, sandalwood, ivy, comfrey, elder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, chamomile, sunflower, frankincense, myrrh, wintergreen, apple leaf, dried apple
Some Winter Solstice Plants and Their Correspondences
Carnation, cedar, spruce, pine, rose, cinnamon, bayberry
Clear quartz, jet, ruby, diamond, garnet, alexandrite, kunzite, citrine, green tourmaline, blue topaz, pearls
Sing pagan solstice carols.
Decorate the Yule tree.
For personalized wrapping papers, cut a pattern on a halved potato, then dip it into tempera paint and on to plain wrapping tissue paper.
For prosperity, burn ash wood.
Yule blessings: wreath on the door, mistletoe indoors, food and clothing donations, sunflower seeds outside for birds, ring the bell to greet the Solstice Morn, and perform magick for a peaceful planet.
Gather up Yule greens after the 12th night and save. At Imbolg, burn the greens to banish winter and usher in spring.