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Happy Yule and a Post Roundup!

Happy Yule and a Post Roundup!

Happy Yule! Once again, I find it’s Yule and I still haven’t done everything that needs to be done. This is probably going to become a tradition on Yule to offer a post roundup of all the articles I’ve written over the years about Yule (at least the ones that are interesting).

Check them out and enjoy Yule!

Celebrating Yule with Non-Heathen Family Members

Yeah, everyone’s got them. And if they’re Christian, they may have a tough time with your Heathen ways (pun intended!). Here’s a way to make everyone happy.

8 Ways to Celebrate Yule for the Solitary Heathen

Yule can be a bit lonely for the solitary Heathen, so here are some cool ways to celebrate it by yourself.

What You Need to Know about Yule

Because I should be talking more about the history of Yule and how it relates to the modern Heathen.

When You Can’t Get in the Yule Spirit

Bah humbug! Are you the Scrooge around Yule? So am I. So, here are some ways to cope.

The Yule Goat Sneaks Heathen Tradition into Christmas

Heard of the Yule Goat or Yulebok? Well, if you haven’t, here’s your chance to add a little paganism to your relatives’ Christmas under the guise of Christmas.

Should a Heathen Teach Their Kids about Santa Claus?

Is Santa Claus Christian or Heathen? Should you teach your kids about him?

Yule as a Non-Event

When life intrudes and you can’t properly celebrate Yule.

Book Review: A Guide to Celebrating the 12 Days of Yule

I know many Heathens want to celebrate Yule, but don’t necessarily have an idea how to do it. This is a great book, if you’re looking for ideas.

Enjoy! And have a Happy Yule!

The Rational Heathen

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something from these links, I get a small stipend which helps support The Rational Heathen. I would encourage you to support my site. Thanks.

Did you know you can become my patron for as little as $5 a month? This entitles you to content not posted anywhere else. Plus you get to see posts like this three days before the public! Without patrons, I’d be having a very hard time keeping this blog going. Become a patron today! Become a Patron!

Book Review: A Guide to Celebrating the 12 Days of Yule

Book Review: A Guide to Celebrating the 12 Days of Yule

A Guide to Celebrating the 12 Days of Yule
Author: Jenn Campus
Available on Amazon and https://dreamsofydalir.com/
Price: $3.99 or Free for Kindle Unlimited Subscribers
Format: Amazon Kindle (eBook)

For Yule, I decided to do a book review on celebrating Yule (seems appropriate). I’ve chosen A Guide to Celebrating the 12 Days of Yule. I’ve recommended this book in the past, but maybe, you haven’t seen this little gem. This Yule, since you probably are spending it alone or with immediate family, due to the pandemic, it’s helpful to have a guide in celebrating it.

Not for Recons

Now, this book is pagan and not necessarily Heathen, but even Heathens can get good ideas from it. It’s not a primer on Heathen celebrations and you won’t necessarily find something that will be 100 percent Heathen. That being said, if you’re a reconstructionist, avoid this book, because these are not the droids you’re looking for. For the rest of us Heathens, who are simply looking for good ideas to incorporate into our Yule celebrations, this is beyond helpful. It may give you even more ideas on how to celebrate the season.

What I Liked About A Guide to Celebrating the 12 Days of Yule

First, I’ll say that I like how this book is organized. She takes you through preparation and each day of Yule, and what she does to celebrate it. For those still starting out as a Heathen, this offers nice suggestions for each day and how to give offerings to the gods who preside over Yule. Some of the rituals are obviously the author’s design, but I look at them and think how wonderful it is that another Heathen has designed her own rituals according to her family. Other rituals, such as the Yule log and leaving oatmeal with butter out for the Tomte have their roots in Heathen tradition.  She includes her prayers to different gods and goddesses as well as cool things like recipes for a Yule log cake, glog, and crispy roast pork with cherry sauce. It all sounds delicious.

What I Didn’t Like About This Book

It’s really hard for me to come up with something wrong about this book. Yes, it’s more pagan than reconstructionist Heathen, but I’m okay with that. If I could make a complaint to the author, it would be that a paperback version isn’t available, possibly because it is a short book at 66 print pages. Lots of people can complain that it’s not in other eBook formats or with other vendors. But given that the Amazon app is available for most platforms such as Android and iOS, not to mention Windows, you don’t need to buy a Kindle Reader or Fire device to read and enjoy it.

So, if you’re looking for modern ideas with Heathen influences for how to celebrate the 12 days of Yule, pick up a copy of A Guide to Celebrating the 12 Days of Yule HERE.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something from these links, I get a small stipend which helps support The Rational Heathen. I would encourage you to support my site. Thanks.

This post was made possible by Sarra Keene and all my patrons at Patreon. Did you know you can become my patron for as little as $5 a month? This entitles you to content not posted anywhere else. Plus you get to see posts like this three days before the public! Without patrons, I’d be having a very hard time keeping this blog going. Become a patron today!Become a Patron!

 

Five things you can do for winter preparations

Five things you can do for winter preparations

Every year in November and December, I go through typical winter preparations. This year has been no different. While I realize that my preparations for winter it’s probably vastly different from yours, given the fact that I live in a rural area, there are still some things you can do right now to prepare for the oncoming season.

1. Prepare your winter food

At this point, I tried to get as much food stocked up for the winter. Most of this entails drying fruits and vegetables that I get either from the Farmers Market or from the local food bank. Quite often in my area, they give you far more produce then you could possibly eat, so it behooves oneself to take advantage of the extra food. I have a dehydrator that I run a lot during this time.

A lot of people can and freeze — and I do this too — but I’ve found that I have a lot more room when it comes to dehydrating. You can store a lot more dehydrated food than canning or freezing — any you have the bonus of it staying good for a long time if stored in airtight containers.

I usually find that I have more peppers, carrots, and celery then I can possibly use in a few days. While root vegetables tend to stay pretty well for a while, I really find dehydrating them makes a lot more sense. When I make a stew or pot roast, all I have to do is grab my dehydrated vegetables from the cupboard instead of wondering what that nasty black stuff is at the bottom of my vegetable tray.

You can easily purchase a dehydrator for about $60, give or take, and save a boatload of money on produce you would have normally thrown away. You can dehydrate lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, carrots, celery, pineapple, cranberries, peaches, apples, oranges, lemons… just about anything you care to imagine.

2. Hunting

Fall means fall hunting. Hunting means excellent venison, turkey, and grouse, so I look forward to it. Unlike many people, my family relies on hunting for most of our meat. That means I make offerings to Skadi, Tyr, and Ullr, as well as the local wights for success.

Even if you’re a city dweller, chances are there are ways to hunt in your area. In the United States, you’d be surprised at the urban hunting opportunities available. Never hunted or shot a firearm? There are classes for hunter safety and for firearm safety. Prefer something more akin to our ancestors? Bowhunting is big.

Don’t think hunting means deer only. Small game such as rabbit, squirrel, and raccoon can provide decent meals (although I look at squirrel and trash pandas as a last resort for my food). Some people really love small game meat, so give it a try.

Also grouse, quail, chukar, duck, goose, and turkey are all excellent foods, and I find grouse better than chicken and goose remarkably yummy. Wild turkey (the bird, not the alcohol) is amazing if brined properly. I prefer it over store-bought turkey.

3. Gathering Food

Fall is usually the time I gather wild rosehips, elderberries, and any chokecherries I’ve missed. This year, we had a really bad cold snap early in Fall that pretty much killed off the berries. So, luckily I had gathered chokecherries and made syrup this summer, and I have a lot of dried rosehips and elderberries from the previous year.

I honestly stay within my comfort zone when it comes to foraging. I have a lot of book knowledge when it comes to certain plants, but I stay within the plants I know for certain. If I came across some morels, I’d go for them, but I don’t recognize other mushrooms and stay away from them. If this is something you’re interested in, I’d recommend finding a mentor or looking for a class on the subject. Get it wrong, and you could poison yourself.

4. Plan Your Yule

It’s not too late to plan Yule for yourself and your family. Even if you live in a Christian (or other faith) household, you can still plan on certain days/celebrate the Heathen holiday. There’s no reason why you can’t celebrate Mother’s Night and Solstice as well as Christmas Eve and Christmas. Sure, your family may look at you oddly when you suggest spending December 20th or 21st reminiscing about loved ones who are no longer with you. Or, they may appreciate it. I’ll try to create another post on things to do for Mother’s Night—hopefully before December 20th!

Don’t forget to plan Christmas Eve and Christmas as well. Yes, you may not believe in the whole mythos, but honestly, where’s the fun of being a spoilsport for your family? Kids love Santa Claus, and you can certainly enjoy a secular Christmas. Plus, the Tomte are looking for oatmeal with a pad of butter on Christmas morning.

5. Spend Some Time in Nature

Now, more than ever—especially with the pandemic—you need to go into nature and enjoy its beauty. (Bring a mask with you, in case you run into people.) If you live in the north where we have snow, enjoy the amazing beauty of a snowy forest. No snow? That’s okay. Even the stark beauty of barren branches and the shortening of days will remind you that on the winter solstice, the days will grow longer again. And warmer days will soon be here.

So, how are you planning on preparing for winter? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something from these links, I get a small stipend which helps support The Rational Heathen. I would encourage you to support my site. Thanks. Did you know you can become my patron for as little as $5 a month? This entitles you to content not posted anywhere else. Plus you get to see posts like this three days before the public! Without patrons, I’d be having a very hard time keeping this blog going. Become a patron today!Become a Patron!

Happy Yule and Winter Solstice!

Happy Yule and Winter Solstice!

Happy Yule and Winter Solstice! Yeah, it’s that time of year when I tend to not do much on the blog. So, in keeping with that tradition, I’m going to provide links of all the posts I’ve made about Yule in the past, including at least one from this year, in case you missed it.  Anyway, have a good Yule and if the Yule Goat comes by to deliver presents, don’t roast him, okay?

What You Need to Know About Yule

Because I should be talking more about the history of Yule and how it relates to the modern Heathen.

Celebrating Yule with Non-Heathen Family Members

Yeah, everyone’s got them. And if they’re Christian, they may have a tough time with your Heathen ways (pun intended!). Here’s a way to make everyone happy.

When You Can’t Get in the Yule Spirit

Bah humbug! Are you the Scrooge around Yule? So am I. So, here are some ways to cope.

The Yule Goat Sneaks Heathen Tradition into Christmas

Heard of the Yule Goat or Yulebok? Well, if you haven’t, here’s your chance to add a little paganism to your relatives’ Christmas under the guise of Christmas.

8 Ways to Celebrate Yule for the Solitary Heathen

Yule can be a bit lonely for the solitary Heathen, so here are some cool ways to celebrate it by yourself.

Should a Heathen Teach Their Kids about Santa Claus?

Is Santa Claus Christian or Heathen? Should you teach your kids about him?

Yule as a Non-Event

When life intrudes and you can’t properly celebrate Yule.

 


 

As you all may know, I am a fiction author, and currently I’m working on a bunch of Urban Fantasy novels with a Heathen bent. Right now, several of my books are in promotions. That being said, you can visit the following newsletters, and if you’re lucky, you can download my books and enjoy them. (No, I’m not telling you my real name, dammit, and if you figure it out, please keep it to yourself.)

It’s All About the Dragons runs now through December 31st. Some free, most 99 cents.

Portal to Fantasy runs January 1st through the 31st, and is all free books!

Have a great Winter Solstice and a good Yule!

Look, if you’re in the giving mood this Yule, consider becoming a patron of this blog through Patreon. For just $1 a post (and you see how much I write here each month) you can support great Heathen content. Subscribe and become a patron of The Rational Heathen on Patreon. Become a Patron!

 

What You Need to Know about Yule

What You Need to Know about Yule

Yule is one of the biggest Heathen celebrations. If you’re new to Heathenism, chances are you know of Yule and maybe got a quick explanation. Or maybe you looked it up on the web. All good. But maybe you want to read about Yule from your Internet curmudgeon and rabble-rouser (That would be me). Seeing as this blog gets the most hits on winter solstice, I’ve finally wizened-up and will post more about Yule.

So, this year, I’m going to give you a nice list of Yule pieces I’ve written in the past and maybe some access to some freebies on December 21st. (Just another reason for you to visit this blog then, eh?)

Yule—What is It?

Yule is a midwinter celebration that occurs on the winter solstice and days following that day. Many pagan religions have some version of Yule to mark the time when the days go from getting shorter to growing longer again. In the northern hemisphere, it is a celebration of the light during the darkest month. It is in anticipation of Sunna taking more away from the dark and cold times and the return of Baldr, the god of the mid-summer sun.

Christmas borrows most of its trappings from pagans, and in particular, the old Heathen customs. Sure, Christmas now celebrates the birth of Christ, whom we have no really good idea when he was born, assuming he even existed. Even the Puritans outlawed Christmas for a time, because they recognized it as a pagan holiday. Man with a beard delivering presents? Yep, Heathen. Singing carols? Heathen. Christmas Ham? Heathen. Feasts? Heathen. Christmas tree? An old Germanic tradition that stems from Heathenry. Mistletoe? Heathen. Yule log? Well, you get the idea…

In fact, if your family is Christian, you can enjoy celebrating Christmas because it’s really Yule with some Christian dress-up. Just don’t be a smart-ass and tell your Christian family that or you’ll be sure to get a lump of coal this year.

A Very Brief History of Yule

We know that the Germanic peoples celebrated Yule at least as early as the 4th Century. Yule was typically held for 12 days, usually starting around the solstice. In the Norse calendar, the month of Yule was known as Ýlir. One of Odin’s many names is Jólnir (Yule-person), which has a the root Jól Yule), thus the association with Yule. During this time, Odin was said to lead the Wild Hunt through Midgard. In some places, children would leave hay in their stockings or shoes for Sleipnir and Odin would return the favor by leaving candy or presents. Yeah, it’s true: Odin is Santa.

In the Saga of Hákon the Good, we know that Yule had diminished to three days, starting at the winter solstice. According to the saga, King Haakon I was instrumental in Christianizing Norway and changing the date of Yule to match Christmas. We can easily see how Yule traditions blended into Christmas traditions as many Heathens became Christianized.

Although Christmas was celebrated in Europe, it really didn’t have the same look as it does now. We can thank Queen Victoria for adopting her husband’s (Prince Albert’s) German customs and making Christmas complete with Christmas trees and feasts. Furthermore, Charles Dickens recreated Christmas in A Christmas Carol.

The Wild Hunt and Yule

Like the Celts, Heathens believed in the Wild Hunt, but the leader of the Wild Hunt was Odin who led his hunters through Midgard. In many stories, he is joined by goddesses, most notably Holda (Frau Holle) and Berchta (Perchta). The Wild Hunt flew in the sky, but occasionally flew down to chase their prey close to the earth. In some places, if you came upon the Wild Hunt and failed to join them, bad things could happen. Or Odin might accidentally run you over on Sleipnir, which is why in some cultures you needed to lie down to avoid being hit by the horses’ hooves if they rode too close to the ground.

What they hunted is up for interpretation. People, souls, or game, the Wild Hunt was something to be feared. The current belief is that the souls of the dead ride with Odin, but I’m fuzzy as to what Odin is hunting. More souls? Possibly. Basically, it’s a time when the veil between the realm of the dead and our world is at its thinnest because of the darkness. This is why we celebrate Mother’s Night (Mōdraniht) on the 20th or 21st of December. Historically, it was celebrated on the 24th. We celebrate Mother’s Night in honor of the disir, our female ancestors.

Modern Yule Celebrations

There are plenty of awesome ways to celebrate Yule. I’ve outlined several in a couple of articles HERE and HERE. I really like Hugin’s Heathen Hof’s 12 Devotional Days of Yule. I think you’ll like them too.  Anyway, have a terrific Yule and be sure to check out my post on December 21st.

Should a Heathen Teach Their Kids about Santa Claus?

Should a Heathen Teach Their Kids about Santa Claus?

Santa Claus, St. Nicholas, Kris Kringle–when you were young, chances are you were told about the jolly man in the red suit who filled stockings and put presents under Christmas trees on Christmas Eve. Even if you were raised pagan or in another religion, it’s hard to imagine a more ubiquitous figure than Santa Claus. So, it’s somewhat tragic that I stepped on the road to skepticism at the tender age of four or so with the disbelief in Santa Claus.

About St. Nick

We pagans love to put our spin on Christmas traditions — Heathens, no exception.  Santa Claus does borrow heavily from the story of Odin and the Wild Hunt, but St. Nicholas was purportedly a Christian saint who was born 280 A.D. 

Known for his generosity and kindness, stories about St. Nicholas and his miracles were popular among Christians. Nicholas could raise the dead, save innocent men from execution,  multiply wheat during a famine, calm storm winds at sea, and even had a good throwing arm that most baseball pitchers would kill to get.  Okay, maybe not the last one. But the story below suggests he had to have an arm to throw gold into a chimney.

This Christian saint is reputed to have saved three daughters from being sold into prostitution by providing a dowry for them. He did it in an unusual way.  He threw a bag of gold into the chimney of their house the first night. The gold fell and spilled into the stockings of the women who hung them up to dry by the chimney.  He did this three nights in a row. On the third night, the father discovered Nicholas had done this good deed. Nicholas had the man promise he would not tell anyone how the daughters came by their dowry.  (Never mind this is the most famous story about him.)

St. Nick’s Popularity

Apparently, old St. Nick became quite popular. Christians celebrated feast day, the day of his death on December 6th, with presents given to the poor. (Morbid that one would celebrate a saint’s death. But, that’s the Christians for you.) Saint Nicholas presumably died of natural causes at the ripe old age of 73. Martyrdom is so overrated.

But, the common folk loved the Saint Nicholas stories. Saint Nicholas was popular even in the medieval era, with many people attributing Saint Nicholas to act of kindness, generosity, and charity. Not to mention gifts. The Protestants tried to do away with St. Nick and substitute Christkindl, the baby Jesus, who gave presents. But Nicholas was too popular, beating out the Christ child bearing gifts. To avoid issues with the Protestant church, Protestants called St. Nick Father Christmas. And Christkindl evolved and the name became “Kris Kringle,” thus giving Santa a new name.

By the way, Santa Claus got his name from a corruption of Sinterklaas from Dutch settlers, who stuck with Saint Nicholas even after the Reformation.

But What Does Heathenism Have to Do with Christmas?

Despite St. Nicholas’s obvious Christian roots, Christmas day was the birth of Mithras, a Persian sun god that was popular around the time of Christ and the new Church. The festivals of Saturnalia and Yule were already firmly established. It made sense to adopt these solstice celebrations and make them into holidays to help convert the pagans.

St. Nick took on characteristics of Odin in Northern Europe. Odin rode Sleipner during the Wild Hunt. Children were encouraged to leave hay in their shoes for the steed and Odin would reward them with a gift. In some places, St. Nick rode a horse to give his gifts. It’s easy to see how Heathens could make the connection between the two.

People being people simply adopted Christmas for Yule, but even kept the Yule name. In places where Thor had been popular, the Yule Goat became popular, and even pulled St. Nick’s cart with presents. The Christmas tree, handed down from Germanic traditions, represents the World Tree to Heathens and obviously a holdover from pagan times. Queen Victoria made the Christmas tree famous when she adopted the Germanic customs. So, as you can see, Heathenism has influenced many of the current Christmas customs.

A Four-Year-Old Skeptic

Unless your parents are hardcore skeptics or complete and utter religious assholes, they allowed you the fantasy of believing in what is commonly termed as make-believe things. We can debate what we consider make believe versus real another day.  When I was four, my sister’s fake enthusiasm for Santa already convinced me, a beginning skeptic, that the guy in the red suit was a lie.  I had inklings that Santa Claus didn’t exist. The logic of so many Santas everywhere you looked didn’t jive with what I saw, and my parents’ explanation that these weren’t really Santa, but Santa’s helpers, didn’t make sense. (Those were supposed to be elves, you see.)  So, the Occam’s razor solution was that my parents were giving me presents and not an imaginary guy riding a sled pulled by eight plus one tiny reindeer.

What Should You Tell Your Kids About Santa?

As Heathens, we’re supposed to be above the whole bullshit lies, but Santa Claus is pervasive. If you have kids, they’re going to get an earful about Santa. If you don’t tell them, their friends will tell them, and they’ll be asking you why the fat man in the red suit isn’t stopping at your place. Telling them that Santa only visits Christians makes him look like an asshole and makes you look like you’re following the wrong religion. Trust me on this when I say that sort of thing makes an impression on kids early in life. You don’t want to be the Grinch even if Santa isn’t really our thing.

We can bring Santa Claus’s image back to his Heathen roots of Odin and the Wild Hunt. Telling your kids that Santa Claus is just the Christian version of Odin and that he’s a wintertime spirit who does not care what religion you are will strengthen their belief in the god as being good. (They can learn about the bad sides of Odin later as they grow up.) This isn’t a lie, because Odin really doesn’t care what religion you are and yes, Santa Claus, despite being Saint Nicholas, has taken on the trappings of Odin.

Celebrating Santa at Christmastime is okay. If the kids figure out that you’re the one handing out presents, be honest and tell them that all parents who celebrate Yule and Christmas do that to honor their gods. Santa Claus isn’t a lie–you are the duly appointed gift giver. And if a child hears that there’s no such thing as Santa Claus, the answer is yes, there is, he just goes under a different name.

8 Ways to Celebrate Yule for the Solitary Heathen

8 Ways to Celebrate Yule for the Solitary Heathen

Yule is one of our biggest celebrations as Heathens, but if you’re a solitary Heathen, like I am, you may be wondering how in the Hel you can celebrate it.  So, I’m offering ways you can enjoy Yule, even if you’re a solitary Heathen.

Greet the Sun on the Solstice

If you’re a morning person, you might want to get up before the dawn and greet the sun.  Or, if you’re a crazy bastard, you can stay up and greet the dawn from the other side.  Either way, you get to greet the sun on the solstice.  Write a prayer or poem to the sun and read it out loud, or just maybe say a few heartfelt words to the sun.  Maybe you’re not one for words, but maybe you can read the story how Sunna was put to drive the sun’s chariot each day.  Do what feels right to you.

Honor the Ancestors

Mother’s Night is December 20th — a day when we honor all female ancestors who came before us.  Even if you do not have recent ancestors you wish to venerate, you can offer food, mead, and other gifts to distant ancestors, both known and unknown, thanking them because without them, you would not be here.  You can also offer gifts to the gods, whom many of us look on as our ancestors as well.

Bake Yule Cookies

Nowadays with so many types of cookie cutouts, you’re sure to find cookie cutouts that have no Christian significance.  Snowmen, reindeer, Yule trees, stars, are all pretty common.  Hel, I bet you could make an angel into a Valkyrie easily. Your non-Heathen friends and family members won’t care about the shapes either.

Make Some Mead

If you have any time off this holiday season, it’s time to get some decent local honey and make some mead.  Never made mead before?  What is wrong with you?  Making basic mead is relatively easy, and once you get the hang of it, you’ll be wondering what kept you from making it for so long.  And while it won’t be ready for this holiday, it’ll be ready for spring.  Even a gallon of must makes 5 to 6 bottles of mead, so what are you waiting for?  Here’s a mead making kit for you. 

You also might find this book useful too.

Drink Some Mead

Okay, so what do you do in the meantime while you’re waiting for your mead to ferment?  Why not enjoy some mead?  Don’t have any?  That’s okay.  You should be able to find someplace that carries esoteric wines like mead in your city or town.  Have it ordered, if you really can’t find a place that carries it.  Or order online.  One meadery who will ship is Hidden Legend.

Make a Yule Feast

Just because you’re the only Heathen around doesn’t mean you can’t share a Yule feast with your family and friends.  Invite your friends over on the solstice for a Yule feast, complete with mead.  Bake a ham or pork roast and enjoy the holiday with good friends and family.  Most people have obligations starting Christmas Eve, so having a celebration for the holidays ahead of the total Christmas thing may be welcomed.

Offer a Blot to the Gods

Offer a blot to the gods this solstice.  Write out your prayers or let them come from the heart.  Either way, make it personal and heartfelt.  Remember each god you honor and those who have helped you in the past year.

Remember the Wights

Whether or not you believe in the wights, now is the time to offer the Tomte and the Nisse as well as any house elves porridge (with a pat of butter).  These critters also like milk, cookies, chocolate (keep out of reach of pets), and other gifts. 

Celebrating Yule with Non-Heathen Family Members

Celebrating Yule with Non-Heathen Family Members

Hunting season has drawn to a close, which means Yule is around the corner.  Suddenly, I’m going from Hunting to Yule once we celebrate Thanksgiving next week.  (Yeah, Thanksgiving gets preempted by hunting season.)  So, we celebrate Thanksgiving the week after.  After that, we’re in the few weeks before Yule, which means a busy time.

This year I told my non-Heathen, agnostic, mostly atheist, husband I wanted to celebrate Yule, too.  We were both raised in Catholic families (yeah, crazy) and we were both raised in the Christian tradition of Christmas. So, Yule will be somewhat new to him, and the prayers and offerings will be private.

Why I’m Keeping the Prayer and Offerings Private

Prayer and offerings are part of our beliefs, and yet, it can look strange to those outside of our religion. It’s not that I’m ashamed of my beliefs, it’s just that my husband doesn’t understand or believe in them.  Looking at it from an atheist perspective, I get it. It looks like a bunch of woo-woo to him and it can look like I’ve lost my marbles.  (Maybe I have?)  But I do get it.   Not everyone is going to look on our religion positively, which is why I’m presenting a more secular Yule to my family and not pushing my religion on those who aren’t interested in it.

Having grown up Catholic, the whole religious thing comes off as a way to either guilt someone or as a way to try to recruit them.  I don’t push my beliefs on someone who does not have them.

How I’m Planning to Celebrate Yule

One book I’ve found helpful in celebrating Yule is A Guide to Celebrating the 12 Days of Yule.  It’s worth the four bucks on Amazon to buy the eBook, if you’re really looking for ideas.  It offered some good ideas for me, so it might come in handy to you too.  I’m also blending other celebrations we’ve had in the past.

December 20th — Mother’s Night

I’ve never really celebrated Mother’s Night, except perhaps by baking stuff.  Yes, I’ll be baking cookies and desserts to prepare for the upcoming Yule. I’ll also be offering my female ancestors gifts on my altar.  When cooking, I often go into meditation and focus on my ancestors.  Sometimes, I’ll hear the ones who were closest to me in my mind.  It is a day to honor them, so I do things that they would appreciate.  Usually involves holiday preparations.

The Christmas/Yule Tree will already be up because I think it’s too much to try to get it put up during this time.  Apparently people who put up their Yule trees during Yule don’t have time issues.

December 21st — Solstice/Yule

This is a big day for me.  I will designate a Yule log to burn in my woodstove.  If I can find good twine, I may make it prettier with pine boughs and pine cones. I will put together a venison roast for dinner and we will crack open a mead to celebrate.  I may try my hand at making a yule log cake.  In the late evening, I will hold a blot outside for the gods.  I will also leave gifts to Sunna, Mani, Baldr, Loki, Tyr, and Skadi on my altar.  I may gather the ashes from the Yule log later to smudge the corners of the house for protection.  I will read the runes for the Solstice to get a feel as to what is to come for the new year.

December 24th — Christmas Eve

My family celebrates Christmas Eve and Christmas as a secular holiday rather than a religious one.  Given that we’ll already have the Christmas Tree up, we have another big meal (usually a venison or antelope roast) and more mead.  We exchange presents and open them up.  Again, another blot for the gods and the wights.

I like the Icelandic tradition of giving books on Christmas Eve for reading.  This is something I’d love to incorporate in my Yule plans.

December 25th — Christmas

We visit relatives in town and deliver presents.  We then come home and have a feast (again).  This time, it will be roast goose.  Usually, I plan on a pork roast in honor of Freyr, but this year, we have a couple of geese in the freezer, so we’ll have a traditional Dickens type of dinner.

December 31st — New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve has never been a big thing with me.  Even so, I’ll probably wait for the New Year and offer a blot to the gods as a thank you for the good things that happened this year and a prayer for a better upcoming year.  I will then read the runes for the upcoming year again.  Often the runes’ message coincides with what I learned earlier.

New Year’s Day

New Year’s Day may see me perform a salt ritual to protect the home and farmstead.

My Yule is Low Key (but not Loki)

Yule will be low key, and I prefer it that way.  It’s 12 days of festivities and of those 12 days, I celebrate at least three with special meals. The blots I choose to do in private.  The offerings will go on my altar and will be either left there, if not perishable, or left outside, if perishable, once I am done with them.  Plenty of critters outside will partake of the scraps.

My prayers are more spontaneous, than anything.  They come from the heart, and I do not write them down.  The salt ritual too isn’t written down, but I call upon the wights to protect the dwelling and barn, and to discourage those wights intent on harm.  It does seem to make a difference.

Celebrating with Non-Heathen Family Members

Obviously all my family members are non-Heathen, so I adjust my Yule celebrations toward the secular as well. The offerings and prayers are done when they are asleep (easy for me to do), and with those family members whom I visit at Christmastime, I focus more on seeing them and making them happy, not the religious side.  After all, Yule is a family holiday, whether celebrating the ancestors, like on Mother’s Night, or simply getting together with family and friends on Christmas. I’ve learned to take everything in stride on holidays because getting worked up about them is too much stress for me.

Let me know what you do for Yule in the comments and let me know if there are any traditions you do that are special.

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