When the Wheel Hath Turned a Yule
Light the log, and let Pan rule.
Blessed Diwali, Festival of Lights, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Yule, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Sol Invictus, Saturnalia, or whatever midwinter Holy Day(s) you may choose to observe, or not, as the case may be.
For those of the NECTW tradition, we begin our season with the Festival of Lights, on 13 December. For many of us, this is the day we decorate our homes for the holidays, putting up garlands, trees, tinsel and light. Lots of lights.
Lady Gwen shared several versions for the Festival of Lights celebration, as it was especially important to her; some to personal correspondents, at least one version appeared in The Green Egg, and other versions elsewhere in the early Pagan Press.
Here’s one of those shared versions (all of which have slight – to significant – changes from the NECTW version.
Festival of Lights – December 13
Ritual from Lady Gwen
December 13, your home should be decorated on this day. Garlands, colored balls, ivy, mistletoe & holly and other symbols of the season should be used.
In this rite, we celebrate the return of the Goddess from the frozen North. She comes to begin her reign as Mother Goddess of the Winter Months. She comes riding in her chariot of a silver crescent drawn by 8 white horses. She is robed in fur and carries a sprig of holly and one of mistletoe. She goes to join the God in his pine forest.
The meeting is held before midnight, with each person bringing something to eat. Red and green candles are lit all over the Covenstead. White candles at the watchtowers. Thirteen red tapers on the altar represent the God, and thirteen green tapers represent the Goddess. Holly, mistletoe and fir branches are placed on the altar. Your pets should be protected from these items are they are poisonous.
Pine scented incense is used, for Pine is sacred to Pan. Priestess casts the circle, leaving a gate at the northeast. Priest and Priestess kiss each member as they enter the circle. Priestess closes the gate.
Priestess stands to the West of the circle with her riding pole. Priest lights the cauldron fire. The coven stands in a semi-circle facing North. Maiden lights the Pine incense and the altar candles.
Priestess hits the ground 3 times with her rod.
All: “Diana, Diana, Diana,” said slowly. Maiden takes rod from Priestess and lays it in front of the altar. Priestess stands facing North in the pentacle position – in front of the cauldron.
Priestess: “We bid thee welcome, O Gracious Goddess. Heed the lights that beckon thee as thy crescent rides from the North over land and sea. Hark unto the songs we sing thee. Hear the bough and holly grow. Now the ancient Horned One rises and greets his Queen of Winter Snow. Bless this season, Fairest Lady, as the cauldron fires burn. Join the Great God in his forest as the Wheel begins to turn.”
Any magick may be done here.
All members join hands within the circle and begin dancing deosil. Priest leads, and Priestess is at the end, not joining hands. All sing as they go – to the tune of “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush.”
All: “Here we dance the circle ‘round,
‘round and ‘round, ‘round and ‘round.
Here we dance the circle ‘round,
With our Lord and Lady.
Lift your feet up from the ground,
round and ‘round, ‘round and ‘round.
Lift your feet up from the ground,
For the Lord and Lady.”
Song is repeated faster and faster and faster as the dancing moves faster, until the Priest raises his hand, and all fall to the ground and remain silent for a few moments. Dissolve the circle.
Feasting and pagan carols follow, with a toast to the God and Goddess by the Priest: “We drink to thee, Great God and Gracious Goddess, on this night of mystery and wonder. So mote it be!”
All drink wassail.
Songs may include: Wassail, wassail; Deck the Halls; Boar’s Head Carol; King Wenceslas; Jingle Bells; Winter Wonderland; The Holly and the Ivy; Rowan Tree Carol – Anyone who can entertain should do so – songs, poetry, dancing.
Recipe from Lady Gwen
To Make Wassail Drink:
- 1 gal Apple Cider
- 6 Apples cored
- 4 sticks Cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground Mace
- ½ tsp Ginger
- ¼ tsp Allspice
- 3 whole Cloves
- 1 tsp grated Nutmeg
- ½ cup Sugar
- 2-3 quarts of good Ale
Have all ingredients at room temperature. Put everything except the ale in a large kettle to boil. Allow to boil slowly until all the spices are blended and the apples tender. Cover partially and add more cider if necessary. Strain, and when done, fill mugs half full and top off with ale. Stir and serve.
A personal note on the above – we rarely strain ours, liking the random pieces of apple and spices that may wind up in the cup. A form of divination, not unlike tea-leaf reading can be done…