The Meaning of Yule
The Winter Solstice marks the longest night and shortest day of the year. From this point the sun’s strength waxes after the darkest days of winter. Evergreens are brought into the home to represent the green that will soon return to the land. Fire magic is important – think of the Yule log, candles and Christmas lights – as a way of honouring the sun god, whoever he is to you.
At Yule we meet Danu, the old woman of winter who has lost all her flesh, becoming light and insubstantial. The Crone of Samhain leads us into death and Danu is death itself – absolute stillness.
It is easy to become distracted by the commercialism of this time of year, however the celebrations we have at Midwinter are an ancient tradition, marking the shortest day and longest night of the year. After this time, the days become longer again and we feel we are over the worst of winter’s darkness.
To connect with the energy of Yule, why not choose to make your Yuletide gifts, rather than buying something mass-produced from the shops? If you don’t have time for this, remember that buying locally handmade gifts is a more meaningful and responsibile way to show appreciation for your loved ones.
At this time of year, pagans turn inward, seeking personal growth. In the meditation below, we meet Danu, an ancient goddess revered across the British Isles and Europe. It is said that those who worshipped her, the Tuatha de Danaan (the children of Danu), retreated into the hollow hills of Ireland when Christianity overcame the Old Ways. There, they became the immortal Fair Folk, and Danu’s legend lives on as the Goddess of faery ways.
Danu is the power that is in the land, never to be overcome by mortals.
Imagine that you are walking in a forest at night. The ground is cloaked in snow and stars shine above you, but you are dressed warmly. You come to a clearing, encircled by trees, in which the light of the moon shines down between the bare branches of a tree.
You wait, taking in the beauty and serenity of this place. The carpet of snow lends a stillness and a silence to the scene, and here and there it glitters with reflected moonlight.
You watch your breath billow and curl as it leaves your body. Cold air stings your face, but you are wrapped up and snug.
Then she appears between the trees, stepping into the clearing. It is Danu, Mother of All Life, Ancient Grandmother.
She is here to give you a Yuletide gift. She holds it out to you. You may recognise it at once, or perhaps it is a symbolic or abstract gift. Receive the gift with thanks. If you do not know what it is, ask for understanding.
Meditate on the theme of development within the darkness. Connect with your unique gifts and abilities that will flourish during the year ahead. Danu has given you a gift deep within your soul – ask her how you can develop it and bring it out into the world.
Give thanks for what you have received and what you will receive in the coming year. Say goodbye to the Mother of All Life and the forest, but know that you can return here anytime you desire.
When you are ready, open your eyes.