December 21st marks the shortest day of the year. The Northern Hemisphere tilts away from the sun. This results in less light, and cooler temperatures. It is also the longest night of the year. After the Winter Solstice, daylight and sunshine will increase day by day, week by week, and month by month, until finally, the summer solstice arrived. The word solstice originates from Latin and means “sun stands still”. There are two solstices annually. The seasons and solstices are reversed, in the Southern Hemisphere.
In ancient times, the celebration of Yule fell during this time. The Wicca Wheel of the Year designates the solar year is ruled by two opposing forces. The Oak King rules the waxing year from December 21st until June 21st, as the daylight hours increase. The Holly King prevailed from June 21st until December 21st, during the waning year, as daylight hours decrease. Legend reveals during each Solstice, the Oak King and the Holly King battle for the hand of the Goddess. Each King rules the land in during the His official season.
It is no coincidence that evergreens and holly are symbols of the winter season. The Pagan cultures of Northern Europe observed a twelve day festival known as Yule. At the start of winter, livestock was slaughtered because food was scarce during the colder weather. In this way, a herd would not have to be fed and maintained over the winter. Many Christmas traditions evolved from the Yule Celebration. The Christmas Tree, the Christmas Wreath, and the Yule Log are evidence of this. The celebration of Yule allowed people an opportunity to turn inward. A theme of rebirth and renewal was emphasised with the return of the Sun. Divination and Dream Work became the focus of long and cold winter nights. Visiting with family was important for survival. Communities celebrated by gathering for meals.
Herbs for the Winter Solstice
In an era before pharmaceutical intervention, a knowledge of herbs and spices was crucial to survival. The traditional Winter Solstice herbs held many medicinal properties. This would have been helpful as winter progressed. Many of herbs were typically prepared as an infusion, or a tea. There is a return to the use of natural herbs and spices. The popularity of essential oils is wonderful to witness.
Remember to consult a doctor if You require medical attention. In this way, You will recieve a proper diagnosis for a condition. Your doctor may also suggest lab tests or x-rays. When working with herbs and essential oils I recommend using a reference book. The book I recommend is The Complete Book Of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy. This book is a wonderful resource.
The information in this book is extensive It includes information and recipes for health and healing, beauty and cosmetics, as well as household cleaners. With the renewed interest of essential oils this is a perfect reference book. I have personally used this book for years – I highly recommend it,
The following herbs were used during Yule celebrations: