I have to be honest, I am a Summer and Spring girl at heart and of all the Sabbats it is Beltane that I like best. However, the idea that from the 21st December onwards the light start to come back fills me with absolute joy, so whatever happens on that day I will be doing what I like to do best to mark most of the Sabbats and will be having a fire! The bigger and brighter the better to fuel the coming year with as much energy as possible and to show the lovely sun how much I appreciate it coming back.
These are the Herbs and Plants I like to use best for Yule/Winter Solstice;
Chamomile; One of my favourite Herbs. So easy to grow and dry, and it can be used for multiple purposes. Add dried chamomile flowers to your bath, for a pre-ritual cleansing bath, drink chamomile tea (two teaspoons per person) for internal cleansing, can also be used in charms and sleep pillows. Chamomile represents the sun. If you are really organised try to harvest your chamomile flowers at Litha (Midsummer) for use in your Yule (Winter Solstice) celebrations.
Holly; As per an earlier post (Holly & The King), decorate your home with Holly in recognition of the point in the year in which the Holly King is strongest. The druids also believed that this created a place in your home for woodland spirits to rest when the snow and ice came. Big vases of greenery look beautiful and are very festive.
Mistletoe; As per another post! (Mistletoe – All Heal) Ideally harvest your Mistletoe at Litha and then at Yule throw the dried berries into the fire with a wish for the coming year as to what you would like to see grow in your life. You can use fresh berries though if you have fresh Mistletoe. Another sacred plant of the druids said to bring love, luck, healing and fertility. Keep this years Mistletoe to burn on next years Yule fire.
Pine, Sage and Rosemary; Primarily I use these to burn. I have a little bundle of herbs drying that I can pick a mixture from, just a warning if you do burn fresh Pine and Rosemary – they smell incredible but they do burn quickly and fiercely. I would recommend the following as preparation and a basic ritual for using these Herbs and celebrating the Solstice;
- Pick some Rosemary and Pine fresh (you can use a sprig from your Christmas Tree) and keep these to one side.
- Create a smaller bundle of a dried slow burning herb – sage is ideal – and in essence you are creating a small smudge stick. Tie these together fairly tightly – string will do – or have some dried twigs that are long enough to light a candle from.
- Have these herbs with you and create your ritual/circle space however you usually do this.
- As part of your ritual throw the fresh herbs directly into the fire – they will burn fiercely and smell incredible.
- Then light your dried herb stick and light a candle from this – use this candle to then light a succession of candles – maybe one for each person you are with or one for each of the four quarters (North for the Earth, East for the Air, South for Fire and the West for Wind) move around your circle to symbolise the return of the light over the land.
- If you are outside then leave your candles/fire burning so they burn our naturally if it is safe to do so.
Rosemary; for rememberance
Pine; for protection and cleansing
Sage; purification, healing and cleansing
Image is from Anne Stokes Magic Yule Card – ‘Solstice Gathering’
Other image is some of my own greenery.