22 Celtic Winter Solstice Customs & Traditions

22 Celtic Winter Solstice Customs & Traditions December 12, 2017

Fáilte ort féin, a ghrian nan tráth,
‘S tu siubhal ard nan speur;
Do cheumaibh treun air sgéith nan ard,
‘S tu máthair áigh nan reul.

Thu laighe síos an cuan na díth
Gun díobhail is gun sgáth;
Thu ‘g éirigh suas air stuagh na síth,
Mar ríoghainn óg fo bhláth.

[Our/My] own welcome to you, Sun of the seasons,
As you walk the height of your sky;
Your steps are strong upon your ascent,
You are the joyful mother of the stars.

You settle down in the sea of destruction,
Without harm and without fear;
You rise up on the peaceful arc,
As a young queen in bloom.

– Carmina Gadelica Vol III no 317, translated by Chris Godwin

wren_crane

The sun was a matter to them of great awe, but the moon was a friend of great love, guiding their course upon land and sea, and their path wherever they went.” (Carmichael 274). To the Celts, Light and Darkness was a big deal. Their calendars and time was kept by light and dark, and night preceded day. This we know from early celtic studies, and so when we fail to arrive at workable solstice traditions for Druids and Celtic pagans and witches, we fail and we fail hard. We can do better and Alexei shows how.

Deuoriuos Riuri is the name of this month in the Coligny calendar from Gaul. Riuri roughly denoting ‘frost-month’ and Deuorius, meaning ‘divine great feast’(Kondratiev 131). And while scholars, CR folks, and druids don’t agree on this being a celtic feast day in ancient times, the home-focused nature of Winter feast days would leave less of a trace on history, so we can’t be completely sure… and that means it remains as candidate for reconstructions. This is good news because we are free to decide if it is right for local people(pobals), groves(Diore), and tribes(Tuatha) to practice the observance of this time.

I feel that I can’t ignore the threshold that is winter and the transition to lower light, mostly an indoor existence, living off of stored foods, telling stories and doing minimal work. This is a time to be honored, as it was it will be forever so.

The battle between Light and Darkness is in full swing, be it Áine v Grían or Bríd v Cailleach. Seasonal depression sets in and so lights are lit, knowingly or unknowingly to give the warm emotion of the season a visible display. Goodwill is extended as hardship presses down upon everyone, and so compassion flows impassioning folks to take the high road more often.

The return of longer days brings the joy of rebirth, and all the good feels Christians have toward the hope of Christ’s birth is totally hijacked from the hope of the rebirth of the sun goddess and the return of the heat and warmth of the celestial gods to the world of terrestrial mortals and gods alike.

Alexei Kondratiev, an early Celtic Reconstructionist, scholar, and pretty much latter day Druid, holds fast to a Samos v Giamos conflict that divided the two halves of the Celtic year (Kondratiev 132). These are incarnations of ordered fire on high and the depths of icy waters below. On the Solstice, these represent the order of growth in the fire potentials hidden within the cold waters themselves. Just as Nectan’s Well, also called Connla’s Well and the Well of Segais contained a golden fire of wisdom inside hidden inside icey waters that were so pure they burned like fire. And while these forces counteract one another in the physical realm, in the alchemical realm of myth and mind, Indo-European myth makers have preserved how the imagination resolved these natural paradoxes into complex realities (Puhvel 277-283). Alcohol is fire-water, and humans, well we’re sacks of 75% water that burns elements in the furnace of our bellies to create calories with which to power ourselves. We are fire-water.

The ritual theme that seems to fit best is one of cultural continuity rather than suffering the loss of the holiday. And so while the Child of Light theme of Christian mythology is so prevalent, Alexei believes as I do… that these myths were adopted because they empowered the people and positively impacted their experience of winter during and so we aren’t going to take any steps backwards based on any principle. We’re gonna connect culturally to the living Celtic cultures and keep continuity in customs and traditions… Because that’s the right thing to do.

At Winter solstice, the universal theme is the increase and acceleration toward darkness and the loss of light. The gods of light and warmth, or a god of samos energy are slain, killed, or retreats. But we don’t have to look far for a miraculous birth of a god of returning light, who is either conceived of at this time, or is connected to an event that occurs at this time. For us that’s Oengus Mac’ind Oc as the divine person who wields day energy(Rees 89). The Chosen One, the Young Son(Jones). Conceived in a day in the Brugh, a miraculous conception where the sun stood still and where the light penetrates on Winter’s Solstice day, impregnated in the dark waters of the boyne under the Brugh. The Young Son brings hope of warmth, and like other heroes, he is taken away incomplete to be fostered up until a quest is thrust upon him(Puhvel 16) which reveals his true self and thus his true fate. Cognate with Mabon, Maponos, and Pryderi, Oegnus represents a solar associations with hope, vitality and youth. Their mothers Modron, Matronae, Oengus’s ‘Great Mother’ queen with King Elcmar/Nechtan/Nuadu, the White Cow Boann. With the seasonal spirit felt and celebrated at this time, the power of the darkening of the year is staved a little, especially that we know the light is growing (Kondratiev 134).

Part of this theme is expressed in both the customs Hunting the Wren and the Mari Lwyd. The Mari Lwyd is a horsehead with a snapping jaw and a white sheet worn by a person, that used to include the Grey Magpie, a man made magpie on a stick. The Mari would go to a home, asking for permission to enter in a poetic dialog with the people, that involved a bunch of promises for peace and finally when the Mari is let in, forgets its agreements and snaps at the women, who pretend to be frightened and a child offers candy to the Mari which then settles down. Alexei thinks this goes back to an Indo-European fertility rite of the third function. And so we can call upon the divine horse twins during this time to attempt to bolster the fertility of the land and people when it is at its lowest point (135). The Hobby horse traditions of the Wrenboys, described below, hunt the wren as part of a pagan survival that exists as part of greater european traditions, all including the fertility concepts horse symbolism brings to mind, the wren boys were often led by a captain and a boy who dressed as a female captain, expressing a gender blurring in such rites.

The Mari is a Welsh representative of the Land Goddess herself. She is explicitly female, while the hobby horse, the Láir Bhán or White Mare, is generally nongendered or explicitly male. So while the hobby horses still represent fertility, the Mari probably is more representative of the starving bounty of the land, coming to your door to look for the Child of Light, who appears offering a gift. Here she is like or is Epona and Rhiannon, or Macha revived into a Christian tradition.

Ancient sacrifices and blood letting echo into the present with the wren and with ox, bull, sheep and pig slaughter for Christmas feasts; And the Mari Lwyd and Láir Bhán speak to a deeper horse sacrifice. An older time potentially exists where darkness was propitiated or neutralized by the joy, cheer, and hope that the Young Son is conceived of and born in a day in the Brugh. His cult, the dispenser of Vitality, would be less morbid than a cult based on the joy of salvation from sin, but rather, instead the blood of the sacrifices recharge the energy of the sun, aided by the brilliance of the Child of Light(141). The Great Mother, Boann as Ethniu, is also mother to many and is therefore a Great Mother like Modron.

The Scottish cognate to the Irish Oengus Mac Ind’Oc lends to our associations. Angus the Ever-Young in Scottish lore is a champion over winter. He is practically the the Son of Winter as Cailleach Beira’s son in “The Coming of Angus and Bride”. As the child of winter, he rises up to claim power at Imbolc when he frees Bride from his mother’s bondage. He then becomes the victor over winter when the lengths of the day and night are equal and Bride saves the day by putting the Ice Queen to sleep by placing her hands in a body of water.

If we were to place Angus’ conception date we could say that the Child of Light is born in the throws of winter’s greatest strength, his scottish lineage reinforces this. When the light is lowest on the solstice, could have been conceived at winter peak celestial event. We would then be sane to believe that it is this great power of darkness is transformed, and being liminally juxtaposed, becomes winters own undoing. That vitality energy that Oengus wields, comes to fruition as Champion Angus, a warrior god of love, conquering winter on the Equinox, his mother The Ice Hag, and her 8 storm hags, to aid Brigid’s installation as ruler over the seasons of summer and autumn.

Oengus’ conception, can also be seen as a battle against darkness, though he isn’t a direct descendent of Winter in Irish lore, he is conceived in the Brugh, and we can take on the view that in the height of darkness, the source of winter’s power, he was born.

If the Child of Light theme has too much Jesusness for you, consider that Jesus’ birth was moved to this time because of these kind of pagan influences which were already present.

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Customs & Traditions

1 Increased Prayer Frequency

From the beginning of advent the pious added additional prayers to their daily routine, evening and morning devotions. These prayers would be said often and the children would boast about the number of prayers they’ve before the arrival of the festival(Danaher 233). Remember these are Christian traditions for Christmas, so I recommend increasing prayer before all holidays; and while it is very auspicious to amp up your piety for the most important holidays, like Samhain and Bealtaine too, winter darkness is great for storytelling and prayers(Rees 12-13).

2 Winter Preparation

A number of days before the festival, the home and farm was thoroughly cleaned(233). Buildings were maintained, passageways cleared and straightened up. Sweeping, washing and cleaning was performed indoors. What makes this a custom you can work into your pagan traditions? Precisely the act of saying Folk Charms while doing the work, similar to how plowboys sing plow songs in spring.

3 Decorate with Evergreens

The children collected evergreens, holly, and ivy and brought them home on christmas eve in order to make decorations. Long ivy strands would be sought to make long garlands. Mothers would give their children starch and whitening to whiten the berries on the garland(234). Pieces of colored paper were saved and cut into decorations called “Mottoes”. Here in the presence of dying vegetation, evergreens are seen as magic.

4 Make a Holly Cross & Hang Mistletoe

In Munster, a small cross was made from tying holly to wood in the shape of a cross. Mistletoe is found in few parts of Ireland, but where it is, it was used as decoration. In county Armagh, a girl might hang a sprig of mistletoe in the doorway and kiss the first man who came in the door, he then would have to buy her a present (234).

Crosses were part of Celtic paganism before Christianity and they’ll be part of them afterward. The cross is about the liminality and paradox in life as expressed in folk magic, represents Brigid in some respects but ever her cross is a tetraskelion.

5 “Bring Home the Solstice”

Before Christmas, some folks would visit the nearest town to ‘bring home the Christmas’. This custom occured on Christmas market day, called the Margadh Mór or “Big Market”.  At the market, folks would sell their produce and procure their christmas purchases with the boon. “At the market goodwill and high spirits prevailed.” (234).

Here the paganization of this custom would take the form of giving all the extra toys, gifts and gadgets we don’t need or use to charity, to donate to helpful institutions, saving for a day of purchasing christmas food, decorations, and gifts. We could practice this day centering it around procuring the seasonal spirit toward the effort of invoking the season.

We could pull out the decorations when return from the market to aid in this accomplishment. If you work in agricultural roles, you can bring home the Solstice by taking your crops to a farmers market at the beginning of december, before winter is really felt. If all you are doing is gift giving this season, you may buy or make gifts however you currently manage to do so, but do it in one setting ceremoniously. Even better, procure them over time, and wrap them in a formal way.

6 Give Gifts & Coins Throughout the Season

Shopkeepers would dispense gifts, folks would tote gifts in for their relatives in the towns or visiting the markets themselves. Coins were given freely to children and slipped in their pockets.

If you’re traveling you probably already do the same not knowing it’s a traditional custom… culture is most often invisible to us though it is a thing we all intimately share.

In the office we can spread cheer and gift giving, we can sow the seeds of reciprocity and goodwill. We can pay for strangers food behind us in the fast food line. We don’t have to go all out, just do what we can, it makes you feel good.

7 Give to the Poor

Successful farmers usually slaughtered a bullock, a calf, a pick, or a sheep a few days before the feast day, sending portions to workhands, friends, and poorer neighbors along with eggs, butter and milk and fuel.

If you hunt, this tradition is for you because you can give away all the deer sausage you want to people. PM me for my address ;), I accept all forms of hog meat too.

Holiday soup kitchens are easy to find and join. If you’re a Celtic pagan, celebrate on the Solstice but let Christmas Eve and St. Stephen’s day Eve be the day you give to the food bank and/or volunteer to give food to the homeless. When I was a street punk in the late 90s, we used to buy a hundred McDonald’s $0.39 cheeseburger special and pass them out to street kids and the homeless. On Christmas, people rarely travel, and no one is open but the Denny’s and the Movie theatre and so it is very important that we show good will on that day to people who rely on others good will as usual but nothing on Christmas is as usual.

8 Drink Homebrew

Home brewing of homemade whiskey, poitín, had been underway since earlier harvests and a quart of this illegal hooch would be ‘laid in’ by each head of household(235).

Drinking extra on the holidays is probably my most favorite part. Ciders, Meads, Eggnog, Whiskey Ginger, Lugh Lamfada in Heaven! You name it, we drink it.

9. Make a Yule Log

While “Yule Logs” aren’t celtic, and are a germanic borrowing at best, still a special log or bogdeal, called the bloc na Nollag, literally meaning the Christmas Block or December Block was added to the fire on Christmas Eve. Fuel was collected and the Chimneys were cleaned by tying a rope to a bush and scrubbing it (235). In some areas of Scotland the log would be called the Cailleach na Nollag, potentially burning away An Cailleach’s power over the year (Kondratiev 134). It could also be seen that the Cailleach’s log or bloc is burned as a form of transforming Cailleach energy in to Brighid energy at least for the home.

10 Play Cards for Raffles

The working class would ‘raffle’ for a sheep to differ the cost of purchasing the entire beast (236). Instead of drawing for a winner, the winner would be chosen by a series of games of cards over several days.

Drinking around card games in the winter tending fires build friendship, bonds, camaraderie and more. Stories are told and it has a challenge and goal built into it. I know several people who pitch in to buy all kinds of farm animals together this way. In Bastrop not far from where I live you can go purchase a goat, pig, cow, whatever you want, straight from the pasture.

If this is you, get with your people, buy meat, and raffle for the best cuts to eat for your solstice feasts at dinner.

11 Host or attend a “Join”

‘Joins’ were events where folks would pitchin for a great feast and alcoholic drinks, having a fun night of feasting and storytelling, talking, and singing (236). These would be held any time within the ten days around Christmas. Joins are different than raffle games as in they are more like parties for all audiences. However, you can prepare your raffled meat at join feasts.

12 Roast Ox or Beef

Christmas Eve was busy with relative arrivals of sons and daughters, food preparation for the next day’s feast. Roast or boiled beef or boiled oxhead was the most popular old-time Christmas dish (237).

13 Perform an Animal Sacrifice

Bull Sacrifices were said to be done on the Solstice per Lady Wilde’s account(Wilde 122). No doubt this is ancient hearsay because the rural people were catholic for over 1000 years up until now and so these slaughters were sacrificed at one point. Animal sacrifice in native cultures, europe included, were often simply the religious rights around slaughter for the communal BBQ. It was more than that in essence, but when you take away that essence, the slaughters remain because the gatherings still exist though they are christianized.

So if you do live a more rural lifestyle, and slaughter your animals anyway, perform rites of sacrifice around the beef or oxen that you’ll use for your traditional Irish Christmas dinner.

14 Light Candles, Put up & Sightsee Lights

Candles were lit at nightfall on Christmas Eve as part of ceremony and prayers. Candles would be seated in a turnip sconce filled with bran or flour, that was lit in the windows by the head of the household, potentially the remnant of the Samhain turnip (237). One candle was lit each for the householder, their spouse and one for each of the grandparents who lived with them (238).

Children would have smaller coloured candles of their own. Some households would let their candles burn all night, putting them out upon leaving for religious services the next day. Other households put them out before bed. One large candle was called the coinneal mór na Nollag. The candles were lit at sunset near 6 o’clock. If the coinneal mór, or big candle, went out before it exhausted the wax, it was considered a bad omen of the death of the head of the household. The candles were allowed to at least burn til midnight.

Tripartite Indo-European colors are stored in this holiday, especially with the colors of candles. Some areas, like Co. Limerick and Co. Clare, white candles were used, while everywhere else, green and red candles were used(Evans 279). Children were taken to high places after sunset to see all the candles lit up in the windows(Danaher 239).

15. Host the Child, the Sidhe Folk or the Dead

Before bed on Christmas Eve in Co Armagh, a good fire is lit, the floor is swept, the door is left unbarred, the coinneal na Nollag is left on the table in order to be hospitable to ‘Travelers’. In Killarney, nothing smaller than a 6lb candle was acceptable for this (279). Fires are usually smoored in Irish culture with prayers at night so to kindle one before bed, a risky business, is especially celebratory of the season.

The excuse given was that the house was showing to Joseph and Mary, that the travellers of Bethlehem would be welcomed in as they couldn’t find a vacant Inn in the nativity myth (238). A dish of water was left on the window sill to be blessed by the ‘Travelers’ and used for healing purposes later.

In west Limerick, the doors were left completely open, candles were lit in every single window. Others, like me, believe that these traditions are a continuation of the Samhain and Martinmas season, take the joyful creepiness of the Welsh Mari Lwyd as a prime example of this vibrant energy. This is in cultural continuity because these candles were often seen as welcoming dead relatives back home for the occasion.

In light of the Mari Lwyd potentially looking for her child, you could offer host to the spirits involved in this myth when doing this, so that if the fosterers of the Child of Light, Midir or Manannan if your child is Lugh mac Cian, who are traveling so that they can find Irish and Celtic hospitality there in your home.

16 Fasting on Solstice Eve

Christmas eve was observed as a fast day which ended after dark when Christmas proper began(239).

You could do the same for other holidays. I know I do.

17 Evergreen the Dead

In Dublin City, wreaths of holly, yew and evergreens were placed on the graves of the honored and beloved dead, especially those who had passed that year (239). Evergreens which resist the change other plants acquire in the presence of giamos, or winter, energy seems magical and bespeaks of the immortality against winter that is the hope of the season. Evergreens and especially holly are colored like the three functions: green, red and white, are especially honored and used as decoration, and their vitality bestowed upon the folks who see and spend time near them (Kondratiev 141).

18 Worship Cows

People honored cows and the herds on Christmas, making sure they had plenty of feed, decorating their stalls with evergreens, and leaving lanterns lit for them, while the children tied sprigs of holly to the horns of the cows (239). The lore of the cow was that they kneeled in worship on Christmas Eve and were given the gift of human speech so they could pray, but that their worship wasn’t to be disturbed and that one shouldn’t try to converse with them in that holy moment.

We could make our own lore in that the cows on Solstice kneel in prayer of hope of new warm and we shouldn’t disturb them. This kind of thing offers the cultural continuity that we seek.

19 Take Omens

Rooster calls at unusual times, especially midnight were seen as a good omen because the lore of the rooster at Nollag(Christmas) is that their overcome with the joy of the season (239). Cold weather was a favorable omen because it meant a light spring a lack of sickness. A new moon on Christmas Eve was considered a very lucky omen (240). There are several new moon poems in the carmina gadelica that sings to the moon when it is darkest, just like we are building or solstice traditions to do for the sun. From the start of the season, watching weather was important, especially on the shores and in bays. The art was done with an excitement that creeped inland and the wind speeds increased with the season (Evans 223).

20 Attend Religious Services

This was a family festival kept in the home (Danaher 240).  Although Alexei claims that in rural areas, it used to be more of a public affair involving ceilidhe with songs and music, drinking, divinations, and parties (Kondratiev 134). Friends wont visit unless invited. Except for Church, folks stayed in. They generally set out for church before dawn and took wisps of straw from the Nativity Crib with them for luck and blessings. Some villages had hurley matches after service. Folks would bring their Hurleys to church and started playing on the grounds right after service was over.

Whips of straw, golden in color, taken to pagan sacrifice, all the people bringing them together as the evidence of the dead winter brings, can be burned in an act of folk magic which is seen to empower the light coming back. But they need not be in a Crib, because if we’re using a Child of Light theme based on whats there in the myths, we’re not including anything having to do with cribs, mangers, or any such thing. We color within the lines here.

21 Prepare and Eat a Solstice Feast for Dinner

The Christmas dinner was of the most focus and the largest of the year (Danaher 241). Other feasts were less homey and more public and generally involved a bit of traveling.

You don’t need me to explain this tradition, its one we carry forward to this day.

22 Caroling & Mummery

Caroling door to door was popular in several towns, folks often had to be carried home after consuming the liquor offered to them for their singing. Bands of singers and musicians would do this during morning noon and night, for hours here and there and they’d be paid for it. Folks would take cow horns and blast them on the tops of hills to waken people for early mass and heralding the hope of the season, responding to each others calls (Evans 279)(Danaher 243). Before daybreak on Christmas day in some areas, drums and flutes were played at five o’clock.

The wrenboys would go Hunting the Wren is part of St. Stephen’s day traditions, though the actual custom has died out(Evans 279)(Danaher 243). In some areas, a wren was tied to a string and kept alive. Leading up to Christmas, children used to peek into hedges and places to find wrens, slaying them and hoisting them up on poles honoring them on St. Stephen’s day, processing through the town, stopping at houses, and singing the wren charm. There are several versions of the wren charm that would be spoken door to door, I’ve presented my favorite one below:

The Wren, The wren,
The King of all Birds,
On St Stephen’s Day,
Was caught in the furze,
And though he is little,
His family is great,
So rise up, landlady,
And give us a treat.

Up with the kettle,
And on with the pan;
Mr. So-and-so is a gentle man.
We hooser her up,
We hoosed her on down,
We hoosed her into,
So-and-so town.

We dipped her wing,
In a barrel of beer,
Then rise up landlady,
And give us good cheer.
Up with the kettle,
On with the pan,
Gif us an answer,
And let us be gone.
Give us something new,
Gif us something old.
Be it only silver,
Or copper or gold.

It’s money we want
Its money we crave;
If you don’t give us money,
We’ll bring you to the grave.
So up with the kettle,
And on with the pand,
For ms. So-and-so is a gentle man.

This charm was seen to bestow the house with blessings and the first group to bestow it would be compensated for it, moreso than wrenboy groups arriving later (248). A decorated wrenbox would sit atop the pole, decorated with evergreens(Kondratiev 138)(Evans 280). The wren would be buried at the end of the rounds, sometimes in front of homes who refused to compensate the boys or of the most miserly. The wren’s body was seen as bad luck either caused by this or causing this revenge sport (Kontrateiv 139). The wrenboys usually had a Hobby Horse, or Láir Bhán, which means White Mare. This hobby horse was shaped as such, covered in a sheet, and had strings which could close the mouths and make legs kick (Danaher 249).

The importance of the wren comes from the folk tales where the eagle and wren are contending for leadership and the wren ends up flying higher than any other bird despite its size by stowing away on the head of the eagle, then jumping off and startings its ascent when the eagle reach its limits and start its descent. Alexei draws a parallel to mistletoe as being the smallest of trees, as the wren is the smallest of birds, yet both reach the highest of heights (139). This to me speaks to the liminality principle in Indo-European Folk Magic as a wren on the back of an eagle is an ascending bird that does not fly, and the mistletoe is a plant that grows that does not touch the ground.

The 6th night of the moon ritual from Gaul would seem to confirm this. On the 6th night. Druids in Gaul would harvest mistletoe with golden sickles and catch them in white cloths as they fell. This prevents these liminal magical symbols from touching the ground as to not lose their liminality. This may be re-reflected in the wrenbox that is connected to the top of a pole in wren ceremonies. This would also seem related to another Child of Light, little Lugh, who slayed his grandfather an Earth or Sea Giant, and by doing so attained rulership over all the other gods for a time. This is yet another juxtaposition attaining liminality. Alexei also points out that Lleu, Lugh’s welsh cognate, gains his name by throwing a stone at a wren. At this time, mistletoe, the world oak or tree, birds, and horses are all tied together hinting at a missing myth that was erased or has faded away.

Solstice_alignment_in_passage

Ritual Themes

Child of Light Hero
Miracle Conception
Horse Embodied Land Mother
Sun-Sacrifice Of Gold and Blood
The Height of the Power of Night and Darkness
Lighting the Darkness
Honoring the Dead

Ritual Features

Ritual features are things that make a ritual different. Especially because we do set liturgies in my grove, the need to differentiate each rite with different features such as tales told, theatre, battles, invocations, and explosive offerings.

Mary Lwyd Ritual

In Alexei’s The Apple Branch, he presents a feature of solstice rites include the Mari Lwyd approaching the circle or grove, asking permission to enter in search of her child, and goes agro upon entering until is propitiated by a child given a gift symbolizing the child.

Wren Rites

The Wren’s connection and lore as the King of Birds shows that cunning above force makes a good ruler. Bog sacrifices analyzed by scientist now involve theories where the bog people, the sacrifices themselves, were traveled royalty based on hair samples. The sacrifice of the wren could be connected to this, and as far as we know, is an offering from First function of Sovereignty to reestablish itself from the 2nd functional class.

And so you can do well foundedness rites of Sovereignty involving the hobby horse, a wren, and a group of mummers to perform the acts.

You would use a stuffed wren, because needless sacrifice isn’t what we support. Take the wren, make a wren box for it that goes atop a pole, place the wren hanging inside and have the mummers with it in hand, approach the solstice ritual singing the song, then the company would all sing the song, and do the circle dance as part of the main sacrifice and feature of your ritual.

Candle and Fire rites

All of our rites feature fire, however you can light from that central fire, candles for the group present at the rite, you can tell the tale of the child of light by the candle light, and then extinguish them and the fire to simulate plunging into darkness of the solstice, and in the darkness, light a single candle from which to relite all the other group candles. Now you can end the right and have folks put their candles in the window.

Sources

“Beauteous Fair One of Grace” CG Vol III #303
Carmichael, Alexander. Carmina Gadelica Vol III. Edinburgh: Scottish Acad., 1983. Print.
Danaher, Kevin. The Year in Ireland:. Cork: Mercier, 1994. Print.
Evans, E. Estyn. Irish Folkways. London: Rutledge & Kegan Paul, 1957. Print.
Jones, Mary. “Oengis Mac Inc’Og.” Oengus Mac Ind-Og. N.p., 2003. Web. 12 Dec. 2017.
Kondratiev, Alexei. The Apple Branch: A Path to Celtic Ritual. New York: Citadel, 2003. Print.
Littleton, Covington Scott. The New Comparative Mythology: An Anthropological Assessment of the Theories of Georges Dumezil. Berkeley: U of California, 1982. Print.
Puhvel, Jaan. Comparative Mythology. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1993. Print.
Rees, Alwyn, and Brinley Rees. Celtic Heritage: Ancient Tradition in Ireland and Wales. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1994. Print.

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