The December holidays have always been a favorite of mine. The sights, smells and sounds of the season are delightful to me. One year when our children were small, and so was our budget, Car and I decided to make gifts and decorations with the kids for Christmas.
After some research, Yule Pomanders were among the decorations we crafted as a family project. Sweet oranges studded with spicy cloves, strung with ribbon to hang on our holiday tree. The fragrance filled the living room throughout the month of December and brought a bit of warming light (not that we realized it at the time) into our Winter darkened lives.
In recent years, I’ve added the creation of Yule pomanders as part of my personal sabbat observance. Each orange representing a member of my family and the blessings I hope for them to experience in the coming year. So, I thought I’d share a bit about Yule Pomanders and how to make them.
A Very Brief History
The first mention of pomanders is recorded around the mid-thirteenth century as a small ball of ambergis, musk or civet, worn on a necklace or attached to a belt, carried in a small vase, or placed in a room to ward off disease or disperse bad smells. A pomander could also be hollow metal or wooden balls filled with herbs and spices or other perfumes.
In Yule Pomander Magic, the author notes that it is in the eighteenth century when wealthy people began studding oranges with cloves to give as gifts to friends, as both were expensive commodities and hard to come by. Thereby an offering which also showed off one’s place in society.
Aromatherapy remains a popular modality of health and beauty today. Essential oil necklaces (many of which are small silver or golden balls) have become very popular once more. And the ease of which both oranges and whole cloves can now be purchased allows Yule Pomanders to remain enjoyable and practical.
A Little Bit of Magick
The beautiful thing about orange and clove is how the combination lends itself not only to the traditional scents of the Yule (and Christmas) season, but to a bit of witchcrafting as well. Afterall, the orange can represent the return of the Sun and is a wonderful ally for love, fertility, prosperity, good luck, friendship and strengthening bonds. Clove has many of the same corresponding attributes. Together, they are a powerhouse of goodwill and blessing for the holiday season. Not to mention, you can give a Yule Pomander to a non-Pagan friend and it shouldn’t cause a kerfuffle.
You will need:
Oranges (however many suit your needs)
Toothpick or wooden skewer
Use the toothpick or skewer to create a hole in the skin of the orange, then push the cloves into the hole, one at a time, creating a pattern around the outside. The pattern can be simple or complex. While doing this, focus your intention on the person the pomander represents. Consider what the person may need in their life while pushing the clove into the orange. As you push each clove into the orange, focus your intention.
When you have completed the pomander, carefully roll the orange in cinnamon to aid the drying process, add additional fragrance and boost the intention. You may then place the pomanders in a bowl to dry, attach ribbons to hang them on a tree, etc. After the holidays, you can place the pomanders in a paper sack with extra cinnamon, storing them in a cool dry place to finish drying. If you prefer, you can also return them to the earth after the holiday season, speaking your blessing.
Making pomanders is a great activity to use as a meditative or devotional practice for Yule for a Solitary practictioner. But it is also a fun thing to do with children to celebrate the festive season. Not to mention, Yule Pomanders make lovely gifts for teachers. Here are a couple of links for making pomanders with kids (one of which has a great idea on how to make them with toddlers):