Winter Solstice Within the Wood

Winter Solstice Within the Wood December 21, 2019

Winter Solstice within the wood is a truly magickal time. It is a time of unpredictability, darkness, severe winter weather here, but also a beauty that is absolutely breathtaking. These woods are the lands of the Menominee, Ojibwe (Chippewa), Potawatomi, and the Ho-Chunk Native Americans. So I include these tribes traditions and folklore of the season into my own practice, as it is a part of these woods and lands.

Winter is the time for storytelling for these tribes, a time when folklore is learned and passed through the generations. Tales of tricksters are often told now, as it is believed to hasten the coming of spring. Folklore of the coyote spirit a known trickster are to be told only during this dark time. For any other time gives risk of offending this spirit, and possibly angering his sometimes wild and unpredictable nature. There is work with the bear spirit as well. This magickal creature as we know hibernates throughout this season of darkness, and thus is an experienced traveler to the astral realms…

The Bonfire is lit on Solstice night here in the woods, and these stories are told, the field, my poisonous garden, and the trees are “wassailed” in this winter celebration. The term wassail goes back centuries to the Anglo-Saxon times meaning “Be Whole”! A potluck dinner and the gathering of friends and family is also part of this celebration.

Traditional foods such as potatoes, nuts, apples, squashes, smoked meats, with heavily spiced breads and cakes, as well as spirits fill the holiday table. Caraway cakes soaked in cider, eggnog, or a bit of lamb’s wool (ale, sugar, nutmeg, and roasted apples) are offered. Gift baskets filled with clove spiked apples and oranges placed on evergreen boughs with wheat stalks dusted in flour are given as well. The fruit representing the Sun, the evergreen boughs symbols of immortality, the wheat stalks the harvest, and the flour the accomplishment of reaping what you have sowed. Here is a great Wassail recipe from the Old Farmers Almanac that I make every year. Traditionally gifts are given to those who have helped you throughout the year. Great gifts are pendulums, warming teas, winter oils, or stones to heal or divine with, within this dark season.

The energy of the Winter Solstice lends aid to magick related to new beginnings, inner personal renewal, shadow magick, and turning points, for we are at the darkest night of the crossroads…

A Winter Solstice Spell ~

On the Winter Solstice Eve, place two mirrors across from one another with a white tea light candle in it’s middle. Close your eyes, then open, and look for the seventh reflection in one of the the mirrors. There you will see the reflection of your one true love.

Sun magick is here! As we dwell in the darkness we look towards visions of light, warmth, abundance, and success in our undertakings for the New Year. Work with stones like Amber, Carnelian, Tiger’s Eye, or Topaz. Herbs and plants such as the sunflower, chamomile, black eyed susan, birch, yarrow and hibiscus. Deities of the Sun to work with are Apollo, Brighid, Frey, and Lucifer…

In folklore the death of the year in winter is but echoed by the death and rebirth of the Winter King. Also called the Sun King, or Year King, ever returning to his consort the Moon Goddess.

Another older tradition in my woods is in my pine grove, the “Pinea Silva of the Goddess”, which is Latin for pine grove. The lore being a Roman custom of offering a pine tree to Attis on Winter Solstice day, as in candlelit trees of Norse Yule celebrations. A honoring of the deities Freyja and Frey for they are the protectors of the wood.

The Yule Log itself a descendant of Norse and Anglo Saxon rituals. According to tradition the yule log must be harvested from the home owners land or gifted, never bought. It is decorated with pine and cedar branches, doused in mead or ale, then dusted in flour before being lit by a piece from last years yule log. Although the type of wood differs by who you ask, Aspen is for spiritual work, while Oak is a symbol of strength and wisdom, and pine is a great for protection and abundance for the coming year. Caroling, plum pudding, spirits, merriment, and the giving of gifts are all elementals of Winter Solistice celebrations passed down in folklore from a pre christian world…

Mistletoe, ivy, and holly are gathered by moonlight here on Winter Solstice Eve, and in Baltic, Celtic and Germanic folklore are then used throughout the year. Where I am in Northern Wisconsin having our own type of mistletoe, Arceuthobium pusillum, or Eastern dwarf mistletoe, which is still in the same plant family of European species. Mistletoe being hung as a symbol of the Divine, and holly a grand protector.

Finally we have the owl spirit, sacred to the Celts, Romans, Greeks, and Ancient Egyptians alike. Egyptians associating the Owl with the Kingdom of the Dead Sun, a time when the Sun has set, and before his rising again. The Owl watching over the Sun during his time in the Underworld. The Owl is therefore worked with at the Winter Solstice, and in rituals of blessings to the dead…

Wishing you a Magickal Winter Solstice )0(

About Raven Wood
Raven is a traditional witch of Celtic and Germanic roots, who lives and practices her craft in the woods of northern Wisconsin. She currently writes for Patheos Pagan, a blog about magickal folklore, wisewoman herbalism, and traditional witchcraft within the wood. Raven has worked with UK horror author Sarah England as well, in her dark thrillers The Soprano, The Owlmen, Hidden Company, and Monkspike. Her first book is in the works. You can read more about the author here.

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