Yule (Winter Solstice)

From "The Wheel Of The Year At Muin Mound Grove, ADF"

By Rev. Robert Lee (Skip) Ellison

© 2001

1) Consecration of Space followed by Musical Signal when finished. (Bell)
The musical signal is usually given by ringing a bell a total of nine times in groups of threes.

2) Processional.
This chant is usually sung as people are approaching and entering our Nemeton area over the bridge.

Chant - We Approach The Sacred Grove (Words and music by Sean Miller) - MP3
We approach the Sacred Grove
With hearts and minds and flesh and bone
Join us now in ways of old
We have come home.

3) Aspurging and Censing as people enter the area. (Water and incense)
Aspurging is done by sprinkling each person with water from a chalice while saying
" May we wash away all Earthly cares."
Censing is done by fanning incense smoke around each person while saying
"May the Spirit rise within you."

4) Sigil Marking / Opening Prayer.
A short declaration of why we are here is spoken, such as:
"We come to this place to venerate the Gods. Bless us, O Shining Ones of the Otherworld. We give praise and offering in your honor ... on this day between the years."
(Forcefully) "We are here to honor the Gods!" *
"TÁ MUID ANSEO CHUN ONÓIR A THABHAIRT DO NA DÉITHE!"
(ta mid anshow khun onoh'r a havart do na day-a)
(All repeat) "We are here to honor the Gods!"
*This line is spoken forcefully, first in English, then in Gaelic, and the English part repeated by those assembled, while two people mark the Sigil by stepping back a pace outside the circle, then crossing to the opposite side and through the circle by a pace, then returning to their starting positions.

5) Honoring the Earth Mother. (Cornmeal offering).
In our Grove, we usually honor the Earth Mother first with a poem written by one of our members (Gloria). An offering of cornmeal is poured to the Earth around the circle as the poem is being read. One of her poems for Yule is given here.

December Earth,
The Spiral turns and so too, Your intention -
You strip away excess
baring your bones, exposing your soul -
Subjective reflection hangs in the air
- strength and vulnerability -
outwardly you brave the Winds of Tradition,
Inwardly, you conjure an August Lagoon -
You walk the worlds between darkness and light
- Between dreamtime and tomorrow -
You open your hand
releasing the night to Patience and Promise renewed.
I deem you Crystal-Souled woman -
for if a crystal had a soul,
it could not be other than yours -
You are amethyst shadows on long winter eves
- You are snowfields encrusted with diamonds -
You're the breathtaking truth of Emerald Pines
beneath a sapphire sky -
With wisdom as golden as Citrine,
You embody the Maiden, the Mother, the Crone.
O, Lady of multiple facets,
pristine are your movements, healing are your moods.
- flawless, expansively,
you move in kaleidoscopic splendor,
yet, never have been more lovely
Than you are right now.

This poem is then followed by an Earth Mother chant.

Chant - As One (Author Unknown) - MP3
As One we join with Her, our Mother.
As One we sing to Her our song.
As One we touch Her
As One we heal Her
Her heart beats with our own as One.

At this time, it is our custom to bestow a kiss upon the Earth, either directly or via our fingertips, while the presiding Druid says:
"And it is the custom among our people, our folk and our grove, to bestow a kiss upon our Mother."

6) Invoking the Bardic Deities
Another way to do this invocation is through song, usually sung by the presiding Bard.

Chant - Birgita (Words by Lisa Theil) - MP3
Birgita, Birgita, Goddess of the flame
Birgita, Birgita, Goddess of the flame
Awaken the flame within my being
Awaken the sacred fire within my being

7) Expression of Unity.

Chant - We're Joined Hand To Hand (Words by Phoenix) - MP3
We're joined hand to hand
Together we stand
Forever now and always
In all of our days

8) Two Power Meditation Earth & Sky.
Two people, male and female, with one doing the Earth part and the other the Sky part usually lead this meditation. We do this to incorporate the subtle energy difference between the sexes. We start by having the people get ready to meditate. Slow their breathing down, take deep, full breathes, clear their minds, etc. We then tell them to start using their "inner vision," that's found in their mind's eye.

"(Voice One) Close your eyes and join hands. Take some slow, full breaths and allow your mind to settle and focus on the work to be done. Look within, using your inner vision. Watch as your being moves slowly down through your body and into the ground. As you pass through the layers of earth, you can feel and smell the changes around you. As you move further down, you find the waters flowing and moving. Follow one of those streams down until you can sense the flow of warm energies flowing around you. These are the energies of the earth, the source of power that is a powerful as the Earth itself. Allow this energy to flow into your being and then move your being back toward your physical body. Once you are back into your physical body, allow the energy of the Earth to move out of your being and around our Nemeton. Still using your inner vision, you can watch as the energy you brought back mixes with the energies everyone else brought back. The air in our sacred space shimmers and glows with the warm energies of the Earth."

"(Voice Two) Now let your inner vision move upward. As your being moves up through the layers of clouds and sky, you can feel the changes in the air, and smell the moisture in the clouds. As you being moves even further up, you can see one star above you shinning brighter than the others. This is your special star. Let your being move up to where you can feel the energies flowing down from the star to you. These energies are cooler than the energies of the Earth and they feel different. Let this energy move into your being and then slowly bring your being back toward your physical body. When your being is back inside your body, let the energy you've brought back with you flow out of your being to join and mix with the energies everyone else has brought back. Using your inner vision to look around, you can see the swirls of many different forms of energy moving around our sacred space. Now let your physical eyes open as we continue with our working."

9) Historical Precedent
This section is when a little history of the holiday is given. It is usually done by the presiding Druid.
"This is the night of the Solstice, the longest night of the year. Now darkness triumphs and yet, gives way and changes into Light. The breath of nature is suspended. All waits while within the Cauldron, the Dark King is transformed into the Infant Light. We watch for the coming of dawn, when the Great Mother again gives birth to the Divine Child of the Sun, who is the bringer of hope and the promise of summer. This is the hope within darkness, stillness behind motion, when time itself stops. The center, which is also the circumference of all. We are awake in the night. We turn the Wheel of the year to bring the light. We call the sun from the womb of night."

10) Naming the Deities of the Ritual -
Gwion Bach (pronounced Gwee-on Bock) and Cerridwen (pronounced Ker-id-wen).
GOD "Gwion Bach,
Servant of Cerridwen,
Watcher of the cauldron of knowledge,
Receiver of the gift of all knowledge."

GODDESS "Cerridwen,
Keeper of the cauldron of knowledge,
Shapeshifter of many forms,
Mother of Taliesin."

In unison - "We acknowledge you."

11) Establishing the Vertical Axis. (Silver (Well) and Oil (Fire & Tree) offerings)

Chant - Fire, Bright Fire (Words & music by Pandora) - MP3
Fire, bright fire
Gate to the Shinning Ones
Fire, bright Fire
Our passage to the Sky
Fire, bright Fire
Warmth of our Community
Spark of Life
We honor you now

Well, deep Well
Gate to the Underworld
Well, deep Well
Our passage to the Sea
Well, deep Well
Wisdom of the Ancestors
Waters of Life
We honor you now

Tree, great Tree
Gate that reaches everywhere
Tree, great Tree
With you we share the Land
Tree, great Tree
Passage to the Otherworld
Source of Life
We honor you now

12) Establishing the Boundaries. (Cornmeal (Land), Water (Sea) & Incense (Sky) offerings)
First person pours corn meal around the outside of the sacred space saying,
"We ask that the Earth not open up and swallow us."

Second person sprinkles water around the outside of the sacred space saying,
"We ask that the Seas not rise up and drown us."

Third person throws incense and flour into the fire saying,
"We ask that the Sky not fall down upon us."

13) Evoking the Gatekeeper. (Oil offering)
Chant - We invoke Manannan (Words by Sable) - MP3
We invoke Manannan / Opener of every Gate
We invoke Manannan / Opener of every Gate
He will reach us / He will teach us
And reveal our fate
He will reach us / He will teach us
And reveal our fate

"Oh Manannan, once again we call upon you and ask you to come across the waves to us. We ask that you act as our guide and magician. I ask you to lend your might to mine to work the magic of opening the gates!"
(Forcefully) "O Manannan, let the gates be opened!"
"A MHANANNAIN, OSCLAÍTEAR NA GEATAÍ!"
(awananan, oscleechar na gyatee)
(All repeat) "O Manannan, let the gates be opened!"

14) Acknowledgement of Outsiders. (Ale offering)
A cup of ale is taken to the south, outside of the ritual space, and given to the outsiders after saying:
"Outsiders, we give this offering of ale to you. This is for the Older Gods, those that held sway before our Gods. Those Ancient Ones that would disrupt our working. We ask that for this time you leave us in peace. At this time, we also set aside those parts of ourselves that would disrupt this rite."

15) Triad Invocations:
A) Ancestors. (Cornmeal offering)
The offering is sprinkled around the inside of the circle. An invocation is spoken at this time by the person giving the offering, such as:
"Ancestors, this offering is for you! We call to you to join with us tonight in our work. Ancestors of all that are gathered here and the ancestors of all of our tribes, we call to you now."
(Forcefully) "Ancestors, be with us tonight!"
All repeat: "Ancestors, be with us tonight!"

Chant - Be With Us (Words by Phoenix) - MP3
Be with us
Here tonight
In the light
Of the fires life
Ancestor.

B) Nature Spirits. (Herbal mix offering)
The offering is sprinkled around the inside of the circle. An invocation is spoken at this time by the person giving the offering, such as:
"We call now to the spirits of this place. We call to all who live in the earth, waters and skies. All who will help us in the work we do tonight. We ask that you join with us for our work."
(Forcefully) "Spirits of the Earth, be with us tonight!"
All repeat: "Spirits of the Earth, be with us tonight!"

Chant - Earth Child (Words by Phoenix) - MP3
Earth child, Wild one, born of the Earth
Call to us, and sing to us, creatures of the Earth
Ay ya, Ay ya Oh
Ay ya, Ay ya Oh

C) Gods/Goddesses. (Oil offering)
The offering is sprinkled around the inside of the circle. An invocation is spoken at this time by the person giving the offering, such as:
"We call now to all the other Shinning Ones, you who haven't been called by name. All who will help us in the work we do tonight. We ask that join with us for our work."
(Forcefully) "Shinning Ones, be with us tonight!"
All repeat: "Shinning Ones, be with us tonight!"

Chant - Hail All the Gods (Words trad.) - MP3
Hail all the Gods / Hail all the Goddesses
Hail all the Holy Ones / We dwell together

16) Invocation of Deities Gwion Bach and Cerridwen. (Oil offerings)
As each invocation is spoken, an offering of oil is poured to the fire. This is usually done by two people.
"We call to you now, Gwion Bach. As you were set to watch the Cauldron of Knowledge for Cerridwen, you worked diligently for almost the entire year. Then three drops of the scalding hot brew splashed onto your finger. As you sucked upon it to cool it off, you knew all that has been, was then and will be. We ask that you bring that knowledge to us tonight. Aid us in our work to look with the cauldron."

"We call to you now Cerridwen, keeper of the Cauldron of Knowledge. As you were preparing a potion to give your son, Mór Fran (who was the ugliest person in the world) all knowledge, it was taken by Gwion Bach. You chased him through many forms until at last you caught him while you were a chicken and he was a grain of wheat. After you ate him, you gave birth to him transformed into Taliesin. We call upon you to join with us tonight as we look into your cauldron."

(Note - Normally at this time we ask our patron and matron, Dagda and Morrigan, to join with us as well. However, we've learned that if we ask both Cerridwen and Morrigan to join us at the same ritual, problems develop. Therefore, for this ritual, we will not ask Dagda and Morrigan to join us.)

17) Praise Offerings.
Done through individual offers of song, poetry, story, dance, artwork, etc.

18) Omen.
As the omen is being taken, the chant is softly sang in the background and continues until the omen has been taken.

Chant - Come druids all (Words by Sean Miller, music traditional English.) - MP3
Come druids all, ovates and seers
And let your minds be still.
Earth, sea, and sky will lend no fears,
As the gods reveal their will.

Let every heart sing praise to them,
And all our works be skilled.
Claiming their blessings to the very end,
As the gods reveal their will.

After the omen is interpreted, people are given time to reflect upon how the omen is relevant to their personal lives and the grove as a whole.

19) Magical Working - Cauldron of Cerridwen
This next part is spoken as people slowly move around the circle to pass in front of and to look into a dark cauldron filled with water. Two candles light the cauldron, so that their image is reflected in the water. A drop or two of oil added to the water gives the appearance of many different colors and lights and aids in the working. Each person is given a small candle before looking into the cauldron. After looking into the cauldron, they are to light this candle from one of the two candles behind the cauldron and then move on to place their candle into a bowl of sand near the center of the Nemeton. This bowl of sand becomes an altarpiece of Light to draw the light back to us.
"We now turn the Wheel of the Year to the longest night, the somber time of introspection and learning. Now is the time we face into the cauldron of Cerridwen. This cauldron contained a potion for knowledge and inspiration. Cerridwen had made this potion for her son, Mór Fran, who was the ugliest person in the world. Cerridwen knew that if her son were the smartest person in the world, it wouldn't matter how ugly he was.

Within this cauldron, is all that you need to know, all that you need to learn. Its there waiting for you to look within and see it. Take this knowledge with you as you pass along."
This story may have to be expanded upon to include the chase between Gwion and Cerridwen and all the transformations that chase included, depending on the number of people who have to look within the cauldron. Or alternatively, it can be embellished upon to talk more about the forms of inspiration and knowledge that can be gained. This working is best done in a group under 30 or so people. That's one of the reasons it is done for this holiday, which is usually one of our least attended. I should note that we do all of our rituals outside, no matter the weather! The normal weather for this ritual is a temperature in the teens and snowy.
After people have all looked within the cauldron, have them focus upon the bowl of candles while the following is spoken:
"Let us turn our attention now to the candles. Look at how bright the light shines! This light will be returning to us from this day forth. Call the light back to you now! Know that after today, you will be able to see the days becoming visibly longer as more and more light and warmth comes back to us."

20) Return Flow
This example does not use the Heartstone as a repository of energy. The return flow section is started by having two people, the Presiding Druid and one member of the Folk of the Grove, hold up a large cup of water and a large horn of ale. The Presiding Druid then calls for the return flow to begin.
"Close your eyes and let your inner vision look upwards. As we have given our sacrifices of song, poems and praise to the Kindreds, now we ask for them to return the blessings to us. We know that the blessings will be returned magnified many times by their greatness. Above you, you can see the crowd of watchers looking down with love. Is it your will to receive the blessings of the Kindreds?"
(People respond) "It is!"

Then the presiding Druid says:
(Forcefully) "Behold, the Waters of Life!"
"SEO AN USICE BEATH!"
(show un ishkuh byah)
(All repeat) "Behold, the Waters of Life!"

The cup of water and the horn of ale are then taken around and given to the people. It is the custom in our Grove to give the first offering of the return flow to the ground while saying:
"We give this first offering to those of the Folk and of the members of the Grove that couldn't be with us tonight. May these blessing give them the strength and nourishment to do what they need!"
If people want to make a toast of things they have done since the last holiday, or make a boast of what they will do before the next holiday, before they drink the blessing is the best time for it.

21) Thanking the Deities - Cerridwen and Gwion Bach. (Oil gifts)
As the parting is spoken, a gift of oil is poured into the fire.
"Cerridwen, keeper of knowledge and magic, we thank you for joining with us. As this rite is ending, we give you this gift in parting, given out of love, with nothing asked in return."
(Forcefully) "Cerridwen, We thank you!"
"Cerridwen, GO RAIBH MAITH AGAIT!"
(Ker-id-wen, gora ma-agit)
(All repeat) "Cerridwen, We thank you!"

As the parting is spoken, a gift of oil is poured into the fire.
"Gwion Bach, receiver of knowledge and magic, we thank you for joining with us. As this rite is ending, we give you this gift in parting, given out of love, with nothing asked in return."
(Forcefully) "Gwion Bach, We thank you!"
"Gwion Bach, GO RAIBH MAITH AGAIT!"
(Gwee-on Bock, gora ma-agit)
(All repeat) "Gwion Bach, We thank you!"

22) Thanking the Triads.
A) Gods/Goddesses. (Oil gift)
As the parting is spoken, a gift of oil is poured into the fire.
"We call now upon all the other Shinning Ones with us tonight. As this rite is ending, we give you this gift in parting, given out of love, with nothing asked in return."
(Forcefully) "Gods and Goddesses, We thank you!"
"NA DÉITHE, GO RAIBH MAITH AGAIBH!"
(Na Day-uh, gora ma-agiv)
(All repeat) "Gods and Goddesses, We thank you!"

B) Nature Spirits. (Oil gift)
As the parting is spoken, a gift of oil is poured into the fire.
"We call now to all the Spirits of the Earth with us tonight. As this rite is ending, we give you this gift in parting, given out of love, with nothing asked in return."
(Forcefully) "Spirits of the Earth, We thank you!"
"SPRIDEANNA NA TALAIMH, GO RAIBH MAITH AGAIBH!"
(Shprih-dennuh nuh tulluv, gora ma-agiv)
(All repeat) "Spirits of the Earth, We thank you!"

C) Ancestors. (Oil gift)
As the parting is spoken, a gift of oil is poured into the fire.
"We call now to all of the Ancestors with us tonight. As this rite is ending, we give you this gift in parting, given out of love, with nothing asked in return."
(Forcefully) "Ancestors, We thank you!"
"ÁR SINSIR, GO RAIBH MAITH AGAIBH!"
(Aur shinshur, gora ma-agiv)
(All repeat) "Ancestors, We thank you!"

23) Thanking the Gatekeeper and Closing the Gates. (Oil gift)
As the parting is spoken, a gift of oil is poured into the fire.
"Oh Manannan, we call upon you once more. Once again it is the time to close this gate. We thank you for lending us your aid."

"Manannan, once again we ask you, let the Well be again a well, and let the Fire be again a fire, and let the Tree be again a tree."
(Forcefully) "O Manannan, let the gates be closed!"
"A MHANANNAIN, DUNTAR NA GAETAÍ!"
(awananan, doontur na gyatee)
(All repeat) "O Manannan, let the gates be closed!"

24) Reversing the Two Power Meditation
This meditation is reversed at the end of the ritual by having the people allow the energies to move back to their source.
"(Voice Two) Now, once again hold hands and close your eyes. It is now time to let those energies from the sky go back to where they came from. Feel them as them move from the Nemeton, through your body and back up toward your special star. Keep all that you need to feel energized, relaxed and at peace."

"(Voice One) It is now time to let those energies from the Earth go back to where they came from. Feel them as them move from the Nemeton, through your body and back up toward the Earth below you. Keep all that you need to feel energized, relaxed and at peace. Open your eyes and look around you at the other people here and at the Nemeton itself. Be at peace with yourself and with the others here."
(Forcefully) "Biodh amhlaidh! Be it so!"
(bee awlah)
(All repeat) "Biodh amhlaidh! Be it so!"

25) Announcement of End.
Everyone comes together in a group hug as the chant is sung. This chant is especially meaningful if everyone looks around the circle and into people's eyes as it is sung.

Chant - Celtic Blessing (Author Unknown) - MP3
May the road rise with you,
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
May the rain fall softly on your fields
And until we meet again
May They hold you in the hollow of Their hands

26) Recessional
As the chant is sung, people start to leave the ritual area.

Chant - Wondered As One (Words by Phoenix) - MP3
Look not back or right behind you
But to either side you'll find two
Friends holding on to a hand of yours

Walk with wisdom deep inside you
Let it move and let it guide you
Now we've welcomed, worshiped, wondered as one

Last updated - 4/6/04