Lights of Yule by Oshuna - Deviantart
The New Moon on December 21st at 5:35 pm PST is an extra powerful one, as it happens to fall on the Winter Solstice (or summer solstice if you live in the southern hemisphere).
The Winter Solstice, also called Yule, marks the time when the light starts to return as the days start to grow longer, The Sun is at its lowest declination in the sky on this day. It seemingly hovers there for a few days and then slowly increases in declination as it starts to rise in the sky again. This is also said to be symbolized in the story of the resurrection of Jesus, as he (the Son) died for 3 days, and then was 'born again' on Christmas Day.
Here we go-a-wassailing
The Solstice Night was anticipated with much joy in Pagan times and they celebrated symbolic rituals to ensure the coming year was bountiful. There were bonfires and plenty of 'wassailing'. Wassailing was a drinking ritual intended to ensure a good cider apple harvest the following year. Eventually the drink itself became known as 'wassail.' Wassail soaked pieces of bread or cake were buried in the trees roots or hung in its branches to feed the tree spirits and to ensure a good harvest. Gifts of clove spiked apples and oranges were common, as apples and oranges represented the Sun. They used evergreen boughs to represent immortality as evergreens did not die, and represented the eternal life of the Divine.
Bringing in the Yule Log
Holly sprigs were kept inside the doorway all year long as an invitation for good fortune to visit. The ceremonial Yule log was a very big deal. It was decorated with greenery, doused with cider and lit from a piece of an old log from the previous year. The burning of the log represented the return of the light, or the newborn Sun. It was to burn all night and then smolder for 12 days before being put out.
New Moons are magical times. The energies and lessons from the previous month are waning down and we are preparing for new beginnings and new energy to come into our lives. The New Moon this year falling on the Winter Solstice accentuates the power of new beginnings. This is pure Capricorn energy, which is wonderfully powerful for setting intentions of a practical nature. Anything to do with work or money works with this energy. Capricorn energy also supports us with anything that requires discipline and patience, such as adopting a healthier eating regimen or getting into a new exercise program. Yes, the whole New Years Resolutions theme is very Capricorn in nature as we figure out how we can better improve our lives for the coming year. Capricorn times are wonderful to begin habits or traditions that we want to last, as Capricorn has staying power.
One of the most powerful ways to use New Moon energy is to do some sort of a ritual or intention that involves writing down what you want to manifest in your life in the coming months. You can really do rituals any way you want to - some people write down the list of what they want to manifest and keep it tucked away somewhere. Keep your list somewhere that you can see now and again. Some people take a few moments to get clear and simply verbalize it - don't forget the spoken word has incredibly strong energy.
Doing a ritual involves invoking powers greater than ourselves, such as God, Goddess, Archangels, Angels or even elementals to help us achieve our aims. One could also use animal totems or animal medicine. The goat is the totem animal for Capricorn - sure footed on the steep mountain slopes. Goat medicine also denotes seeking new heights and agility.
The window of opportunity is a few days - the New Moon is at 5:35 PST on Dec 21st here in Vancouver, but the New Moon phase lasts right through to Christmas Day morning when the Crescent Moon phase begins. Wow - what a wonderful day to do a ritual!! Emotions are usually running high for most people this time of year as memories from Christmases past kick in. One could channel this emotional energy into intentions for the future to give them even extra oomph.
One yummy way to incorporate a ritual for abundance in the coming month and year is to do what people have been doing for centuries - bake a delicious Yule Log Cake!
The yule log has been imbued with positive energy for centuries - abundance and light and fertility and hope for the future. We can tap into those energies when we use Yule log symbolism in our own lives. It's all about intention, right? Just set your intentions for what this yule log cake signifies for you, decorate it with what has meaning for your intentions, and then eat it!! Along with some delicious wassail of course.
Here is a recipe for traditional Wassail :
Traditional Wassail Recipe
Chop enough apples to fill the bottom of an 8x8 pan. Sprinkle with the brown sugar, pour the half-cup of water in the dish, and bake at 350 for around 45 minutes. You want those apples nicely roasted, so they release their juices and create these amazing caramel apple flavors. Don't skip this step--it adds such amazing flavor and complexity to the finished wassail. While the apples are roasting, pour beer in a large saucepan on the stove. Add a bottle of red wine. Heat over a very low flame while the apples are roasting.
When the apples have finished roasting, pour the chunks of apple and all those delicious juices into the spiced wine and beer mixture. Keep warm over the stove (or in a crock pot) until ready to serve.