Symbol of Yule: Holly, mistletoe and Bayberry Candles
Holly and mistletoe are a symbol of Yule. A powerful emblem of hope and life affirmation, holly and mistletoe were proof that life still flourished during the cold and dark months. Decorating the house with evergreens brought the magic and energy of everlasting life into the home and into the lives of its inhabitant.
Yule, like its midsummer counterpart, is strongly associated with fertility and the continuation of life. Here the Goddess is in her dark aspect, as ‘She Who Cuts The Thread’ or ‘Our Lady in Darkness’, calling back the Sun God. Yet, at the same time, she is in the process of giving birth to Son-Lover who will re-fertilise her and the earth, bringing back light and warmth to the world.
At winter solstice the Chief Druid would cut the sacred mistletoe using a golden sickle. A white cloth was held below the tree to catch the sprigs of mistletoe as they fell, as it was believed that it would profane the mistletoe to touch the ground. The Chief Druid would then divide the branches into many sprigs and distribute them throughout the village to be hung over doorways as protection against thunder, lightning and other evils.
Mistletoe was considered a magickal aphrodisiac. According to the Anglo-Saxons, kissing under the mistletoe was connected to the legend of Freya, Goddess of love, beauty and fertility. If a courting couple exchanged a kiss under the mistletoe, it was considered a promise to marry, as well as a prediction of happiness and long life. The Druids are thought to have regarded the berries of the mistletoe as symbolizing the sperm of the Gods. When pressed, a semen like substance issues from the white berries. Girls standing under a sprig of mistletoe were maybe asking for a bit more than a kiss.
Bayberry candles — and candles of all types — honor the solstice and harken the rebirth of the Sun God at Yule. Honoring the return of the sun and Symbol of yule the rebirth of the Sun God was believed to ensure bountiful crops, healthy livestock and an abundant new year to come. The traditional Yule candle is very large, colored red, green or blue, and decorated with sprigs of holly or some other evergreen. The candle was lit on Yule and left to burn throughout the twelve day festival, extinguished on Twelfth Night. While the candle burnt, it was believed to shed a blessing on the household, it was considered a sign of ill omen or misfortune for the candle to go out or blown out. It was also considered unlucky to move it, or blow out the flame, when the time came to extinguish it, it was done by pressing the wick with a pair of tongs. In some households only the head of the family could perform this task, it being considered unlucky for anyone else to touch it whilst alight.
Compiled by Kamberlyn. When not writing for Ravenhawks, Kamberlyn works with clients seeking a more spiritually centered life. In her work, she helps people realize the relationship, career and finances that belongs to their soul. She can be found on KEEN at Kamberlyn Divine Love or through her website, LadyKamberlyn.com.