Yule and the Turning of the Wheel

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Garden at Midwinter

Origins of Yule

The great Festival of Yule, beginning at the time of the Winter Solstice and lasting for a full twelve days, summed up the cycle of the Celtic year.

Bealtaine Cottage candles in the window

The word Yule, according to the Venerable Bede, came from the Norse word Iul meaning ‘wheel’ and suggested that this was the time when the Great Wheel of Existence had completed its circle.

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“In later Celtic folk-belief, Yule had a dual meaning, it symbolised the death of the old year and heralded the birth of the new…

winter sunrise at Bealtaine Cottage permaculture gardens

Although the ground was cold, it would soon be warm again and Nature would burst forth at the festival of Imbolc.

The low-point of the period of Yule became the central festival of a number of formal religions, one of which was Christianity.

Bealtaine Cottage Midwinter Garden

 

After Yule, the Great Wheel began to turn again, bringing the festival of Imbolc around once more. Gradually some festivals assumed less importance and four great functional festivals – Imbolc, Bealtaine, Lughnasadh and Samhain dominated the Celtic year. Many of these became major Christian holy days – Imbolc became Candlemas (1 February) with its own rhyme: ‘On Candlemas Day, Throw a candle away’.

Christmas Eve in an Irish CottageChristmas Eve, 2012 at Bealtaine CottageChristmas eve moon above Bealtaine CottageChristmas Angel 2012In Ireland, because of its close association with the goddess Brigit, it became Saint Brigid’s Day.

Where the festivals of local deities persisted, they became ‘pattern days’– the feast of a local or patron saint.”

From Complete Guide to Celtic Mythology by Bob Curran

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The winter solstice, the rebirth of the Sun, is an important turning point, as it marks the shortest day, when the hours of daylight are at their least. It also the start of the increase in the hours of daylight, until the Summer Solstice, when darkness becomes ascendant once more.

Midwinter mist at Bealtaine Cottage

This Yule, my family will gather at Bealtaine Cottage for a coming together, a “gathering,” to celebrate and mark the Great Turning of the Light, before dispersing to celebrate with others the wonderful celebration of Christmas.

friday 10 12 10monday morn 6 12 10 014monday morn 6 12 10 006Yuletide continues to be marked at Bealtaine Cottage through to it’s end on the first day of January. A time of great hope and lifting of one’s head towards the ascending sun.

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Why I No Longer Celebrate Christmas!

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Christmas fever is widespread as the orgy of spending takes hold.

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Ordinarily sane people are in-debting themselves to a year ahead of pay-back as they tread wearily around shops filled with Chinese imports!

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Some years ago I made a decision to opt out of mainstream.

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I had come to the conclusion that much of what I lived by was the result of not questioning, but merely going along with everyone else.

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Now, I must point out that once one begins to question the status quo, all sorts of issues raise their Medusa-like heads…religion, education, government, consumerism, et al! www.bealtainecottage.com 014

Every aspect of how I lived, and what moved me, was called to the fore of my interrogation.

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In much the same way as I gave up eating meat, smoking and spending our civilisation out of recession, I gave up Christmas.

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Christmas became something older and gentler for me…it morphed into Midwinter.

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I say “morphed” because there are aspects of Christmas I continue to appreciate, such as gift-giving.

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These are not the small-mortgage gifts however, but gifts of warmth and food and home-made trinkets.

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Midwinter lasts longer too, for this is the time of Yule.

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Yule marks the rebirth of the sun.
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It is a potent symbol of death and rebirth – going from the darkness into the light.
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Yule starts before the Solstice and continues on until New Year’s Day.

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There’s no rush, no crazy dash for the check-out.

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Yule is a time and a time that makes sense to me.

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An Irish Christmas Blessing

The light of the Christmas star to you
The warmth of home and hearth to you
The cheer and good will of friends to you
The hope of a childlike heart to you
The joy of a thousand angels to you.

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For lovers of Bealtaine Cottage, there is a second website, growing daily and now with over 85 new blogs and hundreds of unseen photographs, as well as podcasts and stories… Visit:

Bealtaine Cottage Good Life Membership~ Subscribe Today!

 

The USA, Iran and Nowruz

Today is the Ides of March. We are halfway through this month of Spring and the Winter now seems far behind us. There is still much to be done in the garden in preparation for the growing season. Seeds to be sown, plants to be divided and trees to be pruned. The list is as long as one wants to make it really!

The Laurel Arch has grown and spread. It could do with a hard pruning, but I may not get the time as other work is more pressing.  Whether it is cut or not will really only be noticeable to me!

I have lit the stove in the sitting room this evening and Jack stands in front of the fire, just staring into the flames. I wonder if dogs have thoughts and reminiscences?

There’s a long stretch in the days now, with dawn breaking around 7am and light fading in the evening at 6.30pm or so.  I love this time of the year as I am a morning person and have all my best thoughts and energy then.

Spring is one of the four temperate seasons, the transition period between Winter  and  Summer.

In all that is written about Spring, the same themes are covered of rebirth, renewal and regrowth.

We are coming closer to the Vernal Equinox, which is around the 20th/21st of this month.

With all the talk of war between Iran and the USA, it is good to note that both countries share the same welcoming of Spring on the Vernal Equinox. 

The first day of spring (celebrated on the day of the astronomical vernal equinox, which usually occurs on 21 March or the previous or following day depending on where it is observed) is the beginning of the new year in the Iranian calendar. This is referred to as Nowruz, which means “New Day.” This is what Spring is for people all over the world, a new day, a new beginning and perhaps why we love to have a Spring Clean!

We have more in common as people on this lovely Earth than what we have dividing us!

The Ancient Greeks believed that spring was a time of renewal and fertility, represented by the Return of Persephone to her mother Demeter after her sojourn with Hades in the underworld.

If, like me, you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you will be welcoming Spring and celebrating the lengthening days!