Many holidays take place in December. For witches, this holiday is Yule. Taking place on the Winter Solstice, it marks the shortest day of the year.
At this time, ancient and pagan cultures would celebrate the return of the sun. The days here on after would become longer and the promise of warmer months was ahead. A twelve day festival would usually occur, as people would take this time to celebrate and thank the nature spirits for the “rebirth” of the sun.
Pagan holidays and their traditions incorporate items found in nature, such as fruit, trees, and herbs. Paganism has a deep EcoSpiritual connection, from celebrating the cycle of the seasons to working with the four elements. Items found in nature contain their own magick, and pagans utilize this in their own crafts.
Whatever your traditions are for Yule, here are plants to bring to your magick practice this year…
Cedar is one of the nine traditional woods used by Druids in Balefires, and is used to create sacred spaces. It is believed in many traditions to house powerful spirits and is used in rituals to invite positive entities in to help with magick work. Its ancient wisdom and power connects us deep with the energy of the Earth.
Use: Cleanse your space before a spell and strengthen magick of spell.
Balasm and other types of fir are commonly associated with Yule. In the Alps, Balsam is considered the King of the Trees and is believed that spirits dwell in these trees. Druids used firs for shapeshifting magick and to connect to spirit animals and Mother Earth. Sacred to the Triple Moon Goddess, it invokes power, insight and is used in magickal spells of psychic abilities and mediation.
Use: Connect to Nature Spirits, used in spells of psychic abilities/wisdom.
Native to Northern Africa, Frankincense is one of the herbs gifted to Baby Jesus and holds association with Christmas. Even though it’s more commonly associated with this holiday, Frankincense was used by pagans in Persia, Egypt, Greece and Rome as an anointing oil for purification in rituals. It pairs nicely with Myrrh to heighten the magic of your ceremonies.
Use: Cleanse space before spell and strengthens magick of spell.
Neopagans celebrate Yule with the story of the Oak King and the Holly King. The Oak King rules the half the year associated with the Summer Solstice, while the Holly King rules the other half associated with the Winter Solstice.
Holly was used by the Druids in their homes to invite the nature spirits in during winter and is seen as an herb of protection due to its spiky leaves and bright red berries that induce vomiting, and was used to purge the body of potions*. It was grown around the home for protection against malicious spirits.
Use: Bring in good spirits/energies into the home.
Typically worn as a band around the head or used as garland, Laurel is a symbol of victory and was given out to victorious warriors. It is a great herb for celebrating the victory of the Oak King and the return of the sun. Burned, the smoke is said to bring about prophetic dreams and is associated with magick and visions.
Use: Blessings for the New Year, Prophetic dreams and visions.
Myrrh is an herb that is located in Kenya, India, Egypt and other desert regions. While it is not a common herb associated traditionally with Yule, it still is a powerful herb that holds history to this time of year. Myrrh is popular with the season of Christmas, as it was one of the three gifts to baby Jesus, having strong magic with protection and purification. Pagans associate Myrrh with the moon, particularly the dark moon, and feminine energies. As Yule is the shortest amount of daylight in the year and the longest moons, it is a strong herb for connecting to this season’s energy.
Use: Protection in spellwork, connects to Triple Moon Goddess and feminine magick.
Used in decoration for Yule, Pine brings in joy and healing. Pine needles were thrown into fires for protection and purification during Yule and can still be a great herb for these energies. Branches of pine were used to sweep away negativity.
Use: Purification and protection, brings in joy and good energies.
*I do not advise to use holly berries to be ingested internally. They are toxic to humans and should be used with caution.
If you'd like to learn more about the plants, herbs, and foods that connect to Yule, you can check out my ebook on the Winter Season.