Friday, December 5, 2014

12 Nights of Yule

Yule (Ærre-Giuli, Hrutmanudhr , Jól, Jul, Yuletide, December)
If you’ve ever heard the Christmas Carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas” modern heathens opt to celebrate this as the Twelve Days of Yule, with the last day culminating on 12th Night. Since ancient calendars followed a different method of time, the solstice celebrations as well as later ‘Christmasy’ style observances can vary from place to place as to when they occur. Today, most Pagans and heathens celebrate the yuletide as running from approximately December 20 – December 31 (but there are variations).
We do know that the celebration of Yule wasn’t always twelve days long. In the Norse text Heimskringla: The Saga of Hakon the Good talks about it once lasting for three days, or as long as the ale lasted. The night it began was known as the slaughter night, where animals would be ritually slain. Their meat later used to feed the community, as well as the Gods.  It was King Hakon of Norway, who as a Christian passed a law that the Christian Christmas Day (which was already a weird bastardization of the Christian story of the Nativity and Saturnalia/Mithraic customs) and the Pagan yuletide celebrations were to henceforth be celebrated at the same time. While this only specifically impacted Norway (and its territories), it illustrates an intentional combining of the holy-days into one celebration.
In Gulathingslog 7 we see that Yule was celebrated ‘for a fertile and peaceful season’ we also see in the Saga of Hakon the Good that Odin was hailed as a bringer of victory, Njord and Freyr were also hailed for peace and fertility. Grimm’s Teutonic Mythology speaks of how Frau Holle’s annual wagon toured the countryside during the yuletide season for blessings of a fertile year ahead. Deities associated with winter like the winter hunters Ullr and Skadhi are also sometimes hailed. Since this is the day of darkest night, Nott (Goddess of Night) as well as silver-gleaming Mani (God of the Moon) may be honored. Some will also honor Dagr (God of Day) and Sunna (Goddess of the Sun) as she will only grow in prominence in the months ahead.
Many modern scholars believe that a Mid-Winter or Winter Solstice celebration has been an important part of indigenous European traditions and culture since at least 2400 BC by one name or another. Although we do not know exactly, there is much discussion among Historians and Archeologists about when the name Yule truly came to be a mainstay name. We do know that this time of the year has been commonly recognized as Yule since before 1000 AD at the latest. The Name Yule is thought, by many scholars, to be an expression of the name Odin representing the eternal wheel and sometimes the sun.
Yuletide is perhaps the greatest of all Heathen holidays. It is a time of celebration and close family contact that lasts twelve days and nights; each of which can be viewed as a month of the preceding year in miniature. Many of the customs associated with Christmas actually began from Heathen Yule rites and customs. Many Gods and Goddesses are honored during Yuletide and most Asatruar believe that they, as well as the spirits of the earth and our ancestors, all join us for the celebrations. All are our kith and kin, after all.
There are many traditions and practices that are traditional to the month of Yule the most well known is of course the 12 days of Yule. Some Heathens may simply bookend Yule with Mother’s Night and Twelfth Night and not have specific observances in-between those days, there are some other Heathens who have taken things a step further. Pulling inspiration from the Nine Noble Virtues, and combining it with candle-lighting celebrations like Chanukah or Kwanzaa, they have come up with a reason to light a candle every night during the Yuletide.
The alter on Yule should face north, the area is decorated with Holly and Mistletoe and dried leaves and fruit such as Hips and Haw. A chalice of appropriate wine, mead or cider. The Oak or Pine log with up to 13 green, white and red candles decorated with carvings, runes or symbols is placed centrally on the altar. The appropriate fragranced incense burning and scenting the air e.g. Bay, Juniper, Cedar, Pine or Rosemary are quite good for this.
Odin, in his aspect as the God of Death and Transition, is honored at this time. The Wild Hunt rages over the whole world seeking out and sweeping up the dead, ushering out the dead old year itself. It's also common to honor Freyr in his aspect as a God of a conceived new year of growth and promise. Thor is honored for droning back the Frost Giants. Some others are the Burning of a Yule log. The eating of Goose. Taking Oaths on a Boar. And celebrating Yggdrasil.

It is customary that no work is done during the yuletide. From Germanic sources we see stories of the Goddess Berchta punishing those who had left work undone. In the Icelandic Svarfdæla saga, we see a warrior who postpones a fight until after the Yuletide. The Saga of Hakon the Good also speaks that the Yule was to be kept holy. For this reason some Heathen groups opt to conduct no business matters during the time of Yule. Some practitioners of the Northern Tradition will even opt to completely withdraw and go incommunicado from online mailing lists, bulletin boards, and social media outlets like facebook so they can stay focused on spending the yuletide with friends and family. While it’s not always an option for everyone, there are those who choose to use vacation time from work so they can have the entire yuletide off as well. 20
First night of Yule - Mother Night (Módraniht)
Sacred to Frigg, Freya and the

Golden Cream Soup
Solstice Buns
Mini Julecage (one for each child in the household)

"To our mother Nerthus, to whom we live upon and on, To our mother Frigg, keep our household whole and safe, To our mother Freya, great Disir and Valiant Van.
To our Ancestors, grandmothers and great all. The line of woman go back from Elmbla and forward until Leifthansa. Strength and courage were theirs and may it always be so.
For our Disir, we hail you one and all. Proud possessors of the family luck. Bless us in the coming year! Hail the Goddesses! Hail the Ancestors! Hail the Disir!"
- Dave and Sandi Carron with Ravencast - The Asatru Podcast

As the night before the Winter Solstice, this is the time when the New Year is born. We honor the beginning of the Sun's return and the breaking of Winter's spell. Traditionally, this night belongs to Frigg, the mother Goddess and mistress of home and hearth. Celebrations center around the wife or mother of the family as she symbolically cleans the house in preparation of Yule festivities, invites both the living and the dead to join the party, and bestows blessings and gifts on her family and friends.
Mother Night Parties follow a special blot and ceremony where the house is lit with candle light. Sometimes, this includes a Yule Wreath of four candles, the decorating of an evergreen tree with sun wheels, and the lighting of the Yule Log.
The Norse God Balder was the best loved of all the Gods. His mother was Frigg, Goddess of love and beauty. She loved her son so much that she wanted to make sure no harm would come to him. So she went through the world, securing promises from everything that lived that they would not harm her beloved Balder. However, she passed by the mistletoe, since it was so small and new to the world, that she thought it was harmless. The legend says that Frigg's tears became the mistletoe’s white berries.
While Yule marks the start of the year for the Anglo-Saxons, we see in Scandinavia that this distinction was at least for some geo-specific locations given to Winter Nights, which had a separate observed ritual to the Disir as part of their celebration. The Disir can be understood to be the ancestral mothers, and other female spirits that oversee the family, clan, or tribe. When we reach back to ancient Germania, we also see a thriving cultus dedicated to the “matrons” or the Idis. Female deities are also sometimes included with the Disir.
On this day we also remind ourselves of the virtue of Industriousness, from nine noble virtues. Modern Asatruar must be industrious in their actions. We need to work hard if we are going to achieve our goals. There is so much for us to do. We've set ourselves the task of restoring Asatru to its former place as a mainstream faith and by doing so reinvigorating our society and culture. We can't do this by sitting on our virtues, we need to make them an active part of our behavior. Industry also refers to simple hard work in our daily vocations, done with care and pride.
Many Asatru also calibrate each day of the 12 days of Yule as an expression of each of the months of the year. Such as Yulmonath which coincides with December. It is the month of Yule, St Lucy Day, St Nick Day and the Winter Solstice. The day of the Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year, and in Norway, as in other countries to the far north, it is particularly short, lasting for a few hours at best.
Glad Yuletide to Everyone. Hail,
Yule 21
Second night of Yule - The Wild Hunt
Sacred to Odin and Ancestors

Hearty Borscht
Crusty Bread

"Odin, All-father, Sig-Father! Leader of the Wild Hunt! Bring us wisdom and weal in this darkest of seasons. Fjölnir, Wise One Gangleri, Wanderer Grímnir, Masked One
Jölfuðr, Yule father Jólnir, Yule figure Óski, God of Wishes
Rúnatýr, God of Runes Síðgrani, Long Beard Sigðir, Victory bringer
Leader of the Gods, Chooser of the Slain, Bearer of Gungir, We honor you for the breath of life. We thank you for your gifts of the Runes We praise Odin! Hail Odin! Hail Odin!"
- Dave and Sandi Carron with Ravencast - The Asatru Podcast

On this day we remind ourselves of the importance of Hearth and Home as our ancestors remind us to avoid the Wild Hunt, known as Odin's Hunt, the Wild Ride, the Raging Host or Yule Riders. Odin followed by the ghosts of the dead, would roam the skies, accompanied by furious winds, lightning and thunder, gathering lost souls (and everyone else) that was on the path of the Hunt.
The Yule Riders, consisting of various creatures of the Underworld and the souls of the dead made a fearsome gathering as they rode the dark lands of winter, and dangerous to those who crossed their paths, especially to those of impure intentions. What we may assume to be the original, heathen essence of this theme is that the dark of winter is an era where the souls of the dead, as well as other creatures of the Underworld, roam freely in the world of people – because the borders between the world of the living and the world of the dead has become blurred, because the world of the living has in fact become like dark, cold, merciless Hel.
winter74739_404573656.jpgThe Wild Hunt which began on Samhain or Halloween is now at its height. Legend says that anyone unwary enough to be caught out at midnight on the Winter Solstice will be swept up by the Hunter and carried away.
On this day we also remind ourselves of the virtue of Perseverance. Our religion teaches us that the world is an imperfect place, and nothing comes easy. We need to continue to seek after that which we desire. In this imperfect world there are no free lunches or easy accomplishments-especially in the subjects we have set before ourselves. If we truly wish to build an Asatru community that people will hold up as an example of what committed people can do, then we must persevere through the hardships that building our religion is going to entail. We must be willing to continue on when we are pushed back. If one loses a job for ones religion, the answer is not to go back and hide, but to continue until one finds a vocation where one can more forward and live as an Asatruar should.
We will keep in mind the month of Horning (February) and many Asatruar celebrate the wooing by Freyr of the Maiden Gerdr; a symbolic marriage of the God of Fertility with the Mother Earth. In much of Northern Europe, grain cakes were offered for the soil's fertility and Father Sky and Mother Earth were invoked to that end.
Glad Yuletide to Everyone. Hail,
Yule 22
Third night of Yule
Sacred to Mani and Darkness
Spiced Beef or Pork
with Rutabagas and Carrots,
Black Forest Cake

Hail Mani, God of the Moon, I thank you for your luminous light, In our darkest hours. I acknowledge your power, Over our earth and seas I praise you for your promise of, Magic and mystery. I honor your breath taking beauty On your nightly journey. Hail Mani, God of the Moon.
winterYule_b.jpgThe Winter Solstice, this is the time when the New Year is born. We honor the beginning of Sunna's return and the breaking of Winter's spell. This is a time to honor Mani, celebrate by Blot, Sumbel, Games and High Feast. Mani lights the way for the hunters at night illuminating the forest with his silvery eyes.  Burn a Yule Log and jump the flames for luck and purification. It is a time for rekindling friendships, taking oaths and setting yearly goals. Also a good night for journaling your dreams.
Winter was a time of slumbering, death-like stillness, darkness and coldness – all attributes associated with death, Hela and the Underworld. It is also a time of Night. From Norse mythology, we know that the darkness of Night was personified – as a mysterious giantess who mated with Odin at the dawn of time and became the mother of our own ancestral mother, the Earth Goddess. She is also the mother of Dagr – “Day “-  who represents the time when the Sun Goddess shines, and who himself, his sons, alongside Night, her sisters and all the heavenly bodies, are the counters of Time.
On this day we also remind ourselves of the virtue of Courage. In virtually every statement of values applied to Asatru, Courage is of utmost importance. We make our bodies as healthy and whole as we can, since this improves our strength. Few of us face such turmoil as a literal battle for one's life. In fact, it might be easier to manifest courage in such a situation than to do so in the many smaller day to day occurrences in which courage is called for in most of our lives. The virtue of strength is also expressed when one is gentle, loving and calm in the face of fear, pain or times of tragedy.
Today we will keep in mind the month of Lenting (March) and the Spring Equinox. This festival marks the end of Winter and the beginning of the season of rebirth. Libations of mead are poured onto the Earth. Think of Idis-thing as the birth of a new green earth and Ostara as her coming of age.
Glad Yuletide to Everyone. Hail,
Yule 23
Fourth night of Yule
Sacred to Aegir, Njord and Freyr

Barley Soup with Bacon
Rotkohl, Solstice buns,
Sourdough Bread
Of cup or platter need has none, The guest who seeks the generous one, – Sigurd the Generous, who can trace His lineage from the giant race; For Sigurd's hand is bounteous, free, – The guardian of the temples he. He loves the Gods, his liberal hand Scatters his sword's gains o'er the land
– Hakon the Good's Saga , Heimskringla

The fire was in the middle of the floor of the temple, and over it hung the kettles, and the full goblets were handed across the fire; and he who made the feast, and was a chief, blessed the full goblets, and all the meat of the sacrifice. And first Odin's goblet was emptied for victory and power to his king; thereafter, Njord's and Freyr's goblets for peace and a good season.
Today remind yourself of the importance of feast, toasting, kinship and hospitality. Keep the traditions of Aegir and his hall, remember all of the Gods and Goddesses eating, drinking, boasting and sharing with each other. Build your personal community today, strengthen the bonds of kinship. Relish your friendships.
On this day we also remind ourselves of the virtue of Love. Compassion allows you to have true love, not only for others, but also for yourself. It allows you to forgive yourself when you make mistakes. It's also the ability to have deep feelings and concern for the misfortune and suffering of others. Compassion allows you to share another's pain, gives you the desire to relieve it, and the willingness to act on that desire.
Today we will keep in mind the month of Ostara (April) and Sumarsdag. Many celebrate the first day of Summer in the old Icelandic calendar. In Iceland it had strong agricultural overtones, but elsewhere throughout the Nordic world, mid-April was a time to sacrifice to Odin for victory, called the Sigrblot . The ships were leaving port to seek trade, new lands, and plunder. It is a time to consider new projects and life choices. Remember that your life is an adventure - it is what you make of it. Where do you wish to sail and how will you win victory?
Glad Yuletide to Everyone. Hail,
Yule 24
Fifth night of Yule
Sacred to Community
Potluck or Stone Soup
Friendship Bread
Gingerbread People

Within the gates ere a man shall go, Full long let him look about him; For little he knows where a foe may lurk, And sit in the seats within. Hail to the giver! a guest has come; Where shall the stranger sit.
Swift shall he be who with swords shall try The proof of his might to make.
Fire he needs who with frozen knees Has come from the cold without; Food and clothes must the farer have, The man from the mountains come. Water and towels and welcoming speech Should he find who comes to the feast; If renown he would get, and again be greeted, Wisely and well must he act. Wits must he have who wanders wide, But all is easy at home; At the witless man the wise shall wink When among such men he sits.
– Havamal, Transcribed and Edited by Ari Odhinnsen

On this day we remind ourselves of the virtue of Community. Cooperate with kin and friends, do your fair share, and remember your responsibilities to others. Remember to be a good guest as well as a good host, no matter where you happen to be.
Generally, Wiccans believe all living beings come from and are a part of the Divine energy, and the Divine is within everyone.  Volunteering is generally considered an unselfish activity and is intended to promote good or improve human quality of life.  In return, this activity can produce a feeling of self-worth and respect.  There is no financial gain involved. Volunteering is also renowned for skill development, socialization, and fun.
On this day we remind ourselves of the virtue of Hospitality. Hospitality is simply one of the strongest core values at the heart of virtually every ancient human civilization. In a community/folk religion such as our own, it is the virtue that upholds our social fabric. In ancient times it was essential that when a traveler went into the world he could find some sort of shelter and welcome for the night. In modern times it is just as essential that a traveler find friendship and safety.
Today we will keep in mind the month of Merrymoon (May) and the summer festival of May Day. The celebration of the mystical union with the land, honoring of Freyr and Freya. Dances around the May tree; bonfires on hills. The May Pole/Tree brought from the woods to the town symbolizes that the fertility of nature shall be brought to the town community.
Glad Yuletide to Everyone. Hail,
Yule 25
Sixth night of Yule
Sacred to Eir and Healing
Roast Goose or Chicken
with Apricot Wild Rice
Herbed Peas
Solstice Pudding
~Save the poultry bones for making healing bone broth, blest in the name of Eir.~

"Hail Eir! Hail the Handmaden of Frigga! Good Goddess of Speedy Healing!
"Hail to the Gods! Ye Goddesses, hail, And all the generous earth! Give to us wisdom and goodly speech, And healing hands, life-long. Sigrdrifumol. Hail Eir."
- Dave and Sandi Carron with Ravencast - The Asatru Podcast

On this day take the time to keep in mind your health and the health of your loved ones. Taking care  of ourselves and those close to us throughout the year is important not only to life but also to our ancestry. Keep in mind the ideas of eating well, moderation and self preservation.
Eir is the matron Goddess of healing, and health-care workers, she is called on against sickness or injury.  In ancient times, only women could learn the art of healing amongst the Germanic tribes.  She gives both physical and psychic means of healing; shamanic healing especially falls into her realm. Every herb and root has a medicinal and a magical property of some sort. Each shows its properties by its form, shape and spirit.  It is a part of the Craft to learn to hear, see, smell and feel these plants so that we may better use and understand these gifts from the Earth that are all around us. Help someone today who is poor and ill.
On this day we remind ourselves of the virtue of Discipline. In any discussion of the values of Asatru, discipline is best described as self-discipline. It is the exercise of personal will that upholds honor and the other virtues and translates impulse into action. If one is to be able to reject moral legalism for a system of internal honor, one must be willing to exercise the self-discipline necessary to make it work. Going back to my earlier criticism of society, if one rejects legalism, one must be willing to control one's own actions. Without self-discipline, we have the mess we all too often see in our culture.
Today we will keep in mind the month of Midyear (June) and Midsummer. The summer solstice was second only to Yule in importance to the ancient Northmen. It is also a time for general merriment and, in the Scandinavian countries, many of what we know as the traditional May Day rituals, such as May Poles and Morris Dances, were celebrated at Midsummer rather than in May. This was the traditional time for holding the Allthing in ancient times, so the day is dedicated to Tyr, the God of Justice and Order. As we pass through the longest day and the shortest night of the year, it is also appropriate to meditate on the good things of life. Asatruar remember "Balder the Beautiful" at this time and also honor the Sun (Sunna) itself.
Glad Yuletide to Everyone. Hail,
Yule 26
Seventh night of Yule
Sacred to Thor and Children 
Spätzle with Goat Cheese-
Spinach & Caramelized Onions

Friend Thor, grant me strength, and courage.
Be with me on path today.
Grant me courage and foresight.
Help me make hard choices.
Hail Thor!

On this day we remember the importance of our community and how we effect it. Remember Thor as you travel for one gathering to the next and all of the traveling that we and our loved ones do this time of the year. Also remember Sif this time of Year as we sit and eat at all of the feasting. Sif was of great importance to our ancestors as a Goddess of the fields and grains that where so much a part of peoples diets through the winter. Thor and Sif are also important this time of the year because they was looked at as the protectors of Children.
winterore%20Yule.jpgWhen faced with the unpredictable powers of darkness and the Underworld, people in heathen times would need assistance. No matter how hard they tried to placate the kindred of Night and Death, they could often only hope for divine protection, and in that regard, the God Thor was the great protector, the one God whose main mission was to protect his mother Earth and the Middle World from the powers of darkness and destruction, and the only one who had the strength and the courage to stand up to the lady of Death.
The goat, a symbol of Thor, was an established symbol of Yule, and the animal was slaughtered as a sacrifice during Yule, perhaps referring to the myth of how Thor could slaughter his precious goats and revive them the day after with a blow from his hammer; a symbol of resurrection, and particularly the resurrection of that which gives nourishment.
On this day we remind ourselves of the virtue of Fidelity. A word that is far too often defined by its narrow use in terms of marital fidelity. By the dictionary it simply means being faithful to someone or something. In marriage this means being true to ones vows and partner, and this has been narrowly defined as limiting ones sexual experience to one's spouse. While I have found this to be great practical advice, many treat fidelity as if there were no other ways in which one could be faithful or unfaithful.
Today we will keep in mind the month of Haymoon (July). There is no traditional Blot or festival at this time of the year. I believe that this is because our ancestors where in the middle of great work in the fields, with the animals, hunting, fishing, gathering and preparing for the things. so on this day I remind myself that this a time to store and prepare for the times of the year when things may be leaner then now when things are in plenty.
Glad Yuletide to Everyone. Hail,
Yule 27
Eighth night of Yule
Sacred to Skadi and Ullr’s Stew
Pan Rolls
Snow Ice-Cream or Snowball Cookies

"Hunter's Goddess, Snowshoe Goddess, Goddess of Cold Counsel Goddess of Revenge, Loki's Agony, Scathing Goddess Wise God-bride, Ski Goddess, dweller of the rocks
You who have helped us provide for our families in this coldest of times We honor you during this darkest and holiest time of the year ski-God, bow-God, hunting-God and shield-God. God of Oaths, Listener at the Flames, Dweller of Ydalir
You who have helped us provide for our families in this coldest of times We honor you during this darkest and holiest time of the year. Hail Skathi! Hail Ullr! Hail the Gods!"
- Dave and Sandi Carron with Ravencast - The Asatru Podcast

Keep in mind the importance of the hunters in our lives. On this day try to remember Skathi and Ullr as Gods of the hunt. Our ancestors still hunted this time of year to keep meats and nourishment on the table even though hunting in the north this time of year was difficult and dangerous. Raise a horn to those that provided the meat on the table as we feast and share.
The Norse engaged in a number of fun activities - including rowing races, storytelling of adventures of the past or of Viking Gods, carving, spinning, weaving, sewing, making tools... They even had developed primitive skis at least 6,000 years ago. By the Viking Age, Norsemen regarded skiing as an efficient way to get around during battle and a popular form of recreation. Skadi is a Goddess of skiing, hunting, revenge, protection of the clan, and those women who follow the path of the 'Maiden Warrior'. They even worshipped a God of skiing, Ullr.
On this day we remind ourselves of the virtue of Truth. Truth is the one that most led our kindred to embrace this statement of values as our own. Early in our discussions, we decided that no matter what values we chose to hold out as our own, truth must be among them. It is a word that holds so much in its definition, and includes such a wide variety of moral and philosophical beliefs that we were all drawn to it as a simple statement of what we stood for.
Today we will keep in mind the month of Harvest (August) and Freyfaxi (Loaf Fest). Freyfaxi marked the beginning of the harvest in Iceland. Dedicated to the God of the harvest, it was a time for celebration with horse races, martial sports, and of course a Blot to Freyr and a feast. Thor, as hallower and defender of the fields, is also honored as is his fair wife Sif whose golden hair reminds us of the corn. Traditionally, three stalks of the first grain are bound together into a sheaf and kept as an amulet of fortune. Oftentimes, this sheaf, bound by a wise woman, was left in the field as magical protection for the crop. The penultimate sheaf is kept for the Yule feast. The last sheaf is left on the field for Odin's horse Sleipnir.
Glad Yuletide to Everyone. Hail, 28
Ninth night of Yule
Sacred to Odin and Fathers
Roasted Potatoes
Green Beans

"All-father, leader of the wild hunt, Har You who gained the wisdom of the runes, Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us and bringing the power of the runes to Midgard.
138 I wot that I hung on the wind-tossed tree all of nights nine, wounded by spear, bespoken to Odin, bespoken myself to myself, upon that tree of which none telleth from what roots it doth rise.
139 Neither horn they upheld nor handed me bread; I looked below me - aloud I cried - caught up the runes, caught them up wailing, thence to the ground fell again.
144 Knowst how to write, Knowst how to read, Knowst how to stain, how to understand Knowst how to ask, Knowst how to offer, Knowst how to supplicate, Knowst how to sacrifice?
During this time of the Year we seek knowledge of our future We seek to know our Wyrd And find our fate. Hail Odin! Hail the Aesir! Hail the Vanir!"
- Dave and Sandi Carron with Ravencast - The Asatru Podcast

Odin is a chief God in Norse mythology and the ruler of Asgard.  Odin has only one eye, which blazes like the sun.  He is often pictured as an older man wearing a floppy hat and a blue-grey cloak.  His role, like that of many of the Norse Gods, is complex.  He is associated with war, victory and death, but also wisdom, magic, learning, sky, poetry and the hunt.  Odin is closely connected with a horse called Sleipnir, a spear called Gungnir, a pair of wolves named Geri and Freki and two ravens Huginn and Muninn.  From his throne, Hlidskjalf, Odin could see everything that occurred in the universe. 
odin61526391_3195.jpgIn many traditions of Wicca and Paganism, there is a great deal of focus on the Goddess.  Sometimes, there's so much attention to the feminine that the masculine aspects get overlooked.  By welcoming the God of your tradition, you can honor the men who have impacted your life - whether they raised you, loved you or are being brought up by you. Odin is the chief divinity of the Germanic pantheon.  He was called the Alfadir (All-father), for he is the creator of the Germanic Peoples and the father of many important, powerful Gods and human heroes.  Odin is also a God of magic, war and death.  He is the founder and an expert in rune magic and the giver of spiritual ecstasy and magical arts to the mystics and Shamans.
Odin is also remembered throughout the year in many feast days.  Depending on your area, Walpurgis April 22 (nine nights of Odin's sacrifice on Yggdrisal), Fall Equinox Feast September 20, Einherjar November 11 or the Wild Hunt December 20 (which over time turned Odin and Sleipnir into Santa and reindeer).
On this day we remind ourselves of the virtue of Honor. Honor is the basis for the entire Asatru moral rationale. If anything comes out in the Eddas and Sagas it is that without honor we are nothing. We remember two types of peoples from ancient times: those whose honor was so clean that they shine as examples to us and those who were so without honor that their names are cursed a thousand years after they lived. Good Asatruar should always strive to be among the former.
Today we will keep in mind the month of Shedding (September) and the Autumn Equinox. The harvest festival of the year (or the second one if the kindred likes to celebrate Freyfaxi in August). Fertility Gods (Vanir) are usually invoked for their blessing upon the fields and the on-going harvest. Many honor Frey & Freya as well as Nerthus & Njord. As it is a harvest festival, a large feast of local fall crops is appropriate. It is a good time to reflect upon the labors of the past year and brace oneself for the coming of Winter. Count your blessings and harness your strength and confidence for the lean times ahead.
Glad Yuletide to Everyone. Hail,
Yule 29
Tenth night of Yule
Sacred to Sunna and Light
Roasted Salmon or Salmon Cakes,
Sunshine Mash,
Winter Greens

Hail to the day,
Hail, to the sons of day.
Hail to the night,
Hail, to the daughters of night.
Look upon us with kind eyes,
And grant us courage.
Hail to the Gods.
Hail to the Goddesses.
Hail to the green earth
That gives to us all.
Show us good speech and wisdom,
Grant us healing hands and joy,
in this life. Hail.
- the Poetic Edda - Lay of Sigdrifa

Today remember that Sunna becomes stronger each day from now until Midsummer. Today begins the next yearly circle. Let us be glad that Sunna returns and with her warmth, growth and light. Many people will, with friends and family, stay up throw the hole night so that they can say goodbye to the old Sunna and Luna and hello to the new day and the new year and insure that the Gods are still with us for one more year.
It is  often thought that the Sun Goddess lost importance in the religious cult of the Vikings compared to earlier times, yet a lot of her essential characteristics survived in many Goddesses; such as in Freyia´s golden eyes and her necklace of flames, made by the four directions. We may also see a memory of the Sun Goddess in Síf´s main attribute, her hair of gold, and we may see the Sun in Frey´s wife Gerd´s bright arms, arms so bright that they illuminate the lands and the oceans. And not the least in the way the valkyriur are described as bright, shining, southern, golden red, emanating rays, shine, lightening, and the way their heat rays create the honey-dew that falls into the valleys and how they, quite like Gerd, “illuminate the air and the ocean” as they ride.
winter-solstice-400.jpgOn this day we remind ourselves of the idea of Justice. Let equity and fairness be your hallmark. Treat others in accordance with what they deserve, and give each person a chance to show his or her best. Forseti was the wisest, most eloquent and most gentle of all the Gods.  He bears the axe as his symbol and his hall is Glitnir, the Hall of Justice, which is said to have golden pillars and a ceiling of silver and radiated light for some distance.  Forseti's name would be said before a trial to ensure that the argument was perfectly reconciled.
Today we will keep in mind the month of Hunting (October) and Winternights (Vetrarblot, Alfarblot). Winter Nights also celebrates the bounty of the now completed harvest, but more importantly, honors the Alfs, Disir and Huldfolk. The mood of Winternights is one of conserving resources against the scarcities of the coming cold season. This is the time of year when the animals which could not be fed through the coming winter were killed and the meat preserved. Usually at least one such animal was the subject of sacrifice with the kin eating the holy meat during feast. Libations of ale, milk, or mead are traditionally poured onto the earth as an offering. Apples may be offered to the Alfar. Hay may be given to Sleipnir, Odin's mighty steed thus marking the kindred's home as one that welcomes and respects the Furious Host.
Glad Yuletide to Everyone. Hail,
Yule 30
Eleventh night of Yule
Sacred to the
Valkyries and Warriors
Himmel und Erde
with bacon & onions
Swan Pastries

The battle was long and the sun was like fire,
The heat drove us down like a funeral pyre.
Though many I'd slain, now my bloodlust did tire.
Struck down by the heat of the day,
For a Valkyrie found me in battle that day.

The Valkyrie is, in the oldest strata of belief, a corpse Goddess, represented by the carrion-eating raven.  Warrior-Goddesses who ride winged horses and are known as the 'Choosers of the Slain,' as they fly over battlefields where they pick the best fallen warriors.  They carry enchanted spears with flaming points for weapons and their horses' manes are said to drop dew or hail.  Goddess Freya is said to be the first of the Valkyries (Valfreyja or 'Mistress of the Slain') she pours ale at the feasts of the Aesir.  The most well known was Brunnhilde, who allied herself with the Norse hero Sigurd and taught him runic magick.  All Valkries are led by Freya and are attendants to Odin.
The idea of Valkyries predates the idea of angels, so angels might actually be versions of Valkyries.  But despite the similarities, there are some differences.  The angels of Christianity were derived from God and created from his light.  The Valkyries were actually Goddesses.  The Valkyries were picked among the Asynjer, the female Aesir, by Odin.  The descriptions of Odin's hall describe the Valkries as foster daughters, just as the einherjar (the chosen warriors of Odin) are foster sons. 
On this day we remind ourselves of the virtue of Self Reliance. Industry brings us directly to the virtue of Self-Reliance, which is important both in practical and traditional terms. Going back to the general notion of this article, we are dealing with a form of morality that is largely self-imposed and thus requires self-reliance. We rely on ourselves to administer our own morality.
Today we will keep in mind the month of Fogmoon (November) and the Feast of Ullr. We honor our Gods and Goddesses of the hunt (it is deer hunting season in many parts of the country). We thank them for a successful hunting season with a blot and also bless/honor those who hunt to support the family. At my home, we set an extra place at the table and leave it empty so that any ancestor who wishes may join us for the feast. This is a great time for telling tales handed down through the family. Still other Asatruar refer to this holiday as "Weyland Smith's Day" and uses it to honor that great Germanic craftsman as well as those artists and artisans around us.
Glad Yuletide to Everyone. Hail, 31
Twelfth night of Yule - Wassail  
Sacred to all Divine Friends and Oath Night
Roast Pork
leftover side dishes from the
feasts of the previous nights
(plus more if that’s gone–
Finish off all the holiday food! Because you want to start off the new year eating black-eyed peas, not Yule food!)
A ring, weighing two aurar or more, was to lie in every head temple on the altar and every Godi was to wear it on his arm at all Law-things which he should hold himself and to redden it in the blood of the cattle which he himself sacrificed there. Every man who had to perform legal duties there had first to take an oath on this ring and name two or more witnesses and say, "I call to witness that I take oath on the ring, a lawful oath, so help me Frey and Njord and the Almightly As (Odin) , to defend or prosecute this case or give the evidence, verdict or judgement which I know to be most true and right and lawful and to perform everything as prescribed by law which I, may have to perform while I am at this Thing." (Landnama)
This culminates the traditional twelve days of Yule. Traditionally, it is the night of the greatest feasting. This will usually include some form of pork; pigs were a common winter meat source and were sacrificed at this time, also the boar is a sacred animal of Freyr. Golden apples are another treat and symbolize the youth and vitality of the new year. A vigil is held from dusk until dawn so that all kin may acknowledge the passing of the Wild Hunt and honor the rising sun of the new year. The vigil is a festive one and includes a long sumbel, story-telling, song, etc. Oaths sworn on this night, usually on Frey's boar or the hammer of Thor, are particularly holy. Words during sumbel are said to bear great weight and power. It is a time to count blessings, take stock and lay a course for the future.
Of all the nights of Yule, this night seems to be the one most closely associated with the custom of wassailing, which embodies in part the customs around caroling as well. Wassail, Hail, Heilsa, are all different versions of the same root word across a few different languages (Old German, Old Norse, Old English), which essentially relates to health, prosperity and luck, and was used prominently as a type of salutation. Just as some Pagans and Wiccans may greet others with the phrase Blessed Be, many Heathens choose to use Hail as a greeting to their fellow believers.
Not only does the term mean health, but it became intimately linked at sometime in the distant pass with a special type of drink that was imbibed for one’s health. Today, we know this as the wassail beverage (as it survives to us among the English customs, though I imagine the German Gluhwein is similar in nature as well). This drink would vary by household (in much the way that there are a variety of different recipes for sangria) but it was meant to be an alcoholic beverage with some fruit juices in it and other herbs and seasonings to help fortify the health of all who imbibed it for the year ahead.
On this day we remind ourselves of the idea of Wisdom. Learn from your experiences. Grow in the understanding of the world, and of the human heart. Comprehend as much of the universe as you can in the years available to you. You cannot judge people's wisdom by how far in school they did or didn’t get.  Wisdom comes from life experience.  It is the best tool for giving people good advice and helping them out of tricky situations.  Wisdom is the ability to see what is for the best and when or when not to act. 
In this tradition we will keep in mind the month of Snowmoon (January) and the Charming of the plow keeping in mind gifts to the soil, the earth and to the dead, as well as reminding ourselves of our debt to our ancestors and our decedents.
I wish Prosperity, Wealth and Good Will for all of you.
Glad Yuletide to Everyone. Hail!
My name is not my own,
It is borrowed from my ancestors,
I must return it unstained.
My honor is not my own,
It is on loan from my descendants,
I must give it to them unbroken.
Our blood is not our own,
it is a gift to generations yet unborn,
We should carry it with responsibility.



  1. I am grateful to have found these thorough explanations for the 12 days of Yule in this easy to understand format. Since last Yule, I have been spoken to by Odin, and a few other Norse Gods and have felt such a pull to them, my family is very generic during the holidays, they claim Christian, yet, never really put any meaning behind the presents and dinners. We have no real cultural traditions and I've always felt at a loss because of this. Now I am going to get a wonderful start, and look forward to so much. Thank you a hundred times over for this page! Good Yule to you and your kindred my friend. -Nikki

    1. You are very Welcome! I have many posts on Odin, Yule and more. And working on another Yule post, watch for it over the next couple weeks. Let me know if you need any help or a topic I could post on. Thanks for reading along! Have a Merry Yule! Alu!


  2. Great article but im a little thrown off at your use of the word Heathen when describing Pagans though? That is a derogatory noun that linguistically spawned from christian oppression, are you choosing to embrace the word to diffuse its negative connotations?

    1. Thank you for the question. A Heathen is just a person who does not belong to a widely held religion. Synonyms are Pagan, Heretic, unbeliever, skeptic... according to the dictionary. I don't use it as a derogatory - like using Witch, I use it to take hold of the language of the Ancestors. Hopefully, someday, they will not be negative, derogatory or naughty words! Blessed Be!

  3. I've always been confused by the terms "heathen", "pagan". From what you say here, both terms are interchangeable and mean someone who has no religion - yet many people use the term "pagan" as a derogatory word to mean "non-christian"!

    1. Let me rephrase that a bit. Heathen is one who does not recognize the God of the Bible. Can be used in this context as a derogatory term for a Pagan, despite the fact that it's an inaccurate generalization.

      Pagan is a general term for followers of Wicca and other magical, shamanistic and polytheistic Earth-based religions - an umbrella term. Also used to refer to pre-Christian religious and magical systems. It can be interchanged with Neo-Pagan.

      Some people do use them interchangeable and my own understanding of them has changed over time - and can still be confusing. Thank you.

    2. Oft times used as an insult by Christians against people who don’t worship their god. They tend to confuse Atheism, Paganism and Heathenism. Atheism is of course a lack of belief in any gods. Paganism is an umbrella term for many polytheistic non-Abrahamic religions. Whereas a heathen is one who practices the pre-Christian religion of the ancient Germanic people. They worship the Germanic and Norse gods and goddess’.

      Heathens are hard polytheists, meaning they believe each god and goddess is a real and distinct individual not an aspect or archetype of a greater being. Besides the major gods spoken of in the lore, there are also local gods, ancestral spirits, and various sorts of wights. To a heathen reading and understanding one’s heritage is very important, this is why there is such a heavy emphasis placed on reading the sagas. Heathens take their religion very seriously.

      Heathens have a very complex idea of the soul and of the afterlife (even though not much emphasis is placed on the here after as is in Christianity). In Norse Mythology humans were created from living and organic matter, not dead earth. The soul is made up of many parts, some that are passed down through the generations, all of which come together in a certain place and time to form a unique person. Some parts of the soul pre-exist this life, some parts continue to live on, and some perish upon death. There are nine worlds in Norse Mythology, Midgard which is Earth, Asgard which is were the Aesir dwell, Hel which is the realm of the dead (not to be confused with the Christian notion of fiery Hell), Ljossalheim (Means Light Elf Home), which is where the demigods and divinized ancestral spirits dwell (these would be the home of elves), Svartalfheim (meaning Dark Elf Home), similar in that ancestral spirits and demigods dwell here as well but has to do more with emotional than intellectual spirits (this would be the home of dwarves), Vanaheim which is where the Vanir dwell, Jotunheim this is where the giants live, and Muspellsheim and Nifelheim are the worlds of fire and ice respectively.

      Another concept which makes Heathen’s unique is that of the Wyrd. Basically that you weave your own fate by the actions you take in life. Every action that you take or don’t take effects your wyrd. There is no forgiveness (or sin for that matter), if you wrong someone you must take action to make amends and set what is wrong right.

      Many Heathens go by the Nine Noble Virtues which are Hospitality, Courage, Truth, Loyalty, Honor, Self Reliance, Perseverance, and Discipline.
      Wicca is a Pagan religion whereas Asatru is Heathen.
      Definition coppied from dictionary

  4. Thank you. This is an in depth understanding of yule. It is my first year celebrating and want to know what's what. I love the poem about the valkeries btw. My husband calls me his "Valkerie".
    I also love your voice and your ideas. Have a great yule!

  5. I love this blog post and have used it as a bit of a compass for 2 Yules in a row now. I've been trying the meals especially this year. I've ended up really happy with them. I can't for the life of me though figure out what sunshine mash is... Any info would be appreciated! Thank you and have a happy Yule!

    1. Thanks for reading along! Sunshine Mash in kind-of like mashed potatoes, just with carrot & parsnip (to give it a sunshine color). Irish, I think, but easy to make. Place the carrots and parsnips in a pot and cover with boiling water. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Drain and add butter, salt and pepper. Top with a bit of parsley and serve. Enjoy. Best Luck. Alu!

  6. Beyond delicious!
    Just found this as my beloved was preparing a large batch of Köttbullar (meatballs)...Our house smells wonderful!

  7. I am very confused- this page and another one you link to do not have the same calendar days matching to which. which one has it correct? Or is is just one persons suggestion of what it is.

    1. For the post, I did merge different calendars into one. If you want just one calendar, use the link.