The winter solstice is on the longest night of the year. It times gone past the darkness invited us to rest, to spend time in our nests and go within to reflect on the experience of the cycle that was about to close. This is vital for our well being, yet modern society pressures us to avoid doing this and lures us into consumerism, overspending, over socializing, overeating, and over drinking.
We are part of Nature and if we observe the rest of the natural world, we can see that the sap in trees stop flowing and that for many animals it is a time of hibernation. Our body, mind and spirit desperately need this time of rest and if we don’t provide this quiet space, we may find ourselves suffering from colds and feeling bitter about the winter weather. The cold weather is also inviting us to seek a space of warmth, softness and peace to reflect upon and embrace the outgoing year.
And what about you? How aligned do you feel with the rest of the natural world? Working creatively with natural materials may help to align you. My favourite creative activity at this time of year is creating a Yule log.
What exactly is a Yule log? A long time ago in the far, far north a yule log was a big tree trunk or log that was carried into the house and fed to the hearth little by little. Nowadays in many European countries you can find a yule log which is a rolled-up sponge cake that looks like a log and tastes delicious.
A Yule log can also be a small log decorated with a wintery feel to it. I like to do this is a conscious way, reflecting on the year gone by and decorate with material that resonates with me. You often find the following natural elements on a Yule log:
- Parts of evergreen trees.
- Cinnamon sticks (they are thought to increase energy levels and emit a lovely smell)
- Dried orange slices (Sun energy and bright colour. I prefer to dehydrate my own)
- Holly (Offers protection and colourful red berries. Be careful with the prickly leaves)
- Mistletoe (protection, love, purity) Be careful, mistletoe is toxic for pets.
- Pinecones (cleansing, repels negativity. You can paint to add extra colour)
- Pomegranates (abundance, sun energy, wisdom of the underworld)
- Essential oils: orange, cinnamon and cloves are associated with this time of year.
- String, red wool
Pay attention to where you find these elements. Are they organic? Are they locally sourced? If you are unsure perhaps consider smudging them beforehand.
When choosing which log to use, you may prefer to use a particular wood for its properties.
- Alder is good for laying foundations and life force. It is helps in making choices.
- Ash is good for peace, connection, and astral travel. In Norse mythology it is the world tree.
- Aspen is a good for overcoming fears, grief and connection with the ancestors.
- Birch is associated with creativity, cleansing, and new beginnings.
- Hazel is known for wisdom, inspiration and divination, it is often used to make wands.
- Holly is well known for challenge, defence and protection.
- Oak is a symbol of strength, wisdom, resilience, endurance and security.
- Pine is associated with objectivity and clear direction.
- Rowan is known for its magical qualities. It is used for protection and life force.
- Willow is known for beauty, flexibility, and intuition. It is a liminal tree and helps connect with emotions.
- Yew is associated with transitions and the cycles of beginnings and endings. (Be careful yew is toxic).
Connect with a log and if possible, leave it on your altar or sacred space for a few days while you gather the elements needed to decorate it.
Clean the log energetically by burning a smudge stick or some incense around it.
Set an intention. Let your mind wander to your experiences of the last year. What is not serving you anymore? What can you let go off to be burnt in the fire, so you can open up space for the new cycle.
Attach the various elements to the log. I usually do this with natural string and decorate with red wool. If you are not going to burn the log, you may feel drawn to use a glue gun.
What to do with the Yule Log
Some people use it as a natural centre piece over the festive season.
If you have a fireplace or an outside burner, you may consider decorating the log on the night of winter solstice and burning it over the festive season. I usually burn mine on New Year’s Eve so I can start the New Year lighter. Spread the ashes on plants or flowers, so that new life comes out of what you no longer need.
If you do not have access to a fire, you may want to drill a few holes and add one or more candles and do your ritual with the flames of the candles.
Whatever you choose to do with your Yule log, I hope you have a lovely creative time making it and have a peaceful, meaningful winter solstice.