The twelfth night of Yule is sacred to all of the Gods and Goddesses especially the Æsir & Dísir. It’s time to gather together and have a feast of pork or ham, and break out the mead or make wassail.
It’s a time of beginnings and endings. The kids read “The Creation of the World” from D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths and receive marzipan pigs for luck in the new year.
For those who are so inclined, it is a time for making oaths, swearing with one’s hand over a boar’s head, ceremonial hammer, or oath ring. This tradition is far from mandatory, and I mostly steer clear of making oaths myself. It is better to make no oaths, rather than ones you may not be able to keep. I find it better to simply reflect on the past year and think of what I might do in the next, and keep my own counsel.
Seldom do those who are silent make mistakes.
This is the last night of burning candles on you Yule log. If you are lucky enough to have a traditional large Yule log in a wood burning fireplace, save a coal or small portion of this year’s log to light next year’s Yule log. If using candle, you can have a similar tradition of saving a short length of candle from this year to light the next.
We have a good feast, praise all the gods, and ring in the new year at midnight. The chiming of the bells clears away any negative and stagnant energies, making way for the new.
The eleventh night of Yule is sacred to all the Goddesses and and the Valkyrie.
Favorite Valkyrie/goddess crafts are gathered or made to adorn the altar. If you’re not in the mood for crafts, bird ornaments and angel figurines can be used to represent the goddesses and Valkyrie, with beautiful results.
Our soundtrack for the night is Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen for it’s elegance and timelessness. For our ritual meal I like to include Himmel und Erde (heaven and earth), a German dish consisting of apples (from the heavens) and potatoes (from the earth).
Our simple dinner blót includes a Valkyrie invocation and a litany of goddess hails, along with praises of their blessings.
The tenth night of Yule is sacred to Sunna and the Ancestors. By now, if you have done rituals for every night, you have celebrated fully indeed! If so, you could give yourself a break and just do a low-key “no-ritual” plan that follows the basic theme of the night, with altar decorating and a special meal. If however, you are up for a more elaborate ritual, check out the Sunna Ritual for Yule over on the Northern Tradition Paganism website.
“The sun, the sister
of the moon, from the south
Her right hand cast
over heaven’s rim;
No knowledge she had
where her home should be,
The moon knew not
what might was his,
The stars knew not
where their stations were.”
– The Poetic Edda, Völuspá.
Making paper sun crafts or sun plaque and sun candles are a pleasant way to entertain the kids on this evening. Also, get out the salt dough skulls or Ancestor yarn dolls made at Samhain to place upon the altar.
One of my favorite Yule songs, which is very appropriate for tonight’s theme, is Sun Queen by Silver on the Tree. The song Morning Glory, by the same artist is beautiful and follows the sun goddess theme as well. Might as well listen to the entire Celtic-themed Morning Glory album; there are certainly enough commonalities between the Celtic and Norse. Many of the songs have a lovely repetitive mantra quality.
And let us not forget the Ancestors! Raise a glass to them, offer them remembrances and prayers, sweets of the season, and put a few bright candles or holiday lights on the family Ancestor altar.
May Sunna light our path, and the Ancestors watch over us in the year ahead.
The ninth night of Yule is sacred to Odin. A good way to commemorate the day is by reading and contemplating the Hávamál. Children can learn about the Allfather through books like D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths or Gods & Heroes from Viking Mythology by Brian Branston. One of the names of Odin is Jólfaðr – “Yule Father”. Many people believe that Odin was the prototype for the modern Santa.
Our small ritual feast includes Rinderrouladen and other favorites. Toasts and libations are made, poems read, and songs played. A great resource for the poems and songs, of course, is the Odin’s Gift website, but for just listening, or Odin’s night “ambiance”, there’s music by Hymir’s Kettle, Carved in Stone, and Wadruna.
This is an excellent night for studying the runes and divining omens for the year ahead. There’s a nice introduction to the runes for kids in How to Be a Viking by Ari Berk.
The eighth night of Yule is sacred to Skaði and Ullr. Skaði is a jötunn goddess associated with winter, skiing, bow hunting, and mountains. Likewise, Ullr is a god of archery, hunting, and winter.
Now, if you’ve ever been to the Ozarks, you will have noticed that we don’t have much of a winter most years, so you may wonder why someone in this part of the world would want to honor these particular gods. Well, we do live in the mountains, which would put us under Skaði’s domain, and in recent years we have had a few fierce ice storms sneak up on us.
And let us not forget the hunting aspect of their powers; if you have any hunters or archers in the family, this may be a good time for them to do a blessing for their hunting equipment and/or archery gear. If you live on of near a mountain, that would be an ideal place to leave offerings and libations.
Quite a number of poems and invocations for Skaði and Ullr on the Odin’s Gift website. Choose your favorites to use in a simple blót or ritual dinner. For the kids, the night can take on a snow theme; have them make paper snowflakes to decorate the home and altar. If you do have enough snow outside, consider making some snow ice-cream. Our meal for the night is Hunter’s Stew, Pan Rolls, Snow Ice-Cream or Snowball Cookies.
The seventh night of Yule is sacred to Thor. We have a simple ritual feast in his honor and thank him for protecting us all year long. Prayers, readings or toasts my be spoken in his honor and libations made. I find my inspiration for this from the Odin’s Gift website, which has many songs about him as well.
Later, we may read stories about Thor from The Adventures of Thor the Thunder God by Lise Lunge-Larsen, and perhaps make a craft stick Mjölnir or try making a straw Yule goat, symbolic of the goats that pull Thor’s chariot.
This is the ideal time to bless a ceremonial hammer, if you have one, or bless family members’ Mjölnir pendants. Acorns are given to each family member to carry in their pockets for luck, for the mighty oak is Thor’s sacred tree. An acorn necklace makes an inconspicuous and inexpensive devotional pendant for a child to wear any time.
The sixth night of Yule is sacred to Eir and Healing. For those of us who start our 12 night celebration on the 20th, this night falls on the 25th. In an alternative 12 Days of Yule I have come across, this day was called “Children’s Day”– I suspect to allow for the gift-giving customs and other merriment associated with Christmas. While we do observe these customs, they are mainly on the morning of the 25th. By the time evening arrives, the calming energy if Eir is a welcome respite.
The Pagan Book of Hours website has a beautiful Eir blót to use at this time. We place herbs and medicines on the altar for blessing, and our feast in Eir’s honor is Baked Chicken with Apricot Wild Rice. The leftover bones are saved for making healing chicken broth base for soups.