Tag Archives: Yule

The 2nd Night of Yule

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The second night of Yule is the Night of the Wild Hunt. It is best to stay indoors on this night to avoid the Wild Host, lest one be swept up by it! It is a good time to re-affirm protective wards made on one’s home and do an Anglo-Saxon Hallowing Charm.

Night of the Wild Hunt

We pour libations for Odin as we ask for his continued protection, and read Wild Hunt poetry. Then, as Jethro Tull’s Christmas Album plays in the background, we have a hearty feast of blood red borscht.

We read “Odin’s Eight-legged Steed” from D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths to the kiddos, then settle in for a night of dark and spooky Yule movies like Hogfather, or The Nightmare Before Christmas.

2nd night of Yule

The 1st Night of Yule

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The first night of Yule, Mothers Night (Modranecht), is one of my most cherished rites of the year. It is not only a time that I honor my patron goddess Frigga, but also the ancestral mothers and female guardians of my family, my Dísir. Earlier in the day we set up and decorate a Modranecht altar, in their honor.
(We start our 12 nights of Yule on a set date, Dec. 20th, regardless of the date of the Solstice.)
For our commemoration of the first night of Yule, we use a simple blót format such as “A Heathen Kitchen Witch’s Blót“.

Our Call:
“Hail mother Frigga, beloved Great Mother of hearth and home.
May you keep our household whole and safe.
May our family receive prosperity in the coming year.
To our family’s Mothers, our Dísir, going back in a line to the beginning,
You who have watched over us and loved us always. Bless us in the coming year!
We remember you with love and honor you this night.”

Blessings, toasts, and libations are made. Then we extinguish all other lights and light the candles on the Yule log. We have a simple meal of Golden Cream Soup in honor of the Mothers and the reborn sun.

modranechtOur song list for the night (from Michaela Macha’s Heathen Songbook) is:
Song for Mothers´ Night
Hymn to Holla
The Mothers´ Night of Yule
The Holly and the Ivy: Song for Mothernight
Merry Yule and Mothers’ Night
and Merry Yuletide.

Later, we enjoy individual little round Yule cakes (Julekage) and read “Frigg and the Goddesses” from D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths, and “Grandmother Winter” by Phyllis Root.

1st Night of Yule

Crafts for the 12 Days of Yule

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On the 1st Day of Yule, Modranicht, make Yule Hearts in honor of the Mothers.

On the 2nd Day of Yule, the Night of the Wild Hunt, make a craft stick model of Sleipnir, Odin’s eight-legged horse.

On the 3rd Day of Yule, the High Feast of Yule, make paper cornucopias to fill with treats and hang on your Yule tree.

On the 4th Day of Yule, sacred to Ægir, Njörðr, and Freya, make a Vanir treasure box.

On the 5th Day of Yule, sacred to community, make a community wreath.

On the 6th Day of Yule, sacred to the goddess Eir and Healing, make healing bath crystals.

On the 7th Day of Yule, Sacred to Thor, make a craft-stick Mjölnir to hang on your Yule tree.

On the 8th Day of Yule, Sacred to Skadi & Ullr, make Skaði and Ullr figurines.

On the 9th Day of Yule, Sacred to Odin, make an Odin the Wanderer craft.

On the 10th Day of Yule, sacred to Sunna & the Ancestors, make paper sun crafts and ancestor yarn dolls.

On the 11th Day of Yule, sacred to the Goddesses & Valkyrie, make paper valkyrie & goddess ornaments.

On the 12th Day of Yule, Oath Night, make marzipan pigs for good luck in the new year.

*For most Heathens, the 12 days of Yule starts on the eve of the Winter Solstice. The date of the Solstice changes from year to year, but usually falls somewhere between the 20th and 22nd of December.
However, at my house we start our 12 day celebration on the 20th every year– even when it doesn’t fall on the eve of the Solstice. This is because when one is celebrating Yuletide as a 12 night event, starting on the 20th means the last night of the celebration ends up being on our modern culture’s New Year’s Eve. This holds special significance because the 12th night is Oath Night.

12 days of Yule crafts

12 Nights of Yule — Dough Ornaments

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Simple symbols crafted in dough is a classic craft to help kids celebrate the 12 Nights.

Salt dough can last a long time if stored well. You can add cinnamon for color and scent. Apple cinnamon dough is another alternative with a darker color and stronger scent. Besides the dough ingredients, you’ll need a flat working surface, rolling pin, cookie and biscuit cutters, a butter knife, toothpick (and/or any clay tools you might like to use), a straw (for making a hole for hanging), and wax paper on a tray or piece of cardboard (for drying). After the ornaments dry, you’ll need string or ribbon for hanging.

Some of the symbols are pretty straight-forward cookie cut-outs, for others, there’s a little bit of method involved. Evenly roll out your dough to a medium thickness; too thin and it will break easily, too thick and it will weigh too much to hang on your Yule tree. Remember to lightly dampen dough with water when joining pieces or adhering to a base layer.

For the 1st Night of Yule, sacred to Frigga and the Dísir (ancestral guardian mothers), make a Three Matronae ornament. Roll out your dough and cut out a circle using a medium lid as a template. Cut out three triangles and attach to the circle side by side. Cut out three circles with a small circle cutter or bottle cap, and attach to base above triangles to represent hair or halos. Roll out smaller circles for their heads and flatten just above triangles. Roll out little coils of dough for their arms. Make little half circle bowls for one or more of them to hold. Poke a hole in the top for hanging and set aside to dry.

three mothers ornament

For the 2nd Night of Yule, the night of the Wild Hunt, simply roll out the dough and use a cookie cutter to cut out an animal shape that represents the Hunt. A horse is a good one, and so is a hound. It is easy to find deer cookie cutters and this would work nicely as well. Use tools to etch in details and texture, if you like. Poke a hole in the top for hanging and set aside to dry.

For the 3rd Night, the High Feast of Yule, make a cornucopia. Roll out your dough and cut out a large circle shape, using a biscuit cutter or lid. Use a small biscuit cutter (about 1/2 the size of the big one) to cut away a piece from the edge of your dough circle to where you have a fat crescent. Place a biscuit cutter over one of the crescent ends. Press down on one side only to round out and trim away the end. Roll out a dough coil and form into a circle to place on the rounded end of the dough circle. Use your thumb to indent dough inside coiled ring. Add little dough balls to represent fruit. (You can press in whole cloves for fruit stems.) Use the handle of a butter knife to press ridges into the cornucopia. Poke a hole in the top for hanging and set aside to dry.

cornucopia ornament

The 4th Night of Yule is sacred to Freya, Njörd, and Ægir, but we like to honor the whole of the Vanir gods as well. The wagon wheel is a symbol of the Vanir, and the heart is a symbol for Freya. To make this wagon wheel ornament, roll out your dough and use a lid or biscuit cutter to cut out a circle. Using a small heart cutter, cut our four hearts around the center, with points toward the center. This establishes a four spoke wheel. Take the hearts that were cut out and attach around the edges between the cut out hearts.

vanir wheel

For the 5th Night of Yule, the night of community, use a cookie cutter to cut out a house shape, and a small cutter to cut out a window. Alternatively, you could cut out out several people with cookie cutters and join their hands together. Poke a hole in the top for hanging and set aside to dry.

For the 6th Night of Yule, sacred to Eir, goddess of healing, make a mortar and pestle. Roll out dough and use a large biscuit cutter to cut out a circle. Use the same biscuit cutter to trim pieces out of both sides to resemble a mortar. Use a butter knife to cut a straight bottom. Attach a coil shape to the top (at a sideways slant) and a flatten a ball shape to the top of the coil. Make dough coils for the top and bottom rims of the mortar and attach. Poke a hole in the top for hanging and set aside to dry.

mortar and pestle

For the 7th Night of Yule, sacred to Thor, make Thor’s goat. Roll out you dough and use a goat cookie cutter to cut out the shape. If you don’t have a goat cookie cutter, use a deer cookie cutter instead; after you have cut out the shape, trim away the antlers and replace with little coils of dough to resemble goat horns. Use a fork to scrape in fur texture, or press some dough through a garlic press and attach to goat. Poke a hole in the top for hanging and set aside to dry.

For the 8th Night of Yule, sacred to Skaði and Ullr, make a snowflake. If you don’t have a snowflake cookie cutter, you can use a star cookie cutter. Roll out your dough and use the pointy end of a small heart cookie cutter to cut two notches out of the sides of each star point. Poke a hole in the top for hanging and set aside to dry.

snowflake ornament

For the 9th Night of Yule, sacred to Odin, make a Yule Father ornament. Roll our your dough and use a Santa cookie cutter to press out your shape. You can make the ornament look more like Odin by pinching the top of the hat to make it pointy (instead of pom-pom topped), and pinching up a hat brim. You can also make him an eye patch. Press in face details with a toothpick or other tool. Poke a hole in the top for hanging and set aside to dry.

Odin ornament

For the 10th Night of Yule, sacred to Sunna and the Ancestors, make a sun ornament. If you don’t have a sun cookie cutter, use a flower cookie cutter instead. See my sun plaque article for tips on making a sun face. Poke a hole in the top for hanging and set aside to dry.

For the 11th Night of Yule, sacred to all of the goddesses and the Valkyrie, make a goddess/Valkyrie ornament. Roll out your dough and cut out a triangle shape. Cut out and attach two teardrop shapes to the triangle sides. Attach a cut out of an upside down heart over the top of the triangle, and a flattened dough ball above this. Use the handle of a butter knife to press in skirt folds. Use coiled dough to make the arms and hair. (Alternatively, you could use an angel cookie cutter to make this ornament.) Use toothpick or other tools to add details, if you like. Poke holes in the top of each wing for hanging and set aside to dry.

goddess ornament

For the 12th Night of Yule, Oath Night, sacred to all the gods, make either an Oath Night pig, or a bell to ring in the New Year. Roll out your dough and use your choice of cookie cutter to cut out your shape. Use tools to add details, if you like. Poke a hole in the top for hanging and set aside to dry.

When your ornaments are dry, you can paint them. If you added cinnamon to your dough (or used apple cinnamon dough), you will want to let the dough show instead of painting over it. But you may want to use a little bit of white puff paint on dark dough for accents and contrast. When paint is dry, lace a string or ribbon through the hole for hanging.

Parents, you can use the ornaments to help your child commemorate each Night of Yule… have each of them put away in their own individual drawstring bags (or drawers in a box), and have your child take out each ornament on it’s specified day and hang on your Yule tree.

12 Nights of Yule Dough Ornaments

salt-dough hog’s head

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Long ago, people made their First Night oaths while placing a hand over a hog’s head at the last of the Yule feasts of the year. Modern Asatrúar usually use a ceremonial ring or hammer these days. However, I thought it would be fun to sculpt a hog’s head from salt dough to use in such a way, or at least use as an altar piece or table setting to remind us of our ancestors. Here is how I made it:

salt dough hog's head

1. First, I mixed up a batch of salt dough. To make the dough go further, and dry faster, I wadded up a piece of aluminum foil to go in the middle and wrapped the dough around it.

2. To the ball shape, I added a snout.

3. I used my thumb to indent eyes on either side of the head, and inserted blue marbles for eyes.

4. The end of a fork made a nice tool for creating a bit of fur texture.

5. I used a butter knife to create ridges on top of the snout.

6. The butter knife was just the right size for making the nostrils as well.

7. For the tusks, I made little indentions in the sides with the end of a wooden spoon and attached little tapered coils of dough. (Remember to lightly wet dough when joining pieces.) I used the same method to make the ears.

8. To add more dimension to the fur texture, I snipped lightly into the dough all over, from front to back, with scissors.

Later, I cut a slit in the mouth and inserted a ball of dough to resemble an apple. When the project was completely dry, I painted it with water-based antiquing medium, and painted the apple barn red.

Hog's Head

Sigrdrifa’s Prayer One Page Book

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Last year, I posted an article about making little mini books out of a single sheet of paper. Since then, I’ve figured out how to make them digitally! Below you will find a simple version of Sigrdrifa’s prayer, the only direct invocation of the Norse gods preserved from ancient times. It is a classic and beautiful prayer that can be said anytime, but is especially appropriate at the start of one’s day, observing the sun rise, and at the Solstices.

Copy and paste image into a word processing program (set up with narrow margins) to make sure the image takes up most of a full sheet of paper, expanding as necessary.
After printing, trim away the margins on the outside of the thick black lines. Let your child color the pictures, then follow directions given in my article magic one-sheet-of-paper mini book to complete the book.

Sigrdrifa prayer magic bookFor more Summer Solstice fun, see Kids’ Activities for Midsummer / Summer Solstice.

Hallow Magic for the High Days

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Most ADF rituals emphasize worship over magical workings, or so I’ve heard. It doesn’t have to be so… why not have it all? The Druid-style rituals I piece together tend to be short and sweet, so there’s plenty of room to add a little magic. Here are some ideas I’ve had for High Day themed magical workings that are aligned with the Triple Hallows. Most of these ideas are for outdoor rituals. For some of these, you may want to have a crafting session ahead of time, then have participants bring their finished work to the ritual, ready to give it that final “oomph” of energy before activating in the Hallow.

In the following workings, I use the word “intent” a lot. What I mean by this is the goal of your magic, and the act of thinking about it and letting the energy of it flow into what your are crafting or doing. Your intent can be for increase (like for prosperity, wisdom, love, for a few examples), or your intent could be something you want to release to the universe (like negativity, bad vibes… things that hold you back) for the Kindreds to transform it into something better or make use of somewhere else.

As a general guideline, do “releasing” work in the waning part of the year (Lughnasadh to Yule) or during a waning moon, and “increasing” work in the waxing part of the year (Imbolc to Midsummer) or waxing moon. Whatever your intent, you can often change it’s nature by perspective and wording, to flow with the season. For example; if you want to do prosperity magic, but it’s a waning season/moon phase, make it a “poverty banishing” working instead.

FIRE
These are items that are fashioned to be burned in the Fire Hallow.

  • PRAYER LEAF: Hand out big Sassafras leaves (or other big leaves) and markers for participants to inscribe their intent through words symbols or pictures. This one is ideal for any High Day. I like to use it for Samhain, and with bay leaves on Imbolc. (For indoor rituals, use slips of flash paper instead; to avoid having a room filled with smoke.)
  • SUN SYMBOLS: Hand out thin straight sticks or wheat stalks and sun-colored yarn/raffia for participants to make rustic “god‘s eyes”, weaving with the energy and intent of their goal. This one is ideal for Summer Solstice.
  • HARVEST FIGURES: Hand out string, sticks, corn husks, raffia, and/or other dried plant materials for participants to shape and tie into human or animal form, representing a goal or intention completed. This one is ideal for Harvest holidays. I like to use it for the Autumn Equinox.

“At this time we shall infuse our ______ with the energies of our intentions.
When you are ready, you may come to the Fire and burn them.”
After all have done this, say:
“Our intentions have been released to the Sky, to the Kindreds,
and to the passing of the seasons. It is done.” ALL: “So be it!”

WELL
These are items that are fashioned to be placed in the Well Hallow. Consider using a flowing stream for your Well Hallow.

  • PRAYER BOATS: Hand out paper and markers/crayons for participants to make origami boats and inscribe their intent on them through words, symbols and/or pictures. I like this one for Lughnasadh/Freyfaxi.
  • FLOWERS: Let participants choose from a basket of flowers, the one that represents their intent, or make paper flowers. This one is ideal for Beltane.
  • PRAYER SLIPS: Hand out pens and strips of water soluble paper for participants to inscribe their intent. This is another good one for Imbolc.

“At this time we shall infuse our _____ with the energies of our intentions.
When you are ready, you may come to the Well and set them afloat.”
After all have done this, say:
“Our intentions have been released to the Waters, to the Kindreds,
and to the passing of the seasons. It is done.” ALL: “So be it!”

TREE
These are items that are fashioned to be hung from the branches of the Tree Hallow.

  • CLOOTIES (prayer flags): Pass around a basket of various colors of thin natural fabric cut in strips (or participants may bring their own; the magic is especially powerful when it is cloth torn from one’s own clothing). Participants choose color and pattern of cloth based on their intent and infuse them with the energy of their intent with touch and prayer. Each dip their cloth in the Well and tie to the tree. Ideal for any warm weather High Day.
  • TREE ORNAMENTS: Hand out toast, peanut butter, birdseed, string, and cookie cutters. Participants cut shapes from the toast, spread on peanut butter, and sprinkle on birdseed (all with intent!) then poke a string through for hanging. This one is a good one for Winter Solstice.
  • WISHING EGGS/SPHERES: Hand out papier-mâché eggs (with 2 holes poked in one end), paints, markers, and string. Participants use paint and markers to inscribe their intent through words, symbols and/or pictures on the eggs, then hang them on a tree or shrub with string.  Do this one for the Spring Equinox.

“At this time we shall infuse our ______ with the energies of our intentions.
When you are ready, you may come to the Tree and tie them.”
After all are tied, say:
“Our intentions have been released to the Land, to the Kindreds,
and to the passing of the seasons. It is done.” ALL: “So be it!”

Lucky Marzipan Pigs

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The 12th night of Yule is Oath Night, and is sacred to all our gods and goddesses. Our craft of the day is lucky marzipan pigs.

In modern times, Ásatrúar make their oaths on a sacred hammer or oath ring, but once upon a time, Yule oaths were made on a hog’s head. Pigs were sacred to many deities and so it was a sacred food of many northern cultures. Maybe that is why, in places like Germany, Norway and Denmark, marzipan pigs are given in the Yule season for good luck and fortune in the year to come.

To make the marzipan, you will need:
1 1/2 to 2 cups almond flour
1 1/2 to 2 cups powdered sugar (plus more for kneading)
1 egg white
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
a few drops of red or pink food coloring

making marzipanBegin by blending almond flour and powdered sugar in a food processor. I used 1 1/2 cups of each, and mine turned out very moist, so you may want to try closer to 2 cups instead. Next, add egg white, extract and food coloring while food processor is running. Process a bit longer. Take out and knead on a surface spread with powdered sugar. After the marzipan is kneaded well, you can begin shaping.

marzipan pig assembly
Make little fat sausage shapes for the body, indented in the middle to differentiate head from body. Shape little triangles for ears. Push into the pig’s head and indent inside of ear at the same time with a skewer or toothpick. If your marzipan isn’t moist enough to stick, dab on a little water. Make a flattened circle and indent nostrils with the toothpick. Poke holes for eyes. Feet are just rolled lumps of the marzipan. Roll out a little curly-cue tail. Our batch made nine little pigs.

Good Luck Marzipan Pigs

Paper Valkyrie Ornaments

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The 11th night of Yule is sacred to the goddesses and the Valkyrie. With this in mind, our craft for the day is paper Valkyrie ornaments. It is based on the classic German paper Weihnacht Angel ornaments. You can vary the pattern to make different goddesses.

materials:
pattern printed out onto card-stock
1 sheet of paper or foil paper to make the skirt
stapler
glue
crayons or markers (or colored paper)
glitter, sequins, or any other decorations you want to use
ribbon or string for hanging

Paper Valkyrie Ornaments

To make this craft:
STEP 1: Enlarge the pattern below to the size you want and print onto card-stock and cut out the pieces. (You can use this as a reusable template, or use the pattern itself to make the ornament.)

STEP 2: Color the pieces (or use template to trace the various shapes onto colored paper or fabric, then cut out and glue onto card paper). Glue on glitter and/or other decorations.

STEP 3: Fold the sheet of paper or foil paper in even accordion-style folds and staple at the top.

STEP 4: Glue the bodice onto the top of the skirt.

STEP 5: Glue the head onto the bodice.

STEP 6: Glue the arms onto the back of the ornament. At this point, she looks more like a goddess than a Valkyrie, doesn’t she?

STEP 7: Glue wings onto the back and sword in hand. Glue a looped ribbon or string onto the back for hanging.

valkyrie pattern

Sun Crafts

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The 10th night of Yule is sacred to Sunna and the Ancestors. For our craft of the day, we’ll be visiting the archives for the ghosts of sun crafts past.

There are three paper sun crafts that require few materials…

Paper Sun Crafts

Starbursts take time and patience, but the result is rewarding.

Tissue paper sun faces can be simple or intricate, depending on the tastes and skill of the artist.

Sunbursts are fun to make for all ages.

If you would rather work with dough, try making sun medallions like we did for the Summer Solstice. Poke a hole in the top before drying and you have an ornament for hanging on your Yule tree.
salt dough suns
Remember the community-themed wreath we made for the fifth night of yule? What if the people on it represented the Ancestors instead?
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