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Saturday, December 1, 2012

See the Blazing Yule....

In the Jura mountains, Sir James Frazier documented a Yule log ceremony in the canton of  Bern in which a French song was sung in association with the Yule log.
"May the log burn
May all good come in
May the women have children, the sheep lambs!
White bread for everyone and a vat full of wine!”
There are other permutations of these songs including phrases such as…
"May the wheel turn
May evil spurn
May the Sun return"
Until recently, there were a few surviving traditional community Yule log lighting ceremonies, even in America, and these also preserved parts of our ancient European traditions,  but they were banned by various Semitic organizations, which seem never to tire of trying to wipe out European culture.. Nevertheless, the very act of caroling itself, which is our ancient custom, and songs like “Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly” remind of the real Yule with their lines, such as “See the blazing yule before us”!
Since the very earliest times, fires provided safety from wild beasts, a means of cooking and seeing in darkness… and in a very real sense, served as an extension of the Sun on Earth, even in the darkest night. For this reason they are associated with knowledge, truth and  joy. Traditionally made of a very hard, large, thick pillar of wood that could  burn for all 12 days of the Jul Feast, the Yule Log must always have been considered a special gift of the Gods. The great fire of the Yule log imparts the spirit  and sacred essence of the tree it is made from, as do the  evergreen branches, holly, ivy and  mistletoe, which have been carefully gathered and hung to bless homes and temples by our folk since time immemorial at this holy season of year.
The great blazing tree symbolizes the burning sun,  the spirit of good will and mirth, and the  imminent return of brighter days. It not only provided warmth and light for revelers, but was thought to have magical properties,  so much so that even when the dark days of Christianity came, part of the Yule Log still was saved all year long as a protective talisman and used to light the next year’s fire. These sacred evergreen plants had great significance and everything found on an oak tree was considered a gift from the Divine Ones.  Even when warring Viking armies who met under an oak  with the holy mistletoe in its branches the battle would refrain from battle for the remainder of that day.
In old England, the Yule Log was  doused in cider or ale and decorated with holly or evergreens and ribbons and this can still be done. Those who are currently unable to burn a giant log sometimes drill candle or tea light holders into a smaller one. Some kindred  sing heathen songs in darkness while the log is burning and contemplate the coming year or, just as our ancestors did, fling sprigs of dried holly and then oak twigs into the fire, these last branches symbolizing the waxing of the Sun, while shouting wishes for the new year.  
There is also a tradition of making a Jul log cake or Bûche de Noël.. For more on this see the upcoming edition of the Odinist Journal FoxFire.