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Pagan Holidays

Yule Altar Symbolism And Decorations

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Your Yule altar is where you will work your magic through the Winter Solstice season. It’s a personal space where you can ground and center yourself even when the world around you is hectic.

Setting up a basic Yule altar is quite simple and requires only a table and the tools you will use to create magic during the yuletide season. It’s best not to clutter your Yule altar, but it is also where you should place offerings to the gods and decorations to keep you in the spirit of the Winter Solstice.

Building Your Own Pagan Yule Altar

The construction of an altar for Yule is a deeply personal experience. Maybe you only have a little windowsill overlooking a back alley for space.

Urban witchery can be like that. Maybe you take meticulous effort on a large, grandiose table. Maybe you don’t put in any effort at all, and you just do what feels right.

I’m still new to this whole thing, even after almost six months, and I’m still finding, every week, that I am learning something entirely new, or that my preferences are a little different than I thought they were.

And this time, I’m learning about making altars, and I’d like to share that with you.

Snowy pine tree needles perfect for your Yule altar

Basic Yule Altar Setup

First, there’s a question of what kind of candles to use.

I hear you asking if you can use the same colors as always, and the answer is “yes of course.”

But if you want to have More Yule on your altar, and I decided that I did, going into the next solstice, then it can help to figure out what you’re going to do. I started with a fair amount of green and a little red.

It’s reminiscent of the trees and fruit that grow during the Yule season (we’ll get to that!), but more than that, it symbolizes the coming new year wonderfully.

The green speaks to the growth we all hope for in the new year, and if you hope for a little money to come to you on the side, who can blame you?

The red speaks to the sexuality of the sacred masculine and sacred feminine, in the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth that symbolizes the cycle of the year as a whole.

Then you want to add white and blue, which symbolize the ice and snow of the season first and foremost, look great, and add necessary purification and protection to keep you safe, to keep your loved ones safe, and to keep all of us safe in these trying times.

A snowy forest of trees and a white sky

Last, as wonderful flair to really fill out the spread, and break up the colors, gold and silver make an excellent pairing!

They’re traditional, with the gold drawing focus to the other powerful colors, like red and blue and green, and the silver helping to give depth and interest to the white.

ColorCorrespondences
BlackProtection, uncrossing, warding off negative vibes, banishment, violent power
BluePeace, protection, calmness, communication, clarity, the throat chakra
BrownEarth, reconnecting to the natural world, home life, stability
GoldFinancial gain, business endeavors, the sun, business success, career boosting, legal success
GreenEarth, growth, money, fertility, new businesses, new opportunities, the heart chakra, forgiveness, platonic love
IndigoThe third eye chakra, healing depression, healing emotional vulnerability, self-realization, empathy, letting go of emotional baggage
Light blueHealing, patience, understanding, honest communication, trust, being truthful and fair
OrangeCreativity, beating writer’s block, attraction, encouragement, new opportunities, fun and adventure, self-expression, the sacral chakra, healing mental health
PinkSofter love, self care, kindness, good relationships, empathy, healing the heart, friendship
PurplePsychic powers, intuition, creativity, your inner royal nature, your highest self, ambition, power, the crown chakra, connecting to the divine, fate
RedPassion, sex, love, romance, seduction, courage, health, competition, war, power, the root chakra
SilverThe moon, divination, psychic powers, dreaming, astral travel, women’s mysteries, pregnancy, truth, intuition
WhiteA blank slate, cleansing, purification, innocence, new opportunities, new ideas, connecting to the divine, peace, unity
YellowAbundance, joy, happiness, sunshine, the source of life, persuasion, protection, the solar plexus chakra, self-empowerment, self-control, self-confidence

But if it’s not symbolically appropriate then it’s right out.

In this case, gold symbolizes the sacred masculine, and silver the sacred feminine, who are coming together.

By using their colors in this way, you symbolize the way that they suffuse everything in life, but more than that, the way that they come together in this solstice in particular to create and birth the new-born year.

The altar cloth, under all of this, can be white, blue, or green. Red, silver, and gold are more akin to accent colors, which would be inappropriate.

I, myself, think blue is the most appropriate, but I also have an altar cloth I use all the year round, rather than multiple I might switch between. Maybe next year?

Red berries covered in snow

Symbols

Last but not least, additional symbols of Yule. These tend to fall into two categories: general symbols of winter and of the end of the year, and as with all seasons, seasonal fruits, vegetables, and plants.

The winter is somewhat unique as a season; it offers very little in the way of fresh fruits and vegetables, with the majority of plants dying or going into a sort of hibernation during this time.

Traditional fruit are the mistletoe, with its white berries, and holly, with its red. Pine also goes to seed during the winter, though most people don’t try to eat pine cones!

Of course, the other green growth during the winter is on the evergreen trees, so commonly used now for certain other holidays! All of these are wonderful Yule symbols.

The symbols of the time of year are many. Snowflakes, or just snow, or ice, are all excellent symbols. Contrary to this, sun wheels are also great choices, symbolizing the rebirth of the year and the sun that we’re all anxiously awaiting.

Bells are traditional, they’re fun, and they also help to ward off evil spirits. Plus, if you have a toddler, like I do, they’re going to love them. Just make sure they don’t bang the bells into everything else in their excitement!

How To Decorate For Yule

Decorate your Yule altar with handmade crafts from Etsy this year! Here are some of my favorite products and ideas that will make your altar stand out.

Yule Wreaths

Traditionally, these are hung on doors, but they make a lovely statement on the wall over your altar.

Choose wreaths with pine cones, pine needles, snowflakes, pentagrams, and solar symbols to honor this season.

The Ancient Romans decorated their homes with vines and ivy. Ancient Egyptians used palm fronds. Celtic and Nordic pagans used mistletoe.

Decorating with greenery is an ancient pagan practice, and a wreath is one extension of this practice.

To make your own Winter Solstice wreath, simply forage for discarded tree branches, pine cones, leaves, and acorns. Then you can wrap the twigs and branches with twine or hot glue and decorate with the other pieces you picked up.

These are ornamental arrangements that are found in many homes year-round. They’re most common during the yuletide season, however.

They can be made of fresh greenery, bare branches, seasonal flowers, and faux plants.

Pagans and witches associate the Yule wreath with protection, prosperity, and the sun.

Candles

Light your way to the coming warmer days with candles in white, red, and green. Candles are used in many forms of magic, so keeping some on your altar is always appropriate.

As a festival of the sun, the most important part of Winter Solstice celebrations is fire. This includes candles and bonfires.

For some ancient people, a candle or bonfire was lit to symbolize the sun. It was lit on Christmas eve at sundown and kept going through to dawn on Christmas day.

To celebrate Yule, you can do the same ritual. Burn a large candle through the Winter Solstice and send energy to the sun so that it can be strong in the coming year.

Yule Logs

This traditional Yule symbol would usually go in your fire place, but smaller versions can sit on your altar to represent the season.

Solar Symbols

Wheels, circles, and sun decor help to encourage the sun and bring it back to its full strength after the winter solstice.

Snow And Ice

Snowflakes and icicles make for pretty decor. Icicles can also be used in rituals to replace your wand.

I hope you learned something, enjoyed the article, and most of all, I hope you all have a wonderful and blessed Yule season as things go forward. I know I’m looking forward to it! Let me know how it goes!

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