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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.
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.
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. 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?
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!
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!