Many customs have survived from Pre-Christian times that lend themselves well to our holiday rituals.
Among them is the ever-popular Yule Log. Traditionally, it has been of oak, ash or beech, ritually cut
(often at Dawn) and ceremonially carried into the house. The head of the family with much ceremony
festively lit the log. Toasts were made with wine, cider or brandy, and since they were drunk in the
early morning hours, gave participants a jolly head start to festivities. A lesser-known tradition is that
of the Yule Clog, a knobby block of wood that was burnt in the kitchen hearth. Household servants
were entitled to imbibe with their meals for as long as the Clog was kept burning. In many parts of
Scandinavia, the object burnt was a fat wax candle, instead of a log. The candle was lit at Dawn and
must burn until Midnight, or be considered an ill omen
Yule Log Magic
The Yule log is a remnant of the bonfires that the European pagans would set ablaze at the time of
winter solstice. These bonfires symbolized the return of the Sun. The Yule log can be made of any
wood. Each releases its own kind of magic.
Aspen: invokes understanding of the grand design.
Birch: signifies new beginnings.
Holly: inspires visions and reveals past lives.
Oak: brings healing, strength, and wisdom.
Pine: signifies prosperity and growth.
Willow: invokes the Goddess to achieve desires.
On the night of Yule, carve a symbol of your hopes for the coming year into the log or on a candle to
be placed on the log in its decorated state or write them on a piece of paper that you also add as a
decoration. You can decorate the log with greenery, flowers, ribbons and herbs for beauty and magical
intent. Some choices might be:
Basil for prosperity and harmony
Carnations-protection, courage, strength, healing, increases magical power, vitality
Cedar-wealth, protection, purification, healing, promotes spirituality
Juniper- Exorcism, protection, healing, love
Mistletoe-a catalyst, fertility, health, success, protection, banishing evil
Pine-healing, wealth, protection, purification, exorcism, exorcism, fertility, wealth
Rosemary-health, love, protection, exorcism, purification, increase intellectual powers, peace, blessing,
consecration, very powerful for cleansing and purifying
Roses-love, courage, luck, health, protection, beauty
Ribbons can be used according to their color for magical correspondences.
Rather than candle making to save time, use store bought candles and decorate by carving symbols,
coloring with crayons or paint, pressing flowers and herbs onto the candle with wax or glue or paste
pictures onto it. Before decorating with greenery, flowers or pictures, dip your candle into hot water just
long enough to soften the wax. Place dry materials on the candle in a pleasing pattern, and gently
press into the wax. Then do a quick dip into liquid wax to seal it altogether.
To scent your log:
Explore fragrances by using incense herbs and resins sealed into the wax; you could use the above
process or make the candles with the herbs and resins included in the hot liquid (experiment before
you commit yourself to a big project... if the herb pieces are too large, they'll act like wicks and create a
bonfire, and resins sometimes spit when hot). You could also add pure essential oils to the outside of
the finished candle or the logs greenery or ribbons, or to the liquid wax as the candle burns. I like to do
the last one-especially if you get the unscented candles-try it in a bunch of little tea lights.
For magical work:
Bind your spells or prayers with cotton thread wrapped and knotted around a candle. The usual way is
to knot the intention so that with each one burned, the energy is freed to do its work; this is especially
useful for healing and protection work. Choose appropriate colors for both candle and thread.
Remember that whatever you create has a life force to it. Fire orientated creations are prone to
seizing upon flammable objects and creatures within their reach. They should never be left unattended
unless in a totally secure environment (like a fireplace or an empty bathtub for overnight). Be safe.