The Story of Yule

The Story of Yule

How Christianity and Paganism are alike
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Christmas is, by all means, an extremely diverse holiday. While we fail to notice it most of the time, cultural aspects from all around the world come together and merge into the holiday that we know of as Christmas. Of course, Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ, the son of God. However, Christmas isn't as simple as that, especially when gift-giving, reindeer, elves, trees, and snow are thrown into the mix; after all, baby Jesus certainly never saw snow!

This raises the question: where do these aspects come from? While there are many different cultures and religions that have inspired the modern-day celebration of Christmas, one religious celebration stands out the most: the pagan celebration of the winter solstice known as Yule.

Out of all winter celebrations that take place during this time of year, one of the least-recognized seems to be Yule, celebrated by both pagans and Wiccans. Historically celebrated by Germanic pagans, Yule is the celebration of the coming light, which will bear itself when spring arrives. Similarly to Christmas, Yule marks the time in which the new year begins, as seen in the wheel of the year.

As with most Sabbats, we pagans decorate our altar (our sacred place of worship) in honor of the holiday:

When you look at these pagan altars, you can see the similarities between Yule and Christmas imagery: snow, ribbons, candles, evergreens, etc. My personal altar features similar aspects, such as candles, ornaments, and even a small tree.

Of course, you probably noticed the strange logs featured in each of these images. These are known to pagans as (not surprisingly) Yule Logs, which actually are an ancient Celtic phallic symbol (ancient paganism was quite fond of phallic symbols). The use of phallic symbols in Yule comes from the fact that Yule is considered to be the day of rebirth of the Horned God, who, in turn, symbolizes the sun. Of course, considering that the days after yule will be longer and the nights shorter, it makes sense that ancient Pagans would believe this to be, quite literally, the birth of the sun.

Yule logs are one of the many pagan symbols that have made their way into the modern Christmas; after all, one of the most popular Christmas dishes is the Yule log cake.

Somewhat less apetizing after realizing what it represents...


Since these pagan traditions came from primarily Germanic regions, symbols such as snow, reindeer, and evergreen trees came to represent the season. Of course, since Yule is the celebration of the coming of the light, candles were a very prominent symbol to the pagans of the past. To modern pagans, not only candles, but also artificial lights uphold the symbolism of the Horned god.

Yule, like most other Sabbats, is a massive celebration, celebrated with caroling, wassailing, mistletoe, and gifts, as well as prayers and elaborate rituals performed to honor the coming of the Horned God, one of the primary Wiccan deities. Gift-giving was very prominent in the Roman holiday Saturnalia, which was adopted by the Germanic pagans, and, finally, adopted by the Christians.

Of course, many Christians are horrified at the realization that their holy day is so similar to a pagan holiday. However, it is important to remember that history isn't always exclusive; cultures have always merged and split over time, and customs have always been adopted and abandoned. This does not mean that Yule is Christian, nor that Christmas is Pagan; it is simply a similarity developed due to cultural exchanges. Some other similarities between Pagan and Christian traditions are Ostara and Easter, as well as Lughnasadh and Thanksgiving.

It's so easy to alienate those who have different customs than us, but it's of upmost importance that we remember that, within all of our differences, we can cherish the things that bring us together. Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, and Blessed Yule.

Cover Image Credit: https://ueat.utoronto.ca

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12 Bible Verses For Faith In Hard Times

Remind yourself that God is always with you.
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Lately, I have felt lost at what God wants for my life. Ever since I've come back to UWG everything has been horrible. It seems that I can't catch a break. I'm trying my best to focus on school, work, and extracurricular activities. But it's hard when I'm having issues with my apartment/roommates and knowing my family back home is struggling and needs many prayers. All, I keep thinking is maybe Carrollton isn't where I belong anymore. I've asked God if He can guide me in the right direction. Below, I have found Bible verses that have helped get me through these rough, past couple of weeks.

1. Isaiah 43:2

"When you go through deep waters, I will be with you."

2. Psalm 37:5

"Commit your way to the Lord. Trust in Him, and He will act."

3. Romans 8:18

"The pain that you've been feeling, can't compare to the joy that's coming."

4. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed in strength, and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future."

5. Joshua 1:9

"Be bold. Be brave. Be courageous."

6. Ecclesiastes 3:1

"There is a time for everything and a reason for every activity under the heavens."

7. Isaiah 41:10

"Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand."

8. Isaiah 66:9

"I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born, says the Lord."

9. Psalm 91:4

"He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings, you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart."

10. Psalm 62:1-2

"My soul finds rest in God alone, my salvation comes from Him, He alone is my rock and my salvation."

11. Philippians 4:13

"I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength."

12. Jeremiah 29:11

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Cover Image Credit: pixabay.com

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Some Helpful Facts About Witches, In Case You're Curious Or Spooked

We don't really ride broomsticks!
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I am a witch!

The words alone conjure up a variety of mental images. Most of the time you're going to think of Halloween. Or perhaps you thought of famous shows like "Casper and Wendy," "Hocus Pocus," "Bewitched," "Charmed," and "Sabrina the Teenage Witch." Maybe some of you more nerdy people thought of "Monty Python" and getting turned into a newt! (You'll get better!)

However, it's a relatively small number of people whose first thought was that I was being serious. In all actuality, I was being 100% serious though. But what does that even mean? Well, in short, it's a little bit different for everyone, but it means that you practice magic.

Before I get into the details of what constitutes witchcraft, I would like to start off by making it clear that I am not talking about Wicca. Wicca is a religion, which, although it often goes hand-in-hand with witchcraft, is a wholly separate thing. One can be a witch without being Wicca, or vice versa.

Now that we've got that out of the way, let's talk about what makes a witch, well, a witch. Simply put, a witch is someone who practices witchcraft, but of course, that just brings up further questions. So let's talk about what witchcraft is. Well, there are hundreds of small things that constitute as witchcraft. The most notable would be astrology and tarot, two forms of divination that are quite popular in the modern world.

Some other practices are carving runes, working with aromatherapy, lighting candles in specific patterns, and reverence of nature. While just having a tarot deck or reading the stars doesn't quite make you a witch, it's a start. It's the combination of many of these practices into a daily lifestyle that makes a person into a witch.

You may ask "but what about summoning demons and casting hexes on people?" The quick answer to that is to just say just a Hollywood thing, but of course, the long answer is a little bit more of a grey area. While yes there are witches who summon spirits or cast spells on others, it's a rare day that anything dangerous or evil is actually happening. I've never personally summoned anything, but my spells have never consisted of more than small things to make sure my friends and family are safe.

If you've got any interest in witchcraft, I'd recommend reading up on it yourself! In libraries or on the internet. In libraries, you should look under occultism, look for Dewey Decimal numbers in the 130's. Online just google for "modern witchcraft." Do remember, that witchcraft isn't against religion! (See: Kabbalah and the Key of Solomon) There are even Christian witches!

If you choose to be a witch, remember that not every witch is the same and the rules are pretty vague! Make it your own and make sure you are happy with who you are.

Cover Image Credit: @90sbabiesstore

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