We have looked at the history and some of the traditions surrounding Yule over the past couple of days.
We started by discussing how years ago people believed that when the days grew shorter in winter they had to actually *do* something to make the sun come back. 'The Winter Solstice' by Ellen Jackson explains many of the ancient customs well.
We looked at a Scottish family bathing in water into which they had dropped burning coals. They believed this would keep evil spirits away at this dark time.
We looked at how some ancient people performed elaborate rituals in which they dressed as animals or birds.
We talked about Stonehenge where huge stones were placed together to frame the setting sun on the day of the Winter Solstice.
We looked at the Scandinavian great Yuletide feast.
We talked about how fire and light were a big part of many people's ceremonies at this time of year.
We went on to discuss how we now know that the sun will come back without our intervention. It is part of the seasons. We conducted a little experiment to help us understand how this happens.
We drew a circle around a large orange. This represented the equator. We then made a cross approximately where our country is. We stuck a cocktail stick into the top and bottom of the orange and headed off to a dark room with the orange and a torch. Hermione shone the torch at the orange as I slowly spun it round, illustrating how day and night comes about. I then tilted the orange to one side trying to replicate the angle it is at this time of year. We could see clearly then how most of the light fell upon the area south of the equator (currently having summer) while up at the top there was little light.
We read 'Rebirth of the Sun' from 'Raising Children in Goddess Traditions' by Starhawk, Diane Baker and Anne Hill. A lovely story in my opinion, in which the sun and moon are personified.
A friend called round with a Lady of the Light Crown she had made today. Wonderful. An excellent centre piece for our kitchen table!