YULE : WINTER'S SOLSTICEAfter Samhain when the Oak King has been slain, the Holly King Reigns with the Winters Queen, and the Wheel of the Year turns now to Yule.Yule is the day marked by the subtle shift of the light-dark pattern. From this day forward, the Dark recedes and the light increases. On that day, the new Sun is born, the new Oak King and the Divine Child. It is for the latter reason the Christian Church took December 25th as the day of the birth of their Divine Child. More often, Yule will fall on the 20th or the 21st of each year, the day of the Winter Solstice, rather then on the 25th.This is also the height of the rule of the Horned One, Herne, the Hunter. It is at this time of the year that most people are surviving on either stored grains and preserved items or on the hunt of game such as deer, hare or pheasant. Most of the lower class of people probably did not eat much deer, but relied heavily on other animals such as badger, hare or chickens. This is the Time of Herne because Herne is, at this time, the Horned God of survival and is joined with his Winter's consort, Slindias (slehnthaz). (Note: I am still looking for some evidence of the existence of this deity. I have seen it mentioned in some books whose research and authenticity are questionable at best.) Herne is prayed to for survival in tough times, to find paths not often taken that leads to survival.This date is also seen as the Brith of the Sun/Son/Divine Child. After this day, the sun begins to remain out longer and longer as the earth's rotation shifts the Northern Hemisphere toward the sun. As the Winter's King was born at the Spring Solstice, so the Summer King is born at the Winter Solstice. Hence traditions of bonfires, candles and lights being turned off or dowsed and then relit, most probably from the Eternal Fires of Brigid, from a single source, marks the birth of the New King. So, celebrations should focus on the birth of the new Son and the relighting of sacred fires.Lugh Lamfadh, Lugh of the many skills, is associated with this day as he is the only King of the De Danu that is never killed or injured in the Battle of Mag Turid. He is the Son of the Dagda, of the Good God, and son of a Formori Queen, thus is a Son of the sun, and Lugh is also a Divine Child because He is never seen as aging or getting old and is a precocious child, a man of many skills.In the Cycle of the Oak and Holly Kings, this time also marks the mid point of the Reign of the Holly King and the decline of his Reign, just as the Summer Equinox marked the decline of the Oak Kings reign. This cycle is very agrarian in origin and was/is used to help mark the planting and harvest times. Not too far away is the time of planting seeds for the summer, the preparation of the land for the planting. Thus, the festivals reflect this period of time.In a Germanic tradition, this was the time for Wassailing. A Wassail is a type of spiced wine. A young man could go to the house of a young lady he fancied with some wassailing wine to give to the father to secure permission to court. Or, a young man could go from house to house giving wassail wine to people to celebrate midwinter. A young lady could go, escorted by her father, from house to house wassailing and receive a gift for her dowry from each person that liked her Wassailing. I will admit to only having a sketchy knowledge of the Wassail, so if there is any error in this, e-mail me so I can correct it.Yule is, no matter what, a celebration of the coming Sun and any ritual should center around light and re-lighting things.Merry Yule!