Yule, or the Winter Solstice, this year astrologically falls at 8.34am EST on Tuesday 21st June. While I would absolutely love to take tomorrow off so I can celebrate at that exact moment in time, I began a new job today and simply can’t. So tomorrow night it shall be (because I am absolutely buggered tonight).
The Winter Solstice is absolutely my favourite of the Traditional Wheel Sabbats. Not because of Santa, or gift giving as I don’t celebrate it in that way (and usually don’t go to organised events within the broader community because of those reasons). For me it is the darker element of the Solstice that is celebrated – the Wild Hunt.
The Wild Hunt began within Norse law and as people migrated the story found its way into local folklore throughout Europe and the United Kingdom. Within Britain, it is Herne the Hunter that leads the horses, the hounds, and his fellow huntsmen through the forest, collecting unsuspecting souls that are stuck between here and the Underworld.
Why do I celebrate such a darker aspect of Yule? Why don’t I celebrate with fairy lights, and decorated trees, and a guy delivering presents who most likely did not wear a red suit prior to the Coca Cola ads of the 1940s?
The Solstice is about balance. The Winter Solstice is where the darkness outweighs the light; while light dominates at the Summer Solstice. I celebrate the darkness and the depth of Winter at Yule, and the beautiful sunshiney days of Summer at Litha.
Without going into too much detail, the candle that represents the light within the darkness (again, balance) that is only ever lit at the Solstice will be lit. I shall honour the Wild Hunt, the darkness of the Earth and my own Inner Darkness.
The Wild Hunt (c) Cara Fenton, 2015
A young girl no more than twelve stood in the doorway with a lit candle in her hands, watching the shadows in the darkness. Why does he have to go tonight? She wondered as scuffles, mutters and exasperation replied to her thoughts.
“Do you have to go tonight, father?”
The shadow she speaks to stops. A snort comes from the darkness followed by a shake of a mane. “Easy, boy,” a deep voice commands.
“Child, you know I do.” He calms his horse and moves around to his daughter, shamelessly sulking hoping it would keep him home. Bending down, he adjusts the woollen shawl over her shoulders. “Do you know what you can do for your father?” She looks up with sad eyes and shakes her head.
“Keep that flame burning in the window, and I will always know which direction you are in. I’ll see it wherever I ride. Okay?” She nods trying to hide the longing of wanting to keep him home, the worry she feels with each Hunt, the nights spent without him home.
Checking his saddle once more, he mounts.
“Ready?” The horse snorts as the man tries reigning in the steed’s restless legs so he can have one more glance at his daughter, still standing in the doorway with her candle burning brightly before her.
“Good. Tonight we ride!”