Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Oak King and the Holly King and All Things Yule

In Celtic mythology, the Oak King and the Holly King are twins, but only in so much as they are two parts of the same thing. Each solstice, the Oak King and the Holly King fight for dominance.

The Oak King is victorious in the battle that takes place at Yule, therefore it is he who rules the waxing year from Yule to Litha. The Oak King represents light, growth and expansion.

The Holly King defeats his brother in the confrontation at Litha, therefore he rules the waning year from Litha to Yule. The Holly King represents darkness, decay and destruction.

In Pagan mythology, this sabbat is when the Goddess gives birth to the God, in his aspect as the sun. He will begin to grow in power as the days become longer from this point on, but he is a newborn now and has little power to warm us.

Tomorrow is the 21st of June and therefore Yule in the southern hemisphere. This is when the sun reaches the Tropic of Cancer so is the shortest day and longest night of the year. Yule is symbolic of the (re-)birth of the sun (or "son" in the Christian symbolism in the northern hemisphere Yule time).

The days and nights will remain cold once Yule has come and gone but the strength of the Sun is increasing so hope and potential are prevalent themes. It is a time to give thanks for surviving to the darkest point of the year in the knowledge that the world and therefore all of life and creation will brighten and become easier from this point on. The giving of gifts is an expression of this thanks and good will.

Other names for Yule include Alban Arthan (Druidic), Festival of Growth, Festival of Sol, Finn's Day, Great Day of the Cauldron, Midwinter, Pagan New Year, Sun Return, the Winter Rite, Winter Solstice or Yuletide.


jewell said...

I wish that i had the time/energy to have a blog just for wiccan/spiritual things....

well done Kora

Wendy said...

Thanks, Jewell - and I wish I had the time/energy to do the practical wiccan/spiritual things that you do! I get a lot out the experiences you share at YAAD and that is actually part of the inspiration for me to do this blog.