And another one without the annoying music:
Thursday, December 31, 2009
- A square of blue cloth or sturdy blue christmas wrapping paper. Ideally, the cloth or paper will have moons and stars printed on it, alternatively you can decorate it yourself with glitter glue, stickers, etc.
- 13 safety pins.
- Paper and a pen.
- Length of gold cord or ribbon.
- Bottle of Champagne, a glass, and a corkscrew.
Now, look at each thing on your list and really think about it. Is this something you really want? If it showed up at your front door tomorrow morning would you really accept it? Are you sure this is for you? Cross off any items that you can't say YES to with enthusiasm.
Pick your top thirteen "geez I wish I could have that" items from your list. Cut your paper into thirteen moon shapes and write one wish on each one. Write it in a positive, affirmative way, such as: "I win millions of dollars in the lottery." or "I get an all expenses paid month long vacation in Fiji with the person I love."
Open up the square of cloth or paper, and pin the 13 wishes to it with safety pins. (The safety pins insure safety and security for you as your wishes unfold.). Now fold the cloth into a neat little bundle and tie it with the gold ribbon or cord.
Take the champagne, the glass, corkscrew, and your bundle outside under the full moon. Hold the bundle up and say the following:
This is a very simple spell. You will need two candles, a white one for you and a blue one for friends and family. As the full moon is rising, light the candles and say:
Allow the candles burn until they are done. If something happens and you must put them out, pinch each flame out and say the following:
Don't blow them out it will stop the spell. Be sure to relight the candles later when you can allow them to burn completely down.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
From Goddess Divine, and Lord of the Day
Earth lends Her power and breath sends the spell
Days end will reveal that all will be well!
Every other Thursday night members and friends of the Black Forest Clan meet to work magick for those in need. Requests are many and varied, including: Healing, love, money, compassion, business, harmony, balance, opportunity, strength, and much more. What is important is that those working and those we work for are willing to change and help themselves. We don't ever guarantee that any enchantments will work -- that's why, in Pow-Wow, we always say we will TRY for you.
It isn't fancy here. No ornate altar. No hanging tapestries of religious icons. Not many nifty-neatie objects unless they are being empowered for someone upon request. The core is the dining room table. We use few tools and they can vary -- candles, herbs, paper, a big cauldron... sometimes crystals, music or drumming. The magickal vehicles we employ usually include chanting, whispering, sacred breathing and petition magick. Ice and Fire or Water and Fire are commonly our main elements. The fancy...the glitter...the glitz...is really in the work, itself.
Before we begin, we separate the petitions from friends, family, and strangers into the following categories:
- Healing (this can be any kind -- body, mind, spirit)
- Money & Prosperity
- Success (as in a project, business, schooling)
- Banishing (tumors, cancer, anything invasive or negative, stalkers, abusive people)
- Peace (for all)
- Mental (studying, learning, decision making, solution oriented)
- Items to Be Empowered (prayer shawls, etc.)
Categories are often balanced. For example, we might start with something upbeat and strengthening, and then follow with a banishing or protection request. Magickal activities throughout the evening are carried by an individual's muse. We may sing for one category, drum for another, whisper for a third. Charms and chants chosen are also creatively encouraged, although we do use a lot of Pow-Wow influence. Petitions of those in need are burned as we raise the energy, then each working is sealed with a specific chant. We normally end our evening with a request for community peace, followed by a closure of thanking the energies invited.
Will you join us from your home this New Year's Eve? If so, you are doubly welcome.
by Silver RavenWolf
IN MODERN times, the term "blue moon" is defined as the second full moon occurring within a single month. By a somewhat older definition, it's the third full moon in a season that has four — instead of the normal three — full moons. Either way, it's an out-of-the-ordinary phenomenon occuring only once every few years. Hence the phrase, "once in a blue moon."
Why does this happen? A full lunar cycle is a little over 28 days long. However, a calendar year is more than that, which means that during some years, you may end up with thirteen full moons instead of twelve, depending on where in the month the lunar cycle falls. This is because during each calendar year, you end up with twelve full 28-day cycles, and a leftover accumulation of eleven or twelve days. Those days accumulate, and so about once every 28 calendar months, you end up with an extra full moon during the month.
This is an especially magical time, think of it as a lunar bonus round, a chance to ask for special "once in a blue moon" favors, or to work with "once in a lifetime" spells. This year (2009), a blue moon will occur on December 31, New Year's Eve, making for a unique oportunity for spellwork.
Historically, "blue moon" was understood in a more literal way. Once upon a time it denoted a phenomenon even rarer than an extra full moon, one that has occurred perhaps only once or twice in recorded history: the face of moon literally appearing to turn blue in color.
The full Moon tomorrow night will likely look no different than any other full Moon. But the Moon can change color in certain conditions.
After forest fires or volcanic eruptions, the Moon can appear to take on a bluish or even lavender hue. Soot and ash particles, deposited high in the Earth's atmosphere can sometimes make the Moon appear bluish. Smoke from widespread forest fire activity in western Canada created a blue Moon across eastern North America in late September 1950. In the aftermath of the massive eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in June 1991 there were reports of blue moons (and even blue Suns) worldwide.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Here is an old old spell you can use as a way to say farewell to the Solstice and make a wish for the coming twelve months. It's less dangerous than it seems, though care should always be taken.
Fill a shallow dish with raisins and pour a few spoonfuls of brandy over them. As you pour the brandy, say the following:
Put out the lights, then set the brandy on fire. While it is still going, snatch one of the raisins from the flames. As you put the raisin in your mouth, make a wish. It will be granted in the next twelve months.
When doing this with a group, each person gets just one raisin. when doing it alone, you can pull out 3 raisins and make three wishes.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Place one teaspoon of dried basil in a cup of boiling water. Leave for five minutes, and then strain.
Add the liquid to your bath water to bring a protective and cleansing influence. This herbal bath is particularly useful to rid oneself of the negative feelings left by contact with those who are controlling.
Friday, December 25, 2009
Frau Holle also called Hulda is in old German Mythology the goddess of the dead. She plays a prominent part in German folk-lore and superstition. In stormy nights she can be often heard flying through the air, accompanied by weird spirits and witches. On such occasions it is dangerous for ill-doers to be abroad, as they will surely meet with severe punishment; while to the good she frequently appears as a benefactor. Her particular season is winter; when it snows she is shaking her featherbed.)
Encyclopaedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Today we do bid Hail to our beloved Holly King
With these ancient carols, we do again sing
He who is called Father Christmas is returning yet again
As the Solstice's longest night has finally begun
We await you, Santa Claus, Lord of Winter
To honor you on this day that you always were
Saint Nicholas, patron of children on Gaia's sphere
This invocation, we pray you do hear
Come bless us, upon this season of the Yuletide
Great Holly King as you fly upon your sleigh ride
Whether your gifts to us be physical or spiritual
We know that they will always be most magical
Grateful, because we know your blessings' great worth
We offer a blessing of our own --- Peace on Earth!
by Ginger Strivelli
Outside, the wind blew cold and the snow fell softly down to cover the ground. "I saw the Sun King today," the faerie named Rose said as she pulled her mossy cloak tighter about her. "He looked so old and tired as he walked off through the forest. What is wrong with him?
"The great oak said he's dying" answered Daffodil.
"Dying? Oh, what will we do now?", Little Meadow Grass started to cry, "If the Sun King dies, our little plant friends will not grow. The Birds will not come and sing again. Everything will be winter for ever!" Lilac, Dandelion and Elder Blossom tried to comfort their friend, but they were all very sad. As they huddled together, there was a knock on the tiny door.
"Open up, Faeries," called out a loud voice. "Why are you hiding instead of joining us in our Solstice celebration?" Rose opened the door and the little gnome Brown Knobby pushed inside, shaking the glistening snowflakes off his brown coat and hat.
"We are too sad to celebrate," Daffodil said wiping her eyes, "The Sun King is dying, haven't you heard?"
"He is dead you silly Faeries." Brown Knobby's round dark eyes sparkled with laughter. "Now hurry, or we'll be late for the celebration!"
"How can you be happy and laughing?!" Elder Blossom stamped her little foot and frowned at the gnome. "If the Sun King IS dead, it will be winter always. We will never see the Sun again!"
"Silly little child-Faeries." Brown Knobby grabbed Dandelion by the hand and pulled her to her feet. "There is a secret to the Winter Solstice. Don't you want to know what it is?"
The Faeries looked at him in surprise. "Secret?" they all said. "What secret? We are only new little Faeries, you silly gnome. We've never been to a Solstice celebration before."
"Come and see. Come and see. Get your capes and come with me." Brown Knobby danced and jigged around the room. "Hurry, Hurry, don't be slow! To the Sacred Oak Grove through the snow!" He danced out of the door and disappeared.
"What did that gnome mean?" Rose asked as she gathered up her cloak of dried rose petals held together with cobwebs and lined with goose down.
"I don't know, but the Lady lives in the Sacred Grove." Meadow Grass pulled on her hat.
"Perhaps if we go to see the Goddess, She can explain what Brown Knobby was talking about".
"Climb on my back and I will take you there swiftly."
The fox knelt down so the Faeries could climb up. Then he raced off through the dark.
"Listen!" Lilac said as they neared the Grove of Sacred trees. "Someone is singing happy songs. A LOT of someones."
The beautiful music carried over the cold, still, moonlit air. It was the most beautiful music the Faeries had ever heard. The fox carried the Faeries right to the edge of the stone altar in the center of the grove, then knelt down.
"Look!" said Elder Blossom as they slid to the snow covered ground. "There is the Maiden and the Mother and the OLD Wise Crone, and many other Little People."
"They are all smiling and happy," said Lilac as she looked around at all the creatures.
"All the animals are here too," whispered Dandelion. "Why are they all looking at the Mother?"
The Faeries moved closer to the three Ladies seated on the altar stone. The Mother held a bundle close in Her arms, smiling down at it. The Maiden reached down and took the Faeries gently in her Hands. She held them close to the Mother so they could see what She held.
"A Baby!" the Faeries cried. " A new little Baby! Look how he glows!"
"He is the newborn Sun King," said the Maiden smiling.
"But Brown Knobby and the old oak tree said the Sun King was dead," the Faeries answered her. "How can this little baby be the Sun King?"
"That is the great secret of the Winter Solstice." The Old Wise One touched the baby's cheek with her wrinkled hand. "Every year the Sun King must come to the sacred grove during the darkest days of winter where he dies. I take his spirit to the Mother who gives him new life again. This is the way for all creatures, not just the Sun King."
" You mean everything lives and dies and lives again? the Faeries looked down in wonder at the baby Sun King, nestled in the arms of the Mother.
" Yes, Little Ones," answered the Old Wise Crone. "There is never an end to life. This is the great mystical secret of the Winter Solstice."
The Faeries laughed because they were so happy.
"I think the little Sun King should have gifts," said Rose. "I will show him where the wild roses bloom in the early summer."
"And, I will teach him to call the birds and listen to the songs of the wind," exclaimed Dandelion.
The little Faeries sang to the Baby Sun King, songs of the coming spring, the sweet smelling flowers, the bumbling bees, and all the secrets of the forest. And all the creatures within the sacred grove sang with them. Then the fox took them back to their snug home under the roots of the giant oak tree where they dreamed wonderful dreams, waiting for the warmth of spring and the fun they would have with the little Sun King.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Here's a recipe for a delicious Yuletide holiday svaijko. It is a freely adapted modern version of a very old, traditional Romany holiday recipe.
For the dough:
- 25 grams of yeast
- 60 grams of butter
- 2.5 deciliters of water
- 0.5 deciliters of sugar
- 1 liter of flour
- 100 grams of sour cream
- 100 grams of butter
- 200 grams of sweet chocolate
Roll out the dough so that it is flattened, and spread the filling all over it. Shred the chocolate all over. Roll up the dough into a cylinder shaped roll - but carefully, so that the filling does not leak.
Brush the roll with butter, and spread some sugar all over it.
Bake it in the oven at 200 degrees Celsius (390 degress Fahrenheit) for about 40 minutes, until the roll is relatively firm inside.
Slice the roll into appropriate pieces. Serve it as a snack after the Christmas dinner, and your Christmas feast will be a great success!
If you need to convert the measurements there is a nifty calculator at Diana's Desserts.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
It is during June that the light of the sun reaches its culmination, and then begins its descent into earth. The Holly speaks to the fierce capacity of the human soul to take the descent into the underworld, bringing inner light into darkness. Thus we can understand the signature of the tree, with its ability to germinate without sunlight, favoring dark, moist conditions that are more strongly related to the downward earth pole. Its stiff, pointed leaves are not unlike thorns or "spears." The Holly yields a hard, white close-grained wood that imparts a quality of solidity and impermeability, as it stands in the depths of winter, impervious to cold and darkness with its somber evergreen color.
The Druid initiates developed a sacred alphabet, called the Ogham, based upon the archetypal qualities of trees. The Holly, known in Gaelic as Tinne ruled the eighth moon of the year, or the month of June. The glyph for Holly is that of a spear, meaning literally, "I am a battle-waging spear."
Of all the trees in the Ogham, the Holly and the Oak are most primordial—they are viewed as two "kings" who exchange leadership on a yearly basis by engaging in symbolic battle. The Gaelic name for Holly—Tinne—is related to the word, tanist, meaning "dark twin." The Oak King rules from the time the light begins its ascent in December until the summer solstice in June. Holly is the "dark twin" who reigns during the waning light of the year, until winter solstice.
The Holly's prominence at Christmas is actually meant to represent a culminating experience within the soul life. It is an awakening of the love forces of the heart achieved through a descent into the interior of the self and the earth that comes to fruition during this festival. This understanding is depicted in Rudolf Steiner's Calendar of the Soul. Steiner is a modern initiate who incorporated the mystery streams of earlier cultures, including Druidic wisdom. His calendar is a series of 52 runic verses for each week of the year. Beginning at summer solstice, the soul gradually finds its way into an interior reality, moving out of the great cosmic heights. The sense of self coalesces like a seed, with light working into the inmost being, as a purifying and strengthening force. Then, at winter solstice, this light is quickened and shines forth from the heart chakra:
My heart is ardently impelled
That shining seeds of soul
Take root in world ground
And the Holy Word resounds
Through the darkness of the senses
Transfiguring all life.
In subsequent winter verses Steiner describes this activity of the soul as a "heart-high gladness". It is the inner light of Self-containment gained by living in "spirit depths"—at one with the "world ground." The soul is so solidly secure and anchored within itself that nothing can assail one's sense of deep peace. When this consciousness is mastered, the journey inward of the Self is complete. The heart awakens with a streaming of love, gradually seeking its way outward into the sense world again to meet the expansive forces of the light in spring and summer. We could say that the Holly flower which blooms in outer nature in late spring/summer, blossoms again in the human heart during winter as a force of love. Its nature is a sun force that lives, not in the heights but in the depths of the earth.
Perhaps the most profound archetypal picture of Holly is evoked through its symbolism as the Crown of Thorns. As the traditional Christmas carol proclaims, Of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown.
Druid priests wore Holly in their hair while collecting the sacred mistletoe medicine in the winter, Holly was also worn as a crown to represent the Holly King in seasonal festivals. The Holly Crown was a sign of deepest respect and recognition that such an initiate had mastered the forces of nature in harmony with the human soul.
The Holly tree came to be known as Christ-Thorn in middle Europe, for it was recognized that this plant spoke to the archetypal reality of the Crown of Thorns as a soul initiation. The Crown of Thorns is also a kind of "beheading." The false self must be pressed down with a Crown of Thorns until it finds a deeper truth in the human heart. The "battle waging spear" is thrust not outside, but within. Holly teaches us that we cannot find love outside ourselves, if it is not anchored from within the human heart. Holly creates what is divine from within what is human. Holly helps the human heart know its own wholeness; its own holiness.
~Exerpted from Holly The Heart Healer,
a wonderful article by Patricia Kaminski.
- 5 well beaten eggs...add salt, sugar and flour to beaten eggs to make a smooth paste.
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 2 1/4 cups milk
Source: Auramooth's Wiccan Page
O, I am green in Winter~time,
When other trees are brown;
Of all the trees (So saith the rhyme)
The holly bears the crown.
December days are drawing near.
When I shall come to town,
And carol-boys go singing clear
Of all the trees (O hush and hear!)
The holly bears the crown!
For who so well-beloved and merry
As the scarlet Holly Berry?
Flower Fairies of the Winter,
Cicely Mary Barker
Monday, December 21, 2009
This Turning of the Year, the returning of the light, this most hopeful of all days,has been celebrated across cultures and throughout millennia so, however you choose to participate, you will be part of an ancient tapestry. Whether you float old ideas and sorrows out to sea on paper mache boats with candles, make a Yule wreath to honor the sacred circle of life, death and rebirth, find a Yule log and burn it in your fireplace, or join the Fairies in ringing bells on Solstice morning to welcome back the sun, remember that this is a festival of inner rebirth. No matter how dark it seems, how completely dead the world appears, nature - including the holly and the ivy and the oak - teaches us that there is always rebirth.
A simple way to celebrate this day is with a small candle lighting ceremony. The purpose being to celebrate this time of renewal in our lives, to give thanksgiving for the past and the present and to offer a blessing for the year to come.
How to: Create a small sacred space. Decorate it in a way that feels cheerful, warm, and bright. In the center place a white candle. As the sun sets on this day, light the candle, and say a few words about bringing the light forth in your life, in the lives of your family and loved ones in the coming year. Either allow the candle to burn out of it's own accord, or relight it every evening until Jan 1st.
Baying hounds and hooting owl,
Sparkling stars, snow is crisp
Herne is here. Bring forth the Bowl.
rebirth of the Sun
longest night of the year
clove studded fruit
honor the God and Goddess
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Shamash was the Sun God of ancient Babylon. The prayer that follows is one of the longest and most beautiful of the hymns that have come down to us in cuneiform. I think this would make an awesome invocation, prayer, or meditation to greet the Sun as morning dawns after the longest night of the year (The Winter Solstice).
Soon it will be Yule, Christmas, the Winter Solstice. Another name for this special time is The Birthday of the Unconquered Sun, or Dies Natalis Invicti Solis. One really great way to honor the Sun (and yourself) is with a series of body positions called Sun Salutations. An excellent time to begin this ritual is on the morning of the Winter Solstice just as the sun is rising, (facing east). If a sunrise Sun Salutation isn't possible, but you want to include this in your morning routine, pick a time before breakfast, and that will be fine.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Symbolizing: Sun, Purification, Consecration, Protection, Spiritual Illumination
Forms: incense, oils
Divinities: Sun Gods, Ra at Dawn, Bel
Symbolizing: Healing, Death and Afterlife, Purification, Inner Peace
Forms: incense, oils
Divinities: Isis, Ra at Midday
2 drops of each Cinnamon and Clove oil
1 drop of mandarin oil
1 drop of popine oil
2 drops each frankincense and Myrrh oil.
2 parts Frankincense
2 part Pine Needles or resin
1 Part Cedar
1 Part Juniper Berries
Mix and smolder on Yule (on or around December 21st), or during the winter months to cleanse the home and to attune with the forces of nature amid the cold days and nights.
(The above recipe for "Yule Incense" is from Complete Book of Incense, Oils and Brews )
Other Scents and Incense for Yule celebrations and spells:
Thursday, December 17, 2009
On the winter solstice, on the longest night of the year, people would place and set afire an entire tree, that was carefully chosen and brought into the house with great ceremony. The largest end of the log would be placed into the fire hearth while the rest of the tree stuck out into the room! The log would be lit from the remains of the previous year's log which had been carefully stored away and slowly fed into the fire through the Twelve Days of Christmas.
It was considered important that the re-lighting process was carried out by someone with clean hands.
Tradition has it that the burning of the Yule log was performed to honor the Great Mother Goddess. The log would be lit on the eve of the solstice using the remains of the log from the previous year and would be burned for twelve hours for good luck and protection. As the fire began all other lights would be extinguished and the people would gather round the fire. In thanksgiving and appreciation for the events of the past year and in bidding the year farewell each person would toss dried holly twigs into the fire.
The next phase of the burning of the Yule log commenced with people tossing oak twigs and acorns into the fire and they would shout out their hopes and resolutions for the coming New Year and sing Yuletide carols. The celebration of the Yule log fire ended with unburned pieces of the Yule log saved to start the fire of next winter’s solstice Yule log.
The custom of the Yule Log spread all over Europe and different kids of wood are used in different countries. In England, Oak is traditional. The “mighty oak” was the most sacred tree of Europe, representing the waxing sun, symbolized endurance, strength, protection, and good luck to people in the coming year. In Scotland, it is Birch; while in France, it's Cherry. Also, in France, the log is sprinkled with wine, before it is burnt, so that it smells nice when it is lit.
Ashes from the Yule log are very beneficial to garden plants, however, it is considered very unlucky to throw out the ashes of the Yule log on Christmas day.
Various chemicals can be sprinkled on the log like wine to make the log burn with different coloured flames! Here's a short list. Be sure to follow safety precautions if you plan on using them!!
- Potassium Nitrate = Violet
- Barium Nitrate = Apple Green
- Borax = Vivid Green
- Copper Sulphate = Blue
- Table Salt = Bright Yellow
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Listen to the words of the Dark Mother, who of old was called Hecate, Nuit, Morrigan, Banba, Erda, Macha, MotherNight, Sekhmet, and many other names:
Whenever you seek wisdom, at the time of the Darkening Moon, come together in love and trust and learn of Me, who am the Wisest of Crones...Ye who search the mysteries of the Earth, the secrets of Air and Darkness, of Blood and Fire, the silence of the uttermost stars, come unto me, and I shall whisper to you in the depths of midnight.
Ye shall approach Me in silence, and as a sign that ye are free from fear, your breast you shall bare to My blade...for fear has no place in My mysteries, and that which you seek of me will destroy you if you fear it.
For I am the dolmen arch beyond which stretch the mysteries of infinity. I am the silence before birth and after death. I am the clouded mirror in which you scry your own soul. I am mist in the twilight, the vast and starry sky of midnight, shadows on the Moon.
All things come to Me in the end, and yet I am the beginning of all. I meet you at the crossroads, I lead you through the darkness, My hand you grasp in the passage between the worlds. To those that toy with Me am I an instrument of self-destruction. yet to the true seeker do I bring knowledge beyond mortal comprehension.
Of you shall I demand the utter truth of all that you are, and in return shall I give you all that you may be, all that I am. For My wisdom is beyond the Ages, and knowledge of My Secrets is power over self, over fear, over death. Nor do I demand aught of you which you cannot give. For I am the Mother of Mysteries, and as you know Me, so shall you learn to know yourself.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Gingerbread tastes great and makes the house smell wonderful as it bakes. This recipe can be used for biscuits, pretty tree decorations, or cheery gingerbread men and women to munch on.
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 cup dark molasses
- 3/4 cup shortening
- 1/4 cup butter or margarine
- 4 cups flour
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon powdered cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon allspice
- 4 teaspoons ginger
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
(Makes about 3 dozen medium-sized cookies)
Thursday, December 10, 2009
- 20 drops musk oil
- 25 drops pine oil
- 1 cup oak moss
- 2 cups dried mistletoe
- 1 cup dried poinsettia flowers
- 1 cup dried bayberries
- 1/2 cup dried rosemary
- 1/2 cup dried holly leaves and berries
- 3 crushed pinecones
Mix the musk and pine oils with the oak moss, and then add the remaining ingredients. Stir the potpourri well and store in a tightly covered ceramic or glass container.
Here is a simple wassail ceremony.
- Heat a large container of ale or beer - about 3 or 4 pints.
- Add 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup mixed spices (cinnamon sticks and whole cloves are also excellent)
- Cut up 2 or 3 small sweet apples and add those.
- Dip pieces of toasted bread into the brew and place in the branches of the tree. Hang pieces of bread and cake from the higher twigs to encourage robins (guardian spirits of the trees). Bend the lower branches down and dip their ends in the brew.
- Wet the roots liberally with the brew. Pass the rest around and when everyone is thoroughly warmed up, sing a wassailing song.
- Lift your glasses to the tree and shout "Huzzah!" three times as loudly as you can.
- 2 cups cranberry juice
The wassail—a centuries old tradition from Great Britain—is a joy-filled party celebrating the Winter Solstice, Christmastime and happy tidings. Indeed, many of the traditions of this likeable event are the originators of well-known seasonal classics (like caroling, for one).
The word wassail itself comes from the old Norse "ves heill," which literally means "be healthy." It is a toast of goodwill and is at the heart of what wassailing is all about.
These days a wassail is a party, but, in centuries past wassailing mainly involved people singing carols from door-to-door, such as "Here We Come a Wassailing" or "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." Sound familiar? The carolers would carry a bowl of wassail, which was a hot mulled wine or some kind of warm, apple-based beverage. Often people floated a piece of toasted bread on top of the steaming wassail, which was the origin of our modern-day expression "I would like to propose a toast."
When carolers entered a home they would sing, share the wassail and receive eats and drinks themselves (such as plum pudding or shepherd's pie), at which time toasts for a merry Christmas and happy tidings for a new year would be exchanged by all.
Today, wassails are still held in homes or as public celebrations in many countries throughout the world, such as Great Britain, Canada and the U.S. The celebrations can be as simple as gathering some friends for hot cider to more elaborate celebrations involving the production of short plays (called mummer plays) or caroling through apple orchards.
To host your own wassail:
- Invite friends and family to share the occasion.
- Dress up the house for a festive holiday occasion.
- Serve a warm beverage, such as spiced apple cider, mulled wine or the like, from a bowl. This is a must! Otherwise, it's not really a wassail.
- Serve food that's warm and hearty, like beef pot pie or warm potato wedges with bacon, cheese and sour cream toppings. Christmas pudding or any kind of spice cake or pound cake should do nicely for dessert.
- Play festive Christmas music in the background. (Or, better yet, sing along with carols if so inclined.)
- Partake in games that involve teams of players, like charades, Cranium, Pictionary or Taboo.
For the Wassail:
- 1 cup water
- 4 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon nutmeg, grated (for luck)
- 1/2 teaspoon mace
- 2 teaspoons ginger (to prevent arguments)
- 6 whole cloves (to influence people in high places, and for luck)
- 1 stick cinnamon (same as cloves)
- 6 whole allspice
- 1 dozen eggs, separated
- 4 bottles sherry
- 2 cups brandy
source: A Year of Holidays in the Pagan Tradition