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Excerpted from "Yule: A Celebration of Light and Warmth" by Dorothy Morrison, c2000, with permission from Llewellyn Publications.

December 3
Today is the Roman festival of Bona Dea, the patroness of women. Traditionally only celebrated by women, this is a terrific day to have a short get-together with the female sector of your family. Serve hot apple cider and sit around the table. Remember your foremothers and discuss the traits they've passed on to you. Talk about other women who have influenced your life. Then hold hands and take turns expressing your thoughts on womanhood and what it means to you. Finish by toasting Bona Dea. Say something like:

Great Goddess of Women, Creatrix above
We send You our thanks, and our laughter and love
For this gift You've bestowed upon all in this room
A common thread in Life's Tapestry weaved on Your loom

Today also marks the Greek festival of Rhea, Great Mother of the Earth. Since grains are generally used in this celebration, it provides an excellent opportunity to do some family baking. Pies, cakes, cookies, and bread are all good choices. Before you mix the ingredients, take some time to thank Rhea by saying something like:

Rhea, Great Mother of Earth and Her bounty
We offer our thanks for Your grains, fruits, and seeds
We thank you for sharing your wondrous abundance
And for tending our bodies' nutritional needs

December 5
Because today marks the Festival of Chango (the Santerian/Yoruban God of the Human Spirit), it provides an excellent time to embrace positive changes and build confidence in others. Let go of negativity, resolve differences, and do something nice for someone else. Make positive changes in your life, too. Ask Chango for help in these matters by chanting something like:

Chango, God of Humankind
Help me see where I was blind
Fill my heart with joy and light
My mind with resolution bright
Let human spirit thrive and grow
And become a beacon all shall know
So even in the darkest night
We shed Your rays of guiding light

December 11
Today marks the Roman festival of Bruma, the Goddess of Winter. If you live in a snowy area, go outside and make a snow goddess. Lie on the ground and make snow angels. Go sledding. Have snowball fights. Enjoy the beauty of the day and thank Bruma for the winter wonder She's created for you. Wrap up the fun by bringing some snow indoors and making snow cream.

If Bruma doesn't bless your area with snow, serve your family Bruma ice cream figures today. Just place two scoops of vanilla ice cream (one on top of the other) in a cone or dish, and use red hot candies for her facial features. For hair, use candy sprinkles or bits of red licorice rope. Before eating, thank Bruma by saying something like:

Winter Goddess, Winter Queen
We give You thanks for icy sheen
For the beauty in which You wrap the Earth
As dreams invade Her spacious girth
For tending this season peacefully
We honor You, Bruma! Blessed be

December 15
The Full Moon closest to Winter Solstice is known as the Oak Moon. The oak tree has long symbolized the male aspect of Divinity and the natural flow between the material and spiritual worlds. Its trunk and branches grow and stretch fervently toward the sky in the physical world, while its roots dig deeply into the hidden planes of the underworld. Even in the dormancy of winter, the oak hosts the new life of mistletoe sprouting from its branches--a reminder that life is always new, always fresh, and always constant.

As you celebrate the fullness of the Oak Moon, remember that you play just as integral a part in the workings of the cosmos (the world that is not seen with the physical eye) as you do in the world you wake to every day. Celebrate the return of the Divine Child and New Light by adorning your family with sprigs of mistletoe and giving each member a candle to remind them that they are each individual flames of the Coming Sun with their own paths to light.

December 21
The Druidic celebration of Alban Arthuan occurs today. It's a festival in which gifts and charity are showered upon the poor. Do your part by making a contribution to your favorite charity, or by taking a gift or two down to the local homeless shelter.

Today is also the shortest day of the year and marks Winter Solstice, or Yule. Rise at dawn and dress in fire colors (yellow, gold, orange, or red), then ring bells to chase away the darkness. Hang sunflower heads on bare tree limbs to encourage the Sun and His feathered friends, and tie them with blue ribbons to honor His Mother, the Sky. When the dark of night falls, honor it with a farewell toast by saying something like:

Farewell, Darkness, you've served us well
You've brought peace and calmness with your spell
You've helped us regroup and regenerate, too
And for those reasons we honor you
The time has come, though, to say goodbye
Farewell, Darkness! Go now! Fly!

Then light the Yule log with a piece of last year's log, while chanting:

Goodbye Old King--hello, New
With this log we honor You
The old reign's gone--the new has begun
We welcome now the newborn Sun

When the flames begin to dance, write wishes on paper and toss them into the fire. Don't forget to kiss under the mistletoe, exchange gifts, and make merry. Above all, remember to save some Yule-log ashes to boost your magic in the coming year!

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