Editor’s Note: Please join me in welcoming Jess Carlson as our new Ask A Witch columnist. If you have a burning witchy question for Jess, please use the form at the bottom of this article to submit!
rowing up, Christmas was my second favorite holiday. My true favorite was, of course, Halloween. Was there ever any question that I was a witch? No, especially since I also saw and heard spirits and always seemed to know things I shouldn’t. It was just always there.
I was raised Roman Catholic, sort of. It was the “we go to church for weddings and funerals” Catholicism. I went to CCD classes primarily because my great grandmother was still alive and my mother knew she’d get an earful if her kids weren’t raised as “good Catholic girls.” Occasionally I had to participate in church services class but otherwise I had no spiritual or religious aspects to my childhood.
Instead, the library was our church. My mother took my sister and I each week and we were required to take out books to read each time. I learned quickly that I was not into reading fiction. I preferred to learn when I was reading rather than be entertained. To this day it takes a lot for a fiction book to grab hold my attention. By the young age of 8 I was devouring non-fiction books in the young adult section.
This is where I discovered the tarot, witches, and Paganism. I was somewhat familiar with witches, having grown up in New England and always hearing about the Salem witch trials. But I didn’t know that witches were real. I quickly discovered they were and felt a sense of familiarity with what I learned.
Tarot became my first metaphysical love. I got my first deck of Rider Waite cards at the age of 10. My grandmother bought them for me during one of our weekly trips to the mall. During the summer, once a week we would go to have lunch at Friendly’s and then walk around. At 10 I wasn’t interested in the toy store; I was more interested in the creepy, mystical section of Spencer’s. This is where she purchased my first tarot deck for me in hopes that I would stop trying to tell the future with her bridge cards.
As I learned about Wicca and Neo-Paganism I quickly picked up on the similarities within the holidays that I already knew. Yule especially clicked for me. I had never questioned Christmas traditions before, but I suppose I also had no reason to. Now that I did I felt like a whole new world was opening up to me.
Yule is one my favorites because it offers a rich tapestry of magick no matter where you look. All around us people are celebrating the winter holidays with beautiful Pagan traditions, typically without recognizing it.
I get asked a lot of questions from new witches about celebrating Yule alongside whatever the standard winter holiday is in their family. Often these are witches still in the broom closet who want to acknowledge Yule and turning the Wheel but they don’t want to cause problems or draw too much attention to themselves. Luckily, it’s easy to slip that witchy magick into winter holidays without raising eyebrows.
Witchy Yule Magick That Nobody But You Needs To Know About
Picking Your Tree and Greens
If you get a fresh tree or bring in fresh greens to decorate your home, choose ones that have the energy you would like to invoke for the coming year. Fir brings immortality and protection. Spruce has a similar energy but also helps ward off evil spirits and unwanted negative energies. Pine represents rebirth, resurrection, and prosperity. Ash offers healing and protection. You might also want to add in Mistletoe for love and fertility, Holly for beauty and financial abundance, or Ivy for fidelity, loyalty, and the assurance of a constant flow of love in the home.
Bless Your Tree
Not all of us get to cut the tree down ourselves. If you do, always be sure to ask the tree for permission to cut it down and leave an offering on the earth to give thanks for the tree’s sacrifice.If you’re like most people who get a fresh tree you probably purchase it precut at a tree farm or in a parking lot somewhere. When you bring the tree home you can bless it and thank it for its sacrifice just the same. Take a bowl with some red wine or apple cider and charge it with the blessings of the Gods. Sprinkle the blessing wine on the branches, anointing the tree trunk, and adding a little to the tree water, giving thanks to the tree’s spirit while asking it to lend the particular energies of that tree to your home and family through the season and into the new year.
Hang Cinnamon Sticks
Not only will good-quality cinnamon sticks smell amazing, but they call in warmth, wealth, and love for the coming year. Wrap bundles with red and green ribbon, for love and prosperity respectively, and then hang them on the tree, in your windows, and around your doors to attract these energies.
Work Hidden Magick
Everything doesn’t have to be out in the open even if it’s blending into the scenery. You can work magick that you will know is there but nobody else will see. When you look around your tree, wreath, or the bunches of greens decorating a mantel you will likely notice areas where you could tuck away some magickal items that would go largely unnoticed. My favorite thing for this is filling muslin bags with herbs, crystals, and petitions with wishes for the new year. If someone does find them, you can say they’re just there for the scent and nobody would probably question that. When your decorations come down and the seasons comes to a close, you can toss your spell bundles into a fire to release your intentions for the new year.
Pass Magick on to Others
Last, but certainly not least, you can work a little unseen magick to send magickal energy and intentions to others through your gift giving. Use magickal powders for love, blessings, healing, and prosperity to dust cards and wrapping paper. When the person touches these things they will be touched by the magick of the herbs in the powders. My favorite is tying blessings and intentions for someone in the ribbons in a package. Pick an appropriate color ribbon for your wish and as you knot the ribbon blow your intention onto the ribbon saying, “As this knot is untied may (intention) and (person’s name) collide.”
Holiday magick is all around, just look. I hope these inspire you to find more ways to celebrate Yule while also spreading magick to those around you. Have a wonderfully blessed Yule and a magickal new year!