You will need for the craft:
Template of a Yule Goat. Download a free one here
Yarn in one or more colours, twine or ribbon
Something to eat and drink
Visualisation to bring us together and to connect with the elements:
Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths in… and slowly exhale out…
Picture yourself standing at the edge of a forest on a grassy clearing. Thick snow is on the ground and the sun shines weakly in the grey winter sky. The trees of the forest are bare of leaves and the sunlight casts long shadows across the snow-covered landscape.
You become aware of others standing with you – some faces you recognise, others you do not, but you know everyone is here for the same reason – to honour and celebrate Yule and the Winter Solstice.
As you stand in the rough circle of people, you become aware of the cold snowy ground beneath your feet. You are thankful for your warm boots. Acknowledge Earth!
Soon the days and nights will pass, the snow will melt and turn into water which will nourish the ground for new life to begin. Acknowledge Water!
Looking around you, people are chattering, you can see their warm breath leaving vapours in the frosty winter air. Acknowledge Air!
At one end of the group of people, a warming fire crackles and burns. Hands and bodies are turned towards the orange flames. It is comforting. Acknowledge Fire!
When you are ready, open your eyes...
Yule or the Winter Solstice falls on the 21st or 22nd December.
It makes the shortest day of the year with the daylight hours being from 7.28am to 4.03pm here in the Uk.
Although it is the shortest day, it is a time of celebration, from now the days will start to get longer. It is a time of new beginnings and of hope for the year ahead.
January and February can be gloomy and cold but is the time for planning and plotting new projects and things you would like to achieve in the New Year.
There are many well-known traditions tied to this Fire Festival – the bringing of greenery indoors, the Yule Log, wreath making, feasting, and drinking and later Wassailing. Today we will focus on the Yule Goat.
There are a lot of stories on the origins of the Yule Goat. It goes back – like a lot of the traditions – to pre-Christian times. It is thought that the Yule Goat is connected to the Norse God Thor who rode his chariots across the winter sky which was drawn by 2 goats. I am not going to attempt to pronounce their Norse names, but they translate to ‘teeth grinder’ and ‘teeth bearer.’
Today's Yule Goats are made from straw tied together with red ribbon or twine.
The theory is that the straw has connections to the last harvest and the spirit contained within that is carried over to the Yule celebration as a positive symbol for a good harvest the following year.
Why the red ribbon/twine? Red is often associated with prosperity in some other cultures but is also corresponds with blood too!
Sacrifices were made at Yule in the ancient Norse tradition which was followed by lots of drinking and feasting! – and these sacrifices were to give thanks and to honour the Gods over this period.
There were many deities hailed –
Freyr – God of harvest and fertility
Odin – God of Death and Transition
Winter deities Skadi and Ullr and night deities Nott (Goddess of the night) and Mani (God of the Moon)
Sunna (Goddess of the Sun) was also honoured as she from now on will be growing in strength.
This rituals spell craft, we will be making a Yule Goat. Using the template on the event page, or you can draw one if you prefer, cut out the body and the sets of legs onto stiff card.
Before winding your wool, yarn, or twine, you need to think of an intent for your Yule Goat. What do you wish to manifest the coming year?
Starting at the horns end, wrap your yarn, twine, or ribbon around the cardboard – you can work with one colour or two or three. You can match your colour yarn to your intent if you wish.
Taking care not to wrap the yarn around the notches where the legs go, continue to wrap until you reach the tail. You can either use glue to fasten or put the yarn underneath a strand to secure. Do the same with the legs – again being careful not to wind too much yarn into the notches.
You can add petitions or woody herbs to your goat if you wish...
When you have finished wrapping, add the legs to the body of the goat and voila! You can place him or her on your altar.
Now time to feast and drink. If you wish at this point to hail the deities mentioned above, please do!
Take a few deep breaths, close your eyes, and take yourself back to the snow-covered landscape.
We have honoured and celebrated Yule and the Winter Solstice. Take a look around you - The fire is dying down to embers and the people that joined you in ritual are starting to disperse. The sun is slowing setting in the sky and the shadows of the trees start to disappear... Take a moment in this place before slowly coming back to this reality...
Wishing everyone a Blessed Solstice and Yule!