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The Solstice Flame: A Yule Story
Article ID: 13700
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 1,284
Times Read: 5,417
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Author: Lady Abigail [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: December 13th. 2009
Times Viewed: 5,417
It may sound a bit unusual to start a Yule story in early autumn. But that is when it all begins. Just around Mabon in mid September. That is when my Great Grandmother and the Aunts would gather together for the time of honey harvesting. A honey harvest is when you harvest the honey from hives for sweet confections, breads, candies and wonderful brews like mead, a honey wine. It is also the time you harvest the honeycomb or beeswax for candle making.
The magick of honey is as old as written history, dating back more than 2500 years. It is mentioned in sacred writings found in Sumerian, Babylonian, India and Egypt. Legend even has it that Cupid dipped his arrows of love in honey before shooting unsuspecting lovers. Both honey cakes and honey wine were given throughout history as offerings to the God and Goddess.
The Native Americans as well as other cultures made use of honey as a medicine. History tells us that honey is one of the oldest known medicines of all time and continues being used even today as an alternative choice. Honey is used to speed healing, as well as used as an effective natural antibiotic and antiseptic solution for digestive problems, skin infections, wound healing, ulcers and so on.
The honey harvesting was in itself, magickal. The Aunts would come in the early morning and spend the day cooking with my Great Grandmother. The house would be filled with all their stories as they prepared food for the first harvest feast. I would watch eagerly for their very old car to come clunking down the dirt road. It would be bouncing up and down as they drove along throwing dirt up behind it in a reddish brown cloud. Sometimes it looked as if the Aunts were going to bounce right through the roof!
The next morning everyone would awake early. Even before breakfast we would be up dressed and out the door. With lanterns and heavy flashlights we would make our way down the path to the hive in the old honey tree. The honey harvesting was done in early morning while the day was still cool and the bees were still sleeping. I was not allowed to be close to the hive in fear that I would get stung. I had my special place near the old family graveyard. From there I could watch what I still believe to be some of the truest earthen magick ever.
I watched in amazement as my Great Grandmother and the Aunts, dressed in only long sleeves shirts, overalls or pants (something they only rarely wore) ; begin to work their enchantment on the hive. They would carefully cut and pull from that old hollow tree pounds of honey and long square cuts of hive. The hive or honeycomb was always taken from the year before to assure the bees would keep working and producing more honey and more honeycomb. It was amazing to watch these tiny ladies without a sound, moving so slowly, working like a magnificent ballet as they gathered baskets, wooden boxes and jars of honey and comb from that honey tree. Yet by the first light of morning we were on our way home and never once did I ever see a one of them get stung. Now that was magick.
My Great Grandmother did not buy her candles from the store; she made them. Sometimes we dipped them; sometimes we would make sheets from the caps of the honeycomb and roll them into candles. To this day, the aroma of honey or beeswax will carry my memories and heart back to that incredible time of my childhood.
It was now December and the weather had turned cold much faster that year than I remembered in times past. It was just barely December but the ground was frozen solid. I stomped along the path to the barn busting every ice puddle I could find. It was my job to feed the cows first thing while my Great Grandmother milked. I didn’t mind, I climbed around the stalls and played in the hay until she finished her milking.
Once we got back into the house she sat the bucket of milk on the kitchen table for straining. Then quickly said that I need not get unbundled yet, we had to get the big, black, three legged pot out of the smoke house and she would need me to help get the firewood ready. The Aunts would be coming soon and we were going to be making Solstice candles, the Solstice being Yule. I always looked forward to making candles and knew we would be using some of the beeswax we had gathered and stored from the honey harvesting.
By the time the Aunts arrived, the fire had been kindled and I was helping my Great Grandmother carry out blocks of beeswax from the cellar. The blocks were made from the rendering of the honeycomb that had been melted down in Autumn. Round wooden bars were placed on pole hooks off the back porch for the dipped candles to hang from and cool. I was big enough now to get the tins (the candle molds) ready by coating them with lard on the inside for the few we poured.
The Aunts started measuring the cotton twine and begin weaving it into the thickness they needed according to the size of each candle they were making. My Great Grandmother carried blue jars filled with herbs from the kitchen that would be needed for the candles. Some candles, those used in magick had herbs and crystals added to them. Depending on the work planed; healing, energy or love whatever the needs might be.
This was the year I got to make the Solstice Candle. I wanted to make everyone proud of me so I collected pine needles and cones, white crystals, red berries all the things I knew were of winter and would call the sun from the cold. I started to chop and grind all my magickal herbs and carefully added my crystals. Then I added my secret crystal; the one I knew was of winter and would most certainly make my candle perfect. Ice, ice from anywhere I could find it. Big pieces and small pieces, from the yard and even the icebox. Ice.
I worked so hard and knew that my candle would be the grandest ever made. Without a word my Grand Grandmother just smiled at me and asked if I was ready for her to add the wax. I could hardly wait; slowly we poured the wax that my Great Grandmother had been cooling into the tin. I bubbled a little and crackled as the ice began to melt.
Melt, I hadn’t planed on that.
I started crying that my perfect candle was going to be ruined. I wanted to start again, but my Great Grandmother explained that all the wax had been used. That night as I feel asleep, I was so miserable; I didn’t think there would be a Solstice candle that year, maybe not even a Yule.
The days pasted and as winter made her mark across the land it was soon the time for our Solstice and Yule gathering. Everyone had arrived at my Great Grandmothers home early to help make the house and the meal ready. Again the house was filled with wonderful perfume of the holiday feast. I helped by setting the plates on the dinner table as the Aunts were preparing the Solstice table; this was a small table made ready for the Goddess and God to join with us in feast. It was set with plates of food, decorations for the season and the Solstice or Yule candle. I didn’t even look. I was sure it did not have a candle or it had one of the other candles we had made that day.
As we got ready to begin, my Great Grandmother asked me if I would like to light the Solstice candle and handed me the matches. As I walked over the small table to light the candle I saw what looked like a candle made of lace. It was mixed with specks of red and green and it had holes weaving in and out. It was beautiful, and it was the candle I had made. My Great Grandmother knew that the ice would make it look like lace and in the weeks until Yule it would have plenty of time dry so it would burn.
I lit the candle as My Great Grandmother loving explained that I should never assume that because things didn’t turn out the way I thought they should; that they wouldn’t turn out better than I even dreamed.
I watched that candle flame burn in colors of blues, gold and red as I ate my dinner. Its luminous flame was the most beautiful I had ever seen. I became aware of the joy in the voices of my Aunts and my Great Grandmother as they talked and laughed. I didn’t understand as a child that every moment of my life was the best and most magickal gift I would ever receive.
During this season the time we call Yule, my heart is filled with memories of my Great Grandmother and the Aunts. For myself, the sweet fragrance of melting beeswax is as much a part of Yule as the scent evergreen is for others. Inside each glowing flame I can feel the love of my Great Grandmother; I see my family and hear again their laughter that touches my soul and brings them to life.
Candle magick, is believed by some to be one of the simplest form of spell work. But this in no way means it is a weaker or lesser form of magick. It is a natural magick, an earthen magick, as well as a gift from the powers that be.
Candles are more than just a pretty decoration. Since our first birthday when we blew them out on a wish, to today when we light them in ritual. Candles are used in spell work, yet so lovely they can be burned in full view and no one will think anything about it. You may find burning a Yule or Solstice candle during a family gathering this time of year to be the perfect way to do a little peace or calming magick; while keeping your broom closet door closed.
May your Yule be blessed and your Solstice be bright!
High Priestess Ravensgrove Coven
Copyright © 12092009
Copyright: Lady Abigail
Copyright © 12092009
Location: Greenfield, Indiana
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