Website of the Grove of Manannan Mac Lir of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids

Winter Solstice (Yule)

Winter Solstice

Archetypal Energy: Dark-Lunar-Masculine Archetype: Artu, The Bear God

Winter Solstice is the season between Dec. 21 st and Jan. 31 st. The Winter Solstice concerns the process of death and then rebirth. Samhain, the first season of winter concerns death, the Winter Solstice involves moving upon the wheel of the year from death to rebirth. This process is symbolized in the outer world by the occurrence of the longest night and shortest day and then the shift of the sun towards its return with increasing light. The celebration of Christmas and the birth of Jesus were later moved in Christianity to this time of year in order to utilize this ancient symbolism. This season symbolizes the cyclical death and rebirth of God. The archetype we shall explore at this season is that of the death and rebirth of the Sun. This archetype is represented in numerous cultures by the following deities: The bear god/goddess Artimis in the ancient shamanistic tradition, Jesus Christ in the Christian tradition, King Arthur in the Celtic tradition, and Odin in the Germanic tradition.

Archeology has demonstrated that some of the earliest evidence of human worship which dates back over a hundred thousand years involves the worship of the Divine as a bear god/goddess. It is clear that the bear is Northern mankind’s first deity. A major aspect of the worship of the bear was the mystery of its hibernation and disappearance at winter and the mother bear’s coming forth in the spring with baby bears. The bear is therefore symbolic of and associated with the magical process of death and then rebirth and emergence from beneath the earth at spring. We shall deeply focus upon the archetype of King Arthur (Artu means “bear”) so he’s the bear king. Cross-cultural myths throughout the northern hemisphere where the bear was seen as a deity and as sacred, include a common theme in which a bear deity descends from the stars to the earth and mates with a human woman who gives birth to a heroic, divine child who teaches human beings the abilities and wisdom of the divine star bear. It is interesting how similar the story of Jesus is to this much earlier and worldwide mythos.

We shall be exploring the archetype of the divine child at the season of the Winter Solstice. We shall also be exploring in ritual, the process of death and rebirth journeying from this material world into the other world and then back.

Associated energies and symbols for the season of Winter Solstice

1. Associated Element: Earth and Stone

2. Direction: North

3. Season: Winter

4. Faery Realm: Falias, Realm of The Gnomes

5. Animal: Bear

6. Plant/Tree: Holly and Birch

7. Color: Purple

8. Earthly Realm: Mineral

9. Arch Angel: Ariel

10. Polarity: Masculine/Active

11. Energy: Dark/Negative(-)/Lunar

12. Focus: Inner/Introverted

13. Sacred Tool: Crystal Stone (the stone of Fallal)

14. Stage of Life: Old Age

15. Time of Day/Night: Midnight

16. Body Consciousness/

17. Chakra: The Feet (Celtic)/ base of The Spine (Hindu); Root Chakra

18. Consciousness: Earth Consciousness

19. Jungian Personality Function: Sensation; the Five Senses

Winter Solstice, Alban (light), Arthuan (bear), sometimes called Yule, is the celebration of the rebirth of life. It is humanities oldest celebration of humanity of the Goddess giving birth to her son, the sun, and the light. It is important to note that this celebration is more on a spiritual level, or the conception of the birth. The actual birth happens later. For example the symbol of a ray of light being the "immaculate conception" of Mary, is actually a symbolic representation of the Winter Solstice. In Celtic shamanism, Winter Solstice is the ethereal birth, or spiritual consciousness of the rebirth of the Sun.

This is the season of death and rebirth, with the focus on rebirth. In Samhain we focus on death. Each season interfaces with the next one. In Samhain the birthing from the physical death into the spiritual realm tool place. At Winter Solstice, the spiritual rebirth occurs. At Samhain we die and leave our material form and reenter the womb, the cave, the great abyss of the great Dark Goddess. At Winter Solstice, the Dark Goddess rebirths us into a spiritual, but not a physical form. This is the time we are born into the spiritual realm of light. So at the winter Solstice we are spiritually reborn into the other worlds, we may choose or have it chosen for us to be born into a physical body again, or not. This is the most metaphysical of the eight seasons, being spiritual and not physical. This is why the Judeo-Christian forefathers ascribed this season as the most spiritual, since they saw the physical as bad and the spiritual as good. However, if they truly understood the Shamanic philosophy, as well as the message of Christ, they would have ascribed the time of the birth of Jesus to Beltane.

In new age beliefs most people believe that everyone's soul continues to be reborn. In most ancient traditions, it was believed that most people's souls or energies cease and dissipate and return to the great abyss to then be reformed energetically into something else, out of the mud, into the Goddess. Whereas a few are able to, through intense spiritual work are able to go through the physical death process and have their soul identity or ego survive and be born on a spiritual level in that identity. So the adept or person who has practiced extensive spiritual disciplines in their life including rehearsing their own death and taken shamanic journeys into the underworld, it is these ones whose spirit is reborn in the spiritual realm. So in these sorts of traditions, we are talking about the Celtic traditions. The once born and the many born are the two types of lives a person can live. The once born soul's spiritual essence is recycled at death. The many born souls are reborn into different lives, either on this physical plane or into some other realm, be it spiritual or physical.

Personal focus:

During the season of Winter Solstice we focus upon death and rebirth of oneself; a focus upon what one must kill off or end in oneself or one’s life in order to create a new self and life. This focus is particularly upon inner and spiritual life rather than the outer life. It is believed in the older traditions that, the inner life must change first in order for the outer life to change. Circle members should focus upon patterns and attachments and relationships that they must give up in order to change on a deeply inner level. This is also a time to have the first visions and inclinations of the new self and the new life. The new life is very unformed and exploratory at this point.

We shall continue the focus upon the Jungian Shadow during the season of the Winter Solstice.

Ritual for Winter Solstice

During the season of the winter solstice Group member will do a ritual of empowerment of the crystal that they found during Samhain and purified it. They will be taught how to use the crystal tool and what it's traditional magical uses are.

The group will focus on a very conceptual level upon new ideas and actions for the new year, exploring this on a conceptual level rather than on any kind of material level. Group members should also be focusing on their own divine spiritual nature. It is particularly a good time to focus on the night sky, stars, constellations and the big picture of cosmic self. It is a time to be quiet, in the dark, be alone, to imagine things, to connect to the inner hermit.

Ritual for Winter Solstice

The ritual occurs in the National AIDS Memorial Grove at night, because the Winter Solstice is both about death and spiritual rebirth. Each Group member is led through their own process of death with a guide, speaking of what they need to let go of in their life, then dying, then being greeted by loved ones who have gone before who lead them to the other world.

This death occurs between three redwood trees in the National AIDS Memorial Grove where the ashes of the dead are frequently spread (see picture below).

The 8 Seasons of the Celtic Wheel of the Year

In Celtic Shamanistic Traditions, each of the different directions has different elemental and energetic and behavioral associations.


Begining about Nov. 1st -- Samhain is the Pagan New Year. It literally means "summer's end" in Irish Gaelic, and is the hallmark of the feminine half of the year. It is the time we honor those beloved who have died, particularly in the last year.

Winter Solstice (Yule)

Yule is the celebration of the rebirth of light. It is humanity's oldest celebration which honors the Goddess giving birth to her son - the God, the Sun, and the Light.

Brighid (Imbolc)

February 1st - Brighid honors the time just before spring, when the earth is preparing to burst forth in productivity. It is the time when ewe's milk begins to flow in preparation for birthing, a symbol of the mother's milk of the earth.

Vernal Equinox (Eostara)

Marks the shift from the lethargy and darkness of winter into the fruitfulness of Spring. The festival honors the time for new beginnings, as we travel into the light and action of spring, in gratitude for its warmth and light.


May 1st - Beltaine is the hallmark of the male part of the year, and honors the fecundity of earth. The God and Goddess are in sexual union - the maypole represents the phallus of the God planted in the Earth Goddess. The plants and flowers we lash to the maypole with ribbons represent the fertility of the Goddess. The festival celebrates vitality and passion - we cherish the joys life has to offer.

Summer Solstice (Litha)

A festival in honor of the sun, of passion, and of the ripeness of the earth. The Goddess and the earth are heavy with pregnancy. This is a time when sacred and magical plants are gathered, dried, and stored for the coming winter.

Lughnasad (Lammas)

August 1st - A time of thansgiving for the first fruits of the harvest. The God, a metaphor for the grain, is sacrificed - cut down in the fields to feed us. We make offerings of gratitude, ever mindful of the bounty the earth provides.

Autumnal Equinox (Mabon)

The light and darkness again are equal, but light grows less. The God, sacrificed in the harvest to nurture us, begins his journey into the Underworld. Mabon is a celebration of the completion of the harvest begun at Lughnasadh.