Yule Log Magick / Make A Yule Log / Bake a Yule Log Cake
The Yule Log, an ancient symbol of the season, came to us from the Celts. The log, a phallic symbol, is usually cut from an Oak tree, symbolic of the god. The entire log was decorated with holly, mistletoe, and evergreens to represent the intertwining of the god and goddess who are reunited on this sabbat. The log was burned in the hearth or fireplace. Modern pagans also have the option of using pieces of oak small enough to be burned in the cauldron.
In modern times, another tradition has emerged since not everyone has fireplaces. Three holes are bored in the top of the log for three candles, representing the goddess in her three aspects -- maiden, mother, and crone. Normally these candles are white, red, and black in honor of this triple aspect. This log may be reused year after year, with the candles changed each year.
An ancient rhyme of unknown origin reflects the importance of the Yule Log on this sabbat:
May the log burn,
May the wheel turn,
May evil spurn,
May the Sun return.
The ashes of the yule log or spent wax from candles are tied up in a cloth for the entire year as a charm for protection, fertility, strength, and health.
Yule Log Magick
The yule log is a remnant of the bonfires that the European pagans would set ablaze at the time of winter solstice. These bonfires symbolized the return of the Sun.
An oak log, plus a fireplace or bonfire area is needed for this form of celebration. The oak log should be very dry so that it will blaze well. On the night of Yule, carve a symbol of your hopes for the coming year into the log. Burn the log to release it's power. It can be decorated with burnable red ribbons of natural fiber and dried holly leaves. In the fireplace or bonfire area, dried kindling should be set to facilitate the burning of the log.The Yule log can be made of any wood (Oak is traditional). Each releases its own kind of magick.
Ash -- brings protection, prosperity, and health
Aspen -- invokes understanding of the grand design
Birch -- signifies new beginnings
Holly -- inspires visions and reveals past lives
Oak -- brings healing, strength, and wisdom
Pine -- signifies prosperity and growth
Willow -- invokes the Goddess to achieve desires
The burning of the Yule Log can easily become a family tradition. Begin by having parent(s) or some other family member describe the tradition of the Yule Log. The tale of the Oak King and Holly King from Celtic mythology can be shared as a story, or can be summarized with a statement that the Oak represents the waxing solar year, Winter Solstice to Summer Solstice, and the Holly represents the waning solar year, Summer Solstice to Winter Solstice.
Lights are extinguished as much as possible. The family is quiet together in the darkness. Family members quietly contemplate the change in the solar year. Each in her/his own way contemplates the past calendar year, the challenges as well as the good times.
Then the Yule Log fire is lit. As it begins to burn, each family member throws in one or more dried holly sprigs and says farewell to the old calendar year. Farewells can take the form of thanksgiving and appreciation and/or a banishment of old habits or personal pains.
Once the Yule Log itself starts blazing, then the facilitator invites family members to contemplate the year ahead and the power of possibilities. Each member then throws in an oak twig or acorn into the fire to represent the year ahead, and calls out a resolution and/or a hope.
Families using a Yule Log with candles each family member can write a bad habit and/or a wish for the upcoming year on a slip of paper and burn it in the candle flame.
When this process is done, the family sings a song together. The traditional carol, "Deck the Halls," is good because it mentions the Solstice, the change in the solar year, and the Yule Log.
Let the Yule Log burn down to a few chunks of charred wood and ashes (or candles burn down). Following an ancient tradition, save remnants of the fire and use them to start the Yule Log fire the following year.
(from the Llewellyn's Witch's Calendar 1998)
MAKE A YULE LOG
To make a Yule Log, simply choose a dried piece of oak and decorate with burnable ribbons, evergreens, holly, and mistletoe. To make a Yule Log with candles (suitable for indoor observances when a fireplace is not available), you will need a round log at least thirteen inches long and five inches thick. Flatten the bottom of the log with a saw (preferably a power saw) by trimming off an inch or two so the log will sit without wobbling. Next determine where the three candle holes should be drilled along the top of the log. They should be evenly spaced. The size of the holes will be determined by the size candles you are using. Drill the holes 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch to accommodate the candles.
The log with candles may be painted or sprayed with varnish or shellac to keep it from drying out. When the varnish is dry, insert candles and decorate it with holly, evergreens, and mistletoe. Candles may be green, red, and silver or white to represent the Oak King, the Holly King, and the Goddess; or white, red, and black to represent the Triple Goddess.
BAKE A YULE LOG CAKE
Yvonne's Favorite Yule Log Cake
1 cup cake flour
1-1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbl cocoa
1/3 cup boiling water
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
2 eggs, separated
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup whipping cream
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
For cake, combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, combine cocoa, water, and vanilla, whisking until smooth. In a large bowl, cream butter and shortening. Gradually beat in the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until mixture is light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
Beginning with the butter and egg mixture, alternately beat in the flour mixture and buttermilk, beating well after each addition. Beat in cocoa mixture until smooth.
In a medium bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat the remaining 2 Tbl. sugar until mixture is stiff. Fold 1/4 of the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture. Carefully fold in the remaining egg white mixture. Pour the batter into a greased and floured 15X10X1 inch foil-lined jelly roll pan. Smooth top with a spatula. Bake 15 to 20 minutes until the cake is slightly puffed and just begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cake will be underdone. Place on wire rack to cool.
For filling, beat cream, sugar, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl until stiff peaks form. Using a knife, loosen the cake from the edges of the pan. Place a second jelly roll pan on top of the first pan and invert cake on to top of the second pan. Peel off foil. Invert cake again so it is right side up. Spread the cream filling over the cake, leaving a one-inch border around the edges of the cake. Beginning with one long edge, roll up the cake. Wrap the cake tightly with aluminum foil and freeze overnight.
For glaze, melt chocolate chips in the top of a double broiler over warm water. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Beat in butter and cream. Allow mixture to sit at room temperature until slightly thickened. Remove cake from freezer and unwrap. Place cake, seam side down, on a wire rack placed over wax paper. Pour the glaze over the cake -- spread evenly over tops and sides. Transfer to serving platter. Use a fork to make the "bark." Refrigerate until served. Prior to serving, sprinkle confectioner's sugar on top to simulate snow and top with a sprig of holly.
Easy Yule Log Cake
(from _Sabbats_ by Edain McCoy)
1 package commercial cake mix, preferably chocolate
2 cans (24 oz.) pre-made frosting in a dark brown color
Several tubes of cake decoration frosting in green, white, and red
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line a jelly roll pan with waxed paper. Mix the cake according to package instructions and pour a thin layer -- no more than 1/4-inch thick -- into the prepared jelly roll pan. Bake the cake until just underdone. If you can't tell by looking, then use the knife test. When the knife emerges not quite clean from the center of the cake, and when a light touch does not bounce back easily, it needs to come out. Check the cake at 7 minutes, and then every 2 minutes past that. DO NOT overbake or the cake will be hard to work with. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool slightly. Remove the cake from the pan by lifting out the wax paper. With the dark frosting, coat the top of the cake. Carefully lift one end of the cake and begin rolling it up as if you were rolling up a map. When you are done, anchor the cake with toothpicks and let it cook 5 more minutes. Let it cool for 30 minutes, then frost it with the dark brown icing. Next take the tubes of icing and make holly and mistletoe on the top. To finish, use toothpicks to etch lines in the log. You can decorate with artificial greenery until time to eat.