We wish you a very happy Mid Winter, Yule, Alban Arthan, and the rest! At this time of year, when days are shortest and the sun hangs lowest in the sky, we make time to celebrate solidarity, hope, and patience. One element that sometimes figures in our Mid Winter celebrations is the Yule log, a folk custom of unknown origin that has become for many of us a familiar favorite and a symbol of the inspirational themes on which we reflect in this season.
In Northern Europe, in particular, a new Yule log is placed on the hearth each year before the winter solstice and lit from whatever remains of the prior year’s log. The new log is intended to be lit only once, its flames carefully maintained for the duration of the Yule celebrations. As the log burns through the darkest night of the year, all other lights—traditionally candles—in the house are extinguished and relit from that one source.
In this way, the Yule log symbolizes the one burning hope—our conviction, vision, and mission—around which Reform Pagans gather in solidarity, despite our differences in belief and practice. From this shared hope, as if from a single flame, we draw the warmth and light of inspiration.
Preserving our solidarity requires intentional efforts to circle together around our common center, honoring our differences from a place of openness, respect, engagement, support, and inclusion. We must find ways to collaborate productively in perfect peace and perfect trust, strengthening our bonds of common purpose, inquiring with wonder and curiosity into our differences, and finding ways to bring disparate but complementary parts together into a greater whole.
Sometimes this task seems relatively easy; sometimes it seems almost impossible. Sometimes our hope shines very bright; sometimes it appears to dim. Mid Winter is a celebration not only of hope and solidarity, however, but also of patience through hardship. When that for which we hope seems so far away as to be unreachable, we must not become discouraged and withdraw from our common endeavors but hold each other more tenderly and tightly.
Also published on Medium.