The Yule tree! The Yule tree! The Yule tree!
The tree is one of my favorite Yule traditions. It is such a delightfully fun activity to engage in, and it brightens my home at a time of year when things can start to feel pretty dreary.
This year I put up my first Yule tree in Northern CA.
I have lived here for three holiday seasons without one, so it's feeling pretty good to 'get back to it'. She is very simple. That's for sure. But I love Her a whole bunch.
After moving here with nothing but a few backpacks of clothing and a box of books, I really don't have things like Yule decorations anymore. So She wears berries alone. She doesn't seem to mind a bit though.
I'm pretty sure She knows that She is the first in a long line of Yule trees to come. She is my first west coast Yule tree. The predecessor of future generations.
It's really quite an honor! Don't you think? ;)
In many pagan traditions, evergreen trees were not harvested from the forests and brought into the home for Yule. They were decorated outdoors.
Most modern-day Pagans harvest a tree from the wild, or purchase one from a market or tree farm, and decorate it indoors.
Personally, I prefer to 'make my own'. By doing this I can bring some greenery indoors and enjoy the beauty of the Yule tree throughout the season, without taking the life of a tree who would be much happier left to live in the forest. Sustainability counts ;)
This year I am unable to 'build' my Yule tree inside because that is where my Bulldogge lives. He is 11 months old and firmly believes that sticks belong to him. All sticks. Always his.
I considered taking the time and effort to teach him not to mess around with the tree. However, The ongoing struggle would minimize the pleasure of having a tree. AND I'm pretty sure he will be better prepared for that lesson next year, when he is more mature.
So I put it up outside.
He has shown zero desire to go anywhere near it!
Hmmmmmm, who knew?!
No matter. The tree is up. It is my first west coaster. And I couldn't be happier!
Putting this little beauty together was a easy as can be. Really simple stuff.
If you want to toss one together yourself …
You will need:
3 sturdy, reasonably straight sticks (for teepee frame)
A bunch of vines or thin pliable sticks
A bunch of evergreen boughs
Decorations (see below for suggestions)
A star or some other tree-topper
1. Take the 3 sticks you gathered for the frame and prop them up together to forma teepee style shape. Tie the top of them together with some jute twine.
2. Wrap the vines/sticks you gathered around the frame. You can use a staple gun to attach them to the back portion of the frame if you think it's necessary. I don't. I simply wrap them around, tucking in the ends as I go. It works great.
3. Tuck the tips of the evergreen boughs between the vines/sticks to simulate the look of a tree.
4. Decorate according to your personal preference. I used toyon berry bunches this year.
NOTE: Toyon berries are not edible, if you use them be sure that pets and children do not have access to them.
5. Top your masterpiece with a star. It doesn't have to be a star, of course. You can top it however you like. I personally like making a star out of twigs and twine. It's simple and sticks to the 'from the woods' theme.
Once the tree is erected, the decorating can begin. This is probably my favorite part of the whole Yule tree experience.
Although circumstances this year have led me to leave my beautiful tree dressed in berries alone, I know that there are a plethora of ways to give your Yule tree a festive look! Maybe I'll do a blog post on that next year when I put up my second generation Yule tree ;)
You can dress your tree using natural objects from the great outdoors. I've used acorns, pine cones, and feathers in past years. All great choices.
It's also nice to string some popcorn and/or cranberries and create a festive garland to wrap around your tree. Please remember not to do this if you are putting your tree outdoors. Popcorn and cranberries are not really great for wild critters. They are not a good choice for birds either. AND it is almost a guarantee that some wild creature will feast on them if you dangle them around outdoors on your Yule tree!
Lights make a great addition to the tree as well. Either indoors or out. In the Olde Days pagans attached small hand-poured candles to the boughs of their trees.
This is a truly lovely idea, but obviously a fire hazard! I'm not going to lie though … If I had ample outdoor space and a water source nearby, I would do it for the tree blessing (don't worry we'll talk about blessing in a minute ;)).
It would surely make a Yule tree blessing ritual festive. Yes. Yes it would!
Please remember to make erecting and decorating your Yule tree an event. It is not meant to be a task. It should be enjoyable. It should be edifying!
You can include others by inviting friends and family to join in. Or, if you are more inclined, you can make it a time of quiet introspection.
But be sure to play some holiday music. Light some incense; bayberry, pine, spruce, spice, cedar, or cinnamon are all great choices . Brew some chai tea or maybe hot mulled cider and HAVE FUN with it.
Finally, when the tree is complete and the festivities of decorating Her are over, be sure to bless Her.
Grab some salt to sprinkle around the base of your tree creating a circle of protection for Her. A place for Her to shine, and emit the same peace and love that She was created with back into your space.
Smudge the space She sits in and the space around Her to purify it and make it ready to receive the power She emits.
And then speak your blessing over Her.
Following is a blessing that I have used for some time. You may use this or create your own. Heck, you can improvise if you like. As long as you feel comfortable with the end result! Go rogue ;)
I invoke the powers of the Earth to bless this tree.
Asking that they cause her to remain sacred and pure,
As are the hands who created her.
May she be a strong and stable reminder,
Of the force of eternal life,
In our home throughout this Yule season.
I invoke the power of the Air to bless this tree.
Asking that She shine brightly in this space,
Reminding us that it is time to welcome,
The brightness of the new into our hearts and our home.
And keeping us strong as the winter winds,
Blow away that which no longer serves us.
I invoke the powers of Fire to bless this tree.
May Her natural light keep us in remembrance,
Of the shortening of the nights,
And the lengthening of the days,
As the warmth of the Sun returns,
Bringing with it new life.
I invoke the power of Water to bless this tree.
May She stay bright and green,
Throughout the Yule season.
Allowing us to gaze upon Her,
Remembering that this season,
Is one of peace and harmony.
That concludes our journey through the world of the festive Yule tree ...
I hope it has been as much fun for you as it has been for me ...
Please take a moment to leave a comment and let me know what you thought of this post ...
Travel with me on this journey we call life ...
May good fortune chase you throughout ALL of your days!
Bountiful Blessings ~ Diane