Yule the Point of Silence

PaganGreen Paganism and Witchcraft

An Introduction to Ritual
This is a ready-to-use Pagan ritual, suitable for a small group that will fit in your living room
or backyard. I have included some tips on setting up for the ritual and a list of the things
you will need.
This is not an introduction to Wicca or Neo-Paganism. There are many such books – and
some of them are very good indeed. I refer you to them if you are interested in the
conceptual foundation for this ritual.
I have developed many rituals over the decades that I have been involved in the craft. Each
ritual is based on a central theme derived from Neo-Pagan and Wiccan traditions. The
rituals are also reflections of my ideas of deity and reality, which may or may not be the
generally held ideas.
I have definite ideas on how a ritual should be constructed. I prefer rituals where everyone
participates. That gets the point of the ritual across better than people just standing around
talking, or worse, a priest or priestess just standing around talking. I like conceptual
simplicity, so I don’t try to incorporate more than one or two themes in a ritual. I like all the
symbolism in the ritual to present a coherent whole. Wicca is a religion of experience, and
ritual should give the user an experience of spirituality.
The person leading these rituals is called the priestess. However, these are not rituals just for
women. All my rituals honor men and women alike and have always included men. So if you
are a priest, just update the label. In fact, two people could share the duties.
A couple of notes about the formatting in this series: I have italicized the text that is not
intended to be spoken, so it is clear what is commentary or “stage direction” and what is to
be said aloud. The last section, the “Order of Ritual”, can be printed separately and used as
A note on fair use: I have relied on the traditions of Neo-Paganism and Wicca for ideas and
for central themes. In many cases, I have also relied on the ideas of others as a starting place.
Occasionally, I have borrowed text from others, always with gratitude. Sometimes someone
else has said it so well, that I didn’t feel I could improve on it. Whenever I have borrowed an
idea or some text, I have noted what I borrowed and from whom, and when possible, I have
asked for permission. I think we need to have respect for one another’s work. So, I ask the
same of you — if you borrow some of my words or rituals. Please feel free to use these
rituals and change them in any way, but please credit me if you use the text, and I ask that
you do not re-publish this material for profit.
Setting up for A Ritual
For every ritual, you will need a space for the ritual. For 6 or 8 people, a normal living room
is usually sufficient .You may need to push the furniture back against the walls. You will need
a table for an altar along with the following items:
Four candles: one each of yellow, red, blue, and green;
One or two white candles or one black and one white;
A compass;
A candle-snuffer;
Matches and an ashtray;
A bell or chime.
Your athame (ritual knife) or broom or wand to mark the boundary of the circle.
Each ritual will also include items specific to that ritual.
To set up the altar, place the colored candles in the holders. These are the directional
candles. Using the compass, place the yellow candle on the east side of altar. Place the red
candle on the south side. Place the blue candle on the west side and the green candle on the
north side. Position the white candles in the center of the altar.
The other items should be put on the altar. If you are using a broom, you can lean it against
the table. Some people also like to have incense on the altar. If your ritual includes a “simple
feast”, you will want to have cider or wine and cookies or bread as well. If it is just water,
you need a pitcher of water and glasses.
Items needed for this specific ritual are explained in the next section.
Every ritual also has “roles” for the participants. For every ritual, four people are needed to
light the directional candles described above. This is called “calling the corners” or “the
watchtowers.” Before the ritual, decide who will be “east”, who will be “south” and so on.
Many rituals call for a “maiden” who is the helper for the priestess. Maidens can be any age
or gender, but you might want to change the title to acolyte if the person volunteering as
maiden is a middle-aged man.
Other roles specific to this ritual are discussed in the next section.
When you are setting up for a ritual, it’s a good idea to read through ritual and make a
checklist of everything you are going to need. Include the programs and the music for any
songs you are going to sing in the checklist.
Setting up for T his Ritual
Winter solstice is a time of darkness and quiet. This ritual honors the silence and
then transforms that quiet space into a high energy space. The solstice brings us the
experience of winter’s silence. It also symbolizes the pivot point of solstice.
For this ritual I did not light candles at the cardinal points of the compass (North,
South, East and West). Instead, I set up small stands that I usually use for candles at
those points and placed stones on them as part of the ritual. However, the candle
stands are not necessary. Four small tables, plant stands or sturdy cardboard boxes
could substitute. In fact, you could even place the stones on the floor.
Before the ritual, I went for a walk and found four stones that seemed to suggest the
four elements — air, fire, earth and water. One looked windblown, one seemed to
have scorch marks, another had wavy lines, and one was shaped like a miniature
mountain. So, I have chosen to use these for the ritual. Please note that these stones
are used to call the directions in the same way that lighting the candles usually does.
For this ritual, the altar has the four directional candles, plus two white altar candles
and a Yule Candle, something big and decorated for the holiday. You also need a
candle snuffer.
For the Point of Silence, a bell or a chime is needed for the meditation. Each
participant will also need a bell or other percussive instrument. Write to the
participants before the ritual and ask them to bring an instrument, but have some
extra in case someone forgets. Jingle bells from the dollar store will do nicely.
There is a simple feast of Yule cookies and cups of wine (or cider). If you don’t
want to have these on the altar during the ritual, put them on a tray on a side table to
be brought out at the right time.
There are 6 roles for this ritual, in addition to the priestess. The roles include four
people, one representing each direction, along with someone designated as the lightbringer
to light the altar candles and someone to bless the cakes and wine.
Outline for the Order ofRitual
Here’s the general outline of the flow and terminology of a typical ritual:
1. Assembling:
The participants enter the ritual space in some fashion. They may just gather at the altar
or the ritual may include a processional entry.
2. Clearing the Space and Casting the Circle:
The Priestess (or Priest) walks around the area that will become the ritual area three
times deosil (clockwise), clearing the space and inscribing the protected circle. She may
inscribe it with a broom, an athame, a wand or even a sword. This ceremony sets the
area aside as a sacred space.
3. Calling the Quarters:
This goes by several names: Calling the Quarters or Calling th
T he Point of Silence
Order of Ritual
Participants gather around the altar.
A Starting Reflection
Priestess: This is the time of quiet, when the active world spins down to silence. The
trees are asleep now, the leaves gone, the tree trunks stark and black in the thinness
of the winter sunlight. The herbs have died back to the ground or stand with leaves
that are just tattered rags now, speaking to us of hard frosts and freezes. The colors
are gone now, no bright colors or green leaves. Even the sky rests for the moment.
The cold winter winds have not yet started, nor have the winter storms begun. But
this is the time of stability. This is the foundation of time. This is the time of stones.
We will focus on that stillness this evening… for it is now, when the world is quiet,
that we can hear the whispers of the world base.
Casting the Circle
The Priestess sweeps the circle with a broom to brush away the old darkness and the noise of the
year that has just passed. The circle is cast.
Priestess: I cast now the circle of ritual. Let this be space outside space, and a time
outside time.
Calling the Quarters
Participant places the Rock of the Winds on the Pillar of the East.
Participant : We listen now, for the voice of the East, where the stones tell us of the
winter winds to come….blowing changes with the storms, for as surely as the winds
come, just as surely will they bring the spring that waits beyond the storms. I place
this rock of the winds here, in the east, the position of creation.
All: Blessed be.
Participant places the Rock of Fire on the pillar of the South
Participant : We turn now to the South, whose voice seems faint, but who tells us now
of Yule Logs, hearth fires and the soon-to-be-born sun. We are assured that the sun,
the fire of life will return, growing stronger with each day until we can once again
dance in light and warmth. I place here the Rock of Fire, in the south, the position
of power.
All: Blessed be.
T he Point of Silence
Participant places the Rock of the Waters on the pillar of the West
Participant: The stones of the west tell us of stability in change – water freezing to
ice, becoming snow, melting to water. The circle of the seasons is the ever-changing,
changeless path of life. I place the Rock of the Waters, here in the West, in the
position of change.
All: Blessed be.
Participant places the Rock of the Earth on the pillar of the North
Participant: The voice of the Earth mother comes from the North, from her towering
mountains of stone, from her hidden caves, from her crystals singing from inside the
stone. The earth is our stability; her bones support our walk through life. I place this,
the rock of the Earth, here in the North, the position of stability.
All: Blessed be.
All return to the center of the circle.
Priestess rings bell.
Priestess: The temple is erected. Let all be here in perfect peace and perfect trust.
An Introduction to the Ritual
Priestess: Tonight is the longest night of the year. The time of darkness is upon us.
During this time of the year, people traditionally attempt to bring light, warmth,
color and music back into the world. We light candles, kindle fires, decorate Yule
trees, and sing festive songs. In this way, we try to send away our fear of the cold, the
dark and the silence.
For a short time this night, though, let us choose to honor the darkness and silence
of the winter, which now comes to us. Both light and dark are reflections of deity.
As the song says, “the bright blessed day and the dark sacred night”. Tonight we will
spend time being one with the darkness and the silence. We may come to know that
we can see reality more clearly when we are not distracted by lights and bright colors.
We can see inside ourselves more clearly when we are not looking outside.
To honor this time, we will spend some quiet moments, looking without actively
seeing, hearing without actively listening. Holding ourselves still, we may be able to
hear the voices of the stones of the earth and see the point of light returning.
Darkness holds the seed of light. Silence holds a thousand sounds. Let us meditate
now on the fading sound of the chime and then the ensuing silence.
T he Point of Silence
The Point of Silence
Priestess: Listen now, for the point of silence.
Priestess extinguishes candle.
Strike chime or ring bell.
We meditate on the fading sound of the chime.
The Return of the Sun Child
After meditation, the priestess lights the Yule Candle.
We welcome you, Sun Child, as you come back to the world this night, bringing with
you light and warmth and song. Let us now celebrate the coming of the sun with
lights and music.
Priestess lights a taper from the Yule Candle and hands to a participant, who then uses the taper to
light the altar candles.
Participant: I light now the candles, as we celebrate the return of the sun, thankful for
its light and life-giving warmth.
The priestess lights the directional candles on the altar. As the candles are lit, the participants begin
to make noise, using the bells, shakers, etc. When the noise reaches a peak, the participants put
their instruments down and hold hands, capturing the power of the sound.
Priestess: Let us raise the power and send it out.
Holding hands, we raise the power and then raise our hands to send it out. We then ground it by
touching the altar or the floor.
Allow the power to seep into the earth.
The Kiss of Peace
Starting with the Priestess, one-by-on, each participant kisses the person next to him or her, so that
the kiss passes around the circle clockwise.
Cakes and Wine
Blesser: I bless these creations of the sun, which remind us of the things the sun
gives us.
The Blesser turns to the participants: and I call the blessings of the sun on everyone here;
we are all children of the light.
The Blesser presents each participant with a cookie and a small glass of wine.
A Final Thought
Priestess: We stand now, ready to re-enter the world, but we remember the time of
silence and carry its message in our hearts.
T he Point of Silence
Thanking the corners
Participant: We thank the spirits of the East; we thank them for the Whistling of the
Participant extinguishes the candle of the East.
All: Blessed be.
Participant: We thank the spirits of the South; we thank them for the Crackling of the
Participant extinguishes the candle of the South.
All: Blessed be.
Participant: We thank the spirits of the West; we thank them for the Pounding of the
Participant extinguishes the candle of the West.
All: Blessed be.
Participant: We thank the spirits of the North; we thank them for the Point of
Participant extinguishes the candle of the North.
All: Blessed be