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Dec 19, 2016

Yule Wreath-Making


 

We are walking towards Yule or the Midwinter Solstice, which is the time of year when we experience our shortest day and longest night, the sun at its lowest point in the sky at noon. Yule meaning 'wheel' is one of the oldest winter celebrations in the world. Our ancestors celebrated the rebirth of the sun god at Yule long before the christian holiday was introduced. The winter solstice is a mysterious and powerful time. After the longest night of the year the sun slowly regains power and seems to grow which gives us the rebirth that is associated with the winter solstice.
 
You have probably wanted to snuggle in front of the fire in your pyjamas on these dark evenings.  Heading towards this darkest, longest night we are gifted with a time of reflection.
 
As we reflect on our fast-paced, consumerist world, humanity seems to be confused and stuck in the summer months of constant light, warmth, activity  and growth.  We do not have much opportunity to stop and hibernate when the cold draws in.  We do not have the time to convalesce after a winter cold or a bout of flu.  Instead we push on – back to work, back to school, must get ready for Christmas, time in 2016 is running out! As a species, our frenetic activity and energy consumption is damaging the very ecosystem we need to live. 
 
We need to slow down and reflect and the seasons of nature are a wonderful frame through which to do this. There is a time for growth and quick movement but it definitely isn’t now. This is the winter, the death time when all of nature slows to almost a halt.
 
We Seed SistAs have been exploring, writing, talking and teaching about cycles of life and particularly death over the past couple of months. We have talked about how reconnecting with the earth, gathering and using native, local medicinal plants and embracing the whole cycle of life and death through social ritual,  will strengthen our communities, reduce fears and re-invigorate our lives.
 
One of these rituals is making wreaths together. We have been creating wreaths from Willow, Holly, Ivy, Yew, Pine and Mistletoe - all incredible winter native medicines that have been intertwined with European winter rites throughout time.
 
Gifts of Yule have been misconstrued. At this great fulcrum of re-birth, there has been a consumerist take-over which actually adds to the decline of life through supporting an economy that has the potential to destroy humankind through its unsustainable practices. 

It is hard to resist the frenzy of gift-buying and giving without stopping to think of the true meaning of what we are doing.

Gifts are a beautiful expression of our love for each other and gifting is an urge that we should not resist.  But what better gift can we give each other and our culture than to build community and supportive networks around reviving ritual with our local, abundant plants.

AnchorWreaths

AnchorWreath Making is a wonderful ritual to invite people to do together.  Celebrate your community and friendships over a walk in the wilds to collect the ingredients for your wreaths.  Not everything can always be found so there is nothing incorrect about substituting or changing the plants you include.  You may want to use additional seed heads or berries for decoration. You can get creative, there is no right or wrong way to go about it. The wreaths represent the circle of life and the turning of the seasons and can be made with any plants you like.


 
Use willow or hazel whips (young bending branch) coiled around themselves to form the base of the wreath.   Then attach the beautiful evergreens with garden twine or wire. 
 
We generally work with:

  • Yew or Pine by coiling these wonderfully scented evergreens around the willow whips. Bringing in wishes of future projects is good here
  • Then bind and weave the Ivy we always remember the bees and ask for their protection as we work with the Ivy as it flowers late and is their last source nectar.
  • Holly sprigs with those incredible red berries are then placed around the ring
  • The final live green touch is the mistletoe
 
You can add any other berries, flowers, leaves, ribbons and bits and bobs to add your own flare to the creation.
 


 
Holly
The holly is robust and jolly and fiercely protective.  Holly’s reflective, shiny leaves mirror ourselves back to ourselves, giving us a moment for self-reflection. Honoring the holly at this time can bring courage and protection for the coming months.
 
Ivy
Ivy is one of the last plants to flower during the long winter months.  Sometimes ivy can still be found blooming in February, making her such an important source of pollen and nectar for the bees.  Ivy symbolizes immortality, reincarnation and rebirth and of course the party of life! Dionysus the god of wine making wore an ivy crown in style.
 
Mistletoe
Often found in apple and hawthorn trees, mistletoe is a great healer and protector. With no roots that touch soil this magical plant, living between the worlds of heaven and earth can be carefully cut to ensure it never touches the earth. Bringing us the light, bright air energy of the skies.

 

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Sensory Solutions

email: seedsistas@sensorysolutions.co.uk

Fiona Heckels (BSc Hons, IYN, PESS)
Telephone: 07830 195 745

Karen Lawton (BSc Hons P.E.S.S. & I.Y.N.)
Telephone: 07865 081927

Belle Benfield (P.E.S.S., M.A.)
Telephone: 07818 430241

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