While I do not set up my Yule altar until nearer the Sabbat I do start foraging for little things to deck it out a bit. I am not one for the glitz of the commercial festivities and prefer natural things such as pine cones and sprigs of holly. I collect pine cones all year round as they are lovely to burn on the Yule fire giving the whole house an aroma of pine. Rather than damage another tree I pick through the fire logs for a suitable one for the hearth. The wood I get for logs comes from various trees and I have a piece of birch put aside but that could change with logs that come in from the supplier. I use blues and silvers on my Yule altar as they are the colours of Winter, and they do contrast with the greens and reds of the evergreens and berries. I also like to mark the return of the sun at Yule so some yellows and gold too.
Apart from gathering up bits of winter nature I also clear down my autumnal altar and work with a basic set up during the run up to Yule. If nothing else it gives me a clam and quiet space away from the glitzy chaos of the world prepping up for the main event. Since the town centre is buzzing I need it. The blue and white crystals I use on my winter altar need to be cleansed and charged. Cleaning down is part of the preparation of space and self. It is a time I treasure as it allows for reflection on the meanings of things relevant to the season.
Winter is my favourite time of year and I hope we get some of the falling white stuff soon. The stream bank hardened by frost with the trees draped in delicate ice drips is awesome – not that I see it that often as winter has not been that cold the last few years. On my garden altar the birds have a steady supply of fruit and fat cake – a recipe I gleaned from Blue Peter many years ago. The feathereds seem to like it as I make two or three a week. So another part of clearing down is to clean up the bird boxes the tits use in the spring and summer, a couple of them need a touch up but they have done well and have seen a few families come into being.
© JG Farmer 2013