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Sunday, 21 March 2010

Other Altar Tools

Other Altar Tools Image
Yesterday we talked about the history of the Yule log, in brief, and we talked about the different kinds of woods used for creating a Yule log. When you're picking out the wood that you'll use there are a few things to keep in mind. How are you using it? Are you burning it in a fireplace, bonfire, or hearth? Or are you using it to craft an altar piece that you'll use year after year? If you're planning to burn the log itself, pick a wood that represents something that what you wish to bring to you, your home, and your family for the coming year. If you're working with wood that will be part of an altar piece, a Yule log that will hold candles to burn rather than burning the log itself, consider working with a one of the traditional woods for the season (fir, spruce, pine, ash, birch, and yew).

Today I'm going to share some rituals and magickal work that you can do with your log. Let's start with making a log for your altar.

Blessing Your Yule Log

Regardless of how you plan to work with your log, the first step should be blessing the wood itself for its use as a sacred object. To do this all you'll need is a chalice of some sort of sacred libation. This can be wine, cider, holy water, mead, or any liquid that you would use as an offering in ritual to the Gods. Bless and consecrate this libation as you normally would for ritual to make it sacred for ritual use. Then gently sprinkle some over the whole log. As you do you can use words of blessing such as:

With this sacred wine (mead, cider, water, etc) I bless you and make you sacred.

May all energies or spirits that reside within this wood that would do me harm

Be released and banished.

May this wood be fit to reside in my magickal space as a tool of honoring the God

and the returning light.

So Mote It Be!

Now you're ready to begin preparing your log for use!


Pick Your Log

Begin by picking out a log of wood anywhere from 1 - 1 1/2 feet in length. Consider the average size of your altar or an altar surface that you may end up using. You want your log to be a center piece and a focal point but you still want to have space for your other altar tools and altar work. I personally feel that if you're using a log year in and year out that it's best to work with something that is traditional to the season rather than magickally specific since your magickal and energetic needs will change year to year. However, this is just my personal feeling and you should do what you feel is right for you.

Fashion Your Log For Use

First, create a flat surface on one side of the log. Naturally, with the log being round, it will roll around easily when placed on a table, especially if the table is bumped. There are several ways you can do this depending on your craftiness. You can use a saw to cut down one side to make it flat or you can create small feet to raise the log up and hold it level. This can be done with 2 or 3 flat, level, even blocks of wood nailed into the log to hold it steady and even. Depending on your particular log you use you'll need to make the decision on what will be the best way to keep it steady, but this is a very important practical safety step so be sure to give it consideration when getting started.

The second important safety related step to consider is how you will be using candles on your log. Will they be placed on the surface of the log or will you want to place them inside the log, essentially using the log as a holder? If you want to simply place the candles on the log, you will need to sand down three flat spots large enough for your candles to be securely placed with wax, adhesive, or small candle holders. I recommend taking a woodworking knife and stripping away the bark in the areas you wish to use and then sanding the wood underneath until flat, even, and smooth. If you wish to place the candles inside the log, you will need an appropriate drill bit to create holes in the log that will accommodate the candle sizes you wish to use. Keep safety in mind while doing this and pick the option that will be best for your log.

If you decide to go with the candles in the log option you may want to consider permanently placing candle holder in the holes rather than putting the candles directly into the log. I would also recommend using taper candles, not votives, for this. Votive candles inside the log will have a much higher chance of creating a fire than using tapers.

Be sure to give a little test run before cutting, sanding, or drilling anything by having a friend help hold the candles in the places you plan to put them. Mark your candle locations and go from there. Make space for one candle in the center of the top of the log and then place another on either side of the center marking with at least a 3 to 4 inch space between, again for safety (the heat from an adjacent candle could easily melt another and cause a problem). If you're log is big enough to give wider space between them, give this a try.

From here you can decorate your log with whatever items you wish. Some like to glue pine cones, mistletoe, pine boughs, and other greenery around the spaces where the candles will be places. Others like to place these decorations around the bottom of the log. Again, keep safety in mind and remember that any fresh plants or greens used will eventually die or possibly rot. So be careful not to permanently affix anything to your log that you may need to remove. Items places around the candle bases have a chance of having hot wax and even sparks from candle flames landing on them. If you're going to be attentive to your log at all times when it is lit you will be able to watch for these things, but others that are used in a decorative manner as well and left semi-unattended may be best decorated at the base. Get creative! Add magickal items like gris-gris bags for prosperity or herbal charms for fertility around the base or sides. Tie holiday ribbon to create some knot and chord spells and weave them into your log.

When you're done with the log itself, you'll need to get three candles to place inside. Traditionally the colors used for the Yule Log are red, green, and white, though some people will use just the green and red candles. Bless and charge the candles then dress them as you see fit and place in their spaces on the log.

Making A Log To Burn

If your log is going to be burned in a fire you're next steps will be simple. Once your log has been blessed you'll want to add any decorations to it that you feel will be helpful in its burning. This is where you can add magickal items like pieces of parchment with petitions to it or herbs and greens. Remember to only use natural items that are safe for burning.

Using Your Log

If you're going to be putting your log into the fire this is often done as its own magickal act to mark the beginning of the season or as a way to start the Yuletide festivities. When you're working with an altar top log there are mini-rituals that you can do with it as part of the awakening of the light. Below is a ritual I have written for using an altar top Yule log.


You'll Need:

1 Yule Log (decorated, blessed, and consecrated)

1 white candle (the returning light)

1 red candle (spark of life, the Goddess)

1 green candle (rebirth, the reborn God)

Yule oil or Candle dressing oil

Yule incense

Anoint your candles with Yule oil, charging and blessing them.

Place the candles in or on the Yule Log in the following order: Red on the left, Green in the center, White on the right.

Light your Yule incense and waft it around the Yule Log and say:

By the powers of earth, air, fire, and water

I consecrate and bless this sacred Yule Log

To be fit for use within this circle

As a symbol of hope and light.

Looking at the unlit Yule Log, reflect on this time of year. Recite the following words or something similar:

With the dying of the light we are faced with the longest night of the year.

The Holly King who has ruled during the dying half of the year gives way to the Oak King who grants us his gifts of growth, light, and expansion.

Let the Yule Log, a symbol of his reign and return, burn bright and usher back the Sun God.

The Goddess is the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone.

She is the one who creates all life and the one who we all return to at the end.

And she is the one who carries us back through the cycle once more.

Light the red candle and say:

Within the dark cauldron of the creation that is the womb of the Goddess,

the spark of life is ignited.

Light the green candle and say:

Life begins to flow back to the earth.

The Goddess gives birth to the Child God, the God of Life, the God of Promise.

Light the white candle and say:

With his return he brings the sun,

He brings the light of renewal.

And with this light we know the Green Man and the promise of spring is coming to us again.

Take a moment to look at the log, lit and shining brightly. Feel the power of the fire, its warmth and light. Reflect on the meaning of the log and it's fire. Say:

As the light shines from the fire

We rejoice in the return of the God!

We rejoice in the return of the Light!

Hail the Child of Light!

Hail the God of the Sun!

Chant these last two lines to raise energy to send energy toward the God to call him back to the earth. If you have the room you can do this while drumming and dancing around the altar.

Allow the candles to burn for either 12 minutes, 12 hours, or 12 days; for the purpose of planning your ritual it's best to decide ahead of time how you plan to burn the candles. When you put them out, be sure to snuff them with a candle snuffer and relight them with the same purpose and intention as you did for this ritual, though you don't need to go through the whole ritual again. Be sure to keep an eye on your candles and your Yule Log so that you don't accidentally light the log itself on fire with the candle flames.

When your candles burn down and you're finished with them, removed the stubs, clean up the log, and wrap it up and store it safely until next year.

If you have a fireplace and you plan to burn the log you can easily modify this ritual to accommodate that process. Be sure that when the log is almost done burning that you save a piece of the log for the next year. You can then collect the ashes and scatter them around your yard, garden, and outside the perimeter of your home while asking for protection and prosperity for the coming year.

Books in PDF format to read:

Samuel Liddell Macgregor Mathers - The Tarot
Melita Denning - The Aurum Solis

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