The legend of Befana began thousands of years ago and remains to this day a tradition practised by Italian children and their families. As the story goes, one day, the three Magi left their country bearing special gifts of gold, incense and myrrh for the new-born Jesus Christ. They were guided by a star across many countries. At every village that they passed, people ran to meet them and accompany them in their journey.
But there was one old woman who did not join the Magi. She claimed to be too busy with her housework and promised to join them later when she had time. The next day, she realized her mistake and frantically ran after the Magi with gifts for the child, still clutching her broom. But it was too late – the Magi were long gone.
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Yule brings the longest night of the year and the rebirth of the Sun King. The energies of this Sabbat are very strong and very fertile in water and earth on December 21, Mars and Venus are united in Scorpio, and the Moon waxes full in her own sign, but then moves void-of-course. Celebrate the night before on Venus’s day and enjoy all the pleasures of the flesh. Use table-top balsam as your altar, and festoon it with glittery symbols of the elements and Lord and Lady. Anoint bayberry candles and burn them for prosperity and growth in the coming year. Make a sumptuous feast of comforting and magical foods. Smudge your altar with dried arbor vitae to waft your desires to the Goddess. Indulge your senses with the sights and smells of the season. Carve a Sun symbol on last year’s Yule log and burn it with chanting (bring back the light!).
Invite friends and family to the feasting to reveal the universality of your craft and the playful side of your spirituality. Reclaim the ancient pagan customs of the season.
Copyright K. D. Spitzer Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 2002
Yule marks the beginning of a new solar year. Honor the newly born Sun God by festively decorating your home, lavishing everything with light, and staying up late into the night playing “midwife” to the Sun’s mother, our Goddess. As with any form of creation, birth is not a quick process, so plan to make this ritual last over the next thirty-six hours or so. In frequent meditation, project loving energy to her as she struggles to give birth. As the dawn approaches, welcome the newborn God of the waxing year with acorns, the symbol of the oak tree, which is representative of his next half-year’s reign. Make a breakfast featuring other nut products: breads, cakes, and butters are all easy to find or make. The following evening, offer a prayer of thanks to your deities as Yule Day closes and you note the Sun has set just a bit later in the evening than the night before.
Copyright Edian McCoy Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 2001 Page 133
At this momentous time in the solar year, the Sun leaves Sagittarius behind and steps into Capricorn, creating a transferral of authority between planetary rulers of these signs, Jupiter, and Saturn. Traditionally know as the might but benevolent “King of the Gods,” Jupiter bestows higher wisdom and spiritual understanding. Saturn is the ruler of time, the planet who most loves process. Although this is the darkest of all days, then, we are still able to remain optimistic, sure in our belief that the Sun will now begin his long journey back from the Underworld, just as he does every year. In celebration of the returning strength of The God and the rebirth of the Sun, create fire, and honor the light. Burn a Yule Log made of oak and start the fire with a piece of last year’s Yule Log. Jupiter’s abundance can also be generously shared with loved ones, whose importance in our lives is made clear to us by Saturn. Exchange gifts, blessings and warm thoughts at this most joyous time of year.
Copyright Kim ROger-Gallagher Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 2000