5 (More) Ways to Celebrate Yule Without Spending a Dime

One of the most magical experiences I had on Yule happened a few years ago when I was about twenty-eight. At the time, my husband and I lived in Phoenix, Arizona, just a few miles from a gorgeous protected piece of desert called White Tank Mountains. In the blue hues of a chilly pre-dawn Yule, we drove through the silent desert to hike one of our favorite trails, the towering saguaro cacti acting as sentries in the stillness of the sacred morning. To the soundtrack of coyotes yapping, we hiked to a precipice that allowed us to overlook The Valley of the Sun. In the distance the twinkling lights of a groggy city stretched across the horizon, but before us was the untouched splendor of the Sonoran desert. The woodsy scent of creosote bushes kissed the chilled December air as we stood atop the overlook, watching in wonder as the cool milky colors of twilight warmed with the nearing dawn.

Quietly, with a cup of hot coffee held between mitten-clad hands (the true desert—not the concrete-laden city—can actually get quite cold), we stood in awe as the mountains across the valley birthed a blessed Yule sun. It was the first time I ever really made it a point to appreciate the sunrise, and I was left breathless by it's ethereal beauty. It genuinely looked like a birth, the fiery blaze of sun slowly materializing from the red dirt mountains in a transcendent progression akin to life emerging from the womb. 

Too early and brisk for most hikers, we were alone with nature, the elegant mule deer and chatty coyotes left to their own devices, thus far undisturbed by the influx of city-dwellers hungry for nature. It was in that moment, as I watched the proverbial birth of the God beside my husband, that I felt the sacred hum of the earth, the beat to which we all live, and the sheer magnitude of life. As physical beings, humans are quite small in relation to the world, and yet we are powerful, gifted with a divine connection to that which makes life worth living. 

I think of that significant morning every Yuletide season, hoping to relive that moment as I once again bundle up to watch the sunrise. For now, nothing has compared to the first time I ever really gave the sunrise true appreciation. But like an adult forever chasing the magic of Santa, I still believe. I still chase. I still experience that gentle vibration of essence as the morning breaks on a chilly Yule day. Like much of life, it's rare to eclipse the first time something truly magical happens, but that doesn't take away from each breathtaking time we try.

As with any sabbat, I encourage you to go outside and simply be. We don't get enough of that in our hectic modern era, and you certainly shouldn't wait until you're twenty-eight to fully appreciate a sunrise. 

...I blame it on the fact that I am not a morning person. It's an unspoken rule in our house that if you speak to me within thirty minutes of waking you'll receive nothing more than a closed-mouth murmuring as a reply. 

If you're in the mood for a more festive approach to Yule, here are five ways you can capture the joy of the winter solstice without spending a dime!  And if you'd like to discover more information about this restful sabbat, check out this post for more details

Make ginger tea
For most people, December is a cold month. Warm up with a hot mug of tea and honor the God by making that bad boy ginger tea. Curl up by the fire and relax. After all, Yule is a sabbat of respite and restoration. Take some time to chill!

Meditate during the sunrise
Too cold to go outside? Meditate in the warmth of your home during the sunrise! Before our phones pinged with constant alerts and we were expected to conquer the world, winter was seen as a time of deep restoration and reflection, particularly during Yule. Take this morning to honor that ritual and do a little self-reflection through meditation. If you're not very comfortable with meditating, you can find many guided meditations on Youtube. 

Leave an offering
Remember those pine cone bird feeders you made as a kid? Whip up one of those peanut butter creations and hang it from an evergreen. Or decorate an outside tree with edible gifts such as apple or orange slices, whole peanut or cranberry garlands, and nourishing suet cut into festive shapes with cookie cutters! The winter birds will thank you! 

Craft with nature
Take a nature walk and collect fallen evergreen bows for a handmade wreath. Or gather up those pine cones for a Yule altar. Honor the sabbat and lift your spirits by bringing a little bit of nature inside during this otherwise barren season. 

Take a few moments on this quite December morning to reflect on the year past. What lessons did you learn? What challenges did you overcome? What accomplishments are you proud of? What heartaches would you like to release? Don't get overwhelmed or feel like you need to start a to-do list. Now is not the time to begin a New Year's resolution pamphlet (which no one on the planet has ever actually adhered to) Simply reflect. Over a warm mug of tea and a sugar cookie, of course!

Bonus: Celebrate!
Don't forget to make merry! Crank those holiday tunes. Watch your favorite movies (Christmas Vacation is one of my favorites!). Indulge in cookies and eggnog. Savor a hearty sabbat meal. Raise your vibrations for those long winter nights, because we all know it's easy to start feeling a little bit The Shinning by the time February rolls around! ;)

Keep it simple or make it grand, just as long as you feel merry and bright, my friends! Hope you have a wonderful Yule! 🎄

How do you celebrate Yule?

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