On Sunday, December 21st and the night of the winter solstice, Líithi Lushede Coven held their public Yule ritual at Aquarius in downtown Kansas City, MO. Despite snowing earlier in the week, rain gave way to unseasonably warm, cloud-covered weather, but that's sure to change soon after High Priestess Gwehnwyfar's ritual earlier this evening. The turnout was, as usual, very high! Every sabbat attracts more and more participants, making Líithi Lushede Coven a quintessential part of the Kansas City pagan community.
As this is the winter sabbat of the longest night, this holiday focuses on the returning light and the love and warmth of friends. The altar reflects this theme with seasonally appropriate themes, such as holly, pine cones, acorns and snow.
The ritual began in total darkness. Thank goodness for my glorious camera because, despite what you may see above, this was taken at night, the bright window of the picture dark from the beginning of the solstice. With only light was the High Priestess's light to guide the way, you sometimes couldn't see the hand in front of your face! She and acting High Priest Jason spoke of honoring the darkness and giving it understanding before facing the light. We took a moment of silence to reflect upon the year and ourselves before opening the circle.
The altars themselves were dressed in their respective colors with faux snow and various seasonal decorations upon them.
After drawing the circle and calling the quarters, the High Priest and the High Priestess each called out to the birth of the sun/Son as the newly born God and the Mother Goddess respectively. They talked of the stage each deity was in at the current moment and we slowly counted down to the birth of the sun as the Mother Goddess was in labor.
And when the sun/Son was born, suddenly...
... the tree in front of the altar lit up radiantly! It was such a beautiful part of the ritual that took many by surprise. What an amazing moment!
Everyone clapped and cheered for the birth of the sun!
The High Priestess and High Priest then spoke of keeping hope through the dark times.
In order to aid with that, and as a gift, everyone in the room was presented with a beautiful lantern!
The lanterns were made from recycled baby food jars courtesy of fellow community member Natalie and included berries, pine needles and pine cones in the oil.
The High Priestess then blessed the drink and the High Priest blessed the cookies...
... and those were handed out to the circle as "ale" and "cake."
Of course, no ritual is complete without music. That was of course provided by John Mitchell, the bard. He gave us beautiful renditions of Deck the Halls, Here Comes the Sun and his original song written specifically for the cake and ale portion of the ritual!
The ritual was then wrapped up with well wishes and a few community announcements.
The newborn sun/Son and the Mother Goddess were thanked and the quarters released! But that wasn't the end of the festivities.
Along with the usual pot luck feast, fellow community member Lindsey led a Secret Santa gift exchange.
There was also a raffle, which included everything from a cookie Yule Tree created by the High Priestess's mother to a free massage to beautiful jewelry and even a mystery box!
Líithi Lushede also provides a guest book for attendants to sign as coming to the ritual and participating.
They even had caroling! During the feast, booklets made by Líithi Lushede were handed out and the bard John led us through several songs that were pagan themed!
Overall, a wonderful night and a gorgeous ritual as always. Thank you so much to Líithi Lushede Coven for providing an amazing chance for the community to connect! It's always an honor to be a part of your celebrations!