As the song says, it's the most wonderful time of the year! In a perfect feeling of the holiday, there would be cheery fires, cozy sweaters, hot cider, lots of friends, and presents for everyone, while the snow falls in fat fluffy flakes outside. Susan Pesznecker's Yule: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for the Winter Solstice brings us a great deal to think about and some pretty fantastic magic to go along with it.

Old Ways gives us definitions of Solstice, Midwinter, and Yule. It talks about the meaning of December and the astronomical and mythological cycles of Yule, as well as the fools and misrules and traditions associated with the sabbat. New Ways talks about the ways we can celebrate an ancient festival in a modern world, how to incorporate the natural world and the symbols of the season. There is discussion about trees, about the energies of Yule, of calendar vs. convenience, and how to blend our Pagan traditions with the seasonal traditions of our not-so-Pagan families and friends.

Spells and Divination discusses the importance of magickal timing, as well as how spellcraft changes for Winter. There is a winter house cleansing and blessing, a protective lorica, magickal bags, dream pillows, how a gingerbread person poppet can help safeguard gifts, a Yule log talisman, a protection spell for long winter nights and during travel, strengthening family connections, herbal tea, generosity charms, winter waters, and many more. It also adds in a spell for calling snow -- something about which most of us have mixed feelings.

Recipes and Crafts gives us cookies and eggnog and wassail, chili and pie and even a cocktail or two. It's got food for gifting and for sharing. Decorations, candles, and bath products are also present.

Prayers and Invocations provide instruction on creating your own prayers, then goes on to invoke Father Yule and the Old Woman of Winter. There are invocations to the Sun on its journey back to the world, as well as a few meditations for Winter and the sabbat.

Rituals of Celebration offers planning of rituals, journaling, and how to add the right music. The ritual offerings are simple and open and indicative of the feelings that we've grown up with when it comes to our winter holidays: sharing, laughter, love, light, and togetherness, as well as bringing back the Sun to the dark time of the year. As always, the book ends with a fantastic list of correspondences, a great bibliography, and a very nice reading list.

I gush a great deal about these books, I realize. I've been reading metaphysical books for the last 25 years, and I've not seen a series that has excited me this much since Christopher Penczak's Temple of Witchcraft series. They're incredibly well done with fresh information that not everyone has presented or seen.

~review by Jeremy Bredeson

Author: Susan Pesznecker
Llewellyn Books, 2015
227 pages

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