Magical Colours of the Yule Season
When it comes to doing Yuletime magic, there’s a lot to be said for colour correspondences. Look around you, and think about the colours of the season. Some of the most traditional seasonal colours have their roots in age-old customs, and can be adapted to suit your magical needs.
Red: Shades of Prosperity and Passion
Red is the colour of poinsettias, of holly berries, and even Santa Claus’ suit — but how can it be used magically during the season of Yule? Well, it all depends on how you see the symbolism of the colour. In modern Pagan magical practice, red is often associated with passion and sexuality. However, for some people, red indicates prosperity. In China, for example, it is connected with good fortune – by painting your front door red, you’re practically guaranteed to have luck enter your home. In some Asian countries, red is the colour of a bridal gown, unlike the traditional white that’s worn in many parts of the western world.
What about religious symbolism? In Christianity, red is often associated with the blood of Jesus Christ. There’s a story about in the Greek Orthodox religion that after Christ’s death on the cross, Mary Magdalene went to the emperor of Rome, and told him of Jesus’ resurrection. The emperor’s response was along the lines of “Oh, yeah, right, and those eggs over there are red, too.” Suddenly, the bowl of eggs turned red, and Mary Magdalene joyfully began preaching Christianity to the emperor. In addition to Jesus, red is often associated with some of the martyred saints in Catholicism. Interestingly, because of its connection with lust and sex and passion, some Christian groups see red as a colour of sin and damnation.
In chakra work, red is connected with the root chakra, located at the base of the spine. Holistic Healing Expert Phylameana Iila Desy, says, “This chakra is the grounding force that allows us to connect to the earth energies and empower our beings.”
So, how can you incorporate the colour red into your magical workings at Yule? Deck your halls with red ribbons and bows, hang garlands of holly with its bright red berries, or position a few pretty poinsettias* on your porch to invite prosperity and good fortune into your home. If you’ve got a tree set up, tie red bows on it, or hang red lights to bring a little bit of fiery passion into your life during the chilly months.
* It’s important to keep in mind that some plants can be deadly if ingested by children or pets. If you have small ones running around your home, keep the plants in a safe place where they can’t be nibbled on by anyone!
Green has been associated with the Yule season for many years, by many different cultures. This is a bit of a paradox, because typically, green is seen as a colour of spring and new growth by people who live in areas that experience seasonal changes. However, the winter season has its own share of greenery.
There’s a wonderful legend of the winter solstice, about why evergreen trees remain green when everything else has died. The story goes that the sun decided to take a break from warming the earth, and so he went on a bit of a hiatus. Before he left, he told all the trees and plants not to worry, because he’d be back soon, when he felt rejuvenated. After the sun had been gone a while, the earth began to get chilly, and many of the trees wailed and moaned in fear that the sun would never return, crying that he had abandoned the earth. Some of them got so upset that they dropped their leaves on the ground. However, far up in the hills, above the snow line, the fir and the pine and the holly could see that the sun was indeed still out there, although he was far away.
They tried to reassure the other trees, who mostly just cried a lot and dropped more leaves. Eventually, the sun began to make his way back and the earth grew warmer. When he finally returned, he looked around and saw all the bare trees. The sun was disappointed at the lack of faith that the trees had shown, and reminded them that he had kept his promise to return. As a reward for believing in him, the sun told the fir, the pine and the holly that they would be permitted to keep their green needles and leaves all year long. However, all the other trees still shed their leaves each fall, as a reminder to them that the sun will be back again after the solstice.
During the Roman festival of Saturnalia, citizens decorated by hanging green branches in their homes. The ancient Egyptians used green date palm leaves and rushes in much the same way during the festival of Ra, the sun god — which certainly seems like a good case for decorating during the winter solstice!
Use green in magical workings related to prosperity and abundance — after all, it’s the colour of money. You can hang evergreen boughs and holly branches around your house, or decorate a tree with green ribbons, to bring money into your home. As the tale of the sun and the trees shows, green is also the colour of rebirth and renewal. If you’re thinking of conceiving a child or beginning new endeavours at Yule, hang greenery in your home — especially over your bed.
White: Purity and Light
If you live in an area that experiences seasonal change, chances are good you associate white with snow during the Yule season. And why not? The white stuff is everywhere during the chilly winter months!
White is the colour of wedding dresses in many Western counties, but interestingly, in some parts of Asia it is associated with death and grieving. During the Elizabethan era, only the nobility in Britain was permitted to wear the colour white — this is because it was far more expensive to produce white cloth, and only people who could afford servants to keep it clean were entitled to wear it. The white flower known as Edelweiss was a symbol of bravery and perseverance — it grows on high slopes above the tree line, so only a truly dedicated person could go pick an Edelweiss blossom.
Often, white is associated with goodness and light, while its opposite, black, is considered a colour of “evil” and badness. Some scholars argue that the reason Herman Melville’s Moby Dick is white is to represent the inherent goodness of the whale, in contrast to the black-coat-wearing evil that is Captain Ahab. In Vodoun, and some other diasporic religions, many of the spirits, or loa, are represented by the colour white.
White also associated with purity and truth in many Pagan magical practices. If you do any work with chakras, the crown chakra at the head is connected with the colour white. Our About.com Guide to Holistic Healing, Phylameana lila Desy, says, “The crown chakra allows inner communications with our spiritual nature to take place. The opening in the crown chakra… serves as an entryway wherein the Universal Life Force can enter our bodies and be dispersed downward into the lower six chakras housed below it.”
If you’re using white in your magical workings at Yule, consider incorporating it into rituals that focus on purification, or your own spiritual development. Hang white snowflakes and stars around your home as a way of keeping the spiritual environment clean. Add plump white pillows filled with herbs to your couch, to create a quiet, sacred space for your meditation.
Gold is often associated with the season of Yule because it was one of the gifts brought by the Magi when they went to visit the newborn Jesus. Along with frankincense and myrrh, gold was a prized possession even then. It’s a colour of prosperity and wealth. In Hinduism, gold is often a colour connected with deity – in fact, you’ll find that many statues of Hindu gods are painted gold.
In Judaism, gold has some significance as well. The first Menorah was crafted from a single lump of gold by a craftsman named Bezalel. He was the same artist who built the Ark of the Covenant, which was also covered in gold.
Since winter solstice is the season of the sun, gold is often associated with solar power and energy. If your tradition honours the return of the sun, why not hang some gold suns around your house as a tribute? Use a gold candle to represent the sun during your Yule rituals.
Hang gold ribbons around your home to invite prosperity and wealth in for the coming year. Gold also offers a sense of revitalisation — you just can’t help but feel good about things when you’re surrounded by the colour gold. Use gold wires to create shapes for ornaments to hang on your holiday tree, such as pentacles, spirals, and other symbols. Decorate with these, and bring the power of the Divine into your home for Yule