Submitted by Kasha, National First Officer and member of Everglades Moon Local Council (EMLC)
Each year, my coven, Circle of the Moonlit Sea, plans a Yule Celebration and invites friends, family, and members of the community. The specific theme of the ritual varies, but one thing doesn't change-the preparations and the food! A huge cauldron of vegan soup, home made bread and butter, and apple cider.
Preparations used to start in the middle of the night, with HP Forest Butera firing up a brick oven in the back yard and starting the process of making dozens of loaves of bread-Olive bread, Rye, Whole wheat, and the Crowd Favorite, Cheese Bread! Now Forest does that work the day before. We are all willing to have bread that it not hot from the oven in order to have a better rested Forest!
We gather early the day of celebrations to wash and chop vegetables, and then gather for our Soup Ritual, a rite at the cauldron with the women and men who are present that creates the beginning of the soup. A fire is built under the cauldron and tended by HP Joe Butera, making sure that dinner will be ready at the appointed time. During the late afternoon, guests begin to arrive and we continue with preparations, churning butter (we try to recruit enthusiastic children for this!) grinding peppercorns for the soup, and visiting and preparing for ritual. Just before dark, the women gather in the kitchen to make ritual cakes, and when the time is right, coveners and guests process through the back yard, past the cauldron where the soup is cooking for its last hour, to the ritual circle and celebrate the darkest night of the year and all it symbolizes. We send each ritual attendee home with a handmade token of our Rite and what it symbolized that year.
After ritual, we gather at the cauldron, where many years, a covener will recite the "Bubble bubble toil and trouble" verse from Macbeth, just because its witchy and fun, and then we all eat! Even though we are in Florida, most years, its a little cool, and sometimes, its downright cold, so soup is perfect on a dark, damp evening. The Yule log, which has stood in the South of our circle since it was our Maypole at Beltane, is burned in the fireplace, not far from the Yule tree, which will become our next Maypole, and some years, later in the evening, we are visited by the Mari Lwyd, the Grey Mare, telling riddles and nipping people with her horsey teeth.
Our Coven Yule celebration is a time to be together and celebrate family, friends,our craft, and community. Each year, there is a different-and perfect-mix of people, and the incredible opportunity to celebrate the light which is about to come.