Gathering the Yule Tree

Never enter the forest empty handed.

We always bring food for all of the non-humans living in the wild, especially during the winter, when food is hardest for them to find.  Part of our yule celebration is giving thanks for this year's hunted and foraged abundance - so we take a bit (or a lot) of every thing we've gathered during the warmer months and hike it back into the forest to decorate trees with, to share the gifts we were given.  Berries, roots, fat, meat, greens, we decorate the evergreens just like our ancestors did for thousands of years.  Red meat, white fat, green leaves. Only then do I feel like I can harvest a yule tree, which we carefully select from a stand of overcrowded trees.  By cutting one out of the cluster, we are opening up more light and space for the other trees to thrive, while giving other plant species a chance to take hold there as well.

After we make a place of honor for the tree in our house during the solstice, when it begins to brown, we put it in the backyard to dry out all year.  On the solstice of the following year, we burn it in thanks for all the year has brought, and we make little prayers for the new year.  

 

This year we decided to hike the old yule tree back into the woods to burn it, to spread the nourishing ashes on the soil where we gather yarrow, thistle, yampah, and lillies.