Of course, we don’t need stuff to celebrate Christ’s birth. All we need is to hold his love and light in our hearts and to allow this light to fill us with hope and wonder. But all around us, festive season decorations are going up – many filled to the brim with symbolic meaning. It seems to be a deep human need to want to use decorative items as a visual representation that what is above is truly so below, no matter what we believe actually exists ‘above,’ in realms unseen but keenly felt in our hearts.
Less is perhaps more to those of us who are focused on the true meaning of the season rather than keeping up with the Joneses. So which magical items should we choose? The only rule of thumb you need (no matter which path you are on) is that the items you choose for your home and altar for any major celebration should carry some sort of meaning that resonates with your beliefs.
On a ChristoPagan path, we might choose a combination of items that are visual representations of the birth of Christ and items from Nature that help us feel close to the current station in the Wheel of the year, which for Christmas is Yule and the rebirth of the Light. It is, of course, no coincidence that we celebrate Christ’s birth, just as the light returns, after being stationary for three days after the Winter Solstice.
The three days between Yule and Christmas are wonderful for doing dreamwork. You may wish to keep a special journal for this and perhaps decorate it with the Star of Bethlehem. Some dreams may carry more meaning to you as an individual and help with shadow work… but don’t be surprised if you have prophetic dreams at this time too.
Some of my favourite ChristoPagan Christmas/Yule items
An Advent candle holder with four candles – one for each Sunday in Advent. The purpose is to prepare the soul for the wonder of God incarnate. This is a time of purification as well as celebration. Being Swedish, lighting the Sunday advent candle is a tradition from my childhood that I love to hold on to.
Pine branches or a Christmas tree – a common decorative item for Christians and Pagans alike. Pine is an evergreen so it reminds us that there is no true death. It is also used for purification and to ward off evil. The scent has a revitalising effect. The practice of decorating the home with evergreens is Pagan in origins but was ‘adopted’ by Christianity and the first Christian yuletide evergreen branches were referred to as ‘paradises.’
An angel figurine or Christmas tree topper – announcing the birth of Christ. Angels appeared by shepherds tending sheep close to the manger where Christ was born. The angels managed to terrify the shepherds when they announced that Christ the Saviour had been born. I like to think about that when people try to make angels anything less than the incredibly powerful and awesome beings they are.
A star of Bethlehem in the window – shining the light of hope into the darkness. Hanging this star, we are reminded that the miracle of Christ’s birth was revealed to the three Mages through the mantic art of astrology. I like to think about this too when some Christians condemn occult practices and mantic arts.
Gold – this is the colour of Tiphereth (beauty, splendour), the Christ sphere on the kabbalistic Tree of Life. Gold corresponds with the Sun/Son. Gold, as a homeopathic remedy, has the power to lift clouds of depression. Gold is the colour seen in the aura around saintly people and divinely inspired leaders and this is where the idea of the halo comes from. When we want to commit to our beloved we choose a ring (symbol of eternity) in gold (symbol of divinity).
Frankincense & Myrrh – two essential (pun intended) oils for Christmas. Frankincense, a solar essence, was carried by Roman soldiers and some attribute the victory of Rome to this fact because the soldiers were instantly able to heal their wounds and recharge thanks to this lifesaving essential oil. Frankincense is incredibly healing and works both as an immune booster and an antiseptic. Magickally, it enhances psychic ability. Myrrh, a lunar/goddess essence, is often used together with Frankincense to create sacred space. Myrrh also has powerful healing properties, such as the ability to soothe those who are grieving, as well as help with respiratory and digestive disorders.
A nativity scene – an obvious choice perhaps. This is where it all went down. This and some candles are all I need on my altar around Yule/Christmas.
What are some of your favourite festive decorative items and what do they mean to you?