How To Make a Pagan Outdoor Scene For Yule

PineBoughs_1500.jpg
Use pine boughs and other natural items to make an outdoor Yule scene. Image by Cultura RM/Jonatan Fernstrom/Getty Images

So your neighbors all have cute little mangers in their yards, complete with plastic baby Jesus, light-up sheep, and a couple of Wise Men who have probably seen better days. Are you feeling a bit left out? After all, as Pagans, most of us don't really do the baby Jesus thing. But don't feel bad -- you can still set up an outdoor scene similar to your neighbor's Nativity manger that represents your Pagan beliefs, and honors the birth of the sun, rather than the son of another religion's god.

You can do this either in a large version to display on your lawn, or a smaller scale for indoor festivities.

Obviously, the Nativity and the Manger are rooted in Christian concepts, but we get enough emails about this every year that it is worth discussing. Also every year, I get at least five emails from people screaming about how it's disgraceful that we're talking about this idea, and REAL PAGANS wouldn't even consider such a thing, because it's Christian in origin. So, for lack of better terminology, if you want to put together some sort of outdoor decor that bears a resemblance to your neighbor's Christian manger set-up, you're certainly welcome to call it a manger if you like. You can call it anything you want. It's not necessary to email me to tell me you're not calling it a manger. Anyway, moving forward...

Think about what the Yule season means. In nearly every tradition, it represents the return of the sun.

It's a time of celebrating the continuous turn of the Wheel of the Year, and embracing the coldest aspect of nature. It's a time when we can look back at our ancient Pagan ancestors and see how they marked this time of year when the nights were long and food was scarce.

Instead of a traditional manger, make a framework of evergreen or pine boughs.

Tie them together to keep them from falling over in the wind, and arrange them to form a shelter of sorts. On the ground inside, spread hay or straw, loose boughs, dried leaves, etc.

Surround the shelter with representations of the animal kingdom -- deer, rabbits, birds, wolves, cats, etc. You may even wish to leave a bowl out with offerings for your animal friends -- nuts, berries, seeds and more -- to tide them through the chilly months. If your tradition includes otherworldly beings such as gnomes, the Fae, vampires, or elves, feel free to include them as well, but try not to get out of control. The point of the décor is not to overwhelm people with cuteness or fantasy, but explain what it is you believe, and why the season is meaningful to you.

Create a sun symbol, and place it inside the shelter. You can use anything you like to represent the sun -- paint a disc gold, use a bronze sun figure, or even a statue of Ra or other gods associated with the winter solstice. If you like, place it in a protective bedding a bit like a cradle, or nestle it in a bed of soft greenery.

Finally, add the blessings of deity. If your tradition honors a God and Goddess, or the three aspects of Maiden, Mother and Crone, add representations of these beings as well.

If you like, cast a sacred circle around the entire scene. You can even place symbols of the Watchtowers at the four cardinal directions, surrounding the shelter and providing protection over the newly born sun. Add wreaths, small trees, pentacles, sun wheels or other symbols around your display.

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Wigington, Patti. "How To Make a Pagan Outdoor Scene For Yule." ThoughtCo, Oct. 2, 2016, thoughtco.com/magical-gingerbread-poppets-p2-2562936. Wigington, Patti. (2016, October 2). How To Make a Pagan Outdoor Scene For Yule. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/magical-gingerbread-poppets-p2-2562936 Wigington, Patti. "How To Make a Pagan Outdoor Scene For Yule." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/magical-gingerbread-poppets-p2-2562936 (accessed October 22, 2017).