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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Walpurgisnacht
Fire and Fertility: Let’s Hear It for Beltane!

Merry meet! Today is Beltane (also spelled Beltaine or Bealtaine), the ancient Celtic festival marking the start of summer and a celebration of fertility. Beltane is also closely associated with both the Germanic festival Walpurgisnacht and English festival May Day (and, by association, International Workers’ Day), which also mark today. For your general enjoyment and spiritual purposes, we’ve gathered all our posts related to this very special day. We hope your summer is a pleasant one, full of joy.

--Aryós Héngwis

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Dancing Away the Snow

At an elevation of 3,743 feet, the Brocken is the highest peak of the Harz range, Northern Germany's highest mountains. At such an altitude, winter lingers long.

That's why the witches go there for Walpurgisnacht.

We go there, they say, "to dance away the snow."

An ocean and a continent away, here in the American Midwest we're in a similar situation. The maples are blooming and the redbirds are singing for all they're worth, but yet another winter storm is bearing down on us, and we could well be seeing another 8 to 12 inches of snow this weekend. The Winter that Won't Let Go has still got us in its icy grip.

You can see why here in the North, the outstanding religious obligation of Beltane is to dance barefoot on the ground. Someone's got to melt all that snow.

Every year around now we sing the Minnesota May Song.

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Beer, the Sacred Drink of the Hearth

Bonfires, drinking, music, raucous celebration: Walpurgisnacht is a wild night that celebrates the coming summer – longer days, sometimes brilliant heat, and bursting fruitfulness. Since the medieval period, the bonfires were believed to ward off witches, but it may have been witches themselves who first lit the fires on hill-tops and mountains. Last year, I discussed the broom lore associated with this holiday. This year, I’d like to take a look at another favorite aspect: the alcohol, or more specifically, beer.

Homecrafted and Wholesome

Beer is one of the most-consumed drinks in the world, and an entire subculture has built up around craft beers, ales, and ciders over the past decade. Where I live, there are at least four or five craft breweries in a 30-mile radius. I love it. Beer is sacred to me (as it has been to many peoples since time immemorial), and the smaller and more artisanal a brewery is, all the better in my opinion.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I remember reading an article in either Natural History or Discover magazine about fruit beers in the Amazon. One of the local In
  • The Cunning Wife
    The Cunning Wife says #
    Thanks so much for sharing that info! Love the story about the Amazon beers. It''s no wonder that beer was/is so revered -- clean,
Broom Lore for Walpurgisnacht and Other Holidays

Every year in late April, I thoroughly clean my back porch for the first time since the descent into winter. Over the winter and early spring, things tend to collect -- dust, dead bugs, spider webs, tree pollen from early spring. The latter (especially from the pines that surround my house) makes it futile to do this any earlier because all of my hard work -- sweeping, hosing it down, vacuuming, and mopping -- would be nulled a few days later by a thick film of yellow powder. But by mid-spring, everything seems to calm down enough to make the deep cleaning worthwhile, which ends up putting this ritual right before Walpurgisnacht and May Day, which I celebrate to honor my German and Scandinavian roots. I won't go into the history of Walpurgisnacht here because it's already covered on a wealth of websites and books; I'd rather focus on one household tool that has a significant place in the lore of this holiday (especially to me personally): the broom.

Brooms are often featured in many spring holidays. At Easter in Sweden and Finland, the festivities take on a more Halloween- or Carnivale-esque character than in other places, and little girls dress up as Easter witches, wearing kerchiefs on their heads and carrying small brooms in their hands. On Walpurgisnacht, a Wild Hunt of witches and specters rides across the night sky to hold their revels on the Brocken. It's common knowledge that the broom as a flying implement is a development of the magic worker's staff. For hundreds of years, it has served as a symbol of feminine power masked as a common, humble household tool.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Welcome to Summerisle!

 Summer is icumen in, loudly sing cuckoo. Grows the seed and blows the mead, and springs the wood anew. Sing, cuckoo! Ewe bleats harshly after lamb, cows after calves make moo!

Ever since I began ritualing with my fostering coven almost ten years ago, The Wicker Man has been one of my favorite movies.  We’d watch it together every Beltane, sipping mead and telling jokes, singing the songs and quoting our favorite lines.  One year I was feeling especially inspired so I put it on to play first thing in the morning and my DVD ran on repeat until I went to bed that night.  Clearly, to say that I adore The Wicker Man is an understatement. 

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  • Ian Phanes
    Ian Phanes says #
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summerisle_%28The_Wicker_Man%29

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Walpurgisnacht

Walther knew.  But he could not resist,what ten-year-old could?  Every year was the same.  Grandmother Dunkelhaus would shake her finger at him and warn, “Walpurgisnacht, the devil’s night—you stay indoors.  Devils,witches, ghosts—they come, they get little boys, eat you.”  Then she would snap together her shiny wooden teeth—clack!—as if she knew the flights of witches first hand.

 

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