Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Beltane festival and Walpurgis night

        Such a coincidence that I have started "Witchcraft and Literature" just 4 days before Beltane Festival and Walpurgis Night. I am  so glad to make this post just on time! Now let me tell  you why it is so significant.
       Beltane Festival is a Gaelic festival celebrated on the first day of May. In Wiki source it is said that Beltane (and other spellings like "Bealtaine") is simply the name of the month of May. Beltane marks the beginning of summer and celebrated usually with the bonfires on some open areas in the hills." The bonfires will mark purification and transition, heralding in the season in the hope of good harvest later in the year, and are accompanied with ritual acts  to protect the people from any harm of Otherwordly spirits". Same could be down to a cattle which had to be lead between two bonfires in order to be purified (Wiki).
Beltane (image credit: Hamish Burgess)
     Beltane takes place in Neopagan culture among Wiccans who celebrate it as one of the eight solar holidays. In this sense it is more related to Germanic May Day. And perhaps related to Walpurgis Night.
       I think that Beltane celebration is a beautiful tradition which I can connect to such Russian festival like Maslenitsa, which marks the beginning of spring.
      Walpurgis Night is a traditional spring festival celebrated on 30th of April or 1st of May in Northern and Central  Europe. The current festival got it's name after English missionary Walpurga canonized on the 1st of May. However this day became associated with May Day. This day is known as Walpurgisnacht (German and Dutch).
    Walpurgis night was traditionally considered to be witches' "get together" - Sabbath. I remember I used to read that this night witches were believed to meet with devil. There were also lit bonfires, around which witches would dance and do rituals.
Walpurgis Night
These two festivals are remarkable for understanding of some of the attributes and phenomenon related to witches. They are night, fire, togetherness, nature itself, seasons.
Yours sincerely,
Witchcraft and Literature


  1. Good piece of info Anna... in South India, during Jan (at the time of Lohri), the cattle is made to run between bonfires as you have indicated.. I feel that all the customs across the world are connected yet we do not seem to know the significance

    1. Yes, Rakshatha, you are right. People have same or resembling each other traditions in different parts of the world. and my aim is to see how witchcraft is reflected in different literatur :) You could help with an Indian one. That could be great! Thank you for your support.