Walpurgis Night, May Day & Beltane Folklore

“There is a mountain very high … whereon it is given out that witches hold their dance on Walpurgis night.” ~Jacob Grimm, 1883.

Tonight is the celebration of Walpurgisnacht in Germany.

Walpurgisnacht or Walpurgis Night in English is the night of witches meeting on the Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz Mountains, a range of wooded hills in central Germany. To repel evil and protect themselves along with their livestock, folks will light large bonfires on the hillsides.

Walpurgisnacht was named after the nun Walpurga who became Saint Walpurgis of Wessex was an 8th c. abbess and missionary. She died in 779, and was buried, but her bones were dug up and moved on May 1st. She is believed to protect folks against demons who wander the earth on May Eve, or Walpurgis Night.

Saint Walpurgis of Wessex was an 8th c. abbess and missionary. She died in 779, and was buried, but her bones were dug up and moved on May 1. She is believed to offer protection against demons who walk the earth on May Eve, or Walpurgis Night

One myth claims Walpurga asked a kind hearted farmer to hide her in a sack of grain. He hid her and in the morning he noticed she had vanished leaving gold grains upon the rye crop. Also during Walpurgis Night Witches use spindles & threads to cast their love spells.

Witch with bag by artist Iren Horrors.

On May First Beltane, an ancient Celtic festival of fire and fertility, is celebrated by Celts, Brits and Europeans.

Faery magic is now at its strongest, as the veil between the worlds is thin. The faeries are tricksters, but iron, salt or Primroses placed across the doorstep will protect your home.

May Day and Summer’s dawn is a fertil ity and rebirth celebration that centers around the festivities of the crowning of the May Queen. The personification of Flora, Roman goddess of flowers, a Fairy princess, the Lady Marian in the Robin Hood tales and Guinevere in Arthurian legend.

Art by John Collier, Queen Guinevere’s Maying

The Celtic deity named Bel means brilliant. In France the most artifacts have been found worshipping him. Bel’s festivities begin the evening of April 30th to May 1st. He’s a Sun God linked to the Druids and a great fire festival called Beltane.

The deity Bel on Pinterest

On May Day young folks dance around the May Pole. May Day symbolizes with dance, merriment and perhaps most important of all, fertility. The Day would be marked with village folk prancing around the maypole, the selection of the May Queen and the dancing figure of the Jack-in-the-Green at the head of the procession. Jack is thought to be a nature spirit from the past when our ancient ancestors worshipped trees and their spirits were known to dwell in trees.

LMG1266148 Sheet music for ‘Jack in the Green Quadrilles’ by Warwick Williams, published by Francis Bros. & Day (colour litho) by Banks, H. G. (19th century); © Leeds Museums and Art Galleries (Abbey House) UK; English, out of copyright

Merry Walpurgisnacht!

Happy May Day!

Merry Beltane!


Charles Squire, Celtic myths and legends  ISBN 1-84204-015-4

Williams, Victoria (21 November 2016). Celebrating Life Customs around the World. ABC-CLIO.

*Featured Illustration: Walpurgisnaght by Swiss artist Albert Welti 1897 (Public Domain)

Other images in public Domain.

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