Walpurgis Night: Witches’ Sabbath?


Witches’ Sabbath

COGwriter

On April 30th, some observe something they call Walpurgis Night.

Walpurgis Night is somewhat considered to be a Catholic holiday as its name comes from a Catholic saint named Walpurga.  It is sometimes also known as the Witches’ Sabbath.  It is widely celebrated in parts of Europe on April 30th and May 1st, and is sometimes called the other “Halloween.”

Here is some of what The Catholic Encyclopedia says about Walpurga:

St. Walpurga  Born in Devonshire, about 710; died at Heidenheim, 25 Feb., 777. She is the patroness of Eichstadt, Oudenarde, Furnes, Antwerp, Gronigen, Weilburg, and Zutphen, and is invoked as special patroness against hydrophobia, and in storms, and also by sailors…

At Mainz she was welcomed by her uncle, St. Boniface, and by her brother, St. Willibald. After living some time under the rule of St. Lioba at Bischofsheim, she was appointed abbess of Heidenheim, and was thus placed near her favourite brother, St. Winibald, who governed an abbey there. After his death she ruled over the monks’ monastery as well as her own…

The various translations of St. Walburga’s relics have led to a diversity of feasts in her honour. In the Roman Martyrology she is commemorated on 1 May, her name being linked with St. Asaph’s, on which day her chief festival is celebrated in Belgium and Bavaria. (Casanova, Gertrude. “St. Walburga.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 27 Apr. 2013 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15526b.htm>)

Here are some modern reports about Walpurgis Night:

“Walpurgis Night was when, according to the belief of millions of people, the devil was abroad—when the graves were opened and the dead came forth and walked. When all evil things of earth and air and water held revel.” ~ Bram Stoker, “Dracula’s Guest”

The other Halloween – exactly six months from All Hallow’s Eve – is known as May Eve. April 30 is also known as Walpurgis Night. Beltane, which also corresponds to April 30/May 1, is one of eight solar Sabbats observed by pagans. The holiday incorporates traditions from the Gaelic Bealtaine, such as the bonfire, but it bears more relation to the Germanic May Day festival.

Ancient Celts recognized only two seasons of the year, summer and winter, and their pivotal dates, Beltane and Samhain, were very important for the world, both seen and unseen.

As with Halloween, the veil separating the world of the living and the dead was supposed to wear particularly thin at this time of year. In Medieval Christendom, it was not only Hallowe’en or All Souls’ Day when a spooky atmosphere was cultivated, but on May Eve, among other nights of the year, it also was believed that the world of ghosts and fairies, and witches and shapeshifters, could spill over to our own.  http://blog.al.com/strange-alabama/2013/04/the_other_halloween.html

Tonight, April 30th, Germany celebrates Walpurgis Night, or Hexennacht – “witches’ night”. According to German folk tales, this is the night when witches fly to Mount Brocken in the East of Germany to hold a celebration and await the beginning of spring.

So what can you expect in this magical night? Many people dress up as witches and flock to Mount Brocken, located in the Harz region of Germany. Big bonfires are lit, and the “witches” dance around the flames. If you want to skip the dressing up but still want to go dancing, visit one of the many Tanz in den Mai (“dance into May”) events, held all over Germany.  http://gogermany.about.com/b/2013/04/30/a-night-out.htm

Walpurgis Night is another pagan ritual celebrating the arrival of spring.  According to Wiki, it is widely celebrated across much of central and northern Europe; I can attest to that.

Wiki also claims that Walpurgis Night is named after the English missionary Saint Walpurga (ca. 710–777/9) who was canonized on 1 May (ca. 870). Over the centuries since, Walpurgis Night has become celebrated in conjunction with the night of April 30 to May 1…

Walpurgis Night

Common perception is that WP is the night when witches from across the universe converge on to the Brocken mountain in Germany to hold their annual meeting. It’s thought to be sort of an annual meeting to review past activities and plan for the future, the like of which any society or company has.

Witches

Witches are (female) characters of super-natural powers, thought to have been the cause of much trouble in the past…modern-day celebrations of this pagan ritual abound over much of Europe.  http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/54785

Walpurgis Night (Walpurgisnacht) is a traditional spring festival on 30 April or 1 May in large parts of Central and Northern Europe. It is often celebrated with dancing and with bonfires. It is exactly six months from All Hallows’ Eve…

The German term is recorded in 1668 by Johannes Praetorius (writer) (de)[3] as S. Walpurgis Nacht or S. Walpurgis Abend. An earlier mention of Walpurgis and S. Walpurgis Abend is in the 1603 edition of the Calendarium perpetuum of Johann Coler,[4] who also refers to the following day, 1 May, as Jacobi Philippi, feast day of the apostles James the Less and Philip in the Catholic calendar.

The 17th century German tradition of a meeting of sorcerers and witches on May Day is influenced by the descriptions of Witches’ Sabbaths in 15th and 16th century literature.

30 April is pálení čarodějnic (“burning of the witches”) or čarodějnice (“the witches”) in the Czech Republic, the day when winter is ceremonially brought to the end by the burning of rag and straw witches or just broomsticks on bonfires around the country. The festival offers Czechs the chance to eat, drink and be merry around a roaring fire.

In Estonia, Volbriöö is celebrated throughout the night of 30 April and into the early hours of 1 May, where 1 May is a public holiday called “Spring Day” (Kevadpüha). Volbriöö is an important and widespread celebration of the arrival of spring in the country. Influenced by German culture, the night originally stood for the gathering and meeting of witches. Modern people still dress up as witches to wander the streets in a carnival-like mood.

In Finland, Walpurgis day (Vappu) is one of the four biggest holidays along with Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, and Midsummer (Juhannus). Walpurgis witnesses the biggest carnival-style festival held in the streets of Finland’s towns and cities. The celebration, which begins on the evening of 30 April and continues to 1 May, typically centres on copious consumption of sima, sparkling wine and other alcoholic beverages…

In Germany, Walpurgisnacht, the night from 30 April to 1 May, is the night when witches are reputed to hold a large celebration on the Brocken and await the arrival of spring.

Walpurgis Night (in German folklore) the night of 30 April (May Day’s eve), when witches meet on the Brocken mountain and hold revels with their gods…”

Brocken is the highest of the Harz Mountains of north central Germany. It is noted for the phenomenon of the Brocken spectre and for witches’ revels which reputedly took place there on Walpurgis night.

The Brocken Spectre is a magnified shadow of an observer, typically surrounded by rainbow-like bands, thrown onto a bank of cloud in high mountain areas when the sun is low. The phenomenon was first reported on the Brocken.

—Oxford Phrase & Fable.

A scene in Goethe’s Faust Part One is called “Walpurgisnacht,” and one in Faust Part Two is called “Classical Walpurgisnacht.” The last chapter of book five in Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain is also called “Walpurgisnacht.” In Edward Albee’s 1962 play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Act Two is entitled “Walpurgisnacht.”

In Sweden, Walpurgis Night (Swedish: Valborgsmässoafton or simply Valborg, Vappu in Finland) has more or less become a de facto half holiday… On the eve of the festival, huge bonfires, which should be lighted by striking two flints together, blaze on all the hills and knolls…(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walpurgis_Night viewed 04/28/2013)

Walpurgis Night (521-30):  No other scene in Goethe’s Faust places such difficult demands on the reader for understanding its place and significance in the drama The essential meaning which Goethe wished to convey resides in the “Walpurgis Night” revels themselves, quite apart from any necessary association with Faust and his pact with Mephistopheles. Concerning the legends of the May Day Witches’ Sabbath, Goethe associated Faust with the murky spirit world of Nordic, Germanic legend. “Walpurgis Night” therefore provides a logical extension of the hocus-pocus and murky superstition established in “Witch’s Kitchen.” the sources for “Walpurgis Night” used have been traced by scholars from several books borrowed from the Ducal library in Weimar at the time when work en the scene was in progress. For the most part these consist of obscure and pseudo-scientific compendia of medieval folklore from the seventeenth century

These accounts offer a fantastic picture of medieval witches’ sabbaths, colored by a mixture of popular superstition and moralistic outrage. The annual revels involved a procession of witches which ascended in the darkness to the summit of the Brocken, where orgiastic revels were held in celebration of Satan including blatant sexual intercourse and the act of obeisance to Satan by kissing the anus of a goat (traditionally associated with the cult of Satan). Goethe initially planned to follow the accounts of such satanic debauchery—even to the inclusion of Satan himself, who figures nowhere else in Faust!

Goethe’s view of the witches’ Sabbath on the Brocken gradually shifted away from the orgiastic revels at the summit, as these were conceived in response to the popular tradition, toward a kind of festival of May Day night which has much more positive and serious implications for the drama of Faust as a whole. For this view of the rites of May–just as pagan in origin as the cult of Satan and perhaps originally identical with it—Goethe’s chief source for the ”Walpurgis Night’s Dream-”eminently served his purpose the fairy-folk of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream.

WALPURGIS NIGHT

After the cathedral scene, a violent shift of mood and locale takes us to the witches’ rendezvous on the Brocken with Faust and Mephisto as spectators and participants in the tumultuous annual convocation…

Wapurgis Night: St. Walpargis or Walburga, abbess of Heidenheim, in Franconia, was born in England and died in 779; her name appears to be derived from “Wolborg,” a “good fortress” (against evil, by her purity) and she was invoked in aid against witchcraft. Her day, l May, is also an ancient Pagan spring festival, and she is thus associated by antithesis with the witches’ sabbath which was traditionally supposed to take place on the Brocken during the previous night. (http://legacy.owensboro.kctcs.edu/crunyon/CE/03-Goethe/52130.htm viewed 04/28/2013)

Walpurgis Night combines two legends: a springtime gathering to drive away evil spirits and an eighth century nun named Saint Walpurga, who was believed to be pursued by evil spirits.  http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/germantown-more-news/item/54018-hunt-for-ghosts-at-grumblethorpe-this-saturday-night?Itemid=18

Here is a report machine-translated from German about it:

Every year, countless characters in extravagant costumes in the Harz and elsewhere on Walpurgis Night…At more than 20 locations in the resin Walpurgis Night is celebrated with the colorful stage shows and loud music, the spokeswoman said the Harz Tourism Association, Eva Christin Ronkainen, in Goslar. In these cauldrons – Brown of Lower Saxony location to Schierke in Saxony-Anhalt – then dance bearded wizards, witches and tempting little devil.  http://www.mz-web.de/mitteldeutschland/walpurgis-alte-mythen-und-junge-klischees,20641266,22604280.html

Walpurgis Night really has little to do with Walpurga and is not a Christians holiday. It seems to be a combination of paganism, witchcraft, popular fiction, and a party combined with the name of someone associated with demons.

It seems to have a lot in common with Halloween.  It is not a Christian celebration.

Some articles of possibly related interest may include:

Is Halloween Holy Time for Christians? This article provides some historical and biblical insight on this question.
Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by the Tkach WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days. (Here is a related link in Spanish/español: Calendario Anual de Adoración –Una crítica basada en la Biblia y en la Historia: ¿Hay un Calendario Anual de Adoración en la Biblia?
Pagan Holidays or God’s Holy Days Which? Herbert W. Armatrong explains what the days the Bible endorses.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?



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