Part I: Pagan Traditions, Witches and Beltane

Today is a two-part day. I’ve never done this before, so let’s have a go at it. Below is the first post of the day. It will be followed three hours later (because three is a significant number) with Book Review: “A Sure Cure for Witchcraft” by Laura Best.

I’m posting the review for A Sure Cure for Witchcraft by Laura Best today because today is Walpurgisnacht, also known a Walpurgis Night and Burning of Witches. You’ll have to read the book to learn the significance.

While many sources claim information about this day, we truly don’t know when it started nor what it was all about. We have the impressions of what writers have provided over the centuries but as we know, everyone forms their own impression on an event depending on what they’ve read, people they’ve spoken to and what they’ve seen. Walpurgisnacht was so long ago, anyone who experienced the first inkling of the day is mere dust in the wind.

From what I’ve read, including Best’s novel, it appears to be about warding off evil, and centuries ago, that meant witches. Best describes the nighttime ritual as villagers building great fires and making lots of noise to ward off witches, who supposedly gathered on this night for a great festival.

On this day, the veil between good and evil, past and present, and living and dead, is thin. This means witches can create their evil easier. One source I read said it was the night witches were burnt.

Sounds a lot like All Hallow’s Eve except for the witch burning aspect.

While some sources state the ritual dates back to ancient pagan times, I think two events are being confused.

Walpurgisnacht seems to have been created by those who feared what they did not know and was continued by superstitious people. I’m guessing it probably doesn’t date back to ancient pagan times but instead the beginning of the end of pagan times, when the witch hunts began. That would be in 1428, when the Catholic Church declared war on pagans. What better way to win a war than to create fear amongst the population. Fear is the greatest motivator.

The festival that more than likely dates back to ancient pagan times is Beltane, the feast of fire and fertility. In other words, spring, which brings forth new life, the planting season and birth of animals.

Beltain is May 1st, but like every other pagan tradition Christianity wanted to trample, they put their festival on or near the pagan one. Beltane or whatever it was called umpteen centuries ago has no documentation. It started before recorded time. What it was is only a guess but given the nature of pagan traditions, fertility sounds perfectly right.

Happy Beltane, and may the coming months be prosperous and fertile.

In three short hours, Part II will arrive. The interview with Laura Best about the novel is here: Author Interview: Laura Best – “A Sure Cure for Witchcraft”.

3 thoughts on “Part I: Pagan Traditions, Witches and Beltane

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