Happy Walpurgisnacht and Beltane, “The Other Halloween”
And hope that everyone is having a great time there out of the Brocken, dancing with Freya and her cat-drawn chariot. Certainly the photos from this year’s celebration in Germany look wonderful…maybe Alpine Village would be into something like this next
In any case, Walpurgisnacht and Beltane are generally celebrations of the high point of spring, lots of sexual references and all that, dancing around the Maypole and everyone who misses Burning Man leaping over the balefires. I lit some bright red guava/coconut scented candles and even lit one for Ellegua. Lit a stick of geranium incense. Flowers and fruit and fruitful beings! And that’s as it should be: as Jeff Goldblum said in Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way…”
But there’s another side to Walpurgisnacht/Beltane, and that’s what I’d like to talk about here.
A little personal stuff first. Last night I woke up screaming. Really. Screaming at my mom to lock the door so the evil man can’t get in. This was not a normal dream for me, nor is it indicative of anything that has been happening. Not that my mom could ever climb the stairs to my place again, and the only man on site here is the extremely non-evil Rick, who hasn’t had any nightmares lately about the “skeleton demon” that apparently was hiding out in the bathroom doorway (wouldn’t surprise me a bit) or the other creature peeking out from under the eaves in his dream the other night. Bedroom gets a lot of smudging, kids! But the terrors of my dream weren’t supernatural at all—just a sleazy guy who was sneaking around and clearly meant to harm my mother and myself. The guy in the dream was the kind that you look at and say, “I bet he’d slit your throat for a nickel.” The fact that I dreamt it this time of year makes it seem a bit prophetic, and so I’m on my guard and am also checking the security at my parents’ home.
Because from April 30th through May 3rd the veil is thin between the worlds—about as thin as my checking account will be when I pay the rent tomorrow. I am reminded of Shirley Jackson’s line from The Haunting of Hill House: “And whatever walked there, walked alone.” Whether we call tonight by its German name or the more common name Beltane, whose Baal-fires once burned in the Celtic lands, it not only sets the scene for the blossoming of spring but also for the parting of the veil between the living and the dead. We are now at the opposite point of the year from October 31st-November 2nd holidays of the spirits, but the effect is the same.
That’s why tonight is when I burn not the Beltane incense or the Breath of Spring incense that I create for the spring season, but rather the Psychic Visions incense I use when preparing to read tarot or crystal gaze or for psychic dreams. I will anoint myself tonight with my Psychic Visions oil, and will do so as well tomorrow in addition to using my Beltane oil.
Divination goes hand in hand with times in which the veil is thin between this world and the next, because many people believe that spirits—including our own ancestors—help us with seeing the future. After all, what’s time to a spirit who’s moved on? We the living only mark it as linear because that’s how we perceive our lives. On the other side, perhaps past, present, and future all occur at once. We already know that nature is a cycle, not a straight line.
Many people, including those who follow African traditions, keep an ancestor altar all year. Most of us just do so at the Samhain/Day of the Dead season. But now would be a good time to set one up as well, or at least light a candle, set out a glass of water and a portion of what you’re having for dinner, and talk to your loved dead a little.
And do a little divination for yourself. Yes, it’s allowed. It might clear some things up. I’m going to see if it does so for me.
Fox, Selena. “Beltane Lore and Rites.” Circle Sanctuary. https://www.circlesanctuary.org/index.php/celebrating-the-seasons/beltane-lore-rites
Wagner, Stephen. “Walpurgis Night—the Other Halloween,” ThoughtCo., https://www.thoughtco.com/walpurgis-night-the-other-halloween-2595375