Today, April 30th, marks halfway to Halloween and Walpurgisnacht (aka Witches' Night aka Hexennacht). Walpurgisnacht is known as the "other Halloween", where the veil between the worlds separating known and unknown is thinnest, allowing all manner of spirits, witches, otherworldly creatures, demons, devils, and so forth to push through into our world.
Ancient tales of witches, devils, and spirits gathering high in the mountains on this night seems to have its roots in Germany. Brocken Peak in Germany's Harz Mountains has two rock formations called Devil's Pulpit (Teufelskanzel) and the Witches' Altar (Hexenaltar), where these legends originate from. Nearby the Brocken Peak is the Hexentanzplatz, which literally means Witches' Dance Floor, where many pre-Christian rituals were performed, including the rites of old Saxon cults honoring the forest and mountain gods and goddesses.
It was said that witches would hold a grand gathering or sabbat on the night of April 30th, where witches would dance and frolic and the whole party would be presided over by the Devil himself. This night was so feared that humans took extra care and precautions to protect themselves and their families on Walpurgisnacht. Huge bonfires were lit in villages to keep flying witches and spirits away, and these burned all night while vigilant villagers kept watch (and turned it into a party, with their own dancing and merriment).
Today, celebrates are still held throughout the Harz Mountains in Germany, with the biggest celebrations occurring on the small hill town of Thale, located at the Hexentanzplantz (Witches' Dance Floor). You can expect lots of people dressed as witches or devils, bonfires, carnival games, and a festival-like feel in many hilly towns of this region.
As I mentioned earlier April 30th and Walpurgisnacht also marks the halfway point to Halloween! Only six more months to go until our beloved holiday is here again! To celebrate both Walpurgisnacht and Half-o-ween, check out some of these past posts:
How are you celebrating Halfway to Halloween and Walpurgisnacht?
Stay witchy, my spookies!