Our observance of ritual is as a performative event that is emotionally significant to an individual or community and as an artistic expression of emotional topics.
Initially I was undecided about publicly publishing a write up that includes details of the ritual we wrote for our 2017 Walpurgisnacht event. We worked on the ritual for a couple months leading up to Walpurgisnacht and went through a few drafts as we narrowed it down to an essence that felt right. My intentions are to share the ideas we worked on and hope they inspire and help someone else for their event. Feel free to take from, modify, add to, or otherwise eviscerate and dissect what we worked on for your own events.
Ritual is a form of participatory performance art involving archetypes and feelings and therefore people are often highly protective of rituals and ideas they’ve created. Many writers are protective of their ritual content or ideas being stolen and suspicious of anyone who uses an archetype in a ritual they’ve had also incorporated. This makes finding other ritual outlines or descriptions to reference difficult. We discovered this while writing out an outline of what Walpurgisnacht looks like at The Satanic Temple. Most of what you will find about Walpurgisnacht or Beltane are descriptions of events without a running program or script of any performance elements.
After some deliberation about our intent and overall theme we decided on a ritual that touches on Walpurgisnacht traditions while also dipping heavily into our literary influences. Below is the script we used along with some notes from earlier drafts and full quotes from literary references that we used modified in both the ritual and to help contextualize our theme.
We wanted our theme to reflect both the vestiges of winter being cleared away and the new spring growth. We spent weeks leading up to the event collecting winter brush from around the gallery and neighborhood to weave into brooms and decorations which we then decorated and highlighted with spring buds, leaves, flowers and growth that we picked fresh at twilight in the days leading up to the event. You don’t want to pick these things too far before the event unless you can keep them fresh or they won’t wilt in the time. We really wanted to pull things specifically from near and around the Gallery so we got a bit of landscaping done as well. For most of the evening Häxan Witchcraft Through the Ages played on the projector to a soundtrack created by Lucien which included Coil and other similar artists. I’ll add that track list as soon as I can get it from him because we’ve already had requests for it.
“With a despairing gesture, Johann turned his horses towards Munich. I leaned on my stick and looked after him. He went slowly along the road for a while, then there came over the crest of the hill a man tall and thin. I could see so much in the distance. When he drew near the horses, they began to jump and kick about, then to scream with terror. Johann could not hold them in; they bolted down the road, running away madly. I watched them out of sight, then looked for the stranger; but I found that he, too, was gone.”
“You have ignored the hoteliers warning and ventured out late on Hexennacht, Welcome.” -Tall Thin Stranger greets audience (Dracula’s Guest reference as the story begins with a hoteliers warning to avoid being out on Walpurgis Night)
Gathered in lecture hall in a rough half-circle. Promethean holds out lit candle to first guest saying;
“The price of enlightenment is never free and marks both mentor and pupil alike. Pass your fingers through the flame, choose a sprig/stick.
After everyone around the room has chosen Promethean asks everyone to repeat after him;
“ I share this gift of light and dark.
(I share this gift of light and dark)
I honor winter past as I welcome spring begin”
(I honor winter past as spring begin)
Promethean hands the candle the celebrants passed their fingers through to the Tall Thin Stranger. He blows it out saying;
“I collect the life from the flame the same as everything.”
Crone/witch walks in front of the altar reading from a spell tome:
“There is a mountain very high and bare… whereon it is given out that witches hold their dance on Walpurgis night. Now to the Brocken the witches ride; The stubble is gold and the corn is green; There is the carnival crew to be seen, And Square Uranus will come to preside. So over the valleys our company floats, With witches a-farting on stinking old goats.”
Maiden leads Stranger by the hand and pushes him down to kneel/bow in front of the altar. Removes his robe (as much clothing as possible to expose as much skin canvas as possible). Places his hands palms over mouth one by one and binds them there with twine.
“We have tied hostile tongues in our enemies mouths that they not whisper uninvited darkness into our season of fertility and rebirth”
*places bowl of doves blood in front of Stranger
*places a broom on the floor before that
“Step over the threshold and place your binding upon the stranger with your chosen remnant of winter or sprig of spring”
*demonstrates by stepping over the broom and dipping a sprig (maiden selects a sprig because she is spring) in the bowl of dove’s blood and marking Stranger with a symbol upon the head or torso. She then gestures to the next celebrant in the half-circle line (who should be planted to mark Stranger in a place other than where she marked to let other celebrants see that all exposed skin is game for a mark)
*motions for guests to step up and do the same. Takes the instruments from them after and places them in the cauldron on or beside the altar
Maiden takes the spell tome from the Crone/witch and reads;
“For you see, within every one of us a spark of [Satanism] is glowing. It has out-lasted the thousand years since the old Teutonic times. Once a year comes the truly Free-night. Then the witches, laughing scornfully, ride to the mountain-top, on their broomsticks and the wild desires awaken in our hearts which life has not fulfilled.”
Afterwards the Crone/witch takes the broom to the door threshold and sweeps with an outward gesture 9 times, then points at two people who carry the cauldron from the altar outside (could be significant if instead the witch had her assistants take the cauldron from the Maiden since it is symbolic of fertility. This could be read as an offering specifically from the Maiden to the Witch. We did discuss that we liked the idea of the Maiden also simply being a younger version of the Crone/witch.)
Celebrants follow the Witch outside (Tall Thin Stranger remains bound and does not follow the procession)
Ideally the contents will then be burnt outside. (They were)
Afterwards the Maiden reads;
The witch(es) have blessed our binding and accepted our offering. Enjoy the company of lascivious friends and fiends, drink, eat and lust freely among the blooms and sprigs of spring wrapped in vestiges of winter.
some notes and extra quotes (thank you Chalice Blythe);
“For you see, pastor, within every one of us a spark of paganism [Satanism] is glowing. It has out-lasted the thousand years since the old Teutonic times. Once a year is flames up high, and we call it St. John’s Fire. Once a year comes Free-night. Yes, truly, Free-night. Then the witches, laughing scornfully, ride to Blocksberg, upon the mountain-top, on their broomsticks, the same broomsticks with which at other times their witchcraft is whipped out of them,–then the whole wild company skims along the forest way,–and then the wild desires awaken in our hearts which life has not fulfilled.”
Sudermann, St. John’s Fire 1857-1928
“Now to the Broken the witches ride; The stubble is gold and the corn is green; There is the carnival crew to be seen, And Square Uranus will come to preside. So over the valleys our company floats, With witches a-farting on stinking old goats.” Goethe, Faust Walpurgis Night 1829
random notes from comrades on our various Google doc versions;
I really like the Hag ritual of the Parentalia. I’ve referenced the original in the comment and maybe this particular part can go as such:
Once there, the Hag (followed silently by the Tall Thin Stranger) goes around and snuffs out all candles, taking a sip of wine for each one. When she gets to the last candle, she puts the thin man’s hands up to his mouth (palms on mouth) and uses a cord to bind together the hands of the Thin Man around his head, afterwards proclaiming “We have tied hostile tongues in our enemies mouths!”
I like this bit. Here’s the original ritual:“Three fingers tuck three incense lumps under a door,
Where a tiny mouse built a hidden path.
The hag then fastens enchanted cords with dark lead,
And rolls seven beans inside her mouth;
And she roast on the fire the sewn head of the sprat
Smeared in pitch and spitted with a bronze rod.
She also drops in wine. What remains of the wine
She or her friends drink (although she drinks more)
‘We have tied hostile tongues and our enemies mouths’
The hag shouts.”
The broom being historically representative of balance, the “male” shaft and “female” bristles. We COULD talk about how they became associated with Witches in that they “rode” their broom handles covered in hallucinogens to “fly, but…. Since it’s also seen as a protector to the “gateway” to a ritual space, we can draw a circle around the broom making station. The stations can be the ritual space for making the brooms. That can be discussed as well.
“The price of enlightenment is never free.” – Prometheus
He is essentially a demi-god with human attributes but also a grandiose warrior side that is now worn with suffering. His robes can be a muted grey or white color wrapped in a Grecian fashion;
With the association of lighting the candles, I like the idea of them wearing a grey, billowy cloak to look like the smoke left after the candles are blown out.
I’ve also seen the Gardens of Adonis story as being one about rebirth. The Gardens were made to encourage fertility, growth and the vegetational death of Adonis, as a life-death-rebirth deity. Was celebrated at the commencement of Spring
I also believe that jumping over the broom was part of the ritual for protection
We also need a cauldron. With the May Pole being phallic, the symbolism of both Beltane and Walpurgisnacht is that of fertility, the cauldron symbolizing the lady who becomes pregnant at Beltane