In Northern European folklore from Ireland to the Czech Republic, the 30th of April is “May Eve”, which the Germans named for the Catholic St. Walpurga as Walpurgisnacht and believed to be a time when witches and evil spirits were abroad. It is believed—like Hallows in October—to be a time when the “veil” between the world and “the spirit world” is thin and passage between them in both directions is possible: a time when, just before the joy and lightness of May Day, there is exposure to dark dealings and presences.
Huge bonfires are burned on Walpurgisnacht, serving—as fires have since before modern humans even existed—to keep the Scary Monsters away.
Many flavors of modern Paganism have adopted this folkloric tradition to designate Walpurgisnacht as a night of spooky darkness, divination and ritual purification before the sensual celebration of May Day, or Beltane.
Human life is recursive. We are children, we come into adulthood, then we have children. We love, we lose, we remember, we love some more. The seasons pass: spring to summer to autumn to winter, and back to spring again.
In Atheopaganism, we don’t believe in a ghostly “otherworld” of spirits and fairies and the like. But there is something to be said for a moment of reflection, of delving into the deep and inward, before that bright morning of sparkling dew and green meadows, and the new green hope of summer.
So here, on May Eve, please consider taking some time to look back on the previous year, on the losses and gains, the joys and sorrows. Remember what is past; perhaps cast Tarot cards or runes, or gaze into a dark mirror for a take on the current condition of your subconscious.
Contemplate that which is “beyond the veil” tonight. And dawn will be all the rosier, all the brighter with May Day’s promise.