April 21, 2022 — Walk with us into the shadows and back out into the light to find out more about this upcoming Saturday’s Walpurgis night, the most important day of a nine-day long heathen tradition.
To celebrate spring and the arrival of summer, the death of winter, and has its roots in rituals conducted for thousands of years. These “celebrations” were surely in practice at the dawn of the Bronze Age, and in one form or another even earlier to provide a perspective.
From Whence The Name?
However, Walpurgis (Valborg in modern Swedish) is not the true, original name of this mighty day and night of April 30 and May 1. After the Norse, Goths, and other Germanic (and Celtic) peoples “converted” to Christianity, the ancient spring rituals became associated with the legend of Saint Walburga, a Frankish nun who become the ruler of a powerful abbey in what is today Germany. She was born in Anglo-Saxon England in the early 700s AD and it is from her, Walpurga the nun, that we have the name Walpurgis night. However, there might be more intrigue to the history of the name Walpurgis night than this often-used explanation.
“What if the spring celebration and Walpurgis were connected to Óðinn?”
What if the spring celebration, and Walpurgis night itself, were (also?) connected to Odin (Óðinn) as a veneration act of both the dark and the dead and the living and the light, connected to the new moon solar eclipse that occurs at the end of April? On a side note, Odin had a kind of staff too — his magical spear Gungnir, and we must not forget that his wife Freyja; was the head of all seeresses and the mistress of all vǫlur.
Walpurgis Is More Than One Night
It is said the nine nights between April 22 and April 30 were once celebrated in remembrance of Odin’s self-sacrifice, when he hung himself upon the world tree Yggdrasil, giving his eye in exchange for the knowledge and wisdom of the runes. And, it was on the ninth night of hanging, which corresponds to April 30 (Walpurgis Night) that Odin grasped the runes, and ritually died — if only for an instant. At that short moment, the light of the nine Norse worlds went out, and chaos briefly reigned while the dead were given full sway of the earth.
However, at the stroke of midnight, the life of Odin returned, and people lit up bonfires to help the Old Gods bring back the light — a tradition still practiced today in Scandinavia and many other countries — unsurprisingly, given Odin’s sacrificial death, for the purpose of warding off evil spirits.
“Many of those who believe in the old ways have replaced the night of Walpurgis with the name of the older, mysterious seeress Waluburg.”
Moreover, many of those who believe in the old ways have replaced the night of Walpurgis with the name of the second-century Germanic seeress Waluburg. How come? Roman records tell of a northern European seeress (“vǫlva” or “seiðkona” in Old Norse) called Waluburg who lived in the 200s AD and was in service of the governor of Roman Egypt (this was long after the Pharaohs were gone.) Her name — or perhaps it was her title — Waluburg, was found on a piece of pottery on the Egyptian island of Elephantine near the Nile.
Thrice in Disguise: The Wand, The Vǫlr, The Waluz
Seeresses were always equipped with a staff, known as a vǫlr in the Old Norse “Viking language”. Vǫlr is a word that comes from an even older term “waluz” hence vǫlr/waluz both mean “magic staff”. Such wands are key identifiers of both Nordic and Continental Europe seeresses; several have been found by archeologists.
Intriguingly, the first half of the name Waluburg, as touched upon above, translates to “magic staff”, while the other half, burg, in this context, means “to protect and preserve” (in the Migration and Viking Age, “burg” had become almost exclusively associated with fortresses.)
While employed in Roman Egypt, Waluburg’s duties likely included interpreting omens and making predictions about the outcome of future battles through various forms of divination in a Germano-Nordic, heathen tradition that must have differed somewhat from Roman practices (in the 200s, the majority of Romans were still pagan, hence the practice of employing Germanic seers — seiðkonas).
It is perhaps no coincidence that two spiritual women, Waluburg in the 200s, and Walpurgis in the 700s, share a somewhat similar name, and it cannot be ruled out entirely that Walpurgis Night might have some resemblance to the festival’s ancient, true name.
“If the nine-day tradition was connected more to Freyja than Odin, it might have been called something related to Freyja’s nicknames, of which two were Mardǫll and Hǫrn — both are apt candidates.”
If the nine-day tradition was connected more to Freyja than Odin, it might also have been called something related to Freyja’s nicknames (heitings), of which two were Mardoll (Mardǫll) and Horn (Hǫrn) — both would be apt candidates. Of course, in heathen times, rituals and feasts and names differed greatly between regions, there were few Old Norse concepts as “universally” known as Odin, Thor, and Valhalla (Valhǫll), to provide three of few examples.
Eclipses in general are generally when big changes happen. The new moon of today, April 30, 2022, is eclipsed in the zodiac sign of Taurus, which occurs when the moon and sun are on top of each other. This year, the new moon solar eclipse is ruled by Venus, the morning star, known as Aurvandill in Old Norse. Aurvandill is the ruler of Taurus — which means bull, corresponding to earthy, manly energy.
Triva: Egyptian and Norse Views Of Life
On a side note, and disregarding the fact Waluburg lived in Roman Egypt in the 200s, one of the most striking differences between Norse and Egyptian mythologies was their cosmic views.
The ancient Egyptians believed time and the universe was infinite and ran forever — a stark contrast to Norse faith that believed life was cyclical and that the apocalyptic end of days known as Ragnarok (Ragnarǫk) occurred regularly — on a long enough timeline.