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Walpurgis Night

Walpurgis Night at the Heidelberg Thingstätte

Tonight is Walpurgis Night (AKA Saint Walpurgis Night or Eve) which is celebrated on the night of 30 April and the day of 1 May.

It is the eve of the Christian feast day of Saint Walpurga, an 8th-century abbess in Francia, and commemorates her traditional canonization date and the movement of her relics to Eichstätt on 1 May in the year 870.

But the origins of the Christian holiday date back to earlier pagan celebrations of fertility rites and the coming of spring. After the Norse were Christianized, the pagan celebration became combined with the legend of St. Walburga which was a common way to transition pagans to Christianity. It is likely that the shared date allowed people to celebrate both events under church law without fear of reprisal.

Saint Walpurga was believed to have cured the illnesses of many local residents and battled pests, rabies and whooping cough, as well as witchcraft. In Germanic folklore, Hexennacht (Dutch: heksennacht), literally “Witches’ Night”, was believed to be the night of a witches’ meeting on the Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz Mountains, a range of wooded hills in central Germany.

Christians prayed to Saint Walpurga for her intercession to protect them from witchcraft. Bonfires on the Eve are meant to ward off evil spirits and witches.

Local variants of Walpurgis Night are observed throughout Europe in the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Sweden, Lithuania, Latvia, Finland, and Estonia. In Denmark, the tradition of using bonfires to ward off the witches is observed as Saint John’s Eve.

My soundtrack for the Eve is Procol Harum’s “Repent Walpurgis.”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21UCojHGt9k

archie married
There was a meme online back five years or so about making your  Facebook profile picture a comic or cartoon character that you identified with for some reason. Lots of superheroes and princesses appeared. While I was surfing around for images, I discovered something pretty shocking about my old friend Archie Andrews of Riverdale. He got married. More than once.

It is even more complicated than that because the comic book universes on paper, TV or in the movies have lots of alternatives these days. I did some browsing at a local comic book shop and found a few Archie collections including Archie: The Married Life Book 1, part of the “Married Life Series.” In this series Archie marries blonde Betty and in another version marries vixen Veronica.

I binged through this 320 page opus in two nights like I zipped through the 12-cent comics I was buying back in the early 1960s.

archie romeo.jpg

I haven’t checked in on Archie, Jughead, Betty and Veronica in a lot of years and a lot has changed. One of the articles I read was titled Archie Gets Married and Goes to Hell.

The Archie I grew up on bounced back and forth between Betty and Veronica with occasional flirtation with anew girl at school.  Hie never-ending high school career of innocent foreplay lasted  68 years. He married Veronica.  When I first read about this I was a little sad, because I had been rooting for Betty all along.

Did marrying off Archie work for the publisher or was it a bad move?  The resulting comic, The Married Life: Archie Loves Veronica, sold 24 times their usual 2,500-odd copies per issue.

If you grew up with Archie, as I did, you will find it disorienting to see Archie and Veronica married and to see their marriage falter. Reading the comics as a pre-teen, I identified with these teenagers in a constant state of sexual tension and unrequited lust.

I grew up with the 1950s Archie classics. I can’t say whether or not Betty and Veronica actually acted as a guide to dating for a generation, but they certainly had an impact on the 1950s and early 60s generation.

The original Archie made his debut in 1941 and has been known ever since for his all-American wholesomeness. He also had a split passion for rich, brunette, glamorous Veronica and sporty, blonde girl-next-door Betty. A new management team at the publisher decided to bring him into the 21st century. The Veronica marriage hit me first, then I find out there is the alternate universe marriage to Betty, and Archie has a career as a musician in New York City and…

riverdale-tv

Part of that 21st century plan allowed for the creation of Riverdale, an updated TV version of Archie and his crew on the CW network. The first season premiered January 2017 to positive reviews, and was renewed for a second season.

Sabrina

The original Sabrina, 1962 || (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, Link)

At the end of 2017, Netflix ordered a two-season spin-off series based on the comic book Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

Sabrina Spellman is the title character of the Archie Comics spinoff comic book Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Sabrina first appeared in Archie’s Mad House #22 in October 1962. (Too bad I didn’t save my copy of that issue in good condition as it goes for over $400 these days.)

Sabrina of 1962 was fun and light. This was a time when TV had another nice witch, Samantha, was very popular on Bewitched.

And Sabrina the Teenage Witch also had a 7 -season TV run with the light, safe and funny version of witchcraft.

In this much darker re-imagining of a new Sabrina, she is still 16 and having to choose between an unearthly destiny and her mortal life which, of course, includes a boyfriend.

This series is recommended for “Teen+.” In the third book in the series (I can read them free via  KindleUnlimited), “it’s the night before Halloween, the night before Sabrina’s sixteenth birthday, the night of the blood-moon and the lunar eclipse, and she has made her decision: She will go into the woods of Greendale as a half-witch and emerge… on the other side of a frightful ritual… as a fully baptized member of the Church of Night.”

There isn’t much innocent sharing of a burger and fries at the malt shop here.


Things get even darker in the regular Archie universe. Book 6 in the Married Life series says on the cover “The Death of Archie.”

Oh, they are really messing with my childhood. I may have to dig in my old comic book collection and reread some of the old classic Archie comics of many decades past.

Hecate Sculpture

 

The goddess Hecate had many celebrations throughout the year, but November 16 was known as the Night of Hecate.

Hecate is part of the most ancient form of the triple Moon goddesses as the Crone of the Dark (New) Moon. Artemis was the Crescent Moon, and Selene was the Full Moon.

Most of Hecate’s worship, and especially on this night, was performed at a three-way crossroad at night. Food was left there as an offering to her.

She ruled the passages of life and transformation, birth and death. She was associated with crossroads, entrance-ways, fire, light, the Moon, magic, witchcraft, a knowledge of herbs and poisonous plants, necromancy, and sorcery.

November was the ninth month in the oldest Roman calendar. Hecate closely parallels the Roman goddess Trivia, with whom she was identified in Rome.

Today Hecate is one of the ‘patron’ goddesses of many witches, who in some traditions refer to her in the Goddess’s aspect of the “Crone”. But other traditional witches associate her with the Maiden and/or with the Mother as well, for Hecate has three faces, or phases.

Modern worshipers honor this tripartite goddess as the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone. A modern writer, Robert Graves, wrote about her in The White Goddess.

Historical depictions and descriptions show her facing in three different directions and later Greek references say she had the heads of animals and refer to her as the “Mistress of Animals.” Her chosen animals were the toad, the owl, the dog and the bat.

 

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