Post by Graveyardbride on Apr 30, 2015 12:41:34 GMT -5
The Devil on Walpurgisnacht
The Satanic significance of Walpurgisnacht (April 30) was virtually unknown in America until 1966 when Howard Stanton Levey, aka Anton Szandor LaVey, proclaimed it the first night of “Year One of the Age of Satan.” Appropriate for a day, or night, in honor of the Father of Lies, the claim that LaVey founded the Church of Satan on May Day Eve is false.
By the 1950s, there were already people in both the United States and Britain calling themselves “Satanists,” however, they were few in number and little was known about them. By the spring of 1966, LaVey, who lived in San Francisco, was teaching weekly classes on the occult for which he was charging $2.00 per person. Edward Webber, a professional publicist, told LaVey he “... would never make any money by lecturing on Friday nights for donations,” and it would be more profitable to “form some sort of church and get a charter from the State of California.” Later, Webber confided, “I told Anton at the time that the press was going to flip out over all this and that we would get a lot of notoriety.”
No one could ever accuse Anton LaVey of allowing the truth to get in the way of a good story and he never denied he, like the devil himself, was a liar, writing in Satan Speaks: “I'm one helluva liar. Most of my adult life, I’ve been accused of being a charlatan, a phony, an impostor. I guess that makes me about as close to what the Devil's supposed to be, as anyone. It’s true. I lie constantly, incessantly. Because I lie so often, I’d really be full of shit if I didn’t keep my mouth shut and my bowels open.”
One of LaVey’s greatest lies was that he served as technical advisor for, and played the role of the devil in, the 1968 film Rosemary’s Baby, a lie that many believe to this day. In reality, his only association with the movie was that he made a promotional appearance at a San Francisco theater on the night it was first shown. However, he did appear as a Satanic priest in The Devil’s Rain, released in 1975, and supplied some of the chants and Satanic symbolism in the film.
He also lied about the founding of the Church of Satan. Though the church was, indeed, founded in the year 1966 and LaVey’s infamous “Black House” became its headquarters, the actual date it was established was much later in the year than April 30, as alleged by LaVey. Claiming his organization was born on a night of infamy appealed to LaVey’s sense of the dramatic for Walpurgisnacht, May Eve, does have a dark and foreboding history. According to German lore, on the last night of April, witches in droves flew on their broomsticks to the Broken, where they feasted and reveled until sunrise.
When Christianity came to Germany, the Harz Mountain area – a remote region of dark forests, weird rock formations and windy peaks – was one of the last locations to accept the new religion. The loftiest peak is shrouded in fog more than 300 days a year and provides a natural setting for the supernatural. Adding the mountain’s sinister reputation is the “Broken specter,” an optical illusion created by the fog’s magnification of the observer’s shadow. Through the years, there developed a legend that on May Eve, witches from near and far mounted their broomsticks and flew to the Broken to feast and celebrate with their master, the devil.
The night gets its name from Saint Walpurga, a nun born in England around 710. She traveled to Germany as a missionary and became abbess of a monastery at Heidenheim founded by her brother. She died February 25, 779. On May 1, 870, Walpurga was canonized and for many years, this was her feast day – her feast day is now celebrated February 25. As often happens, with the passage of time, religious and pagan celebrations become confused and no one knows where one ends and the other begins. Thus, the eve of Saint Walpurga’s Day was transformed into Walpurgisnacht. The religious and pagan aspects of the night became even more confused with the publication of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust in 1808. The play includes a scene in which witches fly to the mountain in celebration of Walpurgisnacht. Faust and Mephistopheles climb the Brocken and at one point, Faust sees witches racing through the air and the blast from their flight almost knocks him down. More than a hundred years later, in The History of Witchcraft and Demonology (published in 1926), Montague Summers wrote: “There was not a hilltop in Finland, so the peasant believed, which at midnight on the last day of April was not thronged by demons and sorcerers.” Either Summers was influenced by Faust, or the legend of witches gathering on the night of April 30 was known in other locales.
For generations, inhabitants of the Harz Mountains scared each other and their children with tales of devilish doings on the mountain. Then World War II came along and malevolent witches paled in comparison to invading armies. For almost 30 years following the war, the Brocken, which lay on the border between East and West, was closed – at least to those of the mortal variety – and there were no Walpurgisnacht celebrations. But things changed in 1990 and today, Walpurgisnacht is an occasion for people disguised as witches and devils to drink, feast and celebrate their legendary past. The holiday has become so popular that visitors from all over Germany and other European countries descend on mountain villages, much as witches were believed to descend on the Brocken, and once again, the “denizens of darkness” revel until dawn.
Sources: Anton LaVey: Legend and Reality; George Sieg, The Examiner; The Encyclopedia of Witches, Witchcraft and Wicca by Rosemary Guilley; Religious Tolerance; Lonely Planet; and German Travel.
“Church of Satan Celebrates 50th Anniversary”: whatliesbeyond.boards.net/thread/5343/church-satan-celebrates-50th-anniversary
“Walpurgisnacht in the Harz Mountains”: whatliesbeyond.boards.net/thread/1807/brocken-witch-mountain-shrouded-peak