Lady of Summer
ALSO KNOWN AS:
Walpurgis; Waldborg; Walburga
Winter is a persistent force that sometimes refuses to willingly leave. Walpurga, ancient goddess of beauty, warmth, fertility, the renewal of life, and grain, was once the focus of rituals intended to defeat the forces of winter and permit the emergence of summer. For nine days before May Day, the Wild Hunt, traditionally most active in cold weather, pursues Walpurga. She is their quarry. If they can capture her, they can prolong winter, prevent summer, and keep riding all night.
On the run, Walpurga seeks refuge among local villagers who leave doors and windows open so she can find safety from frost and her pursuers. According to one myth, Walpurga begged a farmer to hide her in his stack of grain. He did, acting purely from compassion, not realizing her true identity. In the morning, she had vanished, leaving grains of gold sprinkled amongst his rye crop. May Eve is Walpurga’s night. If she can survive this night, then summer’s arrival is ensured. Meanwhile, the Wild Hunters intensify their pursuit in one last-ditch attempt to maintain their power.
Under Christian influence, Walpurga’s Night transformed into a time to banish forces of Paganism, not the forces of winter. Eventually, it was remade as a holiday honoring a saint instead of a goddess of summer. (However, it’s still the night for witches to revel, whether to cheer on Lady Summer or for one last opportunity of the season to dance with the Wild Hunters.)
Vestiges of Walpurga survive in the proliferation of spindles and thread used in divination and love spells on the night named in her honor.
Walpurga is a beautiful crowned woman with long flowing hair, wearing fiery shoes.
Ears of grain, spindle, a triangular mirror that reveals the future
Walpurgis Night (May Eve, the night of April 30)
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.