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Walpurgis Night

Sunday 4/30/23

It is Walpurgis Night--either the second or most haunted night of the year, depending on how you weigh Halloween, though there are other candidates for the top spot. Personally, I'd have Christmas Eve as the most haunted of nights. Haunted doesn't have to mean macabre, eldritch, though we have more ghosts of that during the season of the Yule than at any other portion of the calendar.

Christmas haunting may well be more impactful in the negative, direction, on account of the contrast it provides between want and plenty, pain and peace, loneliness and fellowship. There are all kinds of ways to be haunted. Some are good.

Tod Browning's 1931 Dracula opens on Walpurgis Night. The witches are having a sabbath; they are, in essence, on deadline, free to do as they please, unchecked, until the new day comes. It's a bad time to be taking a coach to Castle Dracula, which is why one might wish to wear a necklace with a cross, for one's mother's sake.

I'm listening to Mendelssohn's Die Est Walpurgisnacht in a recording led by Kurt Masur. These spirits and haunts are most alive in the piece. They swirl and roil. It's as if they pass into us, but unbeknown to us.

The weather here suits the occasion. Cold, gray, with it soon to be dark outside. The witches and the haunts have leeched into me today. But the day will end, the deadline comes, and one surges into the new day, the month, as I will before the sun itself has risen in that new month.

Here is Paul Klee's 1935 work, Walpurgis Night--consider how the background and foreground--all the planar fields, really--absorb each other. The night sky itself is diffuse, blotted. It's as if a foreboding, anti-Color Field construction--on account of the vortex-like inversion of color--has had a reticular, misshapen arabesque of the unholy lain atop it in the subsuming form of a winged creature of death. That notion of entwinement and expansion contributes to the sensation of a free-for-all, the unchecked reign of evil until the clock signals that morning has arrived. Note, too, the owlish and hawkish visages within that larger form--the raptorial powers of darkness asserting themselves. The riving beaks massing within one body.


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