Night of the Witches: Folklore, Traditions and Recipes for Celebrating Walpurgis Night, by Linda Raedisch
Llewellyn Worldwide, 978-0-7387-2058-6, 238 pp., 2011
This is a book which is dedicated to one specific observance (May Eve). It is not intended for the active practitioner or even for the individual striving to learn about Witchcraft, rather it is aimed at the individual who has no background in folklore. It is set against a backdrop of European custom and beliefs, which makes sense, because of the dominant European derivation of modern witchcraft beliefs.
There are numerous recipes – some old, some new – to help you plan your Walpurgis Nacht feast. You don’t do a Walpurgis Nacht feast? What kind of Witch are you? Wait, don’t answer that question…this book really is not intended for Witches. There are wonderful little tidbits of information, and lots of ideas and suggestions for handicraft projects you can make (ranging from the playful [“hag” masks] to the practical [your own besom] and some just for fun), and a way of presenting information which is entertaining as well as informative. Without a doubt, the recipes and handicraft projects make this book an excellent value. If there was nothing else in the book, it would be worth it.
Ms Raedisch reminds the reader periodically that Walpurgis Night is directly across the wheel of the year from Samhain. As such, the veil between the worlds is equally thin at this time of the year. Since Samhain has traditionally be associated with fun and games, why shouldn’t we celebrate its opposite number the same way?
There is a bit of history included, but the emphasis is less on that and more on practical, hands-on ideas. And they aren’t all about fun and games, there is some herblore and a few other things to keep your interest running high.
The last fifth of the book contains end notes and an index, which may seem a trifle excessive, but it really isn’t. Considering the source material which went into this book, the end notes are an absolute necessity.
I have several books in my library dedicated to the various Sabbats and this one is going to find a place on that shelf, not because it contains information needed to celebrate it, but as inspiration.
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Mike Gleason (1951-2012) dedicated his time to sharing his knowledge and opinions with others, and spent years reviewing books for the Pagan, Wiccan, Witch and magickal communities.