Witches’ Night — also known as Walpurgisnacht or Hexennacht — happens annually on April 30th, and has been celebrated throughout Europe since at least the 17th century. Likely an evolution of Saint Walpurga’s Feast, it marks the halfway point between Halloween festivities (or as practicing Pagans call it, Samhain).
Over time, it has morphed from an occasion to protect oneself from witches into a holiday that now revels in the iconography of the witch.
And lucky us: this year it falls on a weekend.
With that, here are 10 ways to celebrate Witches’ Night with your coven, your comrades, or just your winsome, witchy self:
- Mark the occasion with your own ritual
Light some candles, make a shrine, drink a heady brew. There’s no wrong way to channel the spirit of magic, feminism, and freedom that the witch has come to represent. You can follow pre-written instructions that you may come across in books or online. Even better: make up your own. I’m especially partial to whatever these Vassar College math witches are doing in this “Trig. Ceremony:”
2. Watch a witchy film
Last year saw the release of two phenomenal films: Robert Eggers’ The Witch and Anna Biller’s The Love Witch. Both are now available for streaming online. And if you’re lucky enough to be near Carson, California this Sunday, you can also watch the latter on the big screen as part of the Night of the Witches event curated by The Order of the Good Death’s Sarah Chavez. Or you can stay home and watch an oldie but goodie, such as Bell, Book, and Candle for retro charm or Suspiria for psychedelic horror.
3. Hop on your broom and learn something new
There are several other events happening this weekend which can scratch your witch itch.
And in London, Treadwell’s Books hosts the British Museum & English Magic art tour. There’s likely something wyrd and wondrous happening in a city near you.
4. Curl up with a surrealist sorceress
This month marks what would have been the 100th birthday of one of the most witchly women that ever was: surrealist painter and writer, Leonora Carrington.
A spate of books written by her and about her have just been published to celebrate the centenary. Her Complete Stories from Dorothy Project is a particular favorite. Its tales about strange ladies, overgrown gardens, and eloquent beasts will surely bewitch you.
5. Cast a poetic spell
Reading poetry — or better yet, writing your own — is a lovely way to welcome the witch. There are so many witch poems I love that it’s difficult to choose. But here is Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Witch-Wife” to get you started:
6. Watch the premiere of American Gods
Those familiar with his work know that author Neil Gaiman is definitely witch-adjacent (hello, Thessaly, Agnes Nutter, and the Hempstocks). The much-anticipated TV adaptation of his beloved book, American Gods, premieres on STARZ this Sunday. While more about deities than witches per se, I’d be surprised if he didn’t appreciate the witchly debut date.
7. View some dark art
The art world has definitely caught the Witch Wave, and there’s lots of magical exhibitions to visit. Current recommendations are the WITCHES show at SEPTEMBER gallery in Hudson, NY which includes work by occult art mage, Cameron; the As Above, So Below spiritual art survey at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, which showcases visionary paintings by Swedish medium and abstract art pioneer Hilma af Klint; and the image magic conjured in the Elijah Burgher and Sofia Moreno double bill up now at Chicago’s Western Exhibitions gallery.
8. Add some hexing to your texting
Despite the resurgence of popularity around witches, a lot of the biggest tech companies have yet to catch up. There’s still no witch emoji on Twitter, Facebook’s popular witch icon was only temporary for Halloween, and the new batch of Apple emoji that was just announced have a kind of sorceress/mage looking lady, but not an iconic witch.
That’s why I’m happy to announce that WitchEmoji launched for iMessage just last week. It’s a sticker pack created by yours truly, and I’m excited to say we finally have emoji of spell books, potions, and witches of all skin tones to make our e-missives more magical. It hit #1 in the App Store, so it’s nice to know I’m not alone in my weird witchly desire. Join the coven here.
9. Dance, magic, dance
Witches draw power not only from the immaterial realm, but through the groundedness and vitality of their own bodies. Some of the most potent work that we can do is to honor the cycles of nature and our own miraculous physiology. A fantastic way to celebrate the corporeal form and generate some strong, change-making energy is through dancing. Dance around a fire, dance to your favorite Spotify mix, dance under the moon, dance under your leaking apartment ceiling. There’s no wrong way. Here’s a clip of Mary Wigman’s Hexentanz (Witch Dance) from 1926 to get you warmed up.
10. April march
And now that you’re moving, why not keep up the momentum, and bring yourself to one of the many protests and marches happening across the globe. (The People’s Climate March tomorrow is a good place to start). There’s lots to be fired up about, and the witch has proven to be a profoundly appropriate archetype to identify with for activists. There’s even been a resurrection of the 1960s art activist group W.I.T.C.H. Wear your best pointy hat, or bring your witchiest signage, and channel her unapologetic, subversive, and transformative powers.
I truly believe that witches are the future. Here’s wishing you a wonderful Witches’ Night.