Positions and Continuities
Wise Women and Germanic Faith: Imagining Witches in Current German Right-Wing Extremism (Felix Wiedemann)
Wise Women and Germanic Faith: Imagining Witches in Current German Right-Wing Extremism Felix Wiedemann The Walpurgisnacht, the night before May Day, is a very popular event in present- day Germany. As in other Central European countries, it falls at that time of year when spring is starting to usher in the early vestiges of summer, and given that it precedes a holiday, people like to take the opportunity to go out and enjoy the weather. For most revellers, of course, the mythological meaning of this night holds no meaning: As is well known, Walpurgis romantically commemorates the “holy night of the witches”, a myth which some believe to stem from pre-Christian or even pre-historic roots.1 Every year especially regional papers and journals draw upon this mythology, and articles are published on the supposed roots of Walpurgis as well as on the brutal persecution of (overwhelmingly) women who were regard- ed as witches and burned at the stake in Early Modern Europe. This issue has been of special importance for feminists since the Women’s Liberation movement used the witch as a symbol for the fight against suppression and misogyny. Furthermore, the stories about mysterious “wise women” and their alleged magical practices have always aroused the curiosity of esoteric groups and circles. Hence, at the end of the 20th century the so-called modern witch cult became established as part of the wid- er field of the international new religious and neo-Pagan currents, and advanced to become a rather fashionable topic of research...
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