Walpurgis Night: on my hearz’ waves

April 30, 2014

The production of psychogeographic maps, or even the introduction of alterations such as more or less arbitrarily transposing maps of two different regions, can contribute to clarifying certain wanderings that express not subordination to randomness but complete insubordination to habitual influences (influences generally categorized as tourism, that popular drug as repugnant as sports or buying on credit). A friend recently told me that he had just wandered through the Harz region of Germany while blindly following the directions of a map of London.

Guy Debord, ‘Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography’, Les Lèvres Nues No.6, September 1955 (Translated by Ken Knabb).

George Court, Adelphi

The highest peak of the Harz Mountains, known as The Brocken, or Blocksberg, was the focal point of festivities on April 30th, May Eve, known in Central and Northern Europe as Walpurgis Night. According to Ruth Edna Kelley, writing here:

WALPURGA was a British nun who went to Germany in the eighth century to found holy houses. After a pious life she was buried at Eichstatt, where it is said a healing oil trickled from her rock-tomb. This miracle reminded men of the fruitful dew which fell from the manes of the Valkyries’ horses, and when one of the days sacred to her came on May first, the wedding-day of Frau Holda and the sun-god, the people thought of her as a Valkyrie, and identified her with Holda. As, like a Valkyrie, she rode armed on her steed, she scattered, like Holda, spring flowers and fruitful dew upon the fields and vales. When these deities fell into disrepute, Walpurga too joined the pagan train that swept the sky on the eve of May first, and met afterwards on mountain-tops to sacrifice and adore Holda, as the priests had sacrificed for a prosperous season and a bountiful harvest.

Ruth Edna Kelley, 1919, The Book of Hallowe’en, Boston: Lothrop, Lee and Shepard Co.

When I started this post tonight – before trawling up the above extract from Kelley’s book – I hadn’t realised just how closely St Walburga was and is connected with Eichstadt, an ecclesiastical foundation implicated in a pattern of meaningful coincidence I recorded in this previous post, The Flutter of a Falling Card on February 7th. Bizarrely, that post was also introduced by a psychogeography-related quotation from 1955. Not being a medium, nor a ‘sensitive’ able to communicate with the departed, I wonder whether such ‘random patterns’ are the ‘peaks’ in a wavelength or frequency otherwise imperceptible to most mortals most of the time, the ‘peaks’ which are perceptible to all of us, even if only in our imagination.

Some years ago, being driven down minor roads after a final visit to an elderly relative, who was to pass away later that day, I had a very strong feeling that the two knolls on Horsedown Common, near Crondall, had some psychogeographical significance. It was the first time I’d seen them in real life, rather than as contours on the OS map of Aldershot and Guildford; regarding them in the distance, I imagined them as a locus or way-station for departing souls. I know it seems a pretty daft idea, but I drew some kind of comfort from the thought.


Horsedown Common (From here).

I will dream telepath posts dulcets on this isinglass stream… and ’twill carry on my hearz’ waves my still waters reflections in words over Margrate von Hungaria, her Quaidy ways and her Flavin hair, to thee, Jack, ahoy, beyond the boysforus (FW 460.21-27).

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