I was born in Germany not far from the Harz Mountain in an ancient village where you can still see the remnants of an earthen wall erected in the Middle Ages. It’s a place steeped in the folklore that fueled the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm and inspired Russian composer Mussorgsky to write the unsettling and dramatic Night on Bald Mountain.
A treeless summit above the Bode Gorge is known as the Hexentanzplatz, literally “the Witches’ Dance Floor.” Pre-Christian celebrations in honor of the forest and mountain goddesses are presumably the source of this name. The highest peak on the Harz Mountain, the Brocken, is rumored to be the site where Europe’s witches gathered on Walpurgisnacht. The Brocken is the setting for one of the most famous scenes in Goethe’s Faust, when “the mountain’s mad with magic.” While the US associates Halloween with the season of the witch, the opposite side of the seasonal cycle, May Eve, is when the ancient Saxons gathered for celebrations of mad magic. Continue reading “The Introvert and the Witching Hour”