The Bowl of Walpurgisnacht

Thomas Canfield

May 1 has been celebrated in modern times as a political festival for working people, with parades, speeches, and demonstrations. It has also been celebrated as a neo-Pagan feast of Beltane, with people dancing the Maypole, leaping over a flaming cauldron, and feasting. However, for centuries there was a dark side to this time of year, and the day before was celebrated as a holiday almost as spooky as Halloween. April 30 was known as Walpurgisnacht, named for the German Saint Walpurgis, who had healing powers. She also could cast out witches and evil magic. For centuries, Walpurgisnacht was celebrated with bonfires, and straw witches were burned to symbolically exorcise malefic forces.

     The power of Walpurgisnacht was best seen in 1945, marking the death of Adolf Hitler. This year, the old feast day could see a similar demonstration of casting out. A Solar Eclipse is set for the date (at 4:28 pm in Washington DC) and adding to that element of crisis and emphasis is the positioning of the planets. The bodies are in a Bowl formation within 150 degrees, running from Pluto at 28 Capricorn to the Midheaven at 28 Gemini. The planets are in the Western side of the chart, indicating other-directed focus for energies. Five bodies will be in the Sixth House and five bodies will be in the Eighth House, suggesting much of the attention will be on financial matters. What makes this bowl so interesting is that it is turned on its side, as if to pour out of the contents. Pluto is on the lip at the bottom of the bowl, and that may be the marker of greatest change.

     Since Pluto went into Capricorn in 2008, there has been a lot of financial upheaval for the major banks and corporations. Wall Street banks and car manufacturers needed to be bailed out, and part of the deal was that they did have to pay back the government. It marked a time of economic austerity, when some nations came close to financial collapse. The rise of new technology brought in new billionaires and a greater concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. However, as Pluto is about to enter Aquarius, we are seeing international wealth being weaponized by financial attacks on Russian Oligarchs. Billions of dollars are being frozen in foreign bank accounts, even in Swiss bank. Yachts and luxury apartments are being seized. Perhaps the message of Pluto going into Aquarius is that if the wealth can be seized from Russian Oligarchs, then why not from other billionaires? Pluto in the Fourth House, about to enter the Fifth House, may provide some home entertainment as “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” turns into a “Celebrity Deathmatch”, and some old family wealth collapses.

    Saturn and Vesta in the Fifth House may add to this entertainment factor. Both are sextile Eris, dwarf planet of discord, and trine Ceres, dwarf planet of nurturing.  Saturn and Vesta may bring families closer together, even if it only around a TV set. People may be showing more respect for family history, and with the trine to Ceres there may be increased nostalgia for the good old days down on the farm. With Vesta, Saturn, and Ceres sextile Eris, there may be more refugee families on the run because of war. The trine between Vesta/Saturn and Ceres may spark greater empathy and increased charity for refugees. Eris might mess up the works with the idea that “charity begins at home.”

     Juno, asteroid of marriage and political connections, is in the Sixth House and squaring Mercury as it enters Gemini. The talking heads on the cable networks may be arguing over the best solutions. Should money be spent on developing our own economy, or should we be standing up for the rule of law, represented by Mercury in the Ninth House? Mercury in its own sign may score points by directing attention to the war-torn areas, and providing advocacy for all those who have lost everything. Juno is sextile Pallas, asteroid of wisdom, and the carnage and courage of the war may inspire the younger generation. It may be a 21st Century morality lesson to those who were born after the World War devastation to see entire cities in ruins, and then realize your neighborhood could be next. i

     Mars in Pisces is sextile the Solar Eclipse as well as Uranus. What we are seeing is a new type of warfare, in which powerful nations can be brought down by hampering their economics rather than dropping thousands of bombs. The collapse of banks, businesses, and currency casts shadows over future financial issues. Losses do not have to come at the point of a gun, but by the clicks of a few buttons. Cyber warfare is another developing issue, with hackers being enlisted by governments in order to disable the enemy networks. The new incarnation of General George S. Patton does not need a tank or soldiers to bring about a rout.  (“Rommel, you magnificent bastard, I read your computer code.”) The next war monuments may depict young people sitting behind computer screens.

Mars, Uranus, and the Solar Eclipse are semi-sextile Chiron. It may be the humanitarian workers who prove be the finest heroes of the war. A generation raised on “M*A*S*H” may be willing to volunteer to bring medical aid to the wounded and therapy to the handicapped. Building new hospitals and recovery centers may be a priority, and caregivers who come forward at this time may be the most remembered.

 (Historical note: It was in 1856, when Jupiter and Neptune were both in Pisces, that Florence Nightingale received international fame for improving the reputation of Nursing and setting new standards for medical hygiene. Her work became well-known during a fight against the Russians in the Crimea, which ended with the Russians having to pay reparations. Also, the czar who started the war, Nicholas I, died before the war ended. Will this become another incident of History rhyming?)

     Neptune semi-sextile Eris could bring some phantom fears about the economic result of the upheaval. Nonsensical economic reports can lead to partisan attacks. (High gas prices = Bad President.) However, the real economic story may be seen with the Venus-Jupiter conjunction in Pisces. With both “benefic” planets below the horizon, the real gains might not be seen by the public, but new opportunities may be available for financial growth. If there are reparations for the Ukraine, and if Russian fortunes are impounded for war indemnity, there may be opportunities for reconstruction and revitalization of the country. It is possible there may be Russians willing to volunteer to help as a way of paying back for the harm that was done. 

     What we may see, with the tipped bowl at Walpurgisnacht is a pouring out of old style diplomacy and the weakness of resorting to military solutions. Even the Russian soldiers entering Ukraine knew they were entering a “no win” situation. They could kill Ukrainians and be regarded as killers. They could refuse to fight and be shot as traitors. They could surrender and be branded as cowards. However, in this case surrender is turning out to be the moral high ground. Those Russians who surrendered were saying that they were not willing to be part of an illegal invasion. It seems like a variation on the old Sixties pacifist theme, “What if they gave a war and nobody showed up?” In the 21st Century version, it could become, “What if they gave a war and nobody wanted to shoot?” After this war, the best soldiers may be the ones who stand up for morality. The old Crimean War left us with Alfred Lord Tennyson’s vision of soldiers, “Theirs was not to reason why, Theirs was but to do or die.”  The modern “do or die” soldiers may learn a lesson from that other unreasonable war veteran who died on another Walpurgisnacht back in 1945.  This Walpurgisnacht could see a final dumping out of the old way of things. The dark magic gets dispelled, the people get healed, and the bonfires light the way to a shining May Day.