When the ground was thawed, and the colder weather was beginning to give way to it became necessary to move the cattle from the winter fields to the summer ones. Hexennacht, traditionally, was a festival celebrating this very thing. The main focus of the holiday was the bonfire. The men would all gather and build the large need-fire. They would then walk the cattle through the smoke to bless them before rehoming them for the warm months. Often the men would call on Frey during Hexennacht, asking for fertility and abundance.
While the men were off blessing the cattle the women gathered together for their own festivities. They had their own bonfires, and it was during this time that the women often burned herbs and practiced their local magic or Seidr. As the men called on Frey, the woman would often call on Freyja.
After the separate celebrations, men and women would come together and continue the festivities.
We in the AFA celebrate this day as Hexennacht instead of the more common “Walpurgisnacht”. Walpurgisnacht is named such because it is the night before the Christian feast day honoring Saint Walpurga, who was credited with healing and repelling witches.
Men and women celebrating separately and then coming together are one of the main features of Hexennacht, as well as the bonfire. A good way to celebrate the holiday might include the men building the bonfire while the women practice communal Seidr. When they are finished the men and woman can join together around the bonfire. The women can throw herbs into the fire, and, asking for the blessings of Frey and Freyja, the men, women, and children can each take turns walking through the smoke.
Gythia Catie Erickson