Beltane Fire Festival: Into the Wild
Beltane is popularly celebrated on the 1st of May on May Day which falls on Monday this year. True Beltane, when the sun is at 15 degrees in Taurus, is on Friday the 5th of May at 18:19 pm GMT - this will also be a lunar eclipse with a full moon in Scorpio. Mercury, Uranus and the true North node will also join the sun in Taurus bringing up societal themes to communicate regarding our collective movements forward and Scorpio may shine a light on the old snake skin which we can release, or transform, as we prepare for a re-emergence.
Beltane is one of the four astrological 'fire festivals' of the cross-quarter days which take place within a cross of the four fixed signs including Imbolc (Aquarius), Beltane (Taurus,) Lughnasadh/Lammas (Leo) and Samhain (Scorpio.) In its purest astrological form Beltane can be a beautiful way to align with the natural rhythms, cycles and earth energies, to celebrate the fertility of the land, grains and plant seeds and to acknowledge the beginning stirrings of summer. In Europe this festival is ancient and also known as May Day and later was associated with Walpurgis Night in Germanic countries; in Catholic traditions, May is devoted to Mother Mary who is also called the 'Queen of May.'
Into the Wild
Yet it also has a 'wild' and dark, inverted side connected with ancient blood sacrifice and ritual patterns and we will also discuss its hidden astrological connection with the tragedy of Chris McCandless of the book Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer and its film-version. It is important to discern the difference so that we can put our energies out in ways which are aligned with divinity.
Wheel of the Year
The Wheel of the Year marks the chief solar events of the year - the above diagram shows the cardinal cross which represents the four cardinal signs of astrology - when the sun enters Aries (Ostara or Spring Equinox,) when the sun enters Cancer (Litha or Summer Solstice,) when the sun enters Libra (Mabon or Autumn Equinox) and when the sun enters Capricorn (Yule or Winter Solstice.) The second cross shows the 'cross-quarter days' or four fixed 'fire festivals' which are the mid-way points and these are popularly celebrated on the 1st of the month although their true astrological potential is slightly later. These days happen in the four fixed signs - when the sun enters 15° Aquarius or 1st February (Imbolc,) when the sun enters 15° Taurus or 1st May (Beltane,) when the sun enters 15° Leo or 1st August (Lughnasadh or Lammas) and when the sun enters 15° Scorpio or 1st November (Samhain.)
The four remaining signs are known as the 'mutable signs' and represent transitions and change - Pisces moves us into spring, Gemini moves us into summer, Virgo moves us into autumn and Sagittarius moves us into winter. The cycles happen as a 'polar opposite' in the Southern Hemisphere.
There are therefore two crosses in the astrological year - the cardinal cross and the cross of the cross-quarter days. Together they form the eight-spoked Wheel of the Year.
Beltane and Cerealia
The May Day scene in Roman Polanski's film Tess.
Beltane happens in the sign of Taurus ruled by Venus and some astrologers are associating Ceres as co-ruler of the sign and more about that can be read here. Beltane works very well with the energy of the Roman grain goddess Ceres whose festival, Cerealia, took place in late April. A classic story detailing this culture in England is Tess of the DUrbervilles and towards the beginning of this tale and later, Tess and the women of the village gathered for the May Day dance in a village called Marlott which still upheld the culture of Cerealia or Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture, fertility and motherhood:
“In men’s clubs such celebrations were, though expiring, less uncommon; but either the natural shyness of the softer sex, or a sarcastic attitude on the part of male relatives, had denuded such women’s clubs as remained (if any other did) of this their glory and consummation. The club of Marlott alone lived to uphold the local Cerealia. It had walked for hundreds of years, if not as benefit-club, as votive sisterhood of some sort; and it walked still.”
Yet there was a tragedy in this story and we can see the dark 'sacrifice' aspect associated with May Day and Tess who was caught in abusive patterns, cycles and poverty. More about the story and these patterns can be read here. Yet what did May Day mean in its purity and uncorrupted nature?
Queen Guinevre's Maying by John Collier, 1900.
Offerings to the Land & Nature Spirits
Some believe that Beltane is connected with the Celtic god Bel (Belenos) who was a healing god. It was a Celtic festival marking the beginnings of summer when the cattle (Taurus) were driven out into the summer pastures. Rituals, often with a bonfire, were conducted to protect the cattle and ensure a good harvest; the Irish fairies, aos sí, were thought to be very active at Beltane and Samhain and so offerings and food were made to the nature spirits at this time also. Other customs would include decorating the 'May tree' which was often a hawthorn tree (associated with faeries) and yellow and white flowers (including primrose, rowan, hawthorn, gorse or hazel) would be placed at doorways or windows. Holy wells would often be visited and pilgrims would turn 'sunwise' (east to west) and leave offerings or pray for health.
Other traditions include the Maypole dance, Morris dancing and the crowning of the Queen of May with flowers. In Glastonbury, Beltane is connected with a King of the Otherworld, Gwyn ap Nudd, who is deeply connected with Glastonbury Tor and also the tradition of the 'Wild Hunt' - he was also seen as the king of the underworld and he chased lost souls at night on horseback in the hunts. In the Welsh tale Culhwch and Olwen, Gwyn's lover was Creiddylad and his rival for her affections was Gwythyr - with King Arthur's intervention, they had to engage in combat for Creiddylad's love every May Day and she had to remain with her father unmarried until Judgement Day when the final battle would determine who she remained with forever. The story could symbolise the battle of light and shadow and the transcendence of this at Judgement Day with the final return to truth.
Robin Hood and Maid Marian
Interestingly, Maid Marian was not mentioned in the earliest ballads of Robin Hood and was a May Day character, associated with the Queen or Lady of May. By the 15th century Robin was associated with May Day in Robin Hood plays and games. Robin Hood as an archetypal character fits these themes of Taurus well since he tried to ensure that everyone received wealth in a time when the poor were being tithed heavily by the rich.
“Maid Marion” by William Clarke Wontner
In their book about earth energies, The Sun and the Serpent, Paul Broadhurst and Hamish Miller wrote: "Beltane (May Day) and Llughnasad (Lammas) were the high spots of the ancient world, when beacon fires were kindled on the hills and people across the land celebrated the return of Bel, the Sun God, with his power to fertilize the land with the energizing vitality of spring, and later thanked him and his consort, the Earth Goddess, for their bountiful harvest. On these occasions, around which the whole year revolved, wild orgiastic festivities took place at the old sacred places, not out of the crude licentious lust reviled by Victorian vicars, but rather as an act of sympathetic magic to draw the fructifying cosmic energies into the Earth."
Here we can see the symbolic potency of the maypole which is sometimes decorated with white and red ribbons representing the masculine and feminine. The meaning of the maypole has often been debated - some believe it is connected with the May Tree and sacred tree symbolism and others see it as a fertility symbol and phallus, ensuring a fruitful season on the land. In Glastonbury, a maypole dance happens every year in the Chalice Well gardens where the red iron-rich spring water can be found next to the White Spring and the two ribbons reflect the two waters. Two dragons, one red and one white also parade through the town and 'battle' outside the abbey before heading up to the White Spring. This also happens again at the Samhain fire festival with some interpreting this to mean that the 'victor' leads the season of summer or winter.
'Dragon Lines' or Ley Lines
There are two 'dragon lines' or ley lines which pass under the Tor - one is male (Michael) and one is female (Mary.) These two energies weave together across the landscape from the end of Cornwall up to Hopton in East Anglia, passing through the Tor. The alignment of the Tor with the next position on the 'line' 11 miles away at Burrow Mump lines up perfectly with the position of the Beltane sunrise, suggesting a significant connection with this celebration and the ley energy. These two dragon or ley lines were described by Paul Broadhurst and Hamish Miller in The Sun and the Serpent - sites such as the Glastonbury Tor where the two lines cross over each other and 'mingle' could be considered to be powerful land fertility centres.
Image of the Michael and Mary lines from this source.
This dance also happens on a global scale and for those interested in earth energies then you might be interested to read more about the two major 'dragon' lines and energy centres across the planet - one is masculine and one is female and they 'mingle' together in Bali in Indonesia and at Lake Titicaca in Peru and Bolivia.
The two dragon lines of earth. Image by Robert Coon.
Beltane - 'White Fire'
The etymology of Bel and Beltane is unclear and, as mentioned, could have been connected with the Celtic god- some believe that Bel comes from the Proto-Indo-European root bʰelH meaning 'white' or 'shining.' The Middle-English word bale-fyre or bale-fire was used to describe a funeral or sacrificial fire or an outdoor fire for witch's rituals with bale meaning pyre. The Proto-Germanic word bēlą also meant pyre. The second part of the word, 'tane,' was thought to come from the Celtic word 'tene' meaning fire so Beltane could be interpreted as white or shining fire. Here again we can see the themes of white and red.
There is however an inverted form of Beltane which is connected with the horned god Baal who was associated with the bull and was called a 'false god' in the Hebrew Bible. The Middle English word 'bale' also meant evil and was connected with the Lower German root 'bal-' meaning bad or ill. Here we can see the dualistic side of this festival and it is important to be discerning about the agendas behind the events we attend and get a 'feel' for them since they may have been involved with darker arts including blood sacrifice.
Baʿal Zebub is mentioned in the Second Book of Kings as the 'Fly Lord.' Beelzebub is another spelling and is also interpreted to mean 'Lord of the Flies.' He is considered to be a demon in Abrahamic religions and in Christian sources is considered to be another name for Satan. Yet in its uncorrupted form, Baal was the Semitic word for 'lord.'
The darker side of this festival was portrayed in the classic film The Wicker Man based on rituals the druids were thought to practise involving a large man made of wicker which was full of humans and animals for sacrifice by fire on Beltane.
18th-century illustration of a wicker man from A Tour in Wales by Thomas Pennant.
These accounts were written by Romans, so some are sceptical and believed that they attempted to portray the Celts in a negative light. However dark sacrifice rituals are ancient and pervasive in human culture and are still being performed today unfortunately and more can be read about that here. The history of darker black magic or elite rituals and connections with the darker side of the fire festivals can also be read about here. This is known as the 'left hand path' or dark masonry. Ex-Satanic priest Mark Passio talks about this topic in great depth for those who are interested more about this - the video can be found here.
Here he described this 'first Sabbat' on May Day:
"This is the spring fertility rites. This is when some form of offering would often be made to the earth in the form of a sacrifice to ensure a bountiful harvest come harvest time because spring is your planting season ok. So you can see that the bull which is another symbol of fertility is the mid-point of spring, Taurus and that is the earth sign, spring is ruled by the earth sign of Taurus..."
'Season of Sacrifice'
Mark Passio then described the 42 day period between the Spring Equinox and May 1st or Beltane which is known as Walpurgis Night (Walpurgisnacht) in Germany:
"This 42 day period between March 19th and May 1st is referred to in the Occult, in the dark Occult as the 'season of sacrifice.' This is the time period where sacrifices would be offered to ensure a harvest, that would ensure the crops would grow, the sun would look favourably upon the earth and would be the sacred marriage between the sun and the earth to create a lot of food and a lot of prosperity. So this is when dark occultists that are looking for their prosperity during the course of the year will often invoke some form of a sacrifice that is connected with mind control." As an ex-Satanist priest, he has revealed many tools of mind control that are practised. He also spoke about tragic events and conflicts being more likely to occur during this time-frame.
As one example that comes to mind, Madeleine McCann went missing on the 3rd of May 2007, just before true Beltane on the 5th of May. The name Madeleine is a modern form of Magdalene from Mary Magdalene.
An important question to ask is what patterns are we running that are allowing these archaic and patriarchal systems to continue which involve stealing energy from others (particularly children and animals unfortunately) instead of connecting with God and the soul? Are we putting any energy into these hidden, elite systems of human trafficking, conflict, ritual, sexual slavery and abuse? At an unconscious level are we agreeing to any dishonouring acts? Are we perpetuating any ancestral patterns of sacrifice?
Burning a wicker man at Butser Ancient Farm.
One year I celebrated May Day and participated in the maypole dance - I was amazed by the vitality and sense of community and tradition and put a lot of energy into the event and land. Yet the following morning I woke up feeling exhausted and drained and this continued for a couple of weeks afterwards and I realised that something was wrong - my energy was gone but it didn't feel 'right' - I didn't feel as if the land had benefited as it should have done. I later found out that sometimes at (often larger or public) events, beings will siphon the energy. I am now very mindful about giving out my energy or prayers in public ceremony and when I bless the land I do my own private prayers. I hope that my words here do not deter anyone from their own authentic paths, but I have shared them in case they resonate. Every situation is different and I hope that everyone will trust their discernment and intuition and follow what feels right for them at any given moment.
Walpurgis Night and Saint Walpurga - a 'Corn-mother'
In Europe in many countries, May Day is celebrated as Walpurgis Night on the evening of the 30th of April and during the day on the 1st of May. This celebration is the Christian feast day of Saint Walpurga (or Walburga) whose name is Old German meaning 'strong protection' and in this tradition bonfires are lit to ward off witches and evil spirits and they will wrap a maibaum or maypole. Walpurga was born in Devon and eventually became a nun and abbess in a monastery in Germany. She was thought to repel the effects of witch-craft and Christian pilgrims still visit her tomb for healing - the tomb produces a sacred water 'oil' which is used for anointing and is said to have healing properties. For those interested in the esoteric meaning of oils and anointing please see this blog-post regarding the Easter mysteries.
An Irish harvest corn dolly from Claidheach.
The Corn Mother and May Day
Interestingly, Saint Walpurga was associated with the 'Corn Mother' and corn dolly replicas were made of her. This brings a neat connection with the May Day and Cerealia celebrations associated with the grain goddess Ceres, from whom we get the word cereal. Corn dollies or corn mothers were a traditional custom across Europe in which the spirit of the corn would enter into a corn dolly after the harvest season when it was made 'homeless' and this doll would be offered to the ground again when it was ploughed for the new season. Many folklorists believe that her traditions are connected with Pre-Christian May Day celebrations.
Walpurga holding sheaves of grain.
Black Magic at Brocken
Despite this, medieval tradition held that witch-craft was at its strongest at the start of May when witches gathered and 'evil' was at its strongest. In German folklore, witches were thought to gather at Brocken mountain and in Bavaria this feast day is known as Hexennacht or 'witch's night' when people dress up as witches or demons and light bonfires and 'party,' playing loud music to 'ward off the evil spirits,' while most likely unconsciously attracting lower vibrations. Here we can see the dualistic side of the celebration and like at Beltane, dark rituals (hexes) can be practised at this time - these are practitioners of the 'left hand path' of black magic, which is focused on egoic agenda (rather than offering blessings or healing) and works against the freewill of others (e.g. mind control.)
The Nazi party sought to encourage pagan-esoteric traditions, and had their own dark esoteric knowledge used for power. Heinrich Himmler conducted the Hexenkartothek, an investigation into the witch trials and persecutions across Europe and concluded that the Catholic church had sought to destroy Germanic traditions and "Aryan womanhood." There was a skewed direction towards 'dark witchcraft' and Aryan supremacy. Sponsored by Himmler, the SS officer Otto Rahn's second book, Lucifer’s Court (1937), speculated that the holy grail could be found with the Luciferians who practised a pagan Ur-Aryan religion with connections to Tibet and the East which the Catholic church had tried to destroy. Otto was thought to be a mason, Luciferian and a member of the Thule society which sought to find origins of the Aryan race. Theories such as this connected the grail with Lucifer, witch-craft and 'pagan' places such as Brocken mountain in Germany where Walpurgis Night is 'celebrated.' These narratives formed “the purpose of forging a national religiosity that the Nazi regime wanted,” wrote historian George Williamson.
A 'Brocken Spectre' with glory rings.
Freya and the Giant Spectre
According to German legends it was thought that on Walpurgis Night, witches would hold unholy rituals, midnight ceremonies and communicate with their 'gods' and demons on Brocken Mountain and it appeared in Goethe's book Faust - one of the poems about this mountain and Walpurigs Night was put to music by Mendelssohn.
With the rise of Christianity, the old gods were banished and like Mary Magdalene, Freya was labelled as a "whore" by the missionaries - the beloved Freya (who had conditionings of her times and accepted sacrificial offerings) was cast away to Brocken mountain and replaced by the Virgin Mary, thus it could be argued that a dishonoured shadow-side formed, and was said by some to have transformed into a malignant power who led the witches. Here we can see how the feminine energy was repressed, shamed and wounded (instead of purified) and thus its force was corrupted.
Brocken has a strange energy and there are tales of sightings of a 'giant spectre' seen there by mountain-climbers with one climber falling to his death in fright - yet this is known as the 'Brocken Spectre' phenomena, where a magnified shadow can appear in a cloud (on a misty hillside) opposite the sunlight. The strange giant is in fact nothing but a 'shadow' and there is no need to give it substance.
Healing these Cycles
On May Day or true Beltane, how can we celebrate the earth, the seeds and grains, dragon earth energies and these astrological cycles and rhythms in a pure way? These sacrifice patterns are ancient and destructive. We may even sacrifice our time, energy, money and even life-force, yet it will leave us feeling depleted and unfulfilled. Now is the time for the new astrological cycle - a cycle of enlightenment on our planet out of these abusive cycles which involve suffering, power abuse and fear. This is a time for following our truth, peace and joy - we don't have to sacrifice something to 'gain' something or prove our worth. The earth and sun love us unconditionally - we don't have to prove our worth to them to receive and simply recognising this is freedom from these ancient patriarchal forces which have kept us in a state of disempowerment and fear.
All is consciousness and formlessness - we are learning this more as our understanding of quantum science evolves and esoteric wisdom has always taught this. We do not need to give 'substance' to these archaic images and cruel witches, spirits or gods, for they are only an image and are dependent on our attention and energy. We do not need to sacrifice our energy to anything or anyone and true divinity - the timeless Higher Self - does not ask us to sacrifice. With freewill we have the choice to walk the path of truth and love - to follow the soul's true path and not get distracted by what we encounter in these realms or give them substance. Can we find the healing remedy by connecting with these seasons and astrological cycles in their pure and uncorrupted essence in alignment with truth and divinity?
A poster of the sacred cow Kamadhenu to discourage the consumption of beef - various deities are contained within her body. Ravi Varma Press (1897)
Taurus and the Sacred Cow
The earth sign Taurus is associated with the physical realm - food, sensuality, the body, grains, seeds and also our intrinsic sense of worth. Our relationship with the cow and the bull can be a good indicator of our relationship with the physical realm of Taurus and the earth. Cows are seen as sacred in India and symbols of the goddess. In Hinduism, the earth-goddess Prithvi appeared in the form of a cow and Kamadhenu was a divine bovine goddess and considered the mother of all cows. In Nepal, cows are associated with the goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. In Celtic mythology, Damona was a cattle goddess and in Ancient Egypt cows were deeply revered, symbolizing motherhood and fertility and some sacred bulls were thought to be incarnations of divine powers.
Yet in Western cultures - her sacred milk, designed for the calf, is stolen and very often calves are separated from their mothers and either killed or raised in 'factory farming' and often given milk replacers. Cows are forced to sacrifice their lives to serve the agendas of humans. Yet holistic and respectful farming are developing for example in permaculture which uses the dung and sanctuaries and retreat centres are allowing humans to experience healing with the animals. Others revere the cow such as at Hare Krishna farms and also Ramana Maharashi - the following video detailed his friendship with the cow Lakshmi who experienced her own 'awakening' in his presence. For those considering adopting a plant-based diet I have written an article about the benefits for the health, environment, spiritual well-being and earth here. Cows are sacrificed for meat on a massive-scale operation - this is pertinent since they are associated with Taurus and the dark 'sacrifice season' as mentioned.
Yet cows have huge hearts and when given a place of safety to trust again, their loving and innocent natures can be revealed and it is clear to see why they were connected with the goddess. Last year just after May Day, I sat in a field with a group of young bulls - they all approached and we sang songs to them to build a connection. One of the bulls had tears in his eyes and I found it very moving because I was experiencing some healing at the time and I felt we could sense that in each other - a shared grief.
Taurus and Wealth
Taurus, the Latin word for bull, was associated with the bull worship of many ancient cultures. It is believed that the Age of Taurus ran from 4300 BCE to 2150 BCE in the Bronze age which was characterised by bull cults and bull worship – including the Minotaur of later Greek mythology and non-violent bull leaping rituals which occurred in various places including Crete and portrayed an intimacy between human and bull, involving acrobatics. The oldest surviving stringed instruments, four harps called the Lyres of Ur from Mesopotamia, were decorated with the heads of bulls and date back to the Age of Taurus around 2550 and 2450 BC.
Bull-Leaping Fresco at the Great Palace in Knossos, Crete.
Taurus can show us how to connect with Earth but it also can show us where our attachments can be found. It can reveal where we are comfortable, settled or attached to sensual delights and do not hear or follow the calling of our soul and path of growth. It is important to feel connected with Earth but not attached or fall into its trappings or distractions - this is a learning planet and we came here with mission and purpose and to transcend grasping and holding onto objects - here we have the freewill to awaken into presence and follow the true path. For it is not the body we love in another, it is the soul and Taurus can reveal where we may have got lost in 'earthly delights.' Is there a lived sense of knowing we have intrinsic worth just as we are and that we are part of something so incredibly intelligent and divine?
Taurus and Materialism
Taurus can also reveal where we may have got lost in other forms of materialism, money or used eternal objects to gain a sense of worth instead of connecting with the true worthiness of the soul - we may even put others on a pedestal if they are wealthy. In this way we may hoard possessions to fill a void or consume as much as we can or we may fall into 'object consciousness.' We may even allow ourselves to be treated as an object to control or take from, or do the same to others. We may fall into the trappings of comparing ourselves to others, comparing salaries for example and forgetting what is true and unique for us. It can show us what we prioritise in life - the 'blood money' and materialism of Earth, or the true and ethical path of the soul where security and richness is found. In this place of deep trust there is the knowing that our true needs and external wants will always be taken of and to not feel insecure about what we have. Stepping into trust is surrendering into a safe world, knowing that the Earth will always take care of us and support us in releasing any limiting beliefs about scarcity or unsafety and to fill any sense of 'void' with presence. If any of these words have felt triggering then something deep may have been touched and this is where true healing and empowerment can begin.
Into the Wild and True Beltane
I was recently guided to look into the birth-chart of Chris McCandless (also known as 'Alexander Supertramp') of Into the Wild and found something interesting. The natal sun of Chris was in Aquarius and his Black Moon Lilith (wounded feminine aspect and hidden power) was at 15°55 in Taurus, which is true astrological Beltane! It's likely that his life would therefore have included wounded themes regarding Taurus (wealth, materialism etc) and the darker aspects of Beltane (ritual and sacrifice) which would have required healing by him in order to step up into his power.
Rejection of Society, 'The False Being' and Materialism
Interestingly, his journey 'into the wild,' leaving behind wealth and the trappings of society, revealed his determined attempt to face these 'demons' and transform them, whether he was conscious of it or not. Yet it seems clear that he was plagued by these thoughts and themes since before leaving to go into the wild he gave away a cheque of over $24,000 of all his family inheritance to a charity and ventured into nature without even a map, heading to Alaska in April 1992. It's thought by some that this act may have been against his well-off family (the father had worked for NASA and then became an entrepreneur) which his sister later revealed had a lot of domestic violence. His further rejection of society and materialism was shown by his driving a car with expired license plates and no insurance. His sister, the author Carine McCandless, wrote publicly about the violent abuse of their parents (especially the father,) which they denied and more information can be found here.
From his own diary:
"two years he walks the earth. no phone, no pool, no pets, no cigarettes. ultimate freedom. an extremist. anaesthetic voyager whose home is the road. escaped from atlanta. thou shalt not return, 'cause "the west is the best. and now after two rambling years comes the final and greatest adventure. the climactic battle to kill the false being within and victoriously conclude the spiritual revolution. ten days and nights of freight trains and hitchhiking bring him to the great white north. no longer to be poisoned by civilization he flees, and walks alone upon the land to become lost in the wild."
Self-portrait of Chris sat outside the abandoned Fairbanks Bus 142, found on his camera.
Starvation from Poisoning
Chris found his way to an abandoned bus and lived there for a while, eating hunted animals, roots and berries. A hunter later discovered his dead body and the official cause of death was said to be starvation although there has been some debate on this with some believing that he ate too many berries containing a toxic alkaloid or from a mould which can grow on them - yet many were doubtful of this hypothesis since the toxins couldn't be traced. In 2013 a theory was proposed by Ronald Hamilton which supported Jon Krakauer's hypothesis of a toxic alkaloid in the seeds which weakened him, leading to starvation. Hamilton believed Chris experienced lathyrism from the seeds of the berries which prevented him from moving and getting food. The seeds of the wild potato would be harmless ordinarily, but not for a malnourished person and would be toxic. Hamilton believed that this theory explained the diary entry of Chris for the 30th of July 1992:
"EXTREMELY WEAK. FAULT OF POT[ATO] SEED. MUCH TROUBLE JUST TO STAND UP. STARVING. GREAT JEOPARDY."
The author of Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer, published an update in light of this theory in 2013 which can be read here.
"I’ve received thousands of letters from people who admire McCandless for his rejection of conformity and materialism in order to discover what was authentic and what was not, to test himself, to experience the raw throb of life without a safety net. But I’ve also received plenty of mail from people who think he was an idiot who came to grief because he was arrogant, woefully unprepared, mentally unbalanced, and possibly suicidal." Wrote Jon Krakauer.
Valley of the Teklanika River in Denali National Park, Alaska where Chris was found.
Chris's renunciation of his family money and clear determination to "battle to kill the false being within" was deeply admirable, yet he had a clear lack of support in his journey, was distrustful of others and was possibly extremely independent as a result of his trauma; there was also a lack of community, unlike Robin Hood who was joined by the 'Merry Men.' He had a shadow side that he hadn't faced. Some witness accounts described his behaviour as "weird", distrustful and irrational:
""Tramping is too Easy with all this money," he wrote. "My days were more exciting when I was penniless and had to Forage Around for my next meal ... I've decided that I'm going to live this Life for some time to come."
"This life" to which he refers is panhandling, stealing and freeloading. From South Dakota, McCandless headed southwest and illegally slipped into Mexico packing a handgun. He then equally illegally re-entered the U.S., still packing heat, only to be caught and jailed. He was let go after his gun was taken away.
Most of this behavior can in many ways be excused by McCandless's youth. A lot of young men are rebellious thrill-seekers prone to bad behavior. I'd have to plead guilty to some of this myself." From the following article.
Chris bought a rifle in Alaska but had no fishing or hunting license:
"As he reportedly told the last man to see him alive, "How I feed myself is none of the government's business. Fuck their stupid rules."
And fuck their stupid rules is what he proceeded to do. He shot a moose, a highly valuable commodity in the Alaska Bush, apparently tried to preserve the flesh by smoking, apparently failed, and obviously let lots of prime meat go to waste." From the following article.
Anger and 'the Beast'
The author of this article Craig Medred also noted that his diary entries seemed to celebrate his kills and that he often posed for self-portraits with dead animals - there was a clear lack of empathy - connecting us with the shadow side of Beltane. He also pointed out that just after Chris's arrival to the bus, three cabins nearby were broken into and vandalised (a mattress thrown outside and lamps were broken etc) which had been glossed over since the Park service did not wish for "enemies." Others also suspected McCandless - it may have been possible that he resented seeing something of civilisation (the cabins belonged to the park service and therefore the government) near his 'wild abode' or was purging out his anger. We will never know. He wrote the following on the bus:
"All Hail the Dominant Primordial Beast! And Captain Ahab Too!"
Captain Ahab was one of the main characters of Moby-Dick who was seeking revenge to kill the whale that had bitten his leg off in a previous voyage and he has been termed by some as a narcissistic character with a fanatic obsession with the whale. Chris's passage clearly revealed his thoughts as the "primordial beast" and that he had his own inner 'demon' to conquer. Yet when we get so caught up in our own wounds, we can become self-absorbed and forget the sufferings or stories of others. Some have said that McCandless had a self-destructive streak, anger and a need to renounce his family, an aversion of any authority and narcissistic behaviour.
Black Moon Lilith - the Core Wound
These patterns are all very likely - yet what was the core wound that led to such deep unhappiness and disconnection?
Hikers on the Stampede Trail, sitting outside Bus 142. The bus had become a pilgrimage site, yet at least two people had died crossing the Teklanika River trying to reach it and at least 15 people have needed rescue. For safety reasons the bus was removed in 2020 by helicopter and is now kept in a museum.
Making herself Known
His starved body was discovered on 6/09/1992 and it was thought likely from his body that he died on the 18th August. Here is where it gets very interesting.
At 3:29 am on the 18th August 1992, Black Moon Lilith was in Aquarius at exactly 23°21 crossing his natal sun of Aquarius 23°21! His Chiron (wounded healer) was also directly opposing Saturn (father) too. His Black Moon Lilith made herself very clear and waited for the perfect time to make her point of the core wound. Aquarius can relate to themes of society, thinking out of the box and uniqueness - Chris's approach to society was definitely something to contemplate. He claimed that he wanted to escape society and live in nature yet seemed to hold very little respect for the wild animals he encountered (even killing a slow-moving porcupine and posing with his kill in a photo and his naivety about preserving the moose meat which went to waste.) He also had no preparation for how to live in nature, dismissed all systems rather than seeking a way to uplift them, perpetuated cycles and, it could be argued, did not do the deeper healing that is required for a Black Moon Lilith placement. Taurus is associated with food, abundance, grains, seeds, cereal and the physical body. We can see the wounded Black Moon Lilith energy in Taurus so strongly in the nature of his death of starvation from poisoning from eating seeds.
This wound points to the wounded intuitive feminine energy within all of us (as the right hemisphere) which was shamed and cast out from society, repressed and formed a hidden, shadow-side - this is the story of Freya at Brocken and all 'witches' who were persecuted. The deeper healing, it could be argued, is in connecting with this hidden power and purifying it - releasing the patriarchal filters and getting in touch with its pure essence, as pure timeless awareness.
The Shadow and the Sacrifice
Chris accepted the invitation to look at many of these materialism themes, but it could be argued that there was a strong wounded shadow side of arrogance in his approach to nature (Earth) and his unpreparedness. He was not able to transcend these patterns himself and it's likely that he experienced a lack of support and spiritual awareness regarding these burdens and his core wounds. Chris, it could be argued, became an 'Earth sacrifice' and he carried the wounded side of true Beltane at 15°55 in Taurus, not an easy placement to heal. His story has spread across the world, touching many regarding these themes which we all can reflect upon about materialism, society and its patterns and systematic abuse cycles.
"Oh, it's a mystery to me We have a greed, with which we have agreed And you think you have to want more than you need Until you have it all you won't be free
Society, you're a crazy breed I hope you're not lonely without me
When you want more than you have You think you need And when you think more than you want Your thoughts begin to bleed I think I need to find a bigger place 'Cause when you have more than you think You need more space
Society, you're a crazy breed I hope you're not lonely without me."
Lyrics by Eddie Vedder - soundtrack from Into the Wild.