Welcome to Beltane.org

Beltane 2010 by Neil Hodgins

Formed in 1988, Beltane Fire Society is a community arts performance charity that hosts the Beltane Fire Festival and Samhuinn Fire Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.

For more information about the Society, our world-famous festivals and how you can get involved, navigate using the menu on the left. Scroll down for our latest news.

Find us online: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Tumblr

Beltane Fire Society is a not-for-profit registered charity in Scotland.
Charity Number SC040137. Company Number SC341753.

Photograph by Neil Hodgins, taken at Beltane Fire Festival 2010.

Deadline reminder for Beltane 2017 – Green Man

A reminder of the upcoming deadline(s) for the role of Green Man, at our 30th Anniversary Festival. Full information on the role and how to apply can be found here.

If you’d like to nominate a member of our community to take on the role, you have until 7pm on Monday 23 January 2017.

If you yourself are drawn to the story of the Green Man, notes of interest need to be submitted by 7pm on Thursday 26 January 2017.

Whilst we’re here – it’s also just over a week till the pre-application meeting for Group Organisers, on Sunday 22 January 2017. A chance to chat to Blues, Trustees and experienced GOs about what it means to run a group at Beltane. More detailed info here, or RSVP at the Facebook event here.

Copyright Dan Mosley for Beltane Fire Society. All Rights Reserved. www.beltane.org / facebook.com/beltanefiresociety

Communications Coordinator wanted for Beltane 2017

dan-mosley

  • Contractor title: Communications Coordinator
  • Organisation: Beltane Fire Society
  • Location: Edinburgh
  • Hours: Approx 160 hours across February – May 2017
  • Fee: Paid (Please ask for details)
  • Deadline: 9am Monday 30 January

We’re looking for a communications contractor to help spread the word about our 30th Beltane Fire Festival. If you can wrangle journalists, secure top-class press coverage and use web and social media to tell stories about creative happenings, this is a contract for you.

Who we are
The Beltane Fire Society is a community of volunteers, and we stage huge fire festivals in central Edinburgh on the last days of April and October each year. We use them to mark the turning seasons and keep ancient Celtic traditions alive. They’re incredible visual spectacles with audiences of thousands, and we get lots of press and social media attention from around the world.

Focus of the role 
This year is our 30th Beltane Fire Festival. We want to make sure it is well attended, but also to share our story and the traditions we love with everyone who is interested, on and offline. Our comms coordinator will lead this work, through two areas of responsibility: engaging with news media to maximise our press coverage, and running our online presence.

The news media element will involve planning, writing and pitching feature articles to increase interest in our event, getting event details on listings sites, writing and sending press releases and setting up interviews, as well as coordinating all the journalists who want to film, write about or photograph our event – responding to their enquiries and guiding those we give special access to on the night of the event itself.

The online component will involve telling our stories and increasing interest in our event through our website and social media platforms. This will include planning, writing and posting content, responding to queries and comments left for us online, coordinating with our volunteer photographers and videographers to store and share their work, and finding creative ways to engage our audiences and community.

Who we’re looking for
We’ve been lucky to have had some fantastic volunteers and contractors working on the separate elements of this role in the past. Now we’re looking for someone to continue all their great work and build on it. That’ll take someone:

  • Who really gets how news media outlets work and has demonstrable experience of engaging with press to get great coverage;
  • Who really understands social media and web CMS, and has demonstrable experience of using them to communicate effectively (ideally in an events context);
  • Interested in or willing to learn about Beltane Fire Society, our principles, events and style – and who will work well with our volunteers;
  • With great writing skills and ability to devise, pitch and write great web and social content, as well as press releases and feature articles;
  • Able to build strategy to meet press coverage and social media targets, and to report regularly on both;
  • Willing and able to commit to working with us flexibly from mid February through to mid May, often including evenings and Sunday afternoons. Must be available on 19 February, 26 February, 16 April, 22 and 23 April and 30 April.
  • With great people skills and initiative, who can work well in a small team with members of our board of trustees and our Event Coordinator;
  • Based in Edinburgh or within easy travelling distance, and able to work from home.

To apply or find out more, email your CV and a cover letter setting out your suitability to chair@beltane.org by 9am on Monday 30 January.

Photo of Beltane 2016 by Dan Mosley, for Beltane Fire Society

Copyright Mark Taylor for Beltane Fire Society. All Rights Reserved. www.beltane.org / www.facebook.com/beltanefiresociety

Pre-Application Meeting for Prospective Beltane 2017 Group Organisers

When?

2pm-5pm on Sunday 22nd January 2017

Where?
Canons’ Gait Bar, 232 Cannongate, Edinburgh, EH8 8DQ

Who?
Prospective Beltane 2017 Group Organisers

What?
If you’re considering applying to run a group at Beltane Fire Festival 2017, this meeting is the perfect opportunity to speak to Blues, Trustees and experienced GOs for guidance. Whether you’re leaning toward applying for a group which is part of the processional narrative, a performance group which may take an alternative path or occupy a static space on the Hill, or a production group that will help form the physical or logistical structure of our event, we strongly advise that you attend and talk to the Blues and Board about your ideas.

While we would definitely like to see you at this meeting even if you’ve run groups, or the same group, a number of times, this is particularly important for people with limited experience of group organising at BFS events. If you’re new to GOing, you are especially encouraged to attend. It’s also a chance to potentially find a second GO if you have a great idea but are currently working alone. Conversely, if you’re genuinely open to GOing in general and would be happy to meet with someone who already has a concept for a group in mind, please join us!

This will be a working meeting with structured discussion. If you would like to come and hang out socially, please feel free to come along afterwards, but we ask that only prospective Group Organisers attend during the actual meeting.

For further information about Group Organiser applications for Beltane 2017, please see this post.

If you’re thinking of applying to run a group but you can’t make it along to the meeting, please get in touch with the Blues at blues[at]beltane[dot]org and the Board of Trustees via festival[at]beltane[dot]org to share your ideas as they’d really like to hear from you before applications start arriving.

You are welcome to register your attendance on the Facebook event page.

Shout-out for Group Organisers for Beltane 2017

The Aerie by Asier GoikoetxeaDear community, ye creatives, visionaries, revellers and mischief makers! It’s getting close to that time again when we start to collaboratively form the basis of our Beltane Fire Festival. This year is particularly special, as we celebrate the 30th Anniversary of our Beltane: a chance to reflect upon and celebrate this unique and incredible festival! To begin this process, we would like to invite submission of Group Organiser applications.

We are looking once more for a band of intrepid volunteer Group Organisers to help tell our story of Beltane. As a GO, your role will involve developing your story and key moments, in close collaboration with the Beltane Court and Blues (this year, with specific thought given to the 30th Anniversary); recruiting and managing volunteers; making props and costumes; choreographing your activity, music or rhythms; and contributing to the combined body and voice of our event. In return, we can offer you an amazing experience, during which you’ll learn new skills, meet new people, and make a difference to others by helping them on their journey to celebrate the start of Summer.

To help guide and shape your ideas, the below will present an outline of the processional narrative of our ritual celebration, a story told in one form or another by hundreds of volunteers over the years, since we began in 1988 (did we mention it’ll be our 30th?). We also set out suggestions for some performance groups that we’d love to see make an appearance, and production groups that are also vital to existence of our festival. The groups mentioned below are ones that have all been part of the event before, but there is always scope for fresh interpretations of those groups, as well as completely new and different concepts to be introduced. Bring your creativity and your unique vision to help us build something incredible together!

Please read through the following information carefully, and then download the Application Form, Example Application Form and Guidance Information, linked at the end of this post.

The deadline for Group Organiser applications is 10pm on Thursday 2 February 2017.

There will be a pre-application meeting for prospective GOs from 2pm-5pm on Sunday 22nd January 2017 at the Canon’s Gait pub. This will be a working meeting with structured discussion. If you would like to come and hang out socially, please feel free to come along afterwards, but we ask that only prospective Group Organisers attend the meeting itself. You can find more information in this post and are welcome to register your attendance on the Facebook Event page. If you’re thinking of applying to run a group but you can’t make it along to the meeting, please get in touch with the Blues at blues[at]beltane[dot]org and/or the Board of Trustees via festival[at]beltane[dot]org to share your ideas, as they’re happy to hear from you before applications start arriving.

Our processional narrative…
At its core, this sequence of events sees the May Queen rise from the Earth and reveal Herself in Her maiden aspect. Anna Chaney will be returning in the role of May Queen for Beltane 2017, and will be sharing her thoughts in an upcoming blog post. She is accompanied by Her former consort, the Winter King (or Horned God), who has become old and decrepit before his journey toward rebirth as the Green Man. The May Queen must make a choice to travel through the Fire Arch, the door between the worlds, and catalyse the turn of the wheel; a process necessitating the sacrifice of the old God, in order for Him to be reborn anew.

Along the way the May Queen passes through the elemental points, awakening each one as She goes and gathering their energies. She is accompanied on this journey by the Whites, who represent an extension of Her maidenhood and an outward expression of Her new fertility and strong maternal nature.

The procession encounters many characters, which have appeared in many different manifestations over the years. One of these groups has been the Reds, who are extensions of the Green Man and offer a contrasting energy to the Whites. During this elemental journey, the Reds are birthed and, as they explore their new bodies and the world they find themselves in, their energy grows in strength. Upon the awakening of the Fire element, the passion and vigour within the Reds overcomes them; attracted to the Divine light of the May Queen and the beauty of the Whites, they launch themselves at the procession. The chaotic flow of their charge threatens the momentum of the processional ritual and so their advance is fought back: they are repelled, running off to gather their energies anew. The Reds make one more stunning display to entrance the witnesses and pique the interest of the Whites, but once again are repelled and recoil once more into the night.

Thus, the procession moves into the centrepiece of our ritual: the sacrifice and rebirth of the Green Man. The May Queen, having gathered the many elemental forces around the Hill, spins them into a vortex, making right the conditions for the Green Man’s return. Witnessed by both our own community and the wider community, this powerful death and rebirth sequence binds us together in our hope and desire for renewal. The Green Man presents himself to his Queen – if He is worthy, She will accept Him as Her new consort.

The first responsibility for the newly joined God and Goddess is to complete the journey of the Neid Fire and spark the bonfire, bringing light and warmth to the Hill and often seen as symbolising the marrying of the community. They then lead their court to the Bower, the hearth of the Hill, as the Reds continue their revelry around the newly lit fire. At the Bower the ritual comes to a close, but not before the Reds and Whites have concluded their seduction, both accepting one another as their King and Queen have done. The only thing left to do from here is to dance and revel in the joy of the newborn Summer, as we invite our witnesses to dance with us.

In previous festivals, the following PERFORMANCE groups have played a role in the processional narrative, the journey of the May Queen and Green Man, and the traditions our Society has created together…

Reds
Sparking with unbound, chaotic energy needing to unleash towards the procession, witnesses and Hill, this is a high commitment group and core to the processional narrative. Newly birthed into the world on the night, they are awed by what they have been awakened to; every little detail is a thing to be explored, tested, tasted, clambered on, or similarly conquered. These innocently mischievous newborn beings know no boundaries and so they are free to whirl and dance and express themselves in whatever fashion pleases them.

Filled with power, but with no idea of what to do with it, they are enveloped in the myriad of earthly delights and sensations that they have been exposed to. In seeing the Whites for the first time, they experience a maddening and heady mix of desire and confusion. They know not what these delectable creatures are, but are driven by a wild, passionate need to be with them, sensing their great strength and power. Their awakening has begun…

Whites
The Whites are extensions of the May Queen and embody inner strength, serenity and focus. Another high commitment group, core to the processional narrative, they express as creative and intuitive spirits. Unlike the Reds, they are aware of their purpose and fulfill their obligations towards the Court, before responding to the insistent whispers of their own desires.

The Whites know that their energy is equally as fierce as that of the Reds, but they bend it towards powerfully protecting and shielding the procession and the ritual from the unbound chaos of the Reds. Once the May Queen and Her consort present their courtship at the bonfire, the Whites freely and gladly choose to dance with the Reds, extending the union of the God and Goddess into the community.

Elemental Points
As the May Queen wends Her way around the Hill, She must renew and be rejuvenated by the elemental forces, weaving each one into the alchemy of Her purpose.

We would like to invite 4 separate groups to embody each elemental point of Air, Fire, Water and Earth. Each group is encouraged to create a performance around an elemental offering to the procession, as well as a second performance for the witnesses. Alternatively, this second performance may involve a joining of forces with other elemental groups, to create a bigger piece involving all four elements. We encourage these groups to offer interpretations of the elements that contribute to the ritual, explore them, express them as BIG as you can, use the Hill in new and exciting ways, and let your imaginations run wild!

Drummers
Our procession is nothing without the pounding beats of our drum crews, the most common being the Beasties and the Processionals. Be it the carnal chaotic Red heartbeat or the insistent and unstoppable rhythm of nature – or even a brand new drum group adding to the spirit of the night – we invite you to come forth and make us move!

Torchbearers

Our Torchbearers have always been an integral part of our ritual, adding ceremony and protection, as well as the creation of the sacred fire. They start the Neid Fire that sparks all other flame on the Hill, creating a liminal boundary between the outside world and witnesses, and those within the procession. Please come forth if you wish to embody this character…and carry fire on a stick!

Bower
The home of our Hill, our community and the May Queen, the Bower is the space where the final ritual between Red and White is played out, a place of nourishment, safety, rest and joy. We’re calling for your vision to create this Sacred Hearth on the Hill, through creation of a magical space, and facilitation of this final aspect of our ritual, ending with a warm welcome extended to all – performers and witnesses alike.

Each year, Beltane is renewed and refreshed by these PERFORMANCE groups, which fill the rest of the Hill with excitement and beauty, forming an important part of the festival experience and bringing entertainment and interaction to witnesses outside of the procession…

In the past, we’ve seen all manner of wonderful beasts, faeries, sprites and spirits, for example, No Point, The Faerie Porters, The Aerie, Random Points of Kindness, Storytellers and Bonfire Point, whose unique characters have all become part of our weaving narrative. They offer their own interpretation to the central story, creating stunning points of interest to light up the dark, fill the air with glorious sound and capture the imagination of all who encounter them.

For groups who choose to have a presence outside of the procession, there is great scope to create more intimate and interactive experiences, inviting witnesses to feel a personal connection to the event and create memories of an incredible evening that they can carry off the Hill with them. If you have a fantastic idea for a group like this, we encourage you to consider how you might use the available spaces within the landscape of the Hill, whether you will travel your own path, or adopt a static area for part/all of the night. Consider also how your core themes intertwine with the story being told, and how you will interact with the Court, the Blues, and the other groups on the night.

Our unique festival couldn’t happen without the wonderful PRODUCTION groups that are an essential presence, in order for the event to take place…

These include…. the Stewards who facilitate the movement of performers around the Hill and dedicate their energy to the safety and happiness of all; Contact Point who offer information and guidance; Tech, responsible for the logistics, structures and safe but dramatic fire art that form the background and backbone of the event; and Photopoint, who capture our creations and memories in beautiful pictures. We are looking for Group Organisers to bring their dynamic personalities, as well as practical knowledge and experience, to build these important foundations, on which the rest of the event rests.

These groups offer a different experience of the festival, providing an opportunity to participate in creating the event from a non-performance perspective, as well as learning and honing a range of professional skills. If you’re considering applying to run one of these groups, we encourage you to include amongst your GO team someone with relevant experience and/or skills, gained either inside or outwith BFS. Think about how you can run and develop a team of volunteers to work together with the Event Coordinator to create the well-oiled machine that powers the festival!

Additional PROJECT Proposals…

Our community is bursting with creativity and imagination. If you are an experienced BFS festival participant, and have an idea that you would like to make a reality as part of the 2017 festival – but feel it doesn’t fit with a group structure, or necessarily require recruitment of additional volunteers, please email festival[at]Beltane[dot]org to request more information on how to submit a proposal.  The deadline for submissions of proposals is Thursday the 2nd of February 2017. Proposals will be granted at the discretion of the Board, and you may be invited for a short interview to discuss your idea.

GO FOR IT!
You are invited to take inspiration from the over-arching narrative of Beltane, the casting off of Winter’s darkness and revelling in the joy of a newly birthed Summer, from fertility and celebration. Let us make our Beltane a wild Bacchanalian rumpus to drive the community of Edinburgh wild! Bring your beautiful visions to the night!

Beltane 2017 Group Organiser Application Form

Beltane 2017 Group Organiser Example Application Form

Beltane 2017 Group Organiser Guidance

Photo of Aerie at Beltane 2016 by Asier Goikoetxea, for Beltane Fire Society

Calling our next Green Man for Beltane 2017

green-man-josh-1

Dear Beltaners,

It is time for us once again to begin our search for the Green Man, who will take part in the Beltane Fire Festival 2017.  This festival will be our 30th anniversary and we hope that we can create something together that is truly special and memorable: the Green Man will be an integral part of this. We now invite those who feel drawn to the role, to step forward and express their interest.

Notes of interest should be formally submitted to blues[at]beltane[dot]org by 7pm on Thursday 26 January 2017: you’ll receive an acknowledgement of your application shortly thereafter. All applicants MUST be available for:

  • interview on the evening of Tuesday 31 January 2017
  • at least one day of the GO weekend on Saturday 18 & Sunday 19 February 2017 
  • the Open Meeting on Sunday 26 February 2017

 

We would also like to invite the BFS community to submit the names of any members that they would like to nominate for the role of Green Man. Perhaps you know someone whom you feel would be perfect, embodying all that our society looks for in a Green Man – but who has not stepped forward themselves, for whatever reason.  Any member of the society may make a recommendation for Green Man, to the Blues or Board; the nominee will then be approached, to have a chat about their willingness and availability to enter into the selection process. Nominations should be formally submitted to blues[at]beltane[dot]org by 7pm on Monday 23 January: you’ll receive an acknowledgement of your nomination shortly thereafter.

 

What is the role of the Green Man?

We cannot completely define this for you. Each Green Man has their own journey, their own story to spin – but we can offer some contextual thoughts.

The Beltane Fire Festival is a living, dynamic reinterpretation and modernisation of an ancient Iron Age Celtic ritual, and is the largest of its kind. Having been resurrected as a performance art piece and practice in 1988, it has become a central focus for our community, bringing people together to acknowledge and celebrate the birth of Summer and the fertility of the land.

The purpose of our festival is not to recreate ancient practices, but to honour the spirit of our ancient forebears, whilst creating our own connection to the cycles of nature. There is a great deal of joy and the revelry fostered in the ritual: it is about casting off the darkness and celebrating the light. A time for celebrating fertility, both in the context of our biology as well as our creative energies, forming the fertility of our creative community.

Our Beltane celebrates the turning of the wheel of the year, from Spring into the beginning of Summer: we celebrate each step of the cycle with the festivities. Some aspects change from year to year, but certain elements are fixed and are repeated: one of these is the Green Man and his journey. In the context of the Beltane Fire Festival, the Green Man is the embodiment of the earth, the personification of the world around us, and a counterpoint to the divine entity of our May Queen.

People’s lives upon this planet have always been intrinsically defined and shaped by nature itself; our lives defined by our relationship (or lack thereof) with it, by how we interact with nature, and by the way it behaves and responds. Central to our relationship with the earth are the cycles of the seasons, the constant flux and flow of life, the continuous change from one state to another. Our Green Man is a living embodiment of the earth’s cyclical nature: a character who appears all over the world, common across many different cultures throughout human history.  As global location changes, so does the name, the personality, and traits – all being particular to that culture’s manifestation of the Green Man. But always present is the human need to represent the interdependent nature of the relationship between our species and the natural world.

The crucial aspect of the Green Man’s role is his death and subsequent rebirth, which provides the centrepiece of our ritual. The May Queen, having gathered the many elemental forces around the hill, spins them into a vortex, creating the right conditions for the Green Man’s return. Witnessed by both our own community and the wider community of witnesses, this powerful death and rebirth sequence binds us together in our hope and desire for renewal. The Green Man then presents himself to his Queen – if he is worthy, she will accept him as her new consort.

This is just a brief introduction to the history and concept of the Green Man, and how the role has been represented by the many folk who have performed it. We encourage you seek out more information if the subject interests you; the role is fundamentally important to our festival and the community.

The journey of the chosen person is both solitary and social; it is up to you to decide on this balance as you define your own process, with the support of the Blues. However, we ask two things of you:

  1. The Green Man is expected to be involved in actively creating the main storyline of the festival, along with the May Queen. This is a fundamental part of the whole Society’s vision, and the understanding of the Green Man’s journey. Anna Chaney will be returning in the role of May Queen for Beltane 2017, and will be sharing her thoughts in an upcoming blog post.
  1. A Green Man applicant should consider their entire journey carefully, and should be prepared to share their character vision with the society, and preparation plans with the Blues and Event Coordinator.

 

If you are considering stepping forward for this role but are wavering, or simply looking for more info, we’d like to encourage you to contact blues[at]beltane[dot]org for a chat. Applicants are all interviewed individually by the Blues, representatives from the Board and the May Queen, with the final selection being made following careful consideration. The Board, as in previous years, has final responsibility for ratifying the choice made by the interviewing panel.

 

Thank you,

Your Blues

Photo of the Green Man at Beltane 2015 by Mark Taylor

Learn to work with willow [Workshop for BFS members only]

 

Beltane 2016 / The Aerie / St Margaret's House / EdinburghOn Sunday 4 December at the Calton Centre in Edinburgh, 1pm – 5pm, we are holding a free workshop for Beltane Fire Society members on using willow for festival props and decorations. Places on ‘Working with willow: lanterns and puppets and puppety lanterns!’ are very limited, so if you want to join, please book your place now.

PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS A WORKSHOP FOR CURRENT BFS MEMBERS ONLY (i.e those who have taken part as a Beltane Fire Society volunteer in one or more of our recent festivals).

As thoughts of our Edinburgh Beltane’s 30th anniversary are beginning to seep into our creative consciousness, it’s about time to start sharing some of our long-forgotten skills and crafts. In years gone by willow crafts in the forms of lanterns and puppets and puppety-lanterns were a BFS staple; having let this art fall by the wayside in recent years, it’s now time to dust it off and see what we can do with it for Beltane 2017!

BFS invites you to book a free place to join members Helen Bradburn and Ross Flemington for a workshop from 1pm-5pm on Sunday 4th December, in the downstairs studio at the Calton Centre. In the session our volunteer workshop leaders will show you how to play and create with willow (get started by helping make lanterns for the Hill!); to learn and experiment; give you chance to ask questions, and to throw around ideas about the illuminated world of willow lanterns and puppets.

In this workshop we will cover:

  • Suppliers and materials – sourcing
  • Getting to grips with your materials
  • Finding out what BFS has to loan for big projects
  • Scope of ideas – how small, how big?
  • Puppet building – backpacks and the basics (presented by Ross Flemington)
  • Illuminating spaces
  • Making a lantern: finish it on the day or take it away with you and bring it back to the Open Meeting to inspire others… we would like you to contribute your efforts, by making a lantern which will be on the hill for the 30th celebrations… yep, the prep starts here!

Please bring water and lunch/nibbles for yourself and to share, to keep us all going across this bumper workshop!

How to book your place

Please only book a place if you are certain you will attend: places are strictly limited to make sure those who do come along will get as much support and chance to learn as possible. But if you are sure, book your place now via Eventbrite.

Only those who have booked on will be able to take part in this particular workshop, but we’re hoping to run many more as part of the build up to our 30th anniversary, on a whole host of skills, so don’t worry if you can’t make this one!

Photo by Neil Barton for Beltane Fire Society

Fire Ravens video

Our Samhuinn 2016 Fire Ravens share a special group project…

The Fire Ravens came together as a band of mercenaries to fight in the battle of Summer and Winter at Samhuinn. Unaligned, the Ravens would side with the strongest on the night. Months of training and development went into making a new group, whose concept had never been tested in BFS before. This video was created as a memory for the group and as a future reference for groups of a similar nature.

We hope you enjoy this little insight into the Raven Brotherhood.

Planniversary! [meeting for current BFS members only]

beltane-2016-by-laura-wallace

On Sunday 20th November, from 2pm – 5pm, we’ll be holding a grand PLANNIVERSARY meeting at the Calton Centre, for any and all BFS members who can make it (and have the energy).

PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS NOT AN OPEN MEETING. This is a meeting only for people who are current BFS members, i.e. who have taken part as a BFS volunteer in one or more of our recent festivals. If you want to join us for one of our future festivals, this isn’t the way to do that. Instead, please do come along to the Beltane 2017 open meeting that we’ll be holding in February 2017 – we’ll share all the details in the new year on beltane.org as well as all our social media channels so it’ll be impossible to miss. Thanks!

As you may know, 2017 will be our 30th Beltane Fire Festival, and we’d love BFS members to come share ideas and plan how we can celebrate this special anniversary.

This isn’t an open meeting like the ones we have at the beginning of each festival, and it isn’t like the blethers we hold every now and again: this planniversary meeting is an entirely unique (and beautiful) beast. We want existing BFS members to bring ideas about what we could do to mark the anniversary, over and above our usual festival activities. There will be lots of active smaller group discussion to spark ideas, rather than the one-at-a-time-in-front-of-everyone format we use for blethers. We’ll be looking for people to come ready to start thinking big and help make things happen – but it’s no problem if you don’t have any particular ideas in mind. We just want you to be part of it.

To be clear: this won’t be about tying yourself to anything that will restrict your ability to run or sign up to groups for Beltane 2017 itself – we won’t be discussing festival groups and concepts, characters and so on at this meeting. That’ll all happen in the usual way and to the usual timeline. This event is just about kicking off anything else we might want to make happen, so we don’t miss the opportunity our 30th anniversary provides. We might decide to do very little, or lots – it’s entirely up to us all as BFS members.

So, mark the planniversary meeting in your diaries for 20th November, and we hope to see you there!

Love and hugs,

Your BFS Board and Blues xx

You’re welcome to register your attendance on our Facebook event page.

Photo of Beltane 2016 by Laura Wallace

To align ourselves with the changing season

samhuinn-2016-by-martin-mccarthy

Some words from our Blues as we move into the dark half of the year…

Samhuinn passes. The spirits draw back behind the veil as it closes and thickens like the winter mist. All that remains now are traces – shadows, footprints – and flickers of memory, the ever-fainter memories of moments that, like a glimpse of eternity, are paradoxically stretched, yet over before they began.

Those of us on the mortal side of the veil seem to find ourselves in another land. The north winds bear icily down and darkness descends earlier and earlier each night. It is winter now.

Isn’t this what we wanted? But it doesn’t matter what side you were on. The question is immaterial. It will be winter whether we will it or not. The point of the ritual of Samhuinn is not to bring on the winter, which is inevitable, but to align ourselves with the changing season. To acknowledge the cycles of nature, and understand ourselves as a part of it, with our own cycles attuned to the greater wheel.

For that reason, it often strikes us as a shame to hear folk already speaking about Beltane. On one hand, it’s understandable. We’ve had months of intense, bonding activities culminating in a spectacular show of which we can all be proud. Like children, we pour off the ride, “Again! Again!”

But on the other hand, it misses the point. Last Beltane feels an age ago and it will feel a similar age by the time the next Beltane rolls around. In between is a whole season, with its own beauty, gifts, and challenges. It seems a shame to wish it away.

Our lives are richer than our festivals. Our festivals should not be ends in themselves, but focal points, serving to reconnect us to this time, this place…here, now. To rush ahead too far is dilute the spirit of the festival, and to risk losing it in another spectacle of consumption, of which the world has far too much already.

So as we wish you Happy Samhuinn, we also wish you to take the time to breathe, to appreciate the good to be found in the dark half of the year. If you have ideas for Beltane – and especially if you have big ideas – let them simmer in the dream-state, just below consciousness, and focus your energy on connecting to the Here and Now, so that when light starts growing stronger again, you’ll be more in tune with the season, the earth, and yourself, rested and ready to burst forth.

And remember, your community has not gone away. There are plenty of outlets for creative energy and togetherness. We’d love to hear some grassroots ideas to mark our next quarter day – Imbolc – not to mention gathering before that to celebrate the Yule. And for those who can’t resist thinking of Beltane, our Planniversary is coming up on November 20th, where we will be gathering ideas and energies to create an extra-special backdrop for our coming 30th year.

Happy Samhuinn to you all…and, sincerely, enjoy the winter!

Photo by Martin McCarthy