Tamara has been a volunteer with BFS since 2012. She says, “Beltane saved my life in not so obvious ways”. Here, she shares her story…
Once upon a time there was me. I was a rather lost person drifting between the time at my job and being lazy at home with nothing to motivate me.
One day someone convinced me to join the Steward team for Samhuinn 2012. I was intrigued with the huge number of people who appeared to participate on the night, with fire dancers, fantastic drummers and the awesome costumes and body paint designs.
I’d never taken part in such a thing before. I was pretty shy around such large numbers of people I hadn’t met before but everyone I was introduced to seemed lovely. But of course these people must be crazy to dance about the streets in front of people!
I was stunned by the sheer numbers of people coming out to watch the procession leave the top of the Royal Mile to Parliament Square, everyone entranced by the costumes and quite often scary characters the performers put on. That night I met the Wild Hunt for the first time and saw a simple look from one of the costumed fiends make people jump back or children cry.
The drums and fire brought the night alive and created an atmosphere I’d not experienced before. The thrill of being part of such a thing was electrifying, even as someone who didn’t quite understand the whole story behind everything just yet.
Something that surprised me, even more than meeting the group known as the Reds, was the community around Beltane. You’d be hard pushed to find a more welcoming community of people who do not judge you on your background, beliefs or lifestyle.
By the time the flowers of spring started to appear, I had got to know some those crazy people better and was convinced again to join in at Beltane 2013 with the fabulous Contact Point.
My first Beltane went by in a blur of purples, costumes (in natural fibres only!), the earthy beating of the drums, performances from every group involved and fire, so much fire! My next adventure into this mysterious world of old Celtic traditions and mass crafting sessions was the following Beltane 2014.
As always, the Open Meetings for Beltane or Samhuinn are a thing to be witnessed, full of laughter, joy and endless enthusiasm. The group that caught my attention was Guardians of the Veil (fondly known as Dragon Point!) run by friends met at previous Beltanes.
It was an experience! The amount of work put into the run up to Beltane can only be achieved by a group of dedicated people working tirelessly towards the end goal: to look awesome come April 30th. I think this was achieved with extra thrown in and can show you just what you can do with the help of amazing people.
That Beltane left me feeling something I’d never felt before. I felt accepted. This was a very new feeling after having spent years being the odd one out, for once I was around people who were like-minded and didn’t care about usual stereotypes you find in the ‘real world’.
By the time the summer started I had been asked to be a co-GO (Group Organiser) with a friend. So much excitement! The possibilities. The doubts. Could I do it? Would it be good?
We decided to run a group called the Wild Hunt. This fearsome concept comes from ancient stories and built on the fears of things that go bump in the night.
The experiences from organising the Wild Hunt were invaluable. Not only did I get to work with the greatest group of people who supported us and worked so hard but I also learned a lot about myself in the process.
In the end we rode out on the 31st October 2014 and terrified anyone in our path to aid the Winter Prince in his bid to over throw the Summer King. We won and feasted on Reds for the rest of the night!
That was my story before. The girl that started as a shy, uncertain person who knew something was missing from life but has now found a place surrounded by an amazing community made of amazing people. I’m helping to lead a group called the Whites, who are the May Queens warriors, for Beltane 2015 with a good friend. Being a part of the Whites is being a part of a close family and encourages you to accept your failings and build on your strengths. Working with this wonderful group has taught me many things and the best is yet to come!
Fire, drums, and community are powerful things. When I started this journey I had no idea I would be where I am now. Having discovered so much about myself as a person and meeting so many awesome people makes me realise that I had been just waiting for an opportunity like this to allow me to grow. Had I not, I would definitely not be the person I am now and my fire to drive myself forward to experience these new exciting things would not have been lit.
It’s a gift I will always cherish.
Photos (from top): Tamara (middle) at Beltane 2013 by Nicole Taylor, Guardians of the Veil before Beltane 2014 by Marlies Turner-Richardson, the dragon at Beltane 2014 by James Illing, Tamara at Samhuinn 2014 by Bleu Hope, the Wild Hunt at Samhuinn 2014 by Gyorgy Papp.