Steve first took part in Samhuinn almost 20 years ago as an impromptu throne carrier. Here, he talks about that experience and how the festival has evolved over the years…
I’d been coming to Beltane since the early nineties (coming up from Leeds before I moved back to Edinburgh in 1994), but didn’t realise that it was possible to be a part of it. Samhuinn for me represents the slow (or sometimes not-so-slow) slide from Autumn into Winter, not so much the nights drawing in as the days shrivelling.
I first took part in Samhuinn in 1997, entirely by accident. Samhuinn had been going for some years by then, but I’d never noticed it. That year, however, we’d somehow heard in advance and went as a family. As we weren’t sure where the procession was going, we decided to start by the Castle Esplanade. It was interesting to see the sort of backstagey stuff going on as the procession readied for the off, but I wasn’t expecting to hear the folk carrying the Green Man’s/Summer King’s throne down the street discover it was too heavy and call for volunteers to help shift it. Nor was I expecting my wife or daughter (or possibly both) to shove me forward! It was fun, though, and I managed a better view of what was going on than Jenny and Tara, especially when the portering was finished. I had just enough wit left at the end of the evening to ask one of the performers about how to sign up for next year’s Beltane. My stand-out memory from my first Samhuinn is the initial embarrassment at being thrown in, followed by the sore shoulder.
Over the years, the festival has grown massively, both physically in terms of numbers of audience and performers, and in terms of complexity. This year, I’m particularly looking forward to seeing how much bigger and more complex it’s become since the last time I managed to see it.
Photo of Steve at Samhuinn 2008 by Catriona Rannoch