Searching for our Samhuinn Court 2017

With the passing of Midsummer and the crest of the year, we catch a glimpse of darkness on the horizon. From the end of August, we will begin our preparations for Samhuinn, the festival that marks the beginning of the dark season. In anticipation of that, Beltane Fire Society now begins its search for our Samhuinn Court – the Cailleach, and the Kings of Summer and Winter – who will form the core of our story, to mark the turning of the year.

Our Cailleach
The Crone aspect of the Triple Goddess. Ancient and powerful, the Cailleach embodies the eternal cycle, linking the processes of birth and death, growth and decay. She is the  arbiter of the struggle between the Summer and Winter forces, embodied in the Kings’ feud. She is the tipping point, the one whose decision spreads through the land on icy winds, blanketing them in white with her gift of Winter.

Our Summer King
Bounteous provider and lord of the harvest, giver of life and nourishment. He reminds us of lazy, Summer days, fruits heavy on the sun-dappled trees, followed by never ending nights of feasting and merriment. But since Lughnasadh, his power has been on the wane…

Our Winter King
A being of the cold and darkness, carried in on the frosts, gales and snow. His instinct is to clear away the weak and the overripe, cleansing and purifying the land with ice and snow. His reign brings challenge and pain, but also triumph. His is the waxing power…

How do you see these characters? Their stories and motivations, their relationships to one another and the wider community? Do you feel a particular affinity to one of them? How will you fend off, or welcome in, the Winter?

If you are feeling a call to embody one of our deities, to co-create a vision of the clashing of seasons, we would love to hear from you. Please note that this year’s performance may take place in an alternative space to previous festivals, and could involve more action occurring as part of the procession, rather than on stages. Details will be confirmed in due course, but all those applying will need to remain open to adjusting their vision as the performance evolves.

Submit your note of interest to There is no formal application form, but we do need some information in your email:
– your name
– contact details
– the role you wish to be considered for
– your availability across the Samhuinn period (19 July to Sat 4 Nov)
– plus up to 500 words in support of your application, should you want to.

Self-nominations for all roles are welcome from performers of any gender. We ask that Cailleachs submit individually: whilst we welcome joint submissions from pairs of Kings, we also encourage them from individuals who are open to working with others. If you would like more information on the whole process, or on what the roles entail before submitting, don’t hesitate to contact the Blues on, or the Festival Secretary on
The deadline for self-nominations is Wed 19 July.

Members of the Society can also nominate a fellow member, for any of the above roles. If you wish to nominate someone who you believe could really embody the role, send their name to The member will then be informed of the nomination, and invited to consider whether they wish to proceed in trying out for the role. Note that members nominations close a week before the self-nomination deadline, on Wed 12 July, to allow for contact to be made and consideration to happen.

The Board and Blues will form a panel, drawing up a list of shortlisted candidates for each role. Those shortlisted for will be invited to meet the panel for a brief talk. Talks with those shortlisted for Cailleach will be sometime from 21 – 23 July. Our new Cailleach will be notified by Mon 24 July and will then join the panel (if available), assisting with the meetings for those shortlisted for the roles of Summer and Winter Kings, between Tues 25 – Thurs 27 July, with the final decision on all roles announced to the membership on Sat 29 July. This will be several days before the GO application deadline, for those members who may have been considered, and now wish to put forward group plans.

KEY DATES – a quick reference. Please bear in mind that with the exception of the first two deadlines, these are all subject to change, due to availability/life being life.
Wed 12 July         Deadline for member nominations
Wed 19 July        Deadline for self-nominations
Fri 21 – Sun 23 July     Meetings with those shortlisted for Cailleach
Mon 24 July        Cailleach informed
Tue 25 – Thurs 27 July    Meetings with those shortlisted for Summer & Winter King
Sat 29 July        Court roles announced

Thanks and good luck!
Board and Blues

Featured image of the Cailleach at Samhuinn Fire Festival 2016 copyright Martin McCarthy for Beltane Fire Society. 

4 thoughts on “Searching for our Samhuinn Court 2017

  1. Hi there, I’d really love to be involved in the performance aspect of the August/early September for Samhuinn, or oiche shamhna as we call it in Ireland. I live on the Outer Hebrides and am a part time teacher of traditional music. August and September are the busiest time of the year, but I’d love to be involved somehow. I miss celebration oiche shamhna from being far away at home. Maybe we could come up with some sort of a techie plan, skype or internet chats. There’s no phone signal where I live. Would love to be involved! thanks, slainte, ro

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Róisín – details for our Open Meeting, which will give information about how to take part, will go up in a few weeks time. Most of the rehersals happen in September and October leading up to the 31st of October performance and generally performance groups do require people to be there for the runup – there are a new productions groups which do not, however.

      If you were thinking of something more specific or would like to contribute in a particular way, then could I ask you to email festival @ beltane . org with your ideas – we do have space for ‘projects’ which allow people to contribute in different ways – though there is an application process which closes on the 4th August.

      Looking forward to hearing more from you 🙂 !


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