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 as the nights begin to draw in and the leaves begin to glow we will begin our preparations for Samhuinn, the festival that marks the beginning of winter.
In anticipation of that, Beltane Fire Society now begins its search for the Samhuinn Court – the Cailleach, and the Kings of Summer and Winter – who will form the central core of our Samhuinn story, which will mark the turning of the year.
The 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 ensures the transition of power from Summer to Winter by allowing ritual events to unfold as they should. The interpretation of how this is done, and what aspects are brought forth in the role are up to the person who embodies the Goddess.
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 will take place in an alternative space to previous festivals, and will involve a greater level of flexibility in relation to the venue. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 (August to 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 potential 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 email@example.com, or the Festival Secretary on firstname.lastname@example.org.
The deadline for self-nominations is Wed 1st August.
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 email@example.com. 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 25th July, to allow for contact to be made and consideration to happen.
Performers for each of the three court roles for Samhuinn will be selected from those who put themselves forward. Selection will be made by the court selection group, consisting of the Blues and one member of the BFS board of trustees (and in the case of the Kings, the Cailleach will join the selection group once appointed, if available).
BFS members are encouraged to nominate anyone they feel should be encouraged or ‘nudged’ to apply. This stage is designed to give scope for more input from BFS members in the selection of performers for court roles, and to ensure that even those who might not ordinarily have considered themselves for the role are encouraged to apply.
Anyone who puts themselves forward (whether or not they were nominated by a community member initially) will be considered, and a shortlist will be drawn up. Those on the shortlist will be invited to a discussion with the selection group. The selection group will then decide on a final choice for each role. You can read the full court selection process document for the court this year here.
These dates are 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 25th Jul Deadline for member nominations
- Wed 1st Aug Deadline for self-nominations
- Fri 3rd & Saturday 4th Aug Meetings with those shortlisted for Cailleach
- Sun 5th/Mon 6th Aug Cailleach informed
- Tue 7th & Wed 8th Aug Meetings with those shortlisted for Summer & Winter King
- Saturday 11th Aug Court roles announced
Thanks and good luck!
The BFS Board and Blues x
Photo by Gordon Veitch for Beltane Fire Society.