Winter rises at the North side of the Hill

We’re doing things a little differently at Samhuinn Fire Festival this year. Where before our Winter festival took the form of a straight procession, this time we are going fully immersive with our performers waking up all over Calton Hill at the same time. This means that you can choose which season to align yourself with from the start. Are you a sucker for Summer revelries or do you prefer the drama of Winter? Where you start your night on Calton Hill is decided by that.

This is the second of two blog posts to help you decide where to position yourself at the beginning of Samhuinn Fire Festival.

Copyright Gordon Veitch for Beltane Fire Society. All Rights Reserved. /

While Summer parties on unawares, strange forces are stirring on the North side of the Hill. Teachdairean a’Gheamraidh pound the first notes of their waking song, declaring Winter’s return and summoning its creatures with it.

All around, the Dark Rising begins. The Savages of Winter’s ears prick up. They wake up and spring into action, adding their drums to the rumblings of Winter that Teachdairean a’Gheamraidh have created. Just up the slope, the Valravn stretch their wings and taste the air.

Copyright Vince Graham for Beltane Fire Society. All Rights Reserved. /

The Beasties and the Reds still believe that the Hill is their domain, and they scamper into the Cave where they come face to face with Obsidian. The Winter King’s army have started their solemn dance, their cold lights glowing like stars in a night sky and growing ever more dynamic as the time to reunite with their leader approaches.

Copyright Sean Bluestone for Beltane Fire Society. All Rights Reserved. /

The Order of the Sun, sensing a growing darkness on the Hill, head North to quash any Winter forces they find there. They meet the Wild Hunt, a savage pack of hunters hungry for prey, and attempt to beat them back.

Copyright Scott A. Winchester for Beltane Fire Society. All Rights Reserved. /

In the South, the Winter King is handed his sword and nominated the leader of the next season. His followers sense a shift and flock to his side spoiling for a fight. The Wild Hunt, not yet aware of this change, join the fray anyway keen as they are for a brawl. Behind the Acropolis, where the festivities at our sister Springtime festival start, they all square up to Summer’s forces.

Copyright Bleu Hope for Beltane Fire Society. All Rights Reserved. /

But it is not yet time to fight. The Cailleach’s approach to our world prompts both sides to part and regroup elsewhere. The indomitable Wild Hunt turn to the Winter King and challenge him, frustrated that he has spoilt their fight and still doubting him as a real leader. The Winter King must quell their resistance before he can gather his army at the North point of the Hill.

Featured image by Sean Bluestone for Beltane Fire Society. All rights reserved.

Samhuinn Fire Festival takes place on Wednesday 31st October on Calton Hill from 7pm. Tickets are available from Tickets Scotland.

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