“When thowes dissolve the snawy hoord
An’ float the jinglin icy boord
Then, water-kelpies haunt the foord
By your direction
An’ nighted trav’llers are allur’d
To their destruction.”
Robert Burns – “Address to the Devil” 1876
The four elements are gathering at Beltane Fire Festival, and the Kelpies represent the watery parts of the world. In Scottish folklore they are water horses, deadly, beautiful, and magical.
Drawing strength from the rivers and lochs of Scotland, Kelpies have as many stories about them as there are places for them to live. Capable of taking human form, stretching to incredible lengths or even building castles, Kelpies feast on the unwary that attempt to ride them, making them as dangerous as they are entrancing.
Slippery in their mystique, the Kelpies are shapeshifting creatures who lure those they encounter into the water. Human-like creatures wander around the Hill, recognisable by the weeds that hang from their heads instead of hair.
An equine puppet walks with them, lit by hundreds of lights that draw its onlookers away from all the fire. The Kelpie has lost its bridle, stolen by humans, and is searching for it wildly all across the Hill. The Unsaeli, hearing its cries, draw near and a deal is struck with the dark faerie court.
The Kelpie comes close to its audience, but ultimately has bigger fish to fry and turns to give its watery energy to the May Queen. It gives its corner of the four elements to the creation of Summer.
Tickets for Beltane Fire Festival are available to buy online from Citizen Ticket. Join the Facebook event here.