The veil between our world and the next grows thin on the night of
Beltane Fire Festival, and there’s a whole host of new and mysterious characters for you to meet. To help you recognise some of these visitors from the other realm, we’ve put together this visual guide for you.
To get to know the story we tell at Beltane this year,
have a read through our second “In pictures” post. The court
The May Queen is the goddess of Summer come to spark the new season. She leads the procession on a transformative journey around Calton Hill. The Green Man is the May Queen’s consort who must learn to face his demons and let go of his past so that he can rejoin her and rule with her over Summer.
Copyright Vince Graham (left) and Martin McCarthy (right) for Beltane Fire Society. All Rights Reserved. The attraction of opposites
The Whites are the May Queen’s protectors and companions. They keep the procession safe so that the May Queen is free to bring about the return of Summer. The Reds are chaotic, curious creatures born on the night of Beltane. Aligned with the Green Man, their eventual reunion with the Whites restores balance to the new season.
Copyright Neil Barton (left) and Asier Goikoetxea (right) for Beltane Fire Society. All Rights Reserved. the drummers
The Processionals are the beating heart of Beltane who keep the procession marching forward. The Unsaeli are the dark court of the faeries, known for playing tricks and drumming the Earth’s rhythms. The Beasties are energetic drummers celebrating their rebirth at Summer with a non-stop percussion party.
Copyright Martin McCarthy (left), Kasia Sowinska (middle), and Gordon Veitch (right) for Beltane Fire Society. All Rights Reserved. the elements
The Kelpies are water horses from the lochs, lakes, and rivers. They wander the Hill looking for strangers to capture and doing dealings with the faeries. The Gaia Filiae dance the ancient fertility dance, the belly dance. They are the daughters of Mother Earth, their dance paying tribute to her life-giving qualities.
Copyright Gladys Yelland (left) and Kasia Sowinska (right) for Beltane Fire Society. All Rights Reserved. the singers
Guth nam Bò embody the spirit of the cattle from ancient Beltanes, where livestock was driven between two Neid fires to cleanse them in the purifying smoke. The Voice of the Hill are otherworldly elders who wait for the procession at Fire Arch. They chant for fire, growing in strength as the Neid fire draws close them.
Copyright Gladys Yelland (left) and Vince Graham (right) for Beltane Fire Society. All Rights Reserved. the messengers
The callhorn is the first noise on the Hill that announces the festival has begun. Contact Point are the fae, otherworldly magical folk, there to help the witnesses on the Hill. Ar Nathair embody the sacred snakes of Earth. They wake from hibernation at the beginning of Spring and revel in its warmth. The Fairfaw represent the unbridled joy that comes with new life at Beltane. They embrace a life without inhibitions, and dance and sing in celebration.
Copyright Vince Graham (left and right), Duncan Reddish (middle), and Gladys Yelland (bottom) for Beltane Fire Society. All Rights Reserved. the guardians
The Stewards are a welcoming face for our witnesses on the Hill, there to answer questions and to keep the space for our performers. The Torchbearers carry the sacred Neid fire throughout the festival. They embody the border between our world and the next, lighting a window to what lies behind.
Copyright Martin McCarthy (left) and Asier Goikoetxea (right) for Beltane Fire Society. All Rights Reserved. the makers
And a big shout out to Tech, our makers, builders, and fire experts who help turn Calton Hill into an otherwordly fiery realm for the night of Beltane, and then take it all down at the end.
Copyright Martin McCarthy for Beltane Fire Society. All Rights Reserved.
Featured image by Martin McCarthy for Beltane Fire Society. All Rights Reserved.
Beltane Fire Festival are available to buy online from Citizen Ticket. Join the Facebook event here.