It goes without saying that fire is important at Beltane Fire Festival, but you may not have heard about the other key element – cows! Guth nam Bò (Voice of the Cattle) embody the cattle that were so important to Beltane celebrations of old.
The fires at our festival are lit with the sacred Neid fire, believed to be a purifying fire that can burn away bad things from our past. At ancient Beltanes, livestock were traditionally driven between two bonfires to cleanse them of disease and ensure the future health of the herd and the families they fed. Cattle were incredibly important to the ancient Gaels, and a visible symbol of the wealth of the tribe. Their survival ensured prosperity for communities.
We might not have any real cows at Beltane Fire Festival, but Guth nam Bò will embody the spirit of the cattle who are so important to Gaelic tradition. As cows they will sing traditional Gaelic songs, representing our own community’s health, creativity, and togetherness as they roam around the Hill and cleanse themselves in the smoke of fires.