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 start to glow, we will begin our preparations for Samhuinn, the festival of the Celtic New Year, and the beginning of the dark half of the cycle.
In anticipation of that, the Beltane Fire Society now begins its search for our Samhuinn Court – the Cailleach, the Summer King and the Winter King – who will form the core of our story, which will mark the turning of the year.
The Cailleach; Crone aspect of the Triple Goddess. Ancient and powerful, She 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 creating and holding space for the season’s transition to unfold as it should. How this is interpreted, and what aspects are brought forth in the role, are largely 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 hanging heavy on the sun-dappled trees, followed by long 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, and to co-create a vision of the clashing of seasons, we would love to hear from you. Please note that (we expect, and hope that) this year’s performance will return to Calton Hill. As we continue to adjust our Samhuinn festival to this site, we find a lot of freedom in how we choose to use the space. We therefore ask potential applicants to be imaginative but flexible, and to remain open to adjusting their vision as the performance evolves.
To be considered for a Court role, please submit your note of interest to email@example.com. 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 prospective 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or the Festival Secretary on email@example.com.
The deadline for self-nominations is Wed 24th July.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 17th 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. The BFS board of trustees will be presented with a short-list of likely candidates beforehand, and will inform the Blues if any candidates are inappropriate for the role according to specific criteria set out in the process document. Selection will be made by the Blues (and in the case of the Kings, the Cailleach will join the selection group once appointed, if available) from the remaining applicants. A member of the BFS board will be present at the meeting for transparency, but will not be part of the vote.
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 as set out above, and a shortlist will be drawn up. Those on the shortlist will be invited to a discussion with the selection group of Blues. 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 17th Jul: Deadline for member nominations
- Wed 24th Jul: Deadline for self-nominations
- Fri 26th & Saturday 27th July: Meetings with those shortlisted for Cailleach
- Sunday 28th July: Cailleach informed
- Tue 30th & Wed 31st July: Meetings with those shortlisted for Summer & Winter King
- Thursday 1st August: Kings informed
- Saturday 3rd August: Court roles announced
Thanks and good luck!
The BFS Board and Blues x