Drumming the community’s heartbeat with The Winter drummers

The Winter drummers are the soundtrack to the oncoming colder season at Samhuinn Fire Festival. Through their beats, we feel the anticipation of Winter’s rising power. We witness the thrill of the Wild Hunt as they chase their prey. We hear the drummers’ rhythmic lament at Summer’s demise, and – most importantly of all – we see them drum up a celebration at the Cailleach’s return.

Copyright Gilliard Lach for Beltane Fire Society. All Rights Reserved. http://www.beltane.org / http://www.facebook.com/beltanefiresociety

These drummers may accompany the Winter King’s court, but they do not follow him blindly. As loyal servants to the Cailleach, they will turn on their champion if he fails to win Her favour. They stand ambivalent until he has proven himself, watching and waiting for a sign from the goddess.

Copyright Vince Graham for Beltane Fire Society. All Rights Reserved. http://www.beltane.org / http://www.facebook.com/beltanefiresociety

Neither good nor evil, the Winter drummers are first of all survivors. They are strong, stroic, preserved like ice. They do what is needed to protect their community, acting swiftly when they encounter Summer’s followers on Calton Hill. Their pragmatic nature may seem cold to some, but they know what is necessary in the endless cycle of the seasons. It would take a Winterling to see death as a blessing, as a kindness.

Copyright Richard Winpenny for Beltane Fire Society. All Rights Reserved. http://www.beltane.org / http://www.facebook.com/beltanefiresociety

The Winter drummers are a sign of the better things that can come with the dark. This is a time when we retreat indoors, coming closer together and finding new nurturing relationships. There are some proper good parties too. 

Community is paramount to the Winter drummers’ survival. The music that they make together, the drum beat of their tribal heart, has a magic of its own. It sustains them, inspires their allies, intimidates their enemies, and wins the hearts and souls of mortals.

Tickets for Samhuinn Fire Festival are available to buy online from Citizen Ticket. Join the Facebook event here.

Featured image by Scott A. Winchester. All rights reserved.

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