The apples are reddening on the trees, the rains are finally quenching the sun-beaten soil, and the long evenings are slowly beginning to cool at last. Once more, volunteers step forth from the Summer greenery, ready for an Autumn of revelry, building our 2022 Samhuinn Fire Festival!
Will you join us?
Below are the groups that will make up the story we tell at Samhuinn – these include production and performance groups; groups who meet and rehearse in-person, and one group meeting online to tell digital stories.
Have a read through the descriptions and open practice times below, to see which group you would like to apply for. Come along to our Open Meeting, on Saturday 27th August (more details here) to hear from each group and find out more about how to get involved!
Each of our open groups will also have their own instructions below on how best to join in with them.
If you sign up to one of our groups, Group Organisers may collect your name and email address, to keep in touch with updates directly related to your voluntary engagement. We will not use your information for any other purpose without first asking for your consent, and we will not share your email with external organisations.
- The Beasties
- The Faerie Porters
- Fomorian Drummers
- Summer Fire
- Tales from the Hearth
Group Organisers: Nikoletta Severay, Andy Murray, Jude Sevestre
The Beastie Drummers are the throbbing heart of exhilarating chaos and passion! We’ve been partying all Summer, grooving to our primal beats and we don’t intend to stop now.
The Beasties will accompany summer’s fire, we dance with our drums and make sure you do too. We love our time in this world and will make every minute of it quite lush. We might barter with the Cailleach for a lock-in… We play with our hearts alight, as playing is what keeps the fire of Samhuinn going through the winter to come.
Who we’re looking for: We are a high commitment group focusing on drumming, movement and character work. We welcome both experienced drummers and those who have not drummed before but have a strong drive to learn new rhythms to a performance standard. A strong work ethic and willingness to concentrate and do homework are essential, as is a strong play ethic.
There will be a mandatory camping weekend and also rehearsals (both open and closed!). We’ll publish details of those with a handy signup form as soon as we have them all confirmed.
Open Rehearsal 1: Sunday 28th August 11-2PM (Day after the Open Meeting!) at Coloursound
Open Rehearsal 2: We’re still on the lookout for a convenient space/time for a middle-open-rehearsal, we might just have two but we’ll let you know if we do host one
Open Rehearsal 2/3: Saturday 3rd September 5-8pm Coloursound
-Wednesday Evening – 7-10pm
Sunday afternoon (exact time TBC – between 11am and 6pm)
(There’ll also be an additional practice on the evening of Monday 5th September as we won’t be practicing on Sunday 4th)
Almost-Definitely-Mandatory Friday 30th September – Sunday 2nd October
We’ll email out more on the plan (is “plan” an overstatement?) as we go. Here’s a signup form to get said emails https://forms.gle/sGKH6D9E3eWBhLDa8
If you have queries for us in the meantime, you can email us at Beasties@beltane.org
Group Organisers: Erin McElhinney, Flaviana Preston, Andy Walker
We are Beatroots! We want to spread joy and music to the people of the land, a gift from our King(s), to them. In times of transition, music is a thing of comfort, connecting people in shared emotion and expression: we encourage people to move, dance and rejoice.
All are welcome to join in, invited by the smiles and enthusiasm of our group and their rhythms.
Our banging beats will create an energetic, danceable, summery vibe but as the earth freezes up, our roots will start to get a bit frosty: expect the rhythms to turn a little chilly by the end of the night. As with last year, the practical delivery of this ‘gift of summer’ is all about accessibility: we want to make the most inclusive, beginner-friendly drum crew we possibly can.
As such, we are a low commitment group, primarily aimed at absolute beginners and/or those with accessibility needs, and/or those who face other barriers to participation (including people with minimal time available). All equipment will be provided, and we keep financial costs low.
We will hold one weekly drum practice: location TBC – 3 hours on a Saturday/Sunday afternoon.
We’ll also make a space available every week for an OPTIONAL social/costuming meet-up: location TBC – 2 hours on a Wednesday/Thursday evening.
Our weekend away will be a “staycation”: one day, two nights; in Edinburgh; both indoors and outdoors. You do *not* need to be able to make all the rehearsals, or even the weekend away, in order to join.
Please have a chat with us if you have any questions/concerns about your ability to have your beets and eat them: we’ll almost certainly find a way.
Our open practices will be held on:
- Sunday 28th August, 7-10pm at the Salisbury Centre (Art Room)
- And Thursday 1st September, 7-10pm at the Salisbury Centre (Art Room).
If you’re interested in joining us, please fill in this quick form:
For any other questions, just email Beatroot@beltane.org
The Faerie Porters
Group Organisers: Giulia Frontalini, Neil James Rhind
“Their chamælion-lyke Bodies ƒwim in the Air near the Earth with Bag and Bagadge”
– Robert Kirk, The Secret Commonwealth
The Faerie Porters are tricksy, impish creatures, described in Robert Kirk’s 17th century book “The Secret Commonwealth”. In this treatise, faeries are said to move houses on the quarter days, such as Beltane and Samhuinn.
As they carry their belongings around the Hill on the Day and Night of Samhuinn, the Faerie Porters draw a ritual connection between the event spaces and performance groups, the festivals, and the seasons. This year, this will spiral out of control!
For obvious reasons, we are snails.
We are going to be crafting our shells, creating our individual characters and on the night, we will be inviting those who witness the ritual to cross the threshold through the Liminal Space.
We aim at being accessible to all abilities but due to the physically arduous nature of the tasks (we will be starting our performance in the morning and continue into the night) we ask that people bear this in mind.
We are going to have our open practices on:
- Wednesday 31st August, 7pm to 9pm
- Saturday 3rd September, Noon to 3pm
- Wednesday 7th September, 7pm to 9pm
(With the aim of closing on Thursday the 8th.)
Please note, there is ample opportunity for group members to shape the very nature of our performance (this does not mean we have no ideas).
Should you wish to join us or if you want to learn more about the group, here is a link to a registration form:
should you wish to look at cats sitting on coffee tables instead, here is a link to a gallery
Group Organisers: Torin Forest, Adam Harper, Màiri McKay
The Fomorian Drummers are ancient beings of Winter, tied to the destructive and dark forces that the season encapsulates. We understand and appreciate the beauty found within decay, the opportunity that death brings for rebirth, and the contrast darkness brings for light. We act as custodians of Winter’s power: Ensuring that the seasonal wheel continues to turn, but preventing these dark forces from overwhelming life on Earth.
Over the past two years the isolation, hopelessness and sense of foreboding that can accompany Winter has grown too great. We arrive at Samhuinn to curtail this imbalance and bring these powerful forces back into harmony.
We come from the earth and announce Winter’s arrival with the beat of our drums. We seek to awaken the warrior within each of us: One who is strong, determined, stoic, powerful, primal, and wise. Although warriors in nature, we have a respectful understanding of the destructive powers we oversee and the great responsibility this provides us.
Previous drumming experience is helpful but not necessary. Having a sense of rhythm and an eagerness to learn is the most important!
Register your interest in our group by filling out this form: (https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdOMtsEFXWKQmGqt_heCpLJmA0yA8CLg7pGxcgqFCMnvzJzvg/viewform). This will be a way for us to keep you up to date with information about open practices.
- Sunday 28th, 14:00 – 17:00 at Greenside Parish Church, 1B Royal Terrace, Edinburgh, EH7 5AB.
- Monday 29th, 19:00 – 22:00 at the Salisbury Centre (Art Room), 2 Salisbury Road, EH16 5AB
- Wednesday 31st August, 19:00-22:00 at the Salisbury Centre (Studio)
Closed practices: TBC. There will be two practices per week; one weekday for three hours and one day per weekend for four hours. These will be confirmed ASAP.
Strongly Encouraged Weekend Away: Evening of Friday 30th September – Sunday 2nd October (wild camping)
Commitment level: We are a high commitment group
Group Organisers: Robert Ball, Donald Dalziel, Maïlis Marty
NATHRACH (‘narok’) are the sacred snakes of earth. Autumn is the time for serpents to eat well, laze about, and go to bed.
This Samhuinn, Nathrach are a gaggle of gorgons getting ready for a snooze. In this group, you will explore the ancient and spiritually healing practices of eating mice, smelling things from a distance with your tongue, and turning men to stone.
There will be a lot of wiggling in the form of belly dancing and miscellaneous squirms. We also have fire-spinning with fans and two-person acrobatics if you’re into that (or want to learn how). We’re especially keen to welcome beginners!
We’re a medium commitment group. Rehearsals are on Sundays from 14:00-18:00 (mandatory) and Fridays from 19:00-20:30 (optional). Our away weekend is the 24th and 25th of September, and we’ll choose the form of that weekend (whether we camp or not) with the group.
If you’re interested, go on and fill this out and come to our open rehearsal: https://forms.gle/XRviFsR7WirnkLdL7
The open rehearsals are outside the Holyrood Park Education Center (where the toilets are https://goo.gl/maps/fxaSxkGPrk3WJbRh6) on:
- Sunday 28th August, 14:00-16:00
- Wednesday 31st August, 19:00-21:00
- Sunday 4th September, 14:00-16:00
Group Organisers: Andy McLeod, Sammi Searle
Nightwatch guards the veil between the worlds, and at times like Samhuinn when that veil is thinnest, our job is even more important. We comprise two groups: The Stewards and The Torchbearers, and we’re still looking for more people to join both for the Samhuinn festival.
Being a steward at Samhuinn is a great way to be part of the festival and get to know the community if this is your first time. We are the friendly faces who welcome the audience into the performance space, tell them the stories of Samhuinn and the various characters and groups that form part of the celebration, as well as keeping them safe from fire.
We’re a fairly low commitment group, meeting out of doors for practices on Sunday afternoons between 2 and 4pm. We would encourage any potential stewards to come along to as many of these practices as they can, to get to know what’s happening at the festival, and your fellow team members.
Torchbearers illuminate and guard the veil between realms with their torches, carrying the sacred Neidfire around the space, and guarding the other participants as they perform their celebrations. A torchbearer is kept well lit by the fire they carry, and warmed by the cloaks they wear.
Becoming a Torchie requires a little more commitment than Stewards, in addition to the Sunday afternoon practices, there will also be sessions making torchballs, processional practice and learning how to be safe around fire.
You can fill in the form below, and that will add you to our mailing list where we’ll send out information regarding future practices, and there’s a facebook group to join too. Any further questions, feel free to contact Andy and Sammi (Steward Group Organisers) via email: email@example.com
Group Organisers: Tamsyn Ball, Kat Bradley, Jacob Forsyth-Davies
Obsidian is volcanic glass, which forms when lava rapidly cools as it escapes a volcano. We are an elemental group, inspired by powerful forces in nature, like lava flows and ice freezing a lake solid. Our characters will be a slow, fierce but inevitable force that grows on Samhuinn night, representing winter fire and ice, helping the group members and the audience feel that winter can be beautiful, and is necessary; helping them feel strong in the face of the oncoming cold and dark.
We are going to be doing acrobatics and pyramids with fire, and embodied movement and dance with and without fire props. We will be using the props as an extension of our body and our character, and building some choreography around that movement. We will find inner strength deep in our core and built through our performance, conserving our energy to weather the winter. We are a high commitment and very physical group, and we’re looking for people who are willing to contribute ideas, and want to develop their physical fitness! We will consider group members with no acro or fire experience, but some experience of both or either would also be useful.
Our open practices will be:
- Wednesday 31st August 7-9pm at Ice point on the meadows (about 40 metres due north of the Pavillion Cafe)
- Sunday 4th September 4-6pm Ice point,
- and Monday 5th September 6-8pm ice point.
We will have a mandatory weekend away the weekend of the 23rd/24th/25th September.
Google form for registering interest: https://forms.gle/4yvhb8f2Hpq5T12V7
Group Organisers: James Armandary, Martin McCarthy, Siri Pantzar
Photopoint will be photographing, and possibly videoing, group preparations and the festival itself, so that the world can see the magic that we create together and so the performers can have their hard work and creativity immortalised.
This year we will put an emphasis on creativity,learning and collaboration in our photography. This could be the perfect year for you if you’ve thought of photographing the festival before but felt you lacked the experience or photographic skills – or even a camera (we’ll have some loan cameras and can give pointers if you’d like to borrow / otherwise source one). On the other hand, if you have the experience and are wanting to stretch your skills in new directions (or “old” directions if you’re interested in a bit of analogue fun!), we’ll have something for you too! If you have video skills (and the necessary gear – we can’t provide this!) we’d love to have you in the Photopoint family as well. We are looking for people with diverse experience and perspectives, who want to work with each other and with performers to take brilliant photos and have a great time together!
Photopoint this year will be a fairly high commitment group to build-in learning & experimentation time, with twice-weekly meetings (usually Sundays and Wednesdays 7-9pm, but also fitting in with other groups when we’re shooting with them) and additional creative challenges. Also we will have a mandatory weekend away in early October (date TBD).
If you’re interested, fill in this form and come to one of our open practices:
- Sunday 28th August 7-9pm on Calton Hill by the cannon
- or Tuesday 30th August at West Parliament Square on the Royal Mile.
Be sure to bring a camera with you (even if it’s a phone camera at this stage) as you will be taking pictures that we’ll ask you to send to us afterwards. (This isn’t a test to see if you’re good enough, it’s just to give us an idea of where your photography is currently at!)
Group Organisers: Andrew Binnie, Mhairi Gray
The Reds have been partying since Beltane, exuberant in the energy of summer.
Through character work and acrobatics, they display this energy for all to see, roaming and playing freely.
Drunk on their curiosity for everything around them, they use all their senses to explore the magnificent world in which they find themselves.
This world calls out to them, and they scream back in ecstasy!
No good thing lasts forever, though, and the end of summer draws near.
But there’s still time. The fire will burn brightly, the drums will beat for one last party.
Time to go out with a bang, as these chaotic creatures of the sun finally succumb to winter’s black embrace.
Reds is a high commitment group – there will be two practices a week, and a mandatory away weekend (date TBC).
Open practices will be:
- Sunday 28th August 1pm – 3pm
- Monday 29th August 7pm – 9pm
- Wednesday 31st August 7pm – 9pm
Signup form: https://forms.gle/izJyEjogiTvfLtgdA
Group Organisers: Aindrea Bell, Alessandra Francone
Sirens will bring warhorns (carnyces) to the battle between the Summer and Winter Kings. We will be the sound warning of the impending battle and death of the Summer King. Drawing from mythology, Sirens are noted in the context of death, guiding the dead on their afterlife journey. Their call beckons sailors to crash into rocks, further leading them to the Underworld. This ties in with the ‘death’ of the Summer King in the transition between Summer and Winter, and the sound of the sirens luring the Summer King to battle and towards his inevitable demise.
Sirens is a closed group.
Group Organisers: Catriona Smith, Nathan Goodfriend
Come dance, spin and relish in the last rays of summer with us. Bringing the spark to Samhuinn, Summer Fire will be a collective of fire spinners and prop manipulators who will focus on developing their fire spinning skills through skill sharing and dedicated practice time. We are looking for people who are already interested in juggling, spinning, and flow arts who want to develop their technique and style.
Our practices will be on Mondays 7-9pm before Fire Club in the meadows and Thursday evenings 8-10pm (location tbc).
Our weekend away will be the 7th-9th October, not compulsory, but we would really love to have you there. We hope to have a busk to try and raise some funds towards the group costs, however we will have to ask for a contribution to make things possible. This will be around £30-£50. Please let us know if this is a barrier to your participation.
- Thursday 1st Sept 8-10pm
- Monday 5th Sept 7-9pm
We’ll let people know about the final group decisions on Wednesday 7th Sept and have our first closed meeting on Thursday 8th Sept.
Tales From The Hearth
Group organisers: Nicky Saunders, Paula Nicholson-McKay
Tales From The Hearth will be a digital storytelling group.
We will be telling traditional Celtic and Northern European stories that relate to the concepts around Samhuinn and other seasonal festivals. We will use a mixture of storytelling, acting out plays, animation and music.
We will look at LGBTQIA themes within traditional stories and would hope to include some stories where the protagonist is a gender other than male. We also hope to include some Gaelic elements.
This group will be low commitment.
Group Organisers: Peter Jackson, Caitlin Oddy, Daniel Rylatt, Zoe-Tara Sanderson
Tech is a practical build it/set fire to it/take it down group and that relies on teamwork and is a somewhat physical role. Creative and problem solving skills are useful in most aspects of what we do. We are a support group working to assist the event coordinator, safety officer and other groups in putting on a safe and successful festival.
– Sunday 4th September 1 – 4pm, Beltonia (16 East Cromwell Street, Edinburgh EH6 6HD)
Banner photo copyright Vince Graham for Beltane Fire Society. All Rights Reserved.