The Cailleach Searches for Her Night Watch GOs

by Alixandra Prybyla

The Magical

When I arrived at my first Night Watch practice, in that impassioned state often felt by Beltane Fire Society newcomers, I was greeted by a laid-back, leather-clad crowd and was instantly smitten. The scene is forged in my memory: clouds scudding across a blue afternoon sky, my first time on Calton Hill. I perched atop the Portuguese Cannon as I listened to Steve the Blue recount our society’s history–stories he told by heart. We, the newly minted Night Watch, sat enraptured. You would not know if it was our first time hearing these tales or our hundredth. This moment was my most precious as a member of BFS until I was handed my first torch, and, on that darkling night in the Meadows, I felt like a queen being sceptered. Only stepping out onto Canongate on Samhuinn night could have brought me a greater sense of wonder–and it did.

Awash with red light, us Torchies and Stewards strode down the people-bound pavement with the understanding that we were the blazing barrier between performer and witness. We held that simple overriding power: person with stick, person with fire. A year later, if I close my eyes, I can still hear the howling, cracking, tempestuousness of performer, fire, and spectator, all swirling together, resounding between buildings, creating magic. And there I had been in the middle of it, tasked with both containing and sharing that magic. This Samhuinn, I am tasked with embodying that very same magic as our Cailleach. I cannot do that without my own Night Watch.

If you’re interested please get in touch with our Festival Secretary, Sarah Barr at festival@beltane.org. We would be thrilled to receive a Group Organiser Application from you – you can find the form here, and the application guidance here – but Sarah would greatly welcome any questions, or notes of interest, and can put you in touch with fellow interested people. 

Please send in any applications, queries, or notes of interest as soon as possible ideally before Thursday 25th August so that we can tell everyone at our Open Meeting on Saturday 27th August.

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