As we start to imagine our next Beltane Fire Festival for Calton Hill, the Blues uphold the ancient traditions of our celebration and help our groups draw all their strands together into one cohesive story about the May Queen’s reunion with the Green Man and Summer’s return. We welcome Caroline, Josh, Ella and Gav to this essential role.
Caroline is deeply Blue. For me this means stability, truth, strength; a connection with the ground, fire, the seasons, the ritual, the air, mountains and the sea.
Photo of Caroline by JR Peterson
Since settling in Edinburgh, Beltane (and Samhuinn, Imbolc and Lughnasadh) have been the cornerstones of my life, rooting me in a community that is rooted to the earth and her rhythm of the seasons. The festivals (and more importantly, the preceding months in which we co-create them) have given me some of the richest experiences of my life, and greatly deepened my connection to life, nature, and community—culminating with 2016’s Beltane, when I had the honour to embody the Green Man. Following that, I was called to join Blue, and it has been immensely rewarding to help other folks find the experiences I’ve had, and to have a close-up view as our rainbow community learns to dance together.
I believe that what makes our festivals so fulfilling is that they are not mere performances or art projects, but living rituals that seek to awaken a sense of connection, magic and wonder that persists in the lives of everyone involved, far beyond the event of the festival itself. I see the role of Blue as guardian of that ritual element. We act as bridges, with one eye on the past and one on the present, to help preserve the traditions without their becoming stale. We act as conductors, helping the Court and the different groups to see themselves as part of a bigger whole. And we act as elders and guides, drawing out of that river of stories that make us who we are.
Photos of Josh by Bleu Hope (left) and Martin McCarthy (right)
I’m over the moon to be returning as a Beltane Blue after my first festival as Blue last Samhuinn.
I walked into an Open Meeting a good while ago when I still had blonde hair – so around 2010, maybe ’11? I never remember the number of the years I’ve done in our community.
It all started with a friend I’d met while working in a crystals shop. Knowing a little bit about the tradition of Beltane and persuaded I’d like the people behind the festival, I nervously went to my first Open Meeting. I never thought I could become part of such a clearly close knit group of people – let alone be Blue! Little did I know that I’d spend years with this diverse mad bunch.
I’ve been painted many a colour, drummed, danced, sung, meditated, done acro, ritualled, led groups, supported the May Queen. Tried to keep it quiet and failed. Had the honour of embodying the Cailleach. Through each festival I’ve forged friendships for a lifetime, danced with more joy than I thought was possible, learnt invaluable skills, had some of my strongest life experiences, and been supported through some of the hardest challenges.
Being asked to be Blue, I was humbled and shook. I remember over the years thinking lots of things about the Blues and experiencing them there on the periphery holding ritual space. Helping others experience what the society can offer them as individuals is a sacred space (that includes email!). Storytelling on all scales and in all its forms is a personal passion. It’s part of being human and feeling connected. The festivals tell the ancient tale of the natural cycles – one of humanity’s key stories that has been constantly reinterpreted. In this story there is magic, which I’m privileged to be a part of.
As Blues have been in the past for me, I’m here. I will endeavour to be as helpful as I can. I will probably suggest tea, as it’s part of the answer to many a thing and I’m Yorkshire born.
Photo of Ella by Ashley Erdman.
Jamie joins us as a brand new Blue this year.
There was an old Beastie and red
Who span fire and hit drums till he bled
But one day, he knew
It was time to be Blue
And was so happy he stood on his head.
Photos of Gav by Maria Gonzalez (left) and Neil Barton (right)
Featured image by Andion Galvi for Beltane Fire Society. All Rights Reserved.