Celebrating 30 Years of Beltane Fire

This year’s Beltane Fire Festival will be our thirtieth, and – in a feat of mathematics that boggles our hippyish minds – next year will mark 30 years since the first Beltane staged by our community too.

To say we’re excited about these firey milestones is a bit of an understatement: we fully intend to make the whole of the coming 12 months a grand celebration of thirty years of Beltane fire!

We’d love you to join in, so do take a look at what we’re planning…

all-fire

How are we celebrating?

Back in November we invited our members to share ideas on how we could celebrate. Since then they have bubbled into a lovely collection of plans. We’ll be sharing more on all of these in time, and we’re bound to add more, but for now, here’s a quick glance at what we’ve got cooking!

For Beltane Fire Festival 2017:

  • Making our thirtieth Beltane Fire Festival as stunning and special as ever. Book your ticket now, or join us and make it happen.
  • Building a bigger-than-ever-before fire arch (and we mean *big*).
  • Making Calton Hill even more beautiful on the night, thanks to a dedicated team of Hillusphere volunteers.
  • Trying out a range of new ways to convey the meaning and story behind our event, on the night and in advance – with photo galleries, emails to ticketholders in advance, plus information boards and bigger leaflets for the audience on Calton Hill.

Launching some very pretty things:

  • Our special logo to celebrate 30 years of fire, made for us by BFS member The Liquid Pixel (Jean-Pierre Abrahams), featuring the outline of one of the festival’s founders, Angus Farquhar.
  • A stunning, specially designed poster and flyer for Beltane that you’ll be seeing very soon.
  • An archive of thousands of photos taken by our volunteers at our festivals from across the past ten years – (not just the Facebook-friendly ones!), launching soon.

Telling our story and reaching out to the wider community:

  • Holding a ‘Beltane Community Open Day’ on the afternoon of Saturday 29 April on Calton Hill to make Beltane an all-weekend celebration for everyone.
  • Other events to reach out to the local Edinburgh community, like the ‘Weaving Imbolc’ event we held earlier this month at the Storytelling Centre, and hopefully one or two key talks and discussion events later in the year.

Skill sharing among our members and volunteers:

  • Running workshops for our members across the coming year. We’ve already held a workshop on willow-work and promoted a series of drumming sessions; in the coming month we’re running sessions on fire safety, movement and neid fire skills; and there will be more to come across the summer (including a lovely session with our friends from the Incorporation of Candlemakers of Edinburgh).
  • Exploring other ways to record and share skills, knowledge and our history across BFS members old and new – on and offline.

Events for Beltane Fire Society members and volunteers:

  • Holding celebrations like the lovely wee pot luck feast and club night for BFS members that took place back at the beginning of February, reviving our tradition of Imbolc community events.
  • Holding community fire gatherings across the year, hopefully welcoming some Beltaners from across our 30 year history to share their tales.
How can you get involved?

To get involved, come along to our Open Meeting on Sunday 26 February and find out about all the opportunities there are to help create our beautiful festival for the thirtieth time – or buy a ticket for Beltane Fire Festival 2017 itself, and witness it.

It’s going to be special, we promise.

Introducing our Group Organisers for Beltane 2017…

We’re very excited to introduce our intrepid volunteer Group Organisers for Beltane Fire Festival 2017! These amazing people will be working incredibly hard over the coming months, recruiting and training volunteers for performance and production groups, planning, creating, rehearsing and being generally awesome and dedicated to building an epic festival.

More information about the groups themselves will be appearing here on our website in time for the Open Meeting (which you should totally come to if you want to be part of the festival – Sunday 26 February, 12.30pm)!

AAARCADIA – FIRE ARCH AND THE DYSTOPIAN HIPPYLGRIMAGE:

  • Tom Watton, Lotte Kravitz and Robin Crane

THE AERIE:

  • Jay Wiwezar, Sarah Barr and Andrew Bell

AETHER DRUMMERS:

  • Lindsay Hunter and Anna Meulepas

AIOS FIOR:

  • Bruno Marchand and Nathan Goodfriend

THE BEASTIE DRUMMERS:

  • Camilla Ginty, Irene Carita Morelli and Moira Morrison

THE EVERGREENS:

  • Tom Gibson and Rob Thorburn

FIRE PUPPET POINT:

  • Jackie Burrell and Karen Dickson

THE FOXES:

  • Eliza Biscotti and Hanna Lappalainen

PHOTO POINT:

  • Mark Taylor and Neil Barton

PROCESSIONALS:

  • Thomas Caine and Gavin Kennerly

REDS:

  • William Fergusson and Sam Haddow

STEWARDS:

  • To be confirmed very soon!

TECH:

  • Helen Bradburn, Greig Douglas and Jonathan Crombie

TORCHBEARERS:

  • Bradley Mcarthur and Dulcea Wind

WATER:

  • Seth Ewin and Katie Craig

WHITES:

  • Hannah McIlhinney and Steffi Taylor

GOT QUESTIONS?

Contact chair [at] beltane [dot] org or festival [at] beltane [dot] org or chat to us at the Open Meeting.

Beltane 2017 tickets now on sale!

Beltane 2014

Tickets for the 2017 Beltane Fire Festival at Calton Hill, Edinburgh are now on sale, exclusively from Tickets Scotland!

On the 30th April as the sun sets, we’ll be reimagining the ancient Celtic festival of Beltane for the thirtieth time. We’ll mark the changing seasons with a wild mix of drums, fire and physical theatre – on a scale not seen anywhere else in the world.

So book now and don’t miss it: order your tickets here, find out more about the festival here and share the official Facebook event here.

It’s going to be a good ‘un.

Photo of Beltane bonfire by Felix Hartsuiker

Get involved: come to our Open Meeting for Beltane 2017!

Beltane 2016

  • What: Open Meeting for Beltane Fire Festival 2017
  • Why: Find out how you can be a part of our festival!
  • When: 12.30pm – 3pm on Sunday 26 February 2017
  • Where:  La Belle Angele, 11 Hastie’s Close, Old Town, Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH1 1HJ
  • Who: YOU!

Calling all drummers, dancers, clowns, musicians, acrobats, fire spinners, puppet makers, techies, artists, crafters, costumers, photographers, film-makers, event stewards and all-round epic people with a desire to be part of a world-famous festival, bringing an exciting and fiery modern twist to Celtic traditions!

Yes, it’s time for our thirtieth Beltane Fire Festival preparation to begin, and we’d like to invite YOU to come along and get involved. Every year we kick off preparations for our fire festival by holding an open meeting: anyone with an interest in helping to create the festival is invited to come along and find out more.

Help create our amazing public ritual celebration of the beginning of summer, alongside hundreds of other volunteers and an audience of thousands, overlooking the stunning city of Edinburgh. Whether you’re a long-time BFS member, a seasoned performer or you want to come along for the first time and take part, Beltane Fire Festival offers a opportunity to learn new skills, meet new friends and be part of a truly unique collaborative experience with a warm and welcoming community.

Why come to this Open Meeting?

The Open Meeting provides an opportunity for you to hear about the performance and production groups you can join, talk to the organisers, find out more about the festival and sign up to take part. If you can’t make it but would still like to be involved, details of all performance and production groups (including contact information for the organisers) will be posted here at beltane.org shortly before the Open Meeting.

You’re welcome to register your attendance through Facebook if you’d like. And if you have questions about accessibility of the venue, feel free to email access [at] beltane [dot] org.

[For those who’ve been to Open Meetings before: yes, we’re holding it a bit earlier in the afternoon than we have in previous years, kicking off at 12.30pm and finishing at 3pm. We recommend coffee beforehand!]

Photo of Beltane Fire Festival 2016 by Pascal van der Meiden.

BFS members: help plan decorations for the Hill!

Beltane 2015, Calton Hill, Edinburgh

Helen Bradburn is coordinating the latest iteration of ‘Hillusphere’, a special project aiming to provide more decoration across Calton Hill for our thirtierth Beltane Festival. Through it, we will be adding a bit more magic to the whole event by providing illumination and points of interest in the darker areas of the Hill. This is designed for the benefit of the public rather than performers, so they might have things to wander about to and look at during the moments when they can’t see a performance.

Hillusphere isn’t a festival ‘group’ in the usual sense – so as a BFS member if you want to get involved with Hillusphere, you aren’t commiting to focusing on this on the night of Beltane itself – meaning that when the open meeting comes around you can still join other groups. It’s just a project that you can get involved in or share ideas through as and when suits you, and when you have time. Hillusphere (via Helen) will be working along-side/closely with Tech when we have a Tech group in place, to make sure everything works smoothly.

Much as Tech is not a cloakroom, Hillusphere is not a props building department for groups. But like Tech they are here as and where they can to help groups achieve that special something they feel is essential to this year 30th celebration. Potential GOs and performers can contact Hillusphere to find out where decoration and installation might cross over with ideas they are starting to cook up.

Hillusphere need to do some investigation and brainstorming in order to get a manageable plan in place, despite the fact that groups aren’t yet up and running. So, there will be a meeting therefore on Sunday 29th January with the sole aim of looking at the Hill – and specifically places where traditionally performances don’t take place – to have a quick, on-the-spot, brain dump of ‘stuff’ that could be in the space… ideas/notes/quick sketches… we will use them all!

So, join Helen at 1pm by the Acropolis on Sunday 29th January if you think this might be of interest to you or you have things you want to contribute. Also please register your Hillusphere interest by emailing: Hillusphere [at] Beltane [dot] org.

Please note: if you aren’t yet a BFS member but want to get involved in this festival for the first time – this isn’t the event for that. But we’ll soon be sharing details of our Beltane 2017 open meeting, which is the perfect way to find out what’s going on and how you can join, so check here and our Facebook page for details across the next few weeks!

Photo by Neil Barton for Beltane Fire Society.

Deadline reminder for Beltane 2017: prospective GOs, and Green Man

Beltane 2015 by Martin McCarthyThink of us as your personalised Beltane Google calendar – here’s your reminder of all the upcoming pertinent dates and deadlines for prospective GOs and Green Man applicants.

This weekend sees the pre-GO application event, held on Sun 22 January 2017 at 14:00, in the Canon Gait’s pub. It’s a great chance to talk to past GOs and hear helpful tips (and not just about removing that ever-so-pernicious bodypaint) on running a performance or production Beltane group – as well as an opportunity to put any questions you might have to the Blues and Board members, before submitting your application. For full details, see the Facebook event here.

Remember, we’re also open to project proposals, from those who have an idea for the festival that they feel doesn’t necessarily fit within a group structure, or require volunteer recruitment. Drop us an email at festival [at] beltane [dot] org for more information.

All GO applications and proposals are due in two weeks, by 22:00 on Thursday 2 February 2017. If you can’t make this Sunday, never fear – there’s heaps of Guidance Notes, and all the forms you may need, over here.

Meanwhile, the deadline for Green Man nominations closes in just a few short days, at 7pm on Monday 23 January 2017. If there’s a member of our community that you feel you’d like to put forward for the role, get emailing.

If you yourself feel drawn to the Green Man character, you have one week to submit your notes of interest, with a deadline of 7pm on Thursday 26 January 2017. You can find all the information on nominating or submitting here.

Good luck!

 

Photo of Beltane 2015 by Martin McCarthy for Beltane Fire Society.

Shout-out for Group Organisers for Beltane 2017

The Aerie by Asier GoikoetxeaDear community, ye creatives, visionaries, revellers and mischief makers! It’s getting close to that time again when we start to collaboratively form the basis of our Beltane Fire Festival. This year is particularly special, as we celebrate the 30th Anniversary of our Beltane: a chance to reflect upon and celebrate this unique and incredible festival! To begin this process, we would like to invite submission of Group Organiser applications.

We are looking once more for a band of intrepid volunteer Group Organisers to help tell our story of Beltane. As a GO, your role will involve developing your story and key moments, in close collaboration with the Beltane Court and Blues (this year, with specific thought given to the 30th Anniversary); recruiting and managing volunteers; making props and costumes; choreographing your activity, music or rhythms; and contributing to the combined body and voice of our event. In return, we can offer you an amazing experience, during which you’ll learn new skills, meet new people, and make a difference to others by helping them on their journey to celebrate the start of Summer.

To help guide and shape your ideas, the below will present an outline of the processional narrative of our ritual celebration, a story told in one form or another by hundreds of volunteers over the years, since we began in 1988 (did we mention it’ll be our 30th?). We also set out suggestions for some performance groups that we’d love to see make an appearance, and production groups that are also vital to existence of our festival. The groups mentioned below are ones that have all been part of the event before, but there is always scope for fresh interpretations of those groups, as well as completely new and different concepts to be introduced. Bring your creativity and your unique vision to help us build something incredible together!

Please read through the following information carefully, and then download the Application Form, Example Application Form and Guidance Information, linked at the end of this post.

The deadline for Group Organiser applications is 10pm on Thursday 2 February 2017.

There will be a pre-application meeting for prospective GOs from 2pm-5pm on Sunday 22nd January 2017 at the Canon’s Gait pub. This will be a working meeting with structured discussion. If you would like to come and hang out socially, please feel free to come along afterwards, but we ask that only prospective Group Organisers attend the meeting itself. You can find more information in this post and are welcome to register your attendance on the Facebook Event page. If you’re thinking of applying to run a group but you can’t make it along to the meeting, please get in touch with the Blues at blues[at]beltane[dot]org and/or the Board of Trustees via festival[at]beltane[dot]org to share your ideas, as they’re happy to hear from you before applications start arriving.

Our processional narrative…
At its core, this sequence of events sees the May Queen rise from the Earth and reveal Herself in Her maiden aspect. Anna Chaney will be returning in the role of May Queen for Beltane 2017, and will be sharing her thoughts in an upcoming blog post. She is accompanied by Her former consort, the Winter King (or Horned God), who has become old and decrepit before his journey toward rebirth as the Green Man. The May Queen must make a choice to travel through the Fire Arch, the door between the worlds, and catalyse the turn of the wheel; a process necessitating the sacrifice of the old God, in order for Him to be reborn anew.

Along the way the May Queen passes through the elemental points, awakening each one as She goes and gathering their energies. She is accompanied on this journey by the Whites, who represent an extension of Her maidenhood and an outward expression of Her new fertility and strong maternal nature.

The procession encounters many characters, which have appeared in many different manifestations over the years. One of these groups has been the Reds, who are extensions of the Green Man and offer a contrasting energy to the Whites. During this elemental journey, the Reds are birthed and, as they explore their new bodies and the world they find themselves in, their energy grows in strength. Upon the awakening of the Fire element, the passion and vigour within the Reds overcomes them; attracted to the Divine light of the May Queen and the beauty of the Whites, they launch themselves at the procession. The chaotic flow of their charge threatens the momentum of the processional ritual and so their advance is fought back: they are repelled, running off to gather their energies anew. The Reds make one more stunning display to entrance the witnesses and pique the interest of the Whites, but once again are repelled and recoil once more into the night.

Thus, the procession moves into the centrepiece of our ritual: the sacrifice and rebirth of the Green Man. The May Queen, having gathered the many elemental forces around the Hill, spins them into a vortex, making right the conditions for the Green Man’s return. Witnessed by both our own community and the wider community, this powerful death and rebirth sequence binds us together in our hope and desire for renewal. The Green Man presents himself to his Queen – if He is worthy, She will accept Him as Her new consort.

The first responsibility for the newly joined God and Goddess is to complete the journey of the Neid Fire and spark the bonfire, bringing light and warmth to the Hill and often seen as symbolising the marrying of the community. They then lead their court to the Bower, the hearth of the Hill, as the Reds continue their revelry around the newly lit fire. At the Bower the ritual comes to a close, but not before the Reds and Whites have concluded their seduction, both accepting one another as their King and Queen have done. The only thing left to do from here is to dance and revel in the joy of the newborn Summer, as we invite our witnesses to dance with us.

In previous festivals, the following PERFORMANCE groups have played a role in the processional narrative, the journey of the May Queen and Green Man, and the traditions our Society has created together…

Reds
Sparking with unbound, chaotic energy needing to unleash towards the procession, witnesses and Hill, this is a high commitment group and core to the processional narrative. Newly birthed into the world on the night, they are awed by what they have been awakened to; every little detail is a thing to be explored, tested, tasted, clambered on, or similarly conquered. These innocently mischievous newborn beings know no boundaries and so they are free to whirl and dance and express themselves in whatever fashion pleases them.

Filled with power, but with no idea of what to do with it, they are enveloped in the myriad of earthly delights and sensations that they have been exposed to. In seeing the Whites for the first time, they experience a maddening and heady mix of desire and confusion. They know not what these delectable creatures are, but are driven by a wild, passionate need to be with them, sensing their great strength and power. Their awakening has begun…

Whites
The Whites are extensions of the May Queen and embody inner strength, serenity and focus. Another high commitment group, core to the processional narrative, they express as creative and intuitive spirits. Unlike the Reds, they are aware of their purpose and fulfill their obligations towards the Court, before responding to the insistent whispers of their own desires.

The Whites know that their energy is equally as fierce as that of the Reds, but they bend it towards powerfully protecting and shielding the procession and the ritual from the unbound chaos of the Reds. Once the May Queen and Her consort present their courtship at the bonfire, the Whites freely and gladly choose to dance with the Reds, extending the union of the God and Goddess into the community.

Elemental Points
As the May Queen wends Her way around the Hill, She must renew and be rejuvenated by the elemental forces, weaving each one into the alchemy of Her purpose.

We would like to invite 4 separate groups to embody each elemental point of Air, Fire, Water and Earth. Each group is encouraged to create a performance around an elemental offering to the procession, as well as a second performance for the witnesses. Alternatively, this second performance may involve a joining of forces with other elemental groups, to create a bigger piece involving all four elements. We encourage these groups to offer interpretations of the elements that contribute to the ritual, explore them, express them as BIG as you can, use the Hill in new and exciting ways, and let your imaginations run wild!

Drummers
Our procession is nothing without the pounding beats of our drum crews, the most common being the Beasties and the Processionals. Be it the carnal chaotic Red heartbeat or the insistent and unstoppable rhythm of nature – or even a brand new drum group adding to the spirit of the night – we invite you to come forth and make us move!

Torchbearers

Our Torchbearers have always been an integral part of our ritual, adding ceremony and protection, as well as the creation of the sacred fire. They start the Neid Fire that sparks all other flame on the Hill, creating a liminal boundary between the outside world and witnesses, and those within the procession. Please come forth if you wish to embody this character…and carry fire on a stick!

Bower
The home of our Hill, our community and the May Queen, the Bower is the space where the final ritual between Red and White is played out, a place of nourishment, safety, rest and joy. We’re calling for your vision to create this Sacred Hearth on the Hill, through creation of a magical space, and facilitation of this final aspect of our ritual, ending with a warm welcome extended to all – performers and witnesses alike.

Each year, Beltane is renewed and refreshed by these PERFORMANCE groups, which fill the rest of the Hill with excitement and beauty, forming an important part of the festival experience and bringing entertainment and interaction to witnesses outside of the procession…

In the past, we’ve seen all manner of wonderful beasts, faeries, sprites and spirits, for example, No Point, The Faerie Porters, The Aerie, Random Points of Kindness, Storytellers and Bonfire Point, whose unique characters have all become part of our weaving narrative. They offer their own interpretation to the central story, creating stunning points of interest to light up the dark, fill the air with glorious sound and capture the imagination of all who encounter them.

For groups who choose to have a presence outside of the procession, there is great scope to create more intimate and interactive experiences, inviting witnesses to feel a personal connection to the event and create memories of an incredible evening that they can carry off the Hill with them. If you have a fantastic idea for a group like this, we encourage you to consider how you might use the available spaces within the landscape of the Hill, whether you will travel your own path, or adopt a static area for part/all of the night. Consider also how your core themes intertwine with the story being told, and how you will interact with the Court, the Blues, and the other groups on the night.

Our unique festival couldn’t happen without the wonderful PRODUCTION groups that are an essential presence, in order for the event to take place…

These include…. the Stewards who facilitate the movement of performers around the Hill and dedicate their energy to the safety and happiness of all; Contact Point who offer information and guidance; Tech, responsible for the logistics, structures and safe but dramatic fire art that form the background and backbone of the event; and Photopoint, who capture our creations and memories in beautiful pictures. We are looking for Group Organisers to bring their dynamic personalities, as well as practical knowledge and experience, to build these important foundations, on which the rest of the event rests.

These groups offer a different experience of the festival, providing an opportunity to participate in creating the event from a non-performance perspective, as well as learning and honing a range of professional skills. If you’re considering applying to run one of these groups, we encourage you to include amongst your GO team someone with relevant experience and/or skills, gained either inside or outwith BFS. Think about how you can run and develop a team of volunteers to work together with the Event Coordinator to create the well-oiled machine that powers the festival!

Additional PROJECT Proposals…

Our community is bursting with creativity and imagination. If you are an experienced BFS festival participant, and have an idea that you would like to make a reality as part of the 2017 festival – but feel it doesn’t fit with a group structure, or necessarily require recruitment of additional volunteers, please email festival[at]Beltane[dot]org to request more information on how to submit a proposal.  The deadline for submissions of proposals is Thursday the 2nd of February 2017 – email them to festival [at] Beltane [dot] org. Proposals will be granted at the discretion of the Board, and you may be invited for a short interview to discuss your idea.

GO FOR IT!
You are invited to take inspiration from the over-arching narrative of Beltane, the casting off of Winter’s darkness and revelling in the joy of a newly birthed Summer, from fertility and celebration. Let us make our Beltane a wild Bacchanalian rumpus to drive the community of Edinburgh wild! Bring your beautiful visions to the night!

Beltane 2017 Group Organiser Application Form

Beltane 2017 Group Organiser Example Application Form

Beltane 2017 Group Organiser Guidance

Photo of Aerie at Beltane 2016 by Asier Goikoetxea, for Beltane Fire Society

Calling our next Green Man for Beltane 2017

green-man-josh-1

Dear Beltaners,

It is time for us once again to begin our search for the Green Man, who will take part in the Beltane Fire Festival 2017.  This festival will be our 30th anniversary and we hope that we can create something together that is truly special and memorable: the Green Man will be an integral part of this. We now invite those who feel drawn to the role, to step forward and express their interest.

Notes of interest should be formally submitted to blues[at]beltane[dot]org by 7pm on Thursday 26 January 2017: you’ll receive an acknowledgement of your application shortly thereafter. All applicants MUST be available for:

  • interview on the evening of Tuesday 31 January 2017
  • at least one day of the GO weekend on Saturday 18 & Sunday 19 February 2017 
  • the Open Meeting on Sunday 26 February 2017

 

We would also like to invite the BFS community to submit the names of any members that they would like to nominate for the role of Green Man. Perhaps you know someone whom you feel would be perfect, embodying all that our society looks for in a Green Man – but who has not stepped forward themselves, for whatever reason.  Any member of the society may make a recommendation for Green Man, to the Blues or Board; the nominee will then be approached, to have a chat about their willingness and availability to enter into the selection process. Nominations should be formally submitted to blues[at]beltane[dot]org by 7pm on Monday 23 January: you’ll receive an acknowledgement of your nomination shortly thereafter.

 

What is the role of the Green Man?

We cannot completely define this for you. Each Green Man has their own journey, their own story to spin – but we can offer some contextual thoughts.

The Beltane Fire Festival is a living, dynamic reinterpretation and modernisation of an ancient Iron Age Celtic ritual, and is the largest of its kind. Having been resurrected as a performance art piece and practice in 1988, it has become a central focus for our community, bringing people together to acknowledge and celebrate the birth of Summer and the fertility of the land.

The purpose of our festival is not to recreate ancient practices, but to honour the spirit of our ancient forebears, whilst creating our own connection to the cycles of nature. There is a great deal of joy and the revelry fostered in the ritual: it is about casting off the darkness and celebrating the light. A time for celebrating fertility, both in the context of our biology as well as our creative energies, forming the fertility of our creative community.

Our Beltane celebrates the turning of the wheel of the year, from Spring into the beginning of Summer: we celebrate each step of the cycle with the festivities. Some aspects change from year to year, but certain elements are fixed and are repeated: one of these is the Green Man and his journey. In the context of the Beltane Fire Festival, the Green Man is the embodiment of the earth, the personification of the world around us, and a counterpoint to the divine entity of our May Queen.

People’s lives upon this planet have always been intrinsically defined and shaped by nature itself; our lives defined by our relationship (or lack thereof) with it, by how we interact with nature, and by the way it behaves and responds. Central to our relationship with the earth are the cycles of the seasons, the constant flux and flow of life, the continuous change from one state to another. Our Green Man is a living embodiment of the earth’s cyclical nature: a character who appears all over the world, common across many different cultures throughout human history.  As global location changes, so does the name, the personality, and traits – all being particular to that culture’s manifestation of the Green Man. But always present is the human need to represent the interdependent nature of the relationship between our species and the natural world.

The crucial aspect of the Green Man’s role is his death and subsequent rebirth, which provides the centrepiece of our ritual. The May Queen, having gathered the many elemental forces around the hill, spins them into a vortex, creating the right conditions for the Green Man’s return. Witnessed by both our own community and the wider community of witnesses, this powerful death and rebirth sequence binds us together in our hope and desire for renewal. The Green Man then presents himself to his Queen – if he is worthy, she will accept him as her new consort.

This is just a brief introduction to the history and concept of the Green Man, and how the role has been represented by the many folk who have performed it. We encourage you seek out more information if the subject interests you; the role is fundamentally important to our festival and the community.

The journey of the chosen person is both solitary and social; it is up to you to decide on this balance as you define your own process, with the support of the Blues. However, we ask two things of you:

  1. The Green Man is expected to be involved in actively creating the main storyline of the festival, along with the May Queen. This is a fundamental part of the whole Society’s vision, and the understanding of the Green Man’s journey. Anna Chaney will be returning in the role of May Queen for Beltane 2017, and will be sharing her thoughts in an upcoming blog post.
  1. A Green Man applicant should consider their entire journey carefully, and should be prepared to share their character vision with the society, and preparation plans with the Blues and Event Coordinator.

 

If you are considering stepping forward for this role but are wavering, or simply looking for more info, we’d like to encourage you to contact blues[at]beltane[dot]org for a chat. Applicants are all interviewed individually by the Blues, representatives from the Board and the May Queen, with the final selection being made following careful consideration. The Board, as in previous years, has final responsibility for ratifying the choice made by the interviewing panel.

 

Thank you,

Your Blues

Photo of the Green Man at Beltane 2015 by Mark Taylor

Learn to work with willow [Workshop for BFS members only]

 

Beltane 2016 / The Aerie / St Margaret's House / EdinburghOn Sunday 4 December at the Calton Centre in Edinburgh, 1pm – 5pm, we are holding a free workshop for Beltane Fire Society members on using willow for festival props and decorations. Places on ‘Working with willow: lanterns and puppets and puppety lanterns!’ are very limited, so if you want to join, please book your place now.

PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS A WORKSHOP FOR CURRENT BFS MEMBERS ONLY (i.e those who have taken part as a Beltane Fire Society volunteer in one or more of our recent festivals).

As thoughts of our Edinburgh Beltane’s 30th anniversary are beginning to seep into our creative consciousness, it’s about time to start sharing some of our long-forgotten skills and crafts. In years gone by willow crafts in the forms of lanterns and puppets and puppety-lanterns were a BFS staple; having let this art fall by the wayside in recent years, it’s now time to dust it off and see what we can do with it for Beltane 2017!

BFS invites you to book a free place to join members Helen Bradburn and Ross Flemington for a workshop from 1pm-5pm on Sunday 4th December, in the downstairs studio at the Calton Centre. In the session our volunteer workshop leaders will show you how to play and create with willow (get started by helping make lanterns for the Hill!); to learn and experiment; give you chance to ask questions, and to throw around ideas about the illuminated world of willow lanterns and puppets.

In this workshop we will cover:

  • Suppliers and materials – sourcing
  • Getting to grips with your materials
  • Finding out what BFS has to loan for big projects
  • Scope of ideas – how small, how big?
  • Puppet building – backpacks and the basics (presented by Ross Flemington)
  • Illuminating spaces
  • Making a lantern: finish it on the day or take it away with you and bring it back to the Open Meeting to inspire others… we would like you to contribute your efforts, by making a lantern which will be on the hill for the 30th celebrations… yep, the prep starts here!

Please bring water and lunch/nibbles for yourself and to share, to keep us all going across this bumper workshop!

How to book your place

Please only book a place if you are certain you will attend: places are strictly limited to make sure those who do come along will get as much support and chance to learn as possible. But if you are sure, book your place now via Eventbrite.

Only those who have booked on will be able to take part in this particular workshop, but we’re hoping to run many more as part of the build up to our 30th anniversary, on a whole host of skills, so don’t worry if you can’t make this one!

Photo by Neil Barton for Beltane Fire Society