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.

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

Planniversary! [meeting for current BFS members only]

beltane-2016-by-laura-wallace

On Sunday 20th November, from 2pm – 5pm, we’ll be holding a grand PLANNIVERSARY meeting at the Calton Centre, for any and all BFS members who can make it (and have the energy).

PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS NOT AN OPEN MEETING. This is a meeting only for people who are current BFS members, i.e. who have taken part as a BFS volunteer in one or more of our recent festivals. If you want to join us for one of our future festivals, this isn’t the way to do that. Instead, please do come along to the Beltane 2017 open meeting that we’ll be holding in February 2017 – we’ll share all the details in the new year on beltane.org as well as all our social media channels so it’ll be impossible to miss. Thanks!

As you may know, 2017 will be our 30th Beltane Fire Festival, and we’d love BFS members to come share ideas and plan how we can celebrate this special anniversary.

This isn’t an open meeting like the ones we have at the beginning of each festival, and it isn’t like the blethers we hold every now and again: this planniversary meeting is an entirely unique (and beautiful) beast. We want existing BFS members to bring ideas about what we could do to mark the anniversary, over and above our usual festival activities. There will be lots of active smaller group discussion to spark ideas, rather than the one-at-a-time-in-front-of-everyone format we use for blethers. We’ll be looking for people to come ready to start thinking big and help make things happen – but it’s no problem if you don’t have any particular ideas in mind. We just want you to be part of it.

To be clear: this won’t be about tying yourself to anything that will restrict your ability to run or sign up to groups for Beltane 2017 itself – we won’t be discussing festival groups and concepts, characters and so on at this meeting. That’ll all happen in the usual way and to the usual timeline. This event is just about kicking off anything else we might want to make happen, so we don’t miss the opportunity our 30th anniversary provides. We might decide to do very little, or lots – it’s entirely up to us all as BFS members.

So, mark the planniversary meeting in your diaries for 20th November, and we hope to see you there!

Love and hugs,

Your BFS Board and Blues xx

You’re welcome to register your attendance on our Facebook event page.

Photo of Beltane 2016 by Laura Wallace

The Samhuinn 2016 Open Meeting is in TWO WEEKS!

If you’d like to take part in the Samhuinn Fire Festival 2016, come along to our Open Meeting on Sunday 28th August! You can find all the information about the Open Meeting, including location, times and accessibility details, HERE.

If you can’t make it to the Open Meeting but still want to join a performance or production group for the festival, we’ll be sharing information about all the groups here at beltane.org, along with the contact details for the organisers, so you can get in touch and sign up.

Samhuinn Fire Festival 2016 Open Meeting on 28th August

Samhuinn 2015 by Raini Scott

What?
Samhuinn Fire Festival 2016 Open Meeting

When?
2-5pm on Sunday 28th August 2016

Where?
The Calton Centre, 121 Montgomery Street, Edinburgh, EH7 5EP

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 event, bringing an exciting and fiery modern twist to Celtic traditions!

Yes, it’s Samhuinn time again and we’d like to invite YOU to come along and get involved in creating our amazing public ritual celebration of the turning of seasons from Summer to Winter in the atmospheric and beautiful centre 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, Samhuinn Fire Festival offers an awesome opportunity to learn new skills, make fabulous friends and be part of a truly unique experience. Everyone is welcome!

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 that happens on 31st October and sign up to take part.

You are welcome to register your attendance on our Facebook event page.

The Calton Centre is surrounded by on-street parking, has a ramp at the entrance, and accessible interior and toilets.

Photo of Samhuinn 2015 by Raini Scott

1 week proxy registration reminder for AGM

Beltane 2016 by Martin McCarthy

The BFS Annual General Meeting is on Sunday 12th June 2016 (the official Facebook event page can be found HERE). If you are a member of our Society and would like to vote but will not be able to attend the AGM, you can choose a proxy (someone to vote on your behalf). In order for this to happen, please email chair[at]beltane[dot]org with your name and your proxy’s name before 1pm on Friday 10th June. Your voting slip will then be handed to them on their arrival. Your proxy can only vote on behalf of one person so please do not ask someone who has already agreed to proxy for someone else. Your proxy must be a BFS member and cannot be running for election to the Board.

Photo of Beltane 2016 by Martin McCarthy

AGM reminders for BFS members! 1 week to submit Trustee applications, 2 weeks to register proxies

Beltane 2016 by Martin McCarthy

The BFS Annual General Meeting is on Sunday 12th June 2016 (the official Facebook event page can be found HERE). If you’d like to apply to be on 2016/2017’s Board of Trustees or register a proxy to vote on your behalf, get a wriggle on!

TRUSTEE APPLICATIONS
If you would like to register your interest in putting yourself forward for election at the AGM, please familiarise yourself with the BFS Articles of Association, Memorandum of Association and Board Responsibilities, then complete and return this brief questionnaire to chair[at]beltane[dot]org by Friday 3rd June 2016 for email distribution to the membership no later than one week before the AGM.

PROXIES
If you are a member of our Society and would like to vote but will not be able to attend the AGM, you can choose a proxy (someone to vote on your behalf). In order for this to happen, please email chair[at]beltane[dot]org with your name and your proxy’s name before 1pm on Friday 10th June. Your voting slip will then be handed to them on their arrival. Your proxy can only vote on behalf of one person so please do not ask someone who has already agreed to proxy for someone else. Your proxy cannot be running for election to the Board.

Photo of Beltane 2016 by Martin McCarthy

BFS AGM and application for prospective Trustees

Beltane 2016 by Dan Mosley

Even though the Beltane Fire Festival is over, the work of the Society’s Board of Trustees continues throughout the year.

The Beltane Fire Society Annual General Meeting (AGM) will be held at 2pm on Sunday 12th June 2016 at the Calton Centre, 121 Montgomery Street, Edinburgh, EH7 5EP. This is a CLOSED MEETING for existing BFS members only. It is not a festival-related Open Meeting, a big blether or a social event.

ITEMS FOR DISCUSSION AND VOTING
If you, as a BFS member, have any items you would like to be raised for membership discussion or voting at this meeting, please let us know by emailing chair[at]beltane[dot]org

Any items to be raised for a membership vote should be submitted no later than 21 days before the AGM (Sunday 22nd May 2016), in order to be circulated to the membership for consideration and discussion.

ELECTION OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES
The main item on the agenda is the election/re-election of the Board of Trustees. All year round the BFS Board keep the Society running with various jobs and projects – this is your chance to be a part of that.

If you would like to register your interest in putting yourself forward for election at the AGM, please familiarise yourself with the BFS Articles of Association, Memorandum of Association and Board Responsibilities, then complete and return this brief questionnaire to chair[at]beltane[dot]org by Friday 3rd June 2016 for email distribution to the membership no later than one week before the AGM.

PROXIES
If you are a member of our Society and would like to vote but will not be able to attend the AGM, you can choose a proxy (someone to vote on your behalf). In order for this to happen, please email chair[at]beltane[dot]org with your name and your proxy’s name before 1pm on Friday 10th June. Your voting slip will then be handed to them on their arrival. Your proxy can only vote on behalf of one person so please do not ask someone who has already agreed to proxy for someone else. Your proxy cannot be running for election to the Board.

The agenda and other documentation will be circulated via our members-only mailing list. If you aren’t sure whether or not you’re on this list, please email chair[at]beltane[dot]org as soon as possible to check or be added to the list.

The official Facebook event page for the BFS AGM 2016 can be found HERE.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Photo of Beltane 2016 by Dan Mosley

Community Fire Circle planning meeting this evening

Becky who is running our ‪Beltane 2016‬ Community Fire Circles would like to invite you to come along to a planning meeting this evening…

Anyone who would like to hear more about Community Fire or have ideas to contribute, please come along tonight at 8.30pm to the Cuckoo’s Nest (upstairs level) pub in Tollcross. So great to hear people’s feedback and interest yesterday- and so many lovely new folks! Just to mention again this is not a group so you can contribute to this and still pursue other groups and perform on the night. This is just a great way of investing in your connection to the community as a whole, trying out any skills and potentially picking up new ones!

Beltane 2016 Open Meeting tomorrow!

Just a quick reminder that the Open Meeting for Beltane Fire Festival 2016 is happening tomorrow, Sunday 21st February, from 2.30pm at the Calton Centre, Edinburgh. Full details can be found HERE. If you want to take part in the festival, this is the best way to start your journey but if you’re not able to make it along, you can find out about all the performance and production groups HERE.