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:
- 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.
- 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.
Photo of the Green Man at Beltane 2015 by Mark Taylor