This page is here for reference only as details may change for 2017’s festival.
The Wild Hunt performers at Samhuinn 2006 was my first ever festival experience; finding myself clambering as a wild beast across the Meadows public park with stilts attached to all limbs within a week of moving to the city! I instantly fell in love with the society and have performed in every Beltane and Samhuinn (bar one) festival since. I remember the moment I was transfixed by the maelstrom of the Cailleach’s unveiling in my first festival being a tipping point where I understood the immense power behind the stories we seek to tell, where it all got under my skin and I knew I would be a part of its telling many times over. In my time I have had the chance to drum, stilt walk, clown, fire spin, dance, stage fight, do acrobatics, puppetry on epic scales, story-tell and create powerful personal and community rituals. I have had great fun in coordinating various groups and facilitating their creative process. It has been a colourful 10 years as a part of such a welcoming, inspiring and creative community.
Some of my favourite memories to date have included the first strike of a drum in unison with a powerhouse of drummers… bowing before a huge firey beast born of the wild imaginings of 14 old and new friends…stepping over the acropolis to the sea of faces witnessing Beltane… and finding a deep strength, power and peace in the eye of a storm that was my personal manifestation of the Cailleach. Our festivals give as much as we offer of ourselves to them and the friends, skills and confidence that I have gleaned from my time in Beltane Fire Society I will treasure with the incredible memories wherever life takes me.
My experience of first meeting the Blues all those years ago was my first powerful connection to the deeper aspect of the festival. They are elders within the community; one foot solidly in the here-and-now, present in the veins of the festival and community whilst they also keep our history, traditions and rituals alive. For me Blue is the formative memory of the Society – the part which seeks to keep the spirit of the festival alive by supporting, guiding and connecting its members to the rich history, traditions and knowledge we continue to accrue as an ever evolving society and which sit at the foundation of what we create. I am honoured to continue as Blue in supporting the community that has given me so much.
Photos of Becky by (from left) James Illing and Martin McCarthy
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 this year’s Beltane, when I had the honour to embody the Green Man.
I believe that what makes BFS’s 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 persist in the lives of the participants (performers, support crew, as well as witnesses) 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 (from left) Bleu Hope and Martin McCarthy
In 2005 I first witnessed Beltane. I was captivated by the atmosphere, sights, sounds, colours and fire. I desperately wanted to be a part of it but there was no way the shy girl I was then could perform on stage. I was gently nudged into joining Storm Hags at Samhuinn and by the following year I was running the group.
Since then I’ve participated in a range of groups, GO’d many times, been on the Board, explored our rituals and become part of a loving community. I’ve challenged and developed myself along the way and left the shy girl behind.
Samhuinn has always been special to me and I’m looking forward to exploring Blue this festival. I hope I can help pass on our history, traditions and rituals that have become so important to me and help people to continue to learn about our Society and develop themselves within a safe space.
Photos of Kat by (from left) Sue Kane and Daniel Rannoch
I first witnessed Samhuinn in 2011, the same year I arrived in Scotland. I remember watching it in awe while an ember started glowing within me, telling me this was something I wanted to be a part of.
Fast-forward five years and here I am. A Blue. In those five years I have explored the wisdom and strength of White, the wildness and chaos of Red, the promise of the changing seasons and the mystery and darkness of Cailleachan.
And now I set off to explore Blue.
BFS gave me meaning, growth, the courage to challenge myself and, importantly, a community and a family in Edinburgh. My intention as a Blue is that I may inspire and support others in challenging and developing themselves, whilst keeping alive in their hearts our rituals and traditions.
May I serve this community well!
Photos of Sara by (from left) Raini Scott and Mark Taylor