20 June 2009

Beltane Fire Festival

clipped from intotheduat.com

On Beltane night, April 30, thousands of revellers trudge up Calton faerie Hill in the heart of Edinburgh.

They wrap up warm and bring their friends. Some paint their faces or wear flowers or ivy bands in their hair. They leave behind the brightly lit city streets and cosy pubs to scale the hill’s steep slopes in all weathers. The end of April can be unforgiving in Scotland as wind, rain and sleet batter the unwary.

As the sky darkens the hill fills with bodies - all waiting expectedly for the revealing of the May Queen that marks the beginning of the Beltane Fire Festival.

A neidfire is lit. Fire torches burst into flame and a line of drummers and torchbearers form along the high stone steps of Calton Hill’s Acropolis. As the drums thunder to life the May Queen, Green Man, Blue Men and White Women appear in the midst of burning fire sculptures and horn blasts.


‘No person neither man not woman [shall] resort or repair hereafter to the Dragon Hole, as they have done in times bye-gone, namely, in the month of May, nor shall pass thro’ the town with the piping and stirling of drums, as heretofore they have done, under the pain of twenty shillings to the poor... also that they shall make their public repentance upon ane Sabbath day in the presence of the people.’
- Kirk-session Register of Perth, May 2, 1580