Emma-Jayne Saanen

Beltane 2013 – The Beltane Fire Festival

One of the cow skull torches lining the path.

One of the cow skull torches lining the path.

I was lucky enough to be taken through to Edinburgh to enjoy the festival organised by the volunteers of the Beltane Fire Society. It’s a popular event, and many people have told be to go before. This year it finally happened.

We witnessed the arrival of the May Queen and the Green Man, and followed their procession as they met numerous challenges on their way to bring Summer to our lands. It was a beautiful piece of pageantry and ritual. My words can’t really convey how spectacular it was, so luckily there is a Flickr account where you can see for yourselves! 

Due to the crowds, we couldn’t follow all of the procession, so we focused on seeing a few events. I watched the May Queen and Green Man pass through the fire arch – which was amazing with all of the fire dancing. Next we witnessed the Green Man dance with the caterpillars and join with them in their metamorphosis as they were reborn as moths. Then we crossed the hill to watch His final battle with the remnants of Winter, and followed the procession to the bonfire.

My gift from the May Queen's hand maiden.

My gift from the May Queen’s hand maiden.

We didn’t see much there – sadly the crowd was full of drunk and stoned numpties screaming about how they didn’t understand what was happening – so we went ahead of the crowd to the Bower where we had an amazing view of the handfasting of the May Queen and Green Man, before they presided over the handfasting of members of the Society. I was gifted a white rose by one of the May Queen’s hand maidens, and I’m not ashamed to say that it was a powerful, emotional moment for me. After all of the performers had their rest, the May Queen’s entourage were drawn into the dance of the Reds, the spirits of mischief, and the sexual energy of Beltane was made evident.

On a personal level, the festival was a rite of passage for me. This time of fire and renewal coincided with my return to Druidry. I took the fire inside me and it burns bright.

It was an amazing event. I’m grateful to the volunteers who made it happen and I’m grateful for the chance to have seen it. I hope to be there next year.


  1. It sounds like an amazing experience, glad you got to enjoy it!

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