Beltane festival turns its focus on climate change

Beltane Fire Festival 2023. (Photo: James Armandary)

BFS is focussing on the issue of climate change and how this impacts the storytelling of the ancient Celtic stories of Beltane, a seasonal festival that is at least three thousand years old. As climate change continues to impact our seasons, the seasons no longer resemble those our ancestors celebrated and this is an issue which BFS wants to both highlight but also adapt to.

This year, the story of Beltane is one of empowerment in the face of climate change, inviting its witnesses to join the May Queen in observing and righting the natural cycles of the world. It is the story that opens people to solutions, and one of those solutions is being an active steward and participant in the cycles of the land. This can be done via citizen science, and in particular, the work done by the UK Phenology Network.

Alongside exploring the concept of climate change in the festival, May Queen Alixandra Prybla is also taking other steps in her activism; she is a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh researching the bioacoustics of bumblebees to see what demographic information we can glean from a bumblebee’s buzz – at its core, contributing to a philosophy that by listening to what nature is telling us, we have so much to learn! She is also working with the society in a Wilder Walkies project, in which every Saturday morning in the lead up to Beltane, she invites everyone to partake in citizen science, taking data about when plants are sprouting, leafing and flowering in nature. With this data, she hopes to contribute to further environmental advocacy and literature.

Alixandra Prybla commented:

“When we as a community observe these seasonal cycles coming unbound, we have the opportunity to look deeply at the space created in that asynchronicity, to reflect on why this is happening, and what we can do to solve it. Coming together on Beltane night is a wonderful way to start critically thinking about and reflect on the issues that seasonal cycles coming apart means for us as individuals, as communities, and as a world of people who deserve to see their wild and fruitful spaces kept safe. I invite people to engage with themselves as a part of nature, to see nature as a part of themselves, and to treat this asynchronicity as something that can be resolved when we come together.

“It is my hope that people will leave the Hill feeling empowered, engaged, and ready to combat an issue that deprives us of our natural heritage: our connection to the Earth and its cycles.”

Beltane brings together a host of volunteer performers with fire-play, drumming, and wild costumes to Calton, marking the turning of the wheel, and the transition of Winter into Summer, following the journey of The May Queen and The Green Man, and a procession of energetic and fantastic characters.

The Beltane Fire Society is run by a volunteer Board of Trustees who oversee the year-round operation of the organisation. The Society is funded entirely by donations through its membership and from Beltane Fire Festival ticket sales.

Further information and tickets for Beltane Fire Festival 2024 can be found here:

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