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Monday, May 02, 2016


I was last here eleven years ago.
Since then...the crowds have grown.
Doubled, tripled, quadrupled.

And there is a map
Of which I disapprove

Still, the opening ceremony is something to see...

The 'need-fire' kindled straight from the pages of Frazer's The Golden Bough.

Living images of the forces that flow through life...
Parading statues, or people playing the part of those forces, is as old as humanity.

About this film.
Very low quality, filmed on an ancient Vado.
But, it has good sound quality so you can tune into voices in the crowd...and hear the drumming when it starts up - anyway this film shows the beginning from darkness to light.

The 'need fire' is kindled.
The White ladies and the May Queen begin their procession.
This film is a fairly accurate impression of Beltane, on Carlton Hill. About which: £7 a ticket (pre-book) .

Massive queue to get in, masses of people.
Last time I was here (circa 2005) once a fairly haphazard and seemingly random festival - just follow the drums, lots of small circles of activity.

Unfortunately there is now a map and plans provided.
Less drumming too.
Therefore crowds of people trying to push their way to the next point (where a part of the story is en-acted) saying 'sorry' before they push you

The event is no longer so random, less chance of happening upon something strange / pretty/ otherworldly going on, and it is generally impossible to see anything happening at the 'points' except the backs of people in a crowd - unless you stand behind someone who is holding their camera high, and filming.

Beltane Fire Festival is a mix of late 20th century 'arts and crafts' and neo-pagan. And pretty much as close as most of us will ever get to going to the  Eleusinian Mysteries.

Very few people who went to the Mysteries would have got to see anything either, but at least being off your head (after fasting, a long walk, sacrifices and being made a part of the ceremony...) meant you wouldn't have known or understood anything of what happened around you. But you would have received the Blessing of the festival, just by being there.

Nothing has changed, except the idea that people will be happier if they understand.

What you can't see on my film :)