A new Autumn celebration – introducing Lughnasadh
What a weird summer it’s been. Ordinarily we would have spent these months since Beltane communing with our friends, telling stories around bonfires, and voyaging into the Scottish countryside to root ourselves in nature. This should have been a time of revelry and connectedness – a feeling we know some of you have struggled to hold on to during lockdown.
That’s why we’re trying out a new digital festival. Our next fire festival is still some time away, so we wanted to find a way for us to come together and do something creative in the meantime. Starting this Saturday, you can join us on our website and across our social media channels to celebrate Lughnasadh, a Celtic holiday traditionally held at the beginning of August.
WHAT IS LUGHNASADH?
Traditionally it’s a harvest festival, marking the petering off of Summer’s growing season and the emergence of Autumn. It’s a time to enjoy the fruits of our labour and to prepare ourselves for the harsh Winter ahead. Lughnasadh is said to have been started by the god Lugh, also known as the Master of All Skills or The Shining One. Lugh created Lughnasadh in honour of his foster mother Tailtiu, an earth goddess whose role it was to clear the land in Ireland to make way for fields of crops. She died of exhaustion from the task. The funeral feast that her foster son created for her is a celebration of Tailtiu’s life, as well as a way of making peace with endings – something we reflect on more and more as we approach our Winter festival, Samhuinn.
HOW YOU CAN JOIN US FOR OUR DIGITAL LUGHNASADH
Unlike the much bigger Beltane Online Fire Festival, our Lughnasadh is going to be relatively low key – there’s no specific time that you need to tune in with us, and the stuff that we share will be a lot shorter. We want this to be an easy way for us all to check in with each other as Summer draws to a close.
From Saturday 1st August, we’ll share one or two pieces of content every day for a week that will help you get into the spirit of Lughnasadh. These include craft tutorials, stories, and games, all created by our volunteers over the past month. Everything will be posted across our social media and then rounded up on this Lughnasadh page on our website. We’ll keep it all online for you to come back to after the festival as well.
IF DIGITAL ISN’T FOR YOU…
That’s okay! We know the internet isn’t everyone’s favourite, so we’ve created some materials that will help you take part in real life. We’ll publish a printable PDF on our website over the next few days, so you have everything you need before we begin on Saturday 1st August.
DONATING TO OUR COMMUNITY
Everything we have planned for next week is free to access, so you won’t need to buy any tickets to join in the fun. What we are asking for though a small donation to our community if you like what you see during the festival.
We’re a not-for-profit organisation that relies almost entirely on ticket sales to sustain our community and festivals. We receive no public money right now, so it’s thanks to our audiences that we’ve been able to keep our festivals going for more than thirty years. No audience means no income, and so our future is a little more shaky since coronavirus made large gatherings impossible. Any and all donations that can help us weather the storm a little longer would mean the world to us.
_Image Copyright Gilliard Lach for Beltane Fire Society. All Rights Reserved. http://www.beltane.org / _
Donations from BOnFire given to green charities
Let us begin by saying an enormous thank you to everyone who donated to BOnFire (Beltane Online Fire Festival) back in April. We raised an incredible £2,000 across the evening, which will be a big help when we start to bring our festivals back to Edinburgh in-person.
Your generous donations have also meant that we could follow through on our pledge to spend some money on healing our planet. Climate change has not gone away, and we intend to do our bit to keep pushing for a greener future. As promised, we have now gifted 10% of the money raised at BOnFire to two deserving environmental charities – both this time with a harvest focus! We want to ensure our charity is not just for the now, but can continue for many years to come, and part of that is paying back for some of the carbon our fires release into the atmosphere.
BUMBLEBEE CONSERVATION TRUST – £100
Pollination is vital for many of the nation’s wild and garden plants, and provides animals with a source of food and shelter. Without bumblebees we would have less colour; less beauty; less healthy and nutritious food. The Bumblebee Conservation Trust are working hard to create and restore habitats and to encourage bee-friendly gardening that our wild pollinators need to survive.
£16 buys 100g of wildflower seeds to create around 15m2 of wildlife habitats – about the size of an average living room.
£64 buys 400g of wildflower seeds to create 100m2 of wildlife habitats – about the size of a rugby pitch.
£75 helps towards the production of land management factsheets to assist landowners in improving land for our pollinators.
£100 pays for a bumblebee presentation and activity session at a primary school.
LEITH COMMUNITY CROPS IN POTS – £100
Set up to encourage and support the people and organisations of Leith to grow food vegetables and flowers for bees in urban spaces, in order to improve health and wellbeing, community cohesion and the environment. While their main long-term focus is on promoting the multiple benefits of healthy nutrition and engagement with nature, and using food-growing for this as well as to build community, Leith Community Crops in Pots are also very much concerned with addressing disadvantage, and with developing a replicable ‘urban croft’ model for others to follow.
They currently run environment-, food- and wellbeing-related workshops online, as well as an emergency feeding scheme engaging over 130 people as recipients, as freelancers (people who might otherwise be out of work due to the lockdown) and as volunteers. Some grow vegetables in a market garden, some cook meals, and many deliver meals using a fleet of cargo bikes.
Featured image by __Andrzej Suchodolski for Beltane Fire Society. All rights reserved.
BOnFire Festival 2020
Last month we had to cancel our physical festival due to COVID-19. However in it's place we have devised a fun new virtual thing that we’re trying out. On the night of Beltane (30th April), we’re inviting our international community to sit with us around a virtual BOnFire, the Beltane Online Fire Festival, hosted right on our website and social media platforms.
Even though the cancellation of our usual festival was the right thing to do, we were heartbroken to see the coronavirus pandemic halt our ritual celebration and the preparations for it. This is only the second time in our 32 history that our festival hasn’t been able to take place on Calton Hill, and of course people were marking Beltane for thousands of years before us. Our world feels like it is at a standstill, but the wheel keeps on turning. Summer will arrive soon. The sun is shining higher in the sky and the flowers are beginning to open. Our festival as we know it may not be able to go ahead, but the Celtic holiday and the reasons to mark it endure.
We’ve put our heads together to come up with a way to keep connecting us all even while we’re practicing self isolation. On Thursday 30 April between 7PM and 10.30PM, we will publish a mass amount of content created for you by our volunteers to evoke different parts of the Beltane story, and we’d love you to join us to experience it live and in the moment online.
This isn’t a live stream – not on its own anyway. We know that our volunteers have a wide variety of talents and interests, and thought this would be a great way to explore them all. We’ll be sharing video, music, visual art, poetry, photography, and a little bit of character work throughout the evening, which will all be collected together here in its multimedia glory on our website.
The night will be broken up into a series of chapters, or time slots, during which we will share creations from our volunteers that resonate with a particular point in Beltane Fire Festival’s narrative. We have listed the night’s schedule at the bottom of this post.
You’ll be able to join us on our website, on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Not all of the content that we create can be shared on every platform, so we recommend catching what you can on your social media of choice and then diving into everything here on our website, where the whole festival will be collected and available to browse afterwards.
It’s completely free to access our online festival. All you need is an internet connection and access to social media or this website. What we are asking though, if you are able, is for a small donation in lieu of a ticket. We, like so many, have been hit financially by the coronavirus pandemic. While we are fortunate to have some reserves that will help us survive, any donations big and small will go a long way to helping us bring our festivals back after this crisis. We are a not-for-profit charity that receives no public money, and almost all the funds that keep our community going come from ticket sales. We are also pledging to send 10% of the donations received, up to a total £1,000, to environmental charities. People can donate via Citizen Ticket by purchasing a “pay what you can” ticket at https://www.citizenticket.co.uk/events/beltane-fire-society/bonfire-beltane-online-fire-festival/ or through the other ways listed on our website.
This is a completely new arena for us – our festivals have often delved into the mortal and the spiritual realms, but never the virtual – but we hope that you’ll come with us on this new digital adventure. In the world that we live in, it’s never been more important to celebrate the stories and rituals that bring us together.
BONFIRE FESTIVAL PROGRAMME
19:00 – 19:15 Welcome to Beltane
19:15 – 19:30 The Horn Sounds and The Journey Through the Veil
19:30 – 19:45 May Queen & Green Man’s Journey
19:45 – 20:00 Air
20:00 – 20:15 Earth
20:15 – 20:30 Chaos Awakens – The Red Family
20:30 – 20:45 Water
20:45 – 21:00 Fire
21:00 – 21:15 The May Queen Chooses Her Consort
21:15 – 21:30 The Bonfire
21:30 – 21:45 The Bower
21:45 – 22:00 The Toast
Featured image by Asier Goikoetxea for Beltane Fire Society. All rights reserved.