When Beltane was revived as a May the 1st shindig on Calton hill in the 90’s, I was delighted. But as spontaneity can be strangled by the most unlikely hands, so it comes that far from developing into an authentic communal festival, the organising committee have imported all kinds of foreign practices into it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not exactly bovvered, but I’d like to share my fear that this most Scottish of traditions might miss a trick and overlook the fact that this year Beltane coincides with the 300th anniversary of the day the Act of Union came into force.
Wouldn’t it be great if May 1st this year was a massive spontaneous popular festival elided with Beltane and focused on Calton Hill. Not only a liminal time but a popular protest against Scotland still being held back by the centrifugal dominance of England. Whilst the Scottish parliament voted itself out of existence, the people, the crowds, the masses across Scotland opposed it. What better way to echo that objection now, when Independence seems possible again, than to throw a great big meaningful party.
Unfortunately, I expect the Beltane organisers will find themselves unable to deviate from their usual ritualised performance. At the very moment when they could be part of history they’ll just carry on recreating their fantasy of the past. What a shame.