Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Beltane's May Queen rages about planet damage

The May Queen Image copyright Vince Graham

The annual pagan-inspired Beltane Fire festival in Edinburgh has been overhauled this year to highlight climate change.

The May Queen, who is the central character in the performance on Calton Hill, will be seen expressing her rage at the damage done to the Earth.

Her costume has been made with recycled materials to portray oil spills and deforestation.

She said it depicts "the Earth as it truly is".

Performers have been encouraged to use recycled materials for their costumes. The festival, which starts later on Tuesday, has also switched to e-ticketing to reduce its environmental impact.

There will be 300 performers taking part, and a capacity of 8,000 spectators.

Image copyright Martin McCarthy

Katie O'Neill, who is this year's May Queen said: "Our planet is dying, and collectively we are living through the cycles of grief.

"Denial - both the climate-change denialism of the problem, and the retreat into a hedonistic 'what can we do?'

"Anger - the rage at our leaders for their inaction, or the simmering anger that our problems are anyone's fault - the foreigners, the experts, the ignorant - but our own.

"Bargaining - the energy spent on activism, the hopes pinned on technology, that somehow we can stop this, even reverse it.

"Depression - the epidemic of hopelessness, of nihilism, for a future lost before it's begun.

Image copyright Aurelie Bellacicco

"It is right to grieve. Grief is a sign of love, and the Earth we love is dying.

"This year's Beltane reflects that grief. The May Queen - embodiment of the Earth - arises this year, not as the perfect flower of tradition, but as the Earth as it truly is - covered with plastic, oil spills, and on fire.

"She is angry, She is sad. She is grieving for what is lost."

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