Wanted: ‘Green Man’ for one of Scotland’s most unusual jobs

It must be a contender for one of Scotland’s most unusual job descriptions – but will see the successful applicant get a starring role in one of the country’s most spectacular events.

Wednesday, 15th January 2020, 5:52 pm

Organisers of the annual Beltane Fire Festival in Edinburgh have launched an extensive recruitment drive for a new “Green Man,” one of the key performers in the event, which traditionally heralds the arrival of summer in the city.

This year is understood to be the first time that the unpaid role – which is now open to applicants of any gender – has been advertised on social media.

The festival, which is run and staged by volunteers, wants to shake up the image of the character after more than 30 years of the event, which sees the Green Man and the May Queen lead a cavalcade of colourful characters around the hill before uniting for a dramatic performance together.

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Beltane Fire Society are searching for a 'Green Man'. Picture: Gordon Veitch

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They have suggested there have been problems getting people to come forward for because “they feel they don’t fit the profile based on who they’ve seen take the role in the past”. The role description on the Beltane Fire Society website states this has becomes “a self-fulfilling prophecy, as we can only select from those who step forward or are nominated”.

It is also being made clear that the role cannot be “completely defined” by the society as “each Green Man has their own journey”, however a key element of the show – which around 8000 people flock to on the last night of April each year – is the death and rebirth of the character.

The role description states: “The Beltane Fire Festival is a living, dynamic reinterpretation and modernisation of an ancient Iron Age Celtic ritual, and is the largest of its kind.

“Having been resurrected as a performance art piece and practice in 1988, it has become a central focus for our community, bringing people together to acknowledge and celebrate the birth of summer and the fertility of the land.

“The purpose of our festival is not to recreate ancient practices, but to honour the spirit of how it might have felt to attend a past celebration and to create our own connections to the cycles of nature. There is a great deal of joy and the revelry fostered in the ritual: it is about casting off the darkness and celebrating the light. A time for celebrating fertility, both in the context of our biology as well as our creative energies.”

Potential applicants are warned that there is a rigorous selection process for the role, including individual interviews, a training day and an open meeting of Beltane Fire Society members.

They are being told that they will have to be involved in “actively creating” the festival’s main storyline, working closely with the May Queen, Katie O’Neill, who is playing the goddess figure for a third time.

The advert also states: “Beltane celebrates the turning of the wheel of the year, from spring into the beginning of summer: we celebrate each step of the cycle with the festivities. Some aspects change from year to year, but certain elements are fixed and are repeated – one of these is the Green Man and his journey. In the context of the Beltane Fire Festival, the Green Man grows and reaches the height of his power during Beltane.”

A spokeswoman for the fire society said the role of the Green Man had been opened to non-members of the group who have had no previous involvement with the event.

She added: “People outside our community are very welcome to apply to be the Green Man and we have a flexible approach to gender for the Green Man role.”