The autumn equinox 2014 will be celebrated on 23 September, with countries across the globe marking the shift in the season – harking in winter for the Northern Hemisphere and spring for the Southern Hemisphere.
The event is significant for the Druids, who see it as one of eight occasions that mark the "Wheel of the Year". Maria Ede-Weaving, a Druid with the Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids, told IBTimes UK how modern Druids use it as a time to offer thanks for the harvest and prepare for their "journey towards winter".
"As the growing darkness of the winter months stretches out before us, we celebrate the paradox and mystery that in times of waning – when the life-force in nature comes to fruition then begins to die back - we are blessed with harvest; this reminds us that in endings there are also – psychologically speaking - fruits to nourish us through more difficult times," Ede-Weaving said.
Druids are able to celebrate the event in their own way and many choose to mark the equinox in small groups or even alone. "There will be many different types of celebrations, all focused on the themes mentioned above but expressed in various ways: some formal, others as simple as having a thanksgiving supper with family and friends," she said.
"There is no dogma in modern Druidry – how we choose to mark this festival is up to the individual.
"For a few years, myself and the group I celebrated with would build a large spiral maze of stones on our local beach each autumn equinox. We would each walk to the spiral's centre in quiet contemplation of our journey inward. This symbolised our own inward search for the inner resources that we would need to get us through the winter.
"The spiral is an important symbol in Druidry; the waning and waxing energies of nature are reflected in its journey inward [waning] and outward [waxing]."
Ede-Weaving said there is little known about how ancient Druids worshipped and that modern Druid celebrations were drawn from Celtic festivals such as Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain, along with the solstices and equinoxes.
Explaining what is left for Druids over 2014, she said there are two main events – Samhain, or Halloween – and the winter solstice.
At Samhain, Druids honour the dead and their ancestors, thanking them for wisdom and the gift of life. "We honour the transformative power of death, both physical and psychological. In nature, the life-force is dying back; the leaves are shedding and we too focus on all that we need to let go of," Ede-Weaving said, adding that at the winter solstice, they celebrate the rebirth of the sun and renewal of the land.
Discussing the nature of the planet, she said: "The beauty of the Wheel of the Year is that it is cyclical and teaches us to embrace change with trust and acceptance, but also to align ourselves and act with that change that we may grow and flourish as people.
"The festivals move us through times of birth and growth, of manifestation and harvest, through to release, death and then on again into rebirth. This cyclical journey is Nature's way but it is also the journey we take, over and over again in our lives, both emotionally in the many births, deaths and rebirths we will experience throughout our lives and also physically in the span of our lifetime."