Druid leader King Arthur Uther Pendragon is preparing to celebrate one of his favorite events of the year at Stonehenge – the autumn equinox.
Arthur, the leader of the druids and self-declared reincarnation of King Arthur, explained the rituals and meaning behind the equinoxes – the lesser known dates in the druid calendar after the summer and winter solstices.
Speaking to IBTimes UK, he said: "We'll be leading the festivities and ceremonies at Stonehenge. English Heritage will allow us in just before dawn and we'll get into the centre circle, then myself and one of the arch druids will be leading the ceremony in the centre circle.
"After the centre circle I'll be doing my own ceremony over by the heel stone where we'll have drummers and pipers and poetry, dance, and so on. One of the things about the Druid tradition is it's a celebration. What we tend to do at Stonehenge is to celebrate whatever we've set up for, which is the turning of the wheel."
Arthur said that the autumn equinox is aligned with the summer and winter solstices: "It's when the Earth is at 90 degrees on the axis to the sun. It's the only time twice a year where the daylight is the same all over the world. That's what the equinox is about. Obviously Stonehenge is important to celebrate the longest and the shortest day, the winter and the summer solstice."
Druids celebrating the equinox have a similar prayer for all major events. They will call to the four quarters to ask for peace: "We'll say 'is there peace in the east?' and the response would be 'there is peace in the east'. Then we'll go around to the south, west and north, then we'll turn inwards and say is there peace or let there be peace throughout the whole world."
The group will then have a celebration, with poetry, dance and music. In ancient times, the equinox would signify the start of winter. People would begin stocking up on food.
Unlike the summer and winter solstices, which attract 37,000 visitors and 6,000 visitors respectively, the autumn equinox is more of a spiritual experience, with mainly druids in attendance.
For the equinox, the druid group will attend celebrations before Stonehenge officially opens for business: "It's far more spiritual simply because no one is going to travel all the way from Leeds or Liverpool to be at Stonehenge just for a couple of hours. They might travel there for the summer solstice when they're there all night and it's more of a party atmosphere, but nobody's going to make that journey other than the pilgrims for spiritual reasons, so it's a far more spiritual event merely because it's more intimate.
Speaking about his beliefs and feelings about the equinox, Arthur added: "All a pagan is, is somebody who worships – we don't worship nature; that's a misconception – we worship the divine through nature. We see the divine in all things, we see it in the ground beneath our feet, we see it in stones, in the rock, in the planet itself.
"The equinoxes have a completely different flavour to the solstices because the solstices are better attended. I enjoy all four but from a spiritual point of view I enjoy the equinoxes far more."