His favourite quote is a misquote by Winston Churchill, who apparently said that, “If Arthur never existed, he should have.” Our Druid king likes to finish that quote by living the statement, “If King Arthur never existed, he should have. And if he didn’t, he bloody well does now.”
Sensa Nostra talked to Druid leader, pagan priest, and political activist Arthur Uther Pendragon. He explained to us how he happened to become a Druid king, and in what ways he currently fights for truth, honour, and justice.
I am a senior Druid. My name is Arthur Uther Pendragon, and I am generally known as King Arthur. I am a pagan priest, and a full-time Druid responsible for the war arm of the Modern Druid Movement. Most of the time, I am leading ceremonies or protests. This is what I do for a living.
During childhood I had many strange daydreams. But they were what I now see as past life memories. I always hankered back to an age of what we would now think of as ‘sword and sorcery’. At least, that’s what I felt in my heart. Not in my head, but in my heart.
I reverted to what I call my one true and former name, Arthur Uther Pendragon, back in 1986. I believe that right now, the spirit of Arthur is here, embodied in me. There are, as I see it, three Arthurian ages and three Arthurs: there was a pre-Roman archetypal Welsh Arthur, a post-Roman Dark Age British Arthur, and I am the post-Thatcher Arthur.
On the assumption that Her Majesty the Queen is the Head of State, and does not carry a passport, I got to be the only person allowed to wear a crown on his passport photo. I had a row with the home office over my right to wear a crown. I said, “If they can wear a turban, I can wear a crown! I am a Druid king!” And eventually, they agreed.
I am not doing anything different now than what the ancient Arthurs were doing. I am still going around on ‘horseback,’ banging heads together and getting people to fight for the same values. The only differences are that it’s not kings or chieftains whose heads I am banging together, it is Druid leaders’ heads. And because it’s the twenty-first century, I am now on a motorcycle rather than a horse. So things are the same, but different.
I called myself Arthur Uther Pendragon before I met the Druids. I met them in a ceremony at Beltane (the Gaelic May Day festival) in 1990 where I was the sword bearer, bearing my sword which is called Excalibur. The other Druids said to me, “Well, actually, you are a Druid like us.” And at once I realized that I was not just a pagan but also a Druid. Since then, I got more involved on the pagan path, and now I am one of the most senior Druids in Britain.
In paganism, we don’t worship nature, we worship the divine through nature. Therefore we celebrate the seasons of the year, and we believe that the divine spirit is around us, including in the ground beneath our feet. If you’re looking at Druids, you’re looking at the ancient lawgivers.
Back in 1996, I was raised up as Druid king by all five different arch Druid Orders. I was then made battle chieftain at a council of British Druids. Now I am very involved with my Order, because it is one of the biggest in the world.
I lead the political arm of the Druid movement, which is called the Loyal Arthurian Warband. We have sworn to fight for truth, honour, and justice. We fight in campaigns. We protect Mother Earth by climbing up the trees and also by protesting. I also run for Parliament, and I stood for the last general elections for Salisbury. So we fight in many arenas.
Why is it a battle? We are fighting for Planet Earth, we are fighting to save the Mother. But we only adopt non-violent direct action, taking a leaf out of Gandhi’s book. A lot of people in the protest movement say to me, “You’re never going to win,” or they say, “Do you really believe you’ll ever convert anybody?” And I say, “Well, they converted me. I used to build roads, you know.”
Once I was at a protest, trying to prevent a road being built. Some of the other Druids were there and they were doing a blessing for the trees whilst the protesters were at the trees. And I thought to myself at the time, “Well, is the real Druid the guy on the ground doing the blessing, or the guy up the tree protesting?” So I came up with a third answer, and that was, “The guy up the tree, wearing the Druid robes.”
So I said to my Druid Order, “Come on, get your robes on, we’re going up the trees.” And I dragged the Druids into the battlefield. I’ve been doing that ever since. Mainly kicking and screaming, but I will drag them into battle.
One of the major campaigns we’re working on at the moment has to do with the exhumed guardians at Stonehenge. They have dug up some of the ancient people who were buried in a circle around the stones, and put those human remains on display. Under British law, Christian remains are protected, whereas pre-Christian remains aren’t. We are campaigning for a change in the law and we are saying, “It doesn’t matter what religion you are; let those laid to rest stay to rest.”
I spent fourteen years fighting the so-called ‘exclusion zone’ that disallowed getting anywhere near Stonehenge. I got arrested every year, thrown in the police cells, and eventually took Her Majesty’s government to the European Court in Strasbourg. I got them to open up the exclusion zone in 2000, which now allows us to go there four times a year: on the longest, the shortest, and the equal day. At the time, the newspapers said, “King Arthur Pendragon beat the United Kingdom.” I am proud of helping to achieve the fact that this year at Stonehenge, we had 37,000 people celebrate the summer solstice with us. The next time we get into Stonehenge will be on the 22nd of December. We’ll be allowed in at dawn for a couple of hours to celebrate the winter solstice. People, join us!
Me and my Order fight any way we can to make changes and to get the authorities to make changes. Not only for pagan beliefs, but also for libertarian reasons. We are campaigning against all the austerity measures that our government is trying to implement, because we believe their design is to claw back money from those who can least afford it. That’s what they are doing in this country, most certainly. The bedroom tax is just one of these issues, but it is also their stopping sickness benefit, their stopping jobseekers allowance. The government is making immense changes to try and save money. I don’t believe that they should bring in more laws and more surveillance that cut civil liberties. Because as long as you are not doing anybody any harm, you should be left alone to do your own thing.
The main thing that I would like to get across is that every person can do what we do. And what we do is stand up and shout about what we don’t agree with. There is no use just rolling over and letting the government oppress you. If you think something’s wrong, do something about it. Don’t just sit back, and don’t expect somebody else to do it for you. You’ve got to get out there, you’ve got to lead from the front, you’ve got to motivate by example. The only thing you can do if you don’t like what’s on offer, is get out there and do it yourself. Which is why I am standing for Parliament as an independent: I don’t trust any of the political parties in this country. Nobody does. What I am hoping to do is to lead by example and provoke a “Hey, if a nutter who thinks he’s King Arthur can do it, so can I!”