Druids Finally Recognized in UK

The pagan tradition been formally classed as a religion under charity law in Britain. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Wait. What’s wrong with this picture? Didn’t the Druids originate in the United Kingdom? Apparently origins didn’t buy the worshippers and recognition. On Saturday, October 2, 2010, the ancient pagan tradition was finally formally recognized under charity law in Great Britain. This recognition gives Druids tax exemptions on their religious donations as well as recognition that puts them on the same level as the Church of England.

The process took about five years and is fairly complicated. According to the Washington Post:

To register as a religious charity in Britain, an organization must satisfy requirements that include belief in a supreme entity, a degree of cohesion and seriousness and a beneficial moral framework. After a process that took nearly five years, the Charity Commission ruled that Druidry fit the bill.

“There is sufficient belief in a supreme being or entity to constitute a religion for the purposes of charity law,” the commission said.

Druids have been active for thousands of years in Britain and in Celtic societies elsewhere in Europe.

They worship natural forces such as thunder and the sun, as well as spirits they believe arise from places such as mountains and rivers. They do not worship a single god or creator but seek to cultivate a sacred relationship with the natural world.

Although they are best known as the robed, mysterious people who gather every summer solstice at Stonehenge – which predates the Druids – believers say modern Druidry is chiefly concerned with helping practitioners connect with nature and themselves through rituals, dancing and singing at stone circles and other sites throughout the country they view as sacred.

It is estimated that there are nearly 10,000 practitioners in the United Kingdom. If Druids have been active in Great Britain for thousands of years, one has to wonder if some of the traditions were actually handed down without a break in old and neo-Druid society. The Druids were still very much a part of ancient society when the Romans invaded Britannia. We still see their influence in various holiday and religious celebrations. The Druid societies are growing in number  as more emphasis is placed on the environment and more people seek to establish a relationship with nature.

Manassas City Council: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Today is the Fall Festival in Old Town Manassas.  It is an annual event that brings tourists into the heart of the City from all over the surrounding area.  It is a day for the City to show off what a cool place it is and also a day for the merchants to bring in the bucks. 

Bringing in the bucks is never a bad thing, especially in this economy.  Many local shop keepers in the City and PWC have been hit hard by the recession and some have had to close their doors, as is evidenced by empty stores in and around the area.  I hope that today is a great day for those merchants in Old Town.  The weather is fabulous and it more or less defines what an October day should be like.  Hopefully no one’s political agenda will mar the event.

The Manassas City Council has been placed in a position by residents and non residents that really leaves them between a rock and a hard place.  For the most part, the council members are nice people who run for election, don’t get paid much for serving, and who are giving  their time to make their small city and community a better place.  They turn out for events and keep the public informed.  The thing I have noticed the most about them is their unwavering dedication to the City and its residents and their never-ending championing of their home turf.  This is a good thing and the good people of the City of Manassas have elected some mighty fine representatives. 

During the past month, these council members have gotten crushed in a political debate that really has gone too far.  It all started when someone noticed the store front window of KK Temptations, a soon-to-be adult boutique.  The alarm was sounded and local “anti- porn” groups sprung to life.   Several local delegates got involved and so did this blog.  We supported the right of KK Temptations to exist, especially since there were already other stores with similar content within the City limits.  Furthermore, KK Temptations had been approved for business according to City regulations. 

The City Council got to sit through what can only be described as a marathon citizens’ time.  Meanwhile, they got bombarded with requests to regulate the long standing women’s clinic that is an abortion provider.  The Religious Right was on a real roll.  No one wants to look like they like pornography.  Delegate Miller did the Council no favors coming into their bailiwick and stirring the pot.  He immediately defined the store as a “porno store.”  That set the tone and allowed all reasonable and logical discussion to be overruled by a name. 

To cause such a stink over location paints the City, and continues to paint the City as elitist.   No one worried at all that MVC is a block over from the library, Parkside or Kindercare or that Fashion Fantasy is right there on route 28 for all to see as they enter the City from that approach.  Some of those stores have been there for decades.  However, because of the way KK Temptations was defined, the City Council has been placed in the position of spending money that they probably don’t have to handle something, that in all probability, won’t be a problem. 

No elected official wants to appear to support pornography aka obscenities.  Doing so can be a real deal breaker come election day.  They also don’t want to be seen as being old fogies, so they walk a tight rope.  The can-can girls perform in Harris Pavilion and the mothers’ march on a legitimate business goes on up the street.  The Council walks a tight rope and hopes that none of the warring factions drops another lawsuit on their desk. 

I nominate the Manssas City Council for the ‘I wouldn’t want to be them’ award.  They have been put in the position that many PWC supervisors found themselves in in 2007 over immigration–between a rock and a hard place.