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.