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"LONDON – Druids have been worshipping the sun and earth for thousands of years in Europe, but now they can say they're practicing an officially recognized religion.

The ancient pagan tradition best known for gatherings at Stonehenge every summer solstice has been formally classed as a religion under charity law for the first time in Britain, the national charity regulator said Saturday. That means Druids can receive exemptions from taxes on donations and now have the same status as such mainstream religions as the Church of England.

The move gives an old practice new validity, said Phil Ryder, the chairman of the 350-member Druid Network.

"It will go a long way to make Druidry a lot more accessible," he said.

Druids have practiced for thousands of years in Britain and in Celtic societies elsewhere in Europe. They worship natural forces such as thunder and the sun, and 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.

[Related: Survey finds that Americans don't know much about religion]

Although many see them as 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 believed to be "sacred."

Ancient Druids were known to be religious leaders, judges and sages among the Celts during pre-Christian times, although little evidence about their lives survived. There are now various Druid orders and about 10,000 practitioners in Britain — and believers said the numbers are growing because more people are becoming aware of the importance to preserve the environment.

The Druid Network fought for nearly five years to be recognized under the semi-governmental Charity Commission, which requires proof of cohesive and serious belief in a supreme entity and a moral framework.

After initially rejecting the Druid Network's application, the Charity Commission decided this week 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.

Adrian Rooke, a Druid who works as a counselor, said Druidry appeals to people who are turning away from monotheistic religions but still long for an aspect of spirituality in their lives.

"It uplifts the spirit," he said. "The world is running out of resources, and in that context it's more important to people now to formulate a relationship with nature."

By SYLVIA HUI, Associated Press Writer Sylvia Hui, Associated Press Writer   – Sat Oct 2, 3:52 pm ET

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Son-of-Icarus Featured By Owner May 26, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh hey - I'm legal now?
No one told me about this.
Oh well. Now I know.
PruEngel Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
It is a great day for the Druids, I remember when paganism and "Wicca" was illegal in Australia (before 1997) it is sad though one cannot enjoy the solstice on stone henge anymore :,(
SashaDensikoff Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2012  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Here is a linky that might help you understand more about druidry:

Druidry isn't a cult. A cult requires some sort of charismatic leader, the focus and adoration which is put upon one person, whose word is law.
(gee, doesn't THAT sound familiar?)

With druidry, there is no leader, ever. There is no dogma of any kind. No "rule book". Just a set of beliefs that keep us in touch with nature, the likes of which we all too often take for granted. It teaches reverence and respect for this big green and blue marble we call home, and the spirits that share it with us.
In the past, druids were peace-makers between warring tribes, and highly respected.

Druidry CAN be genuinely practiced now, as it was cleverly kept alive in the many stories that were left behind and (thankfully) mostly recorded by monks.
The stories were actually a teaching tool, as it was an oral tradition, passed along by word of mouth to the initiated.
All religions shift and change with the times to better suit the needs of the people, and druidry is no exception.

I am glad it is slowly coming back to life. Now, more than ever, we need their teachings. :)
Bryseyas Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
I am curious about this, so, preserving nature is what moves druidism? How will you do that?
how about the teachings??? Who is the Enlighten Male that can teach Ancient Unknown rites??
10.000 members, hum, in ancient times within 1.000 people 1 or 2 Druids were chosen....
i really think what's behind must be left behind,why didn't they write their teachings in the nemetons??Because
of what Man is doing now. So religion means you must have a God or Gods or Goddesses,you really
believe there are Gods??? Thiz the 21st century Wake Up. You may call yourselves druids, but that's only a name.
That's why america forbides cults of this kind, you are dangerous, a bunch of people with nothing to do, some cults
even leed to massive suicide
hrwilliams Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2012  Professional Writer
What? Since when did America forbid druidism, much less something as loose as "cults"?

I can think of two cults, off-hand... no, three, which prosper in the U.S.

The only time the American government interferes with a cult is when they have evidence that they're breaking the law.
hrwilliams Featured By Owner May 14, 2012  Professional Writer
Also - does a religion need to be recognized to be a religion?
hrwilliams Featured By Owner May 14, 2012  Professional Writer
I hope no one thinks this is trolling, but I'm curious. We have basically no written records of what druidism specifically entails - how it's practiced, what makes it unique among other belief systems. The druids, as ancient people knew them, have been gone for hundreds of years... so how can druidism really be practiced now? Wouldn't neopaganism be a better label?
DavisJes Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
HeathenBorn Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Finally! It is indeed about time the 'Old Religion' is once agian recognized. This is only the begining of a wonderful future full of Love & Wisdom. It will be interesting to see how well this wonderful work progresses in time. Blessed Be.
jjdecay Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2010
At last
NuisanceBearEull Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2010
Yay! I was so happy to see that and I am glad you passed on the good news!
winterelf86 Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Its about time considering Druidry has been around for thousands of years :)
merlynhawk Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Dictated by my husband -

The European declaration of human rights gives rights to followers of all religions - regardless of the number of followers and no judgement is or can be made on the validity or otherwise of belief.

The EDHR was fully adopted into British law, but has not been tried and tested in court yet.

The most obvious problem with this legislation would be the instances of judgements made against Scientology in the UK.

The basis of English and Welsh law is that it is subject to Reason. For a law or a judgement to be valid it must be reasonable. In the case of Scientology the government argues, with proofs, that Scientology is a business and that it is Unreasonable (ie. without reason) to accept its status as a church.

Druidry is one of the many religions in the UK that has had their "legitimacy" validated by the EDHR. For many decades Druidry has been treated as a religion and been given the benefits of a religion.

Why the American press wishes to drum up Religious Right support against the UK with such old news beggers belief.

Surely, that the Head of the Liberal Party is an admitted Agnostic, the Labour Party, a committed Aethiest and the Conservative Party making no comment underlies this news article? We are a secular society with many religions, trrated equally under Law.

Perhaps the Land of the Free would have less prejudice if they had an established church ....
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