Saturday, 25 September 2010

Exciting Times

Yesterday, the Druid Network were granted charitable status under the religious heading.

This means that Druidry is recognised as a religion under UK law. This is the first time that any form of Paganism has been legally recognised in UK law.

Druidry is one of many many paths of Paganism. To some, Paganism may be Wicca, Shamanism, Anarchy, Nature Based Spirituality, Celtic Identity or so much more.

It is such a shame that our sociological driven society feels the need to label us, split and divide us. For so long, Pagans have been made to feel like the immature children, the juvenile, the thorns in the side. So many of my fellow blog friends have a pseudonyms so they can speak honestly and freely with Pagan expression.

The world still fears and shuns that which it does not understand. Earlier this week, I visited some land on which a medicine wheel was built. The land is to become a place of healing, to the land, the animals the people and the trees. As I entered the site, I heard that peace flags had been hung over the field gate earlier in the day, had been stolen. I heard, that prayers that had been attached to trees, and pebbles placed in a well, had been removed, and continued to be removed, by others in the area that do not understand Pagan ways. Why is this so? How can peace flags upset anyone? How can a ribbon in a tree offend? Why does the presence of semi precious stones in an ancient Celtic well threaten? And why should we, Pagans, Druids, Shamans, Witches and so much more feel that we must stay hidden?

Last autumn, I received a letter from my daughters nursery. It asked of religious views, dietary requirements, medical info. You know the sort. Foolishly, I wrote Pagan next to religion. Its not that I want to indoctrinate my little girl, or make her believe my ways, it more that until she decides for herself I will teach her the ways of nature, the changing of the seasons, the elements, respect for life. Do you know how many times I had members of the nursery staff ask me if I danced around bonfires naked? I felt afraid, and as if my declaration of my own spiritual path would cause discrimination to my child. I had made it clear that my little girl could learn of other religions and cultures but it was to be respected that she had her own path. They tried to make her pray and say the lords prayer each day. Is it just me, or is respecting other religions and being made to participate in other religions prayer two very different things?

In my little girls new school, I have not felt so brave. I am proud of my Pagan beliefs, but do not want my daughter to be ostracised or marginalised. I want her to be happy, and free to play with whoever she likes, to invite the friends that she plays with home, and not just those that have the same spiritual path as her parents.

There is room for us all in this world.

Especially those that walk in PEACE, and HARM NONE!

With that said, I am sure you can see just how momentous an occasion it is that the Druids have received recognised religious status within the UK. I am thankful for their hard work!

Now, its time for you all to stand up and be counted. Fill in the Pagan Census today. Be proud of who you are.

xOx

35 comments:

Barb said...

Well, Jasmine, I can't say that I'm a Pagan, or affiliated to any particular belief any more, but I do believe in tolerance. I enjoyed reading this blog and thank he/she God that the message is finally getting through.

Valerianna said...

Wow, that IS momentous! Wonderful. We earth-spirit-pagans or whatever the label might be in the US may have religious freedom and recognition, but its still not exactly something mom's can tell their child's nursery without those kinds of questions. When I moved to this area years ago, it was because of the incredibly open-minded and alternative kind of community. I'm so thankful I live here, though I am reminded when I stray further afield that it is not so safe everywhere...

Martine said...

I don't live in the UK Jasmine but count me in.
And thank you for walking mindfully with my sister and me in the medicine wheel.
XXXm

Elizabeth Rimmer said...

I am so pleased, Jasmine. After a grim week when it seemed that any form of religion was being hammered, it's nice to see an advance in tolerance and openness.
Go well and safely.

Fiona said...

Excellent post Jasmine. Plenty for me to think about here. I wish you well.

Jasmine said...

Barb - Thank you. Tolerance is a blessing :)

Valerianna - I suppose that maybe the kind of people that I find attracted towards in friendship and meeting of minds are so open minded and keen to learn of many differing things that I am genuinely surprised when I hear stalwart opinions or tabloid like stereotypes directed at me. The good thing about writing Pagan under religious views was that although initially disapproving or doubtful about the title 'Pagan' the members of nursery staff were keen to understand more, and by the end of the nursery year, they even held a Beltane May Pole dance. The 'Christian' members of staff could identify with the Maypole and had fond memories of it themselves so it broke down barriers. We are not so different as what they or we can sometimes think.

Martine - I hope your sister is feeling a little better today. I think the Pagan Census is not limited to the UK. You might find that The Netherlands are counting their own populations make up too.

Thank you Elizabeth. It has been a difficult month for many different spiritual paths. I was appauled that there was/or a proposed koran burning earlier this month. And yes, the Popes visit to the UK did raise passions of many kinds. I can see that it would be a difficult time for Catholics. If only people could feel comfortable enough to allow people of differing opinions 'be'. Take care xJ

Thank you Fiona. I will be over to look at your lovely felt again soon :)

La Dolce Vita said...

wow!! that is just AWEOME so glad to hear it, maybe the US will follow that lead... it would be so nice wouldn't it!! xoxox

Crafty Green Poet said...

that's great news.

Rue said...

What a wonderful day for the Druids! I still have hope that there will be a day that I can stand up and say that I am Pagan, and not be ostracized by my family, co-workers, and people in my town. I wish that day was today too.

Faerie Moon Creations said...

That is excellent news! It's a truly big step in the right direction. :) Theresa

Jo said...

That is good news - ignorance and intolerance are destructive forces, so I'm delighted that the UK is atlast recognising 'difference' as something to be respected.

I believe so strongly that we are all on some sort of 'spiritual' journey of one kind or another. No one has any right to determine in what form or how that journey should take as it'll probably be different for everyone. Some find established religeons helpful while others find an alternative 'route'. Not sure it really matters really, as I think we're all heading in pretty much the same direction anyway lol!

But for more tolerance, loving-kindness, acceptance, shared responsibility and general celebration of our unique differences and similarities too would make the world a much happier, safer and ultimately better place to be... and a rich legacy to hand on to our children too.
Hugs xxx

Healing Woman said...

I follow the Wiccan beliefs more so than any other "religion" The earth and all it's seasons are more important to me than sitting in a church. I am so glad that Druidism has been recognized as a religion in the UK!! It will probably never be in the US.

orchidlover said...

It's great that this is a first step.
I recently had one of those school forms and afetr years of ticking the athiest/agnostic box I finally decided to write pagan and proud.
I think alot of the fear/intolerance comes from ignorance. Paganism to some is still the sacrficing,cursing, devil worshipping figure from popular fiction. Although I don't where a T Shirt proclaming that I am a Pagan if asked I will say and try and explain. What I can't abide is intolerance in any form. I have no problems with Christians worshipping as and what they see fit. What ever gets them through the dark is fine by me. What I do have a problem with is the fact that they have a huge problem with me and my beliefs. I have had many a discussion ( ok then arguement) with some over this. They just don't seem to realise that tolerance is something they have to learn aswell. Ok I'll get off my soap box now

Love and hugs Gina xxx

Jasmine said...

Caterina - It is 'awesome' isn't it. The Druid Network have achieved something valuable here for all of us. Lets hope America and other countries follow suit. xx

Crafty - It is :)

Rue - Its a shame that you do not feel able to 'be' yourself with your family either. When I was younger, I did not care who knew. If I didn't like someone or something I just did not associate with them or it. But we can't cloister yourself away from the real world forever can we. Luckily for me, I have always worked in the charity sector where we are constantly sent on work shops preaching tolerance and inclusion. My family are all pretty alternative too so I don't feel I need to hide myself ffrom them. I am lucky. Blessings xJ

Theresa - It will be fun to see where this step takes us. I hope it has huge significance for Stone Henge and other sites of importance too.

Jo - You are the kind of Christian I love. It would be nice if we were all walking towards the same goals wouldn't it? There are a lot of similarities between different spiritualities and I think that there are many strengths and positive characteristics of all the religions and spiritualities. The problems lie with human interpretation, motive and need of power. There really is room for us all and we can coexist with harm to eachother xJ

Cheryl - The great outdoors is my temple and nature is my guide. Many thought that 'paganism' would be given recognition in the UK. Time will tell :)

Gina - I like your soap box. We could all remember peace, tolerance, acceptance. I have to check myself some times when I hear myself thinking stereotypical thoughts and not engaging my brain. To walk mindfully and with respect does not always come easily. We can be thankful that we all try here. Hugs xJ

ArtSparker said...

Hmm, makes me think there must be a way to address this...that is, talk about what it is to the uniformed, you are not trying to conjure, you are observing reverence for the natural world, this is something people should know, what Paganism is.

Jasmine said...

Susan - I think you are right. If I did not have my little girl, I probably would not care what people thought of my spirituality, but as a mother, I want to protect her from harm, isolation and the dange I, and in turn, my daughter are shunned and caused emotional harm. I often feel too sensitive to cope with the misconceptions of many. However, it aslo annoys me that there is this huge shroud of secrecy around differing forms of Paganism. If there was more openess, then there would be more understanding. I can understand why people want to keep themselves to themselves though. Also, a part of me feels that maybe i am naive to believe that more openess will lead to tolerance and understanding. Its hard to know which way to jump sometimes.

Maybe i will put some more thought into communicating what Paganism means to me, but how to do this without sounding like a zealot may be tricky :) xJ

Debrina said...

Hi Jasmine - I'm too much of a free spirit to identify with any one faith although I do feel more closely aligned to the earth religions such as paganism and wicca. If you were to brand me with something though, it would most probably be pantheistic in flavour. At the end of the day...it's all about tolerance and open-mindedness and letting people be. God knows, there have been more wars in the name of religion than there have been secular.

Jasmine said...

Good answer Debrina. I know that I am Pagan. Its just a way I am, similar to vegetarianism. A way of life and not something that I do or a thing. Its less tangible than that. An intuitive force. Who can say. I am glad that Druidry is recognised legally as a religion and am very interested to see what will evolve from that or what that can mean. B|ut yes, as you mention, there are connotations to the word 'religuion' that are not pleasant and make people like us wish to stand back from. I suppose thats why Paganism has always felt like an earth based spirituality and not a religion. |But these are just semantics. The importance of this achievement by the Druid Network is the protection that it could afford places of historic importance such as Stonehenge. The access rights and the inclusion for many new age travellers who are often persecuted and usually Pagan. Recognised religious status could mean so much but we will have to wait for caselaw to come along to see how the laws will be interpreted in these contexts.

Jasmine said...

Debrina - I've just been looking for examples of current caselaw in the UK relating to different religions. It is ambiguous what legal religiuos status will mean. Certainly in employment rights it will not allow discrimination under the guise of religion, but I would certainly hope Druids would not wish to discriminate. They are more open minded than that in my experience. Examples of caselaw so far pertain to people refusing to do work duties stating that those duties conflicted with religious beliefs. Examples being, counsellors refusing sex therapy to gay couples etc. The judge didn't go with that and I'm glad he did not uphold discrimination.

I am curious to know what this decision will mean for Druidry, and in turn, Paganism. I can only consider it a positive step for Paganism.

Debrina said...

Jasmine - it has been really interesting reading through this posting and its complimentary comments here. I hadn't thought about legal implications of the Druids' now legal status. Discrimantion, unfortunately, comes in all walks of life, including Pagans but in my experience, the earth spiritualists or religions are far more tolerant and open-minded and therefore, less discrimanatory. However, their newly acquired status also means that they can now move freely and openly into politics to influence legislations...and that has to better than being voiceless.

Gilli said...

Are you on Facebook? Because I have some friends involved in the Parliament For Worlds Religions that would love to hear this. Wonderful news.

Jasmine said...

Gilli - Yes, I am on FB, but under a different email address than the one attached to this blog. I will look up the group you mention. Thank you :)

Gilli said...

Here is a link to their website
http://www.parliamentofreligions.org/
and they are on Facebook.

Jasmine said...

Thank you, I will have a look now :)

ruthie said...

wonderful news! It is a sad state of affairs when we cannot easily & openly express who we are. x x

Lickety Splitter said...

I was raised in what the U.S. calls the Bible Belt. I was raised in the south as a Christian, but formed most of my own views about God and religion. One part of my culture has taught tolerance -- the right to choose any religion or no religion. The other side of that culture coin is pressure to believe in a certain religion and to behave in a certain way. Against all odds, I have reserved the right to be open to good sense, nature, God, logical philosophy, my own common decency and to remain tolerant of what others choose to believe that stops short of violence. The earth in its most natural form is the beauty of my life, and I adore it as God's most precious work. I think God may have a little tweaking yet to do with humanity.

hugs. S.

Jasmine said...

Hi S - Good to see you here. I think with spirituality and religion the most important thing is feeling a personal connection, being at one with your own beliefs and free to 'be' what you believe in and walk that path. Many are forced into a religion or feel that they cannot live with their faith in their own way without pressure from others. Formal prayer and congregations do not suit everyone. On the other hand, I have had many clients who have been persecuted due to their religios beliefs. Working in the homeless sector, I have had many refugee and assylum seeking clients who have witnessed genocide and have been tortured due to their religious beliefs. They have lost the people they loved most. Sometimes, that intolerance has extended to their language too. Imagine not being allowed to speak your own language because it identifies your nationality and religion. Imagine knowing that if you are caught speaking your own language you will be killed, and may also cause the death and harm of those known to be associated with. When I think of this, I feel really silly for writing a post complaining that people do not understand Paganism and hold stereotypical misconceptions. No real harm will come to me if I stand up and say what I am. The worst that can happen, is that the neighbours might not like me so much and my daughter may not get as many invites for tea or birthday parties. I am lucky.

Jasmine said...

Hi Ruthie, it is good news isn't it! I am really pleased for my Druid friends and still excited to know how this will increase tolerance to other forms of Paganism. It can only be a good step forward xxJ

THE WORLD AS I SEE IT said...

Wow I had no idea that there were Druids or Paganism still practiced in the UK-thats so cool. We all can't be the same thats what makes this world of ours so wonderful and interesting. Jesuits labelled our Native ways of knowing and being as Pagans but I never really understood what that meant. I read in Wade Davis book, the Wayfinders, that there are different ways of being, other alternatives of living and knowing.

THE WORLD AS I SEE IT said...

Ok second time trying to leave a comment...but I had no idea that Paganism was still being practiced in the UK. I find that so facinating and interesting. When the Jesuits arrived in the New World they labelled Native beliefs and traditions as Paganism. Wade
Davis wrote a book called The Wayfinders in the book he states that there are other alternative ways of being, other ways of knowing and living. That it would be a loss to humanity to lose any of our old tradtional ways. I think its a shame that the UK turns its back on its heritage.

Jasmine said...

The worlsd as I see it - Thank you for leaving a cxomment. Yes, I can see many similarities between Paganism and the Native American Indian Ways. I have always been drawn to medicine wheels and totem animals. Paganism is an earth based spirituality that predated Christianity in Europe. Pagans mark the changing of hte seasons, note the elements, the winds the directions and believe that the world around has something to teach. We try to listen to what the earth and its creatures can tell us and what that might mean. Environmental issues are very important to us.

Many years ago, my grandfather recieved a letter from a Native American Indian that was following his familyt tree. He thought he was a relative of ours, and had the Hazlehurst name. For one reason or another the link was not followed up or lost before it could be. i would have loved to have followed that lead.

Gurdur said...

I included this in my Sunday/Monday blogs round-up - 03 October 2010, along others' blog posts on it. Cheers.

Jasmine said...

Thank you Gurdur. Interesting blog you have there. I'll be sure to follow those links tomorrow.

Jules said...

What fascinating comments over this excellent news for religious tolerance and freedom Jasmine. I have been heartened by reading the responses to your post! I don't follow any set spiritual path, but feel everyone should be allowed to worship (or not!) as they wish without fear of retribution or reprisals.

I was sorry to hear of your experience at your daughter's nursery, and the incidents you described, but let's hope this recognition of the Druid Network is the beginning of greater things to come. xxx

Tricks said...

Mother Earth is who I believe in, I feel that our own culture and religion was wiped out by the Christians who made Paganism a dirty word. If you look at ancient artifacts from our early Celtic cultures you find a horned figure that was made out to be the devil. Of course this was entirely wrong, from all accounts it is just a symbol of the deer that fed our early ancesters. They worshipped the animals that fed them in the same way that the American Indians did, we wiped them out too. Where ever so called Christianity lurks there are wars. I was brought up a Roman Catholic but I can't respect that religion anymore not now I know all that has gone on. It is us who should be up in arms about the indoctrination not us feeling obliged to keep it under our hats. What's wrong in looking after the planet, someone has to. Well, I often tell people I am a pagan, I don't know why I feel this way, perhaps it is because my Grand Parents were Romany's. I feel we have reuined our planet and left nothing of much worth for our children. Sorry I'll get off my soap box now. I love your site, your photos and your personal views. Good for you. See if you can teach your children to plant trees they are so important to our planet. Best Wishes Tricia