The Circus at the Edge of the Forest
Last week the UK’s Charity Commission granted the Druid Network ‘religious charity’ status and since then Druidry has been, once more, in the public eye. Most of the reporting has been extremely positive (apart from one crazy and bigotted attack in the Daily Mail – but, then, I’m not really surprised by that). But the overriding angle of the reporting is that this means that Druidry is now an ‘official’ religion. I’m not sure that’s entirely correct. I think what it actually means is that the Charity Commission has accepted the Druid Network’s definition of what constitutes Druidry ‘as a religion’ for the members of the Druid Network. If another Druid group approached the Commission requesting Charitable status, and their definition of Druidry matched the TDN’s then it will make their job much easier. If, however, it didn’t they would still need to go trough the same process as the TDN to enable their definition, and organisation to become registered. A subtle, but important, difference.
The way the media have reported this event has caused a little turbulence within some Druid groups who cannot fit their practice within the Druidry defined by the Druid Network. To a lot of Druids their practice isn’t a religious one, but more a spiritual way of life, and the definition of the polytheistic Druidry presented just doesn’t sit well. No worries. This definition has not defined ‘Druidry’, it has defined what Druidry is for one group. No one has to adapt to fit this definition, it’s really business as usual. If your Druidry is animistic, atheistic, monotheistic, you won’t find a For Sale sign at your Sacred Grove the next time you go there, all is well. Take deep breath and relax.
Druidry has always been a religion to some, whilst others shy away from that word. Its lack of dogma some find infuriating, whilst for others it is the main attraction of a Nature based spirituality that doesn’t so much offer a Path, but more an endless forest to explore. For me, and many others, that forest is still there, unchanged by the crazy circus that has pitched up in a field close by. It’ll still be the same after it’s moved on, but in the mean time it’s good to see so many new people being made aware of our Old Ways. As Oscar Wilde once said, ‘There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about!’