In 58 BCE the Roman Empire would march through the lands of Gaul removing Druidic chiefs and dismantling the tribal cultures and religions that had practiced there for thousands of years prior. The practice of Druidic Shamanism would fall into obscurity until recently when it would make a major revival. And now in 2010 the religion that has outlasted kings, empires, and entire civilizations has officially and for the first time been recognized nationally in its homeland as an official religion. The move is as historically significant to the rest of the world as it is to the druids themselves.
Druids will now be able to receive federal funding as well as tax exempt status as an official religion. Additionally they will be able to exercise their rights more effectively as a religion, no longer having to fear whether or not they are going to be recognized in a court of law for civil matters.
In the official documentation set up by the Charity commission, Druids worship nature and believe various aspects of it such as trees, rivers, and mountains have spirits. In recent years the number of Druids in the UK has swelled, and now boast more than 10,000 practicing members with even more private or hermetic practitioners. The popularity of the religion is said to be partially due to the increased interest in nature as well as an increased awareness in issues of the environment. Because they worship various representations in nature the environment is revered more in druidic practices than in almost any other officially recognized religion.
But the druidic religion, according to some members, has changed quite a bit since it was first practiced thousands of years ago. At its inception, druids would revere mountains, trees, and rivers partially because they truly were insurmountable forces of nature that the druids were bound to live among. Today’s druidic tradition attempts to recapture these older ways while still living alongside a new society filled with roads, planes, solid houses, and cities. In fact, the druidic tradition of today is in many ways quite different. But when Austria hired several druids to remove curses on motorways to reduce traffic collisions, they actually had a great deal of success and noted a decrease in driver collisions suggesting the religion does still seem to wield some level of power. And if not magically, then certainly it has conjured up a great deal of political power.
So what lies in store for the future? With the increased interest in religious practices such as druidism, there will no doubt be a push for official status among other religions once considered alternative to be recognized within the mainstream officially.
And the wait has certainly been long enough. With about one in 6,000 UK citizens a practicing druid, the organization is expecting to find more members in the coming year thanks to the official status. And who’s to say what may come next after that?