I read today with interest that “Pagans” are campaigning for druids and witches to declare their religious affiliation at next month’s Census to gain greater recognition.
The Pagan Federation says that it wants the same level of recognition as other faiths and says that the question about what exact religion people belong to could lead to artificially large numbers identifying themselves as Christian.
Yet what really made me angry about this article was the reference to the “Jedi Knights” classification back in the 2001 census where more than 70% of people declared their religion as “Jedi” making it a recognised faith.
The Pagan Federation insists druids, wiccans, witches and other pagans constitute a serious and growing religious group.
Ten years ago 42,000 people declared themselves as Pagans – the seventh highest number for any UK religion – but some experts believe the true figure was nearer 250,000 – and is significantly higher now.
BC Religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott said the 42,000 figure was still only a fraction of those describing themselves as Jedi Knights.
Pagans do not worship one single god, but look for the spiritual in nature. Some groups concentrate on specific traditions, practices or elements such as ecology, witchcraft, Celtic traditions or certain gods. Wiccans, druids, shamans, sacred ecologists, odinists and heathens all make up parts of the Pagan community.
In October, the Charities Commission granted the Druid Network official status as a religion.
But we need is to remember that Pagan is not just a word. Being Pagan can mean many different things to many different people. For me it is a way of life. I have been Pagan since my earliest memory and I can go into so many arguments about how serious that some people take Paganism to be.
Dressing up in wizards capes and visiting Stonehenge once a year certainly does not make you a Pagan in my eyes. Being Pagan is being true to the foundations of a way of life that has guided us for tens of thousands of years. It is about respecting the life and world you live in with care, respect and a tradition.
Whilst it is good that Paganism is being considered to be a recognised faith or belief I do fear that, like the Jedi saga back in 2001, it could become more of a mockery.