Druids mark festival after becoming official religion

Druids perform a Samhain blessing at Stonehenge Druids and other pagans worship the spirits they believe inhabit the earth

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Druids are celebrating their first major festival since their beliefs were granted official status as a religion.

For them and other pagans, 31 October is not Halloween, but Samhain, and marks the turning of the year from light into dark.

Earlier this month, the Charities Commission ruled that the Druid Network should have the same status as other faiths such as Christianity and Islam.

Pagans do not worship one single god, but look for the spiritual in nature.

The number of pagans, including druids, witches and wiccans, has grown in recent years.

Many believe that the absence of rules, the focus on the environment and particular regard for the female have a strong resonance in contemporary society.

Druids worship the spirits they believe inhabit the earth. Among them are those embodied in forces of nature, such as thunder, and places, like mountains and rivers.

Their rituals, including Samhain, are focused particularly on the turning of the seasons.

After a four-year inquiry, the Charity Commission decided that druidry offered coherent practices for the worship of a supreme being, and provided a beneficial moral framework.

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