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“It’s only 2,000 years too late. . .”

King Arthur Pendragon stands by his caravan near to Stonehenge, after a judge evicted him from his live-in protest site at Stonehenge.

What does the Charity Commission ruling mean to you?

It’s good to see the Commission recognising druidry as a religion – it’s only 2,000 years too late. But the ruling was about giving a specific order, the Druid Network, charitable status. My order hasn’t applied for that status.

How do your aims differ to those of the Druid Network?

We’re the warrior arm of the druids, the political activists. And I also represent the Council of British Druid Orders which is 21 different orders including my own. We all celebrate the same religion. I don’t want my order being recognised as a charity and the Council of British Druid Orders has no intention of being recognised as a charity.

Has the ruling given druidry greater legitimacy in the eyes of the public? 

It’s always good to have approval but we didn’t need it. We have our belief structure and we carry on regardless. The reality is our religious belief structure already had legitimacy – it’s the pre-Christian religion of these isles.

Were the Druid Network more interested in recognition or tax breaks?

I really don’t know, to be honest. For most druids in Britain it [the ruling] won’t make one iota of difference. It just means the media will take us a little more seriously. At the end of the day, it’s just nature worship. None of the authorities or other religions have any reason to fear paganism at all.

Are you playing a role in preserving British heritage? Is there an argument that you should receive funding?

Yes, but that would be down not to the Commission, but perhaps the Arts Council or another body. We’re keeping alive ancient British traditions – that’s got to be good.

Extra pulp

Three books that preceded ‘Freedom’ from shelf to sludge.

‘The Charles I Bible’ 1631

A regal print run was recalled and torn up after a misprint left the seventh commandment declaring ‘Thou shalt commit adultery’ – much to the dismay of King Charles I. The 11 known surviving ‘wicked Bibles’ are valued at £50,000 each.

‘Operation Dark Heart: Spycraft and Special Ops on the Frontlines of Afghanistan’ 2010

One of the US military’s more unusual search and destroy missions saw them paying publisher Macmillan $47,000 (£30,000) to destroy the entire first run of Lt Col Anthony Shaffer’s Afghanistan memoirs in September. The Pentagon claimed the book published classified intelligence: a new, censored version was released later.

‘The Pasta Bible’ 2010

Earlier this year Penguin Publishing’s ‘Pasta Bible’ faced the grinders after having listed “salt and freshly ground black people” in its Lecter-esque recipe for spelt tagliatelle with sardines and prosciutto.

 

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