ALARM OVER CHURCH TALKS WITH DRUIDS
Senior Church of England clergy are to join Druids and pagans at a controversial conference designed to help "reconcile" the traditions, much to the alarm of Church leaders. The conference, Spirit of the Land 2000, is described as "a Christian-Druid dialogue and reconciliation meeting for the new Millennium". It is being held against a background of growing interest in New Age religion and white magic. Organizers of the event include Emma Restall Orr, the joint chief of the British Druid Order, the Rev Marcus Small, a vicar in Hertfordshire, and the Dean of Guildford, the Very Rev Alexander Wedderspoon. According to one of the speakers, a number of clergy already participated in joint Christian and pagan services, but there was still too much ignorance and hostility. Mark Graham, of the Pagan Federation, which represents Druidry, wicca and shamanism, said:
"Some pagans believe in magic, just like some Christians believe in the power of prayer and miracles. We celebrate our connectedness to nature and I will sometimes dance naked around a fire. They aren't doing much dancing around a fire naked at matins or evensong but perhaps they should. Perhaps they will like it."
The day-long conference at Amesbury, Wiltshire, in June, will be chaired
by Rosemary Hartill, the former BBC religious affairs correspondent. Speakers
include Martin Palmer, a former adviser to Prince Philip, and Ronald Hutton,
a professor of history at Bristol University. The event will end with a
Christian service and a Druid ceremony in which a green-robed priestess
offerings of bread and mead.