Now we are all minorities…

Today the Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealed more information from the 2021 Census in England and Wales, and it was the bit about the voluntary question on Religion.

Now, I’m not going to get side tracked, but there’s an interesting subtext here about the census. Are we a united kingdom or not? Why is it the census for England and Wales, and why is Wales – a land with its own national language and culture – bundled with England? And why not include Scotland and be the British Census? Or simply carry out a UK wide census including Northern Ireland (before it rejoins the rest of its island nation). No, those thougths are for another day, or maybe a nother blog.

The question on religion was voluntary in both 2021 and 2011 and indeed first entered the census profile then. Being voluntary, 94% of census responders (~56M) still filled in an answer. And admittedly that single answer covered a household, so multi-faith homes, so sorry.

The news today was headlined by the data reveal, and particularly by the fact that for the first time, less than half of the responders (46.2%) identified as Christian. So, in one way of looking at things, we are now all members of minority faiths! Some may have been shocked; I was simply “hey, welcome to being a minority!”

Druidry, it is said, was once the prevailing religion of the intellectual caste in Britain. Julius Caesar Paulinus reportedly (reported by Julius Caeser Tacitus of course) wiped out the Druids at Anglesey. And while Druidry, the name, has resurfaced and been reinvented time and again over the centuries, we don’t have any idea of Druidry today has any real heritage to that of ancient times. Indeed, I might argue it would be wholly imappropriate to be so.

In the lack of clear “Druid” information on the ONS website, I emailed them and they were kind enough to send me the relevant data spreadsheet. From there it was a simple matter to extract the number of self identified Druids and in which parts of the country they lived. If you were hoping for a Druid resurgence, it’s yet to build momentum… at the 2021 census a total of 2489 responders identified as Druid!

Back in the years after the 2011 census, some of us picked over the raw data to extract information relevant to our path. Back then, if my data is correct, 4,189 people declared themselves to be Druids. However, there was a concerted push to identify with “pagan dash”, so that one might put pagan-druid, or pagan-wicca, that did not happen this time. Back then, 56,620 identified as Pagan, and this time that figure is 73,737.

In terms of numbers, the highest concentration of Druidry in England and Wales is (unsurprisingly, perhaps) in Cornwall, with 67. Behind them comes Wiltshire (64) and Dorset (34). There were thirty one in both Mendip and Shropshire. My old home of Bristol reported twenty two, and I was one of eleven in South Gloucestershire. It is worthy of note that there were more Druids in Stroud than on Anglesey…

Taking a more chaotic view, there were twice as many Satanists (5039) in England and Wales in 2021 than Druids! Are there really? Hallelujah! 😉

So, Druidry is certainly not growing. It might well be shrinking. More likely, people are simply less willing to hold a label now than they were, hence the increase in Pagans. Is it important, well, not to me… Does it mean the idea of Druidry is dying out in Britain? I doubt it. I rather imagine it means, along with the decrease in Christian numbers, people are more liable to be self sufficient in their spirtiual thinking and spiritual practice than before. That might be a matter of interest for sociologists; a shift away from authority of all sorts.

There’ve been a few comments here and there in the hours since I posted this. One particularly stood out for me, saying: “I’m not too concerned about how many people call themselves Druids as much as I hope more people are adopting Druid-like ideas and ways of living.” That’ll do for me, too.

6 responses to “Now we are all minorities…”

  1. Thoughtful reflection. The concise extraction of numbers is interesting. Of course we must remember that bigger isn’t always better – the big religions have a lot to answer for over the past several thousand years.

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  2. I put ‘Brythonic polytheist’ but I don’t think that result even showed up!

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  3. Hmm. A couple of points… First of all, ‘Caesar’, not ‘Ceaser’! (Names are important, after all). Anyway, Julius never went anywhere near Ynys Môn; the Romans only got there under Paulinus, exactly 100 years after Caesar’s punchup in Kent. Second, re: the census… There was something of a campaign to not fuss over differences and to just put “Pagan”, in order to get the numbers for official recognition. Lots of Druids, including myself, did that; it’s the only way to hope for a Druid voice on “Thought for the Day”, for example. So look at the numbers for “Pagan”, and see a healthy collaboration betwen Druids, Wiccan, Heathens, and, er, wotnot. Definitely not a decline in Druids.

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    1. Thanks for the correction as to who was in charge during the Anglesey massacre, but for the life of me I can’t see where I’ve typed “Ceaser”. If there was something of a campaign it entirely missed me, but I’m very happy to see the increase in pagan and it’s even possible I wrote pagan druid myself, and so might even be a part of the diminution.

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      1. I read the version that came through on my RSS feed reader and then clicked through to comment, so you’d probably already corrected it. Not that it’s all that important! As for the campaign, it was something via the Pagan Federation; there was also some discussion about it in OBOD-related groups.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks. I’ve been a member of both organisations for a long time, but I guess I’m less active there nowadays. To be honest, I’m less active everywhere except my little bit of the planet. 😉

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