Are there different kinds of Druidism?
Yes! There is fraternal/sororal Druidism, which started in England 1781, and spread around the world, so that by 1933 there were 1.5 million adherents, though membership has dwindled now. This kind of Druidism is focussed on social and charitable work and uses ritual that is very similar to freemasonry. There is masonic Druidism - freemasonic groups that use Druid names and symbolism in their rituals. Such groups began in the 19th century and may no longer exist. Winston Churchill was the most famous member of such a group. There is cultural Druidism, which was initiated by Iolo Morganwg on Primrose Hill in London in 1792, and which was adopted by the Welsh Eisteddfod in 1819. Cultural druidry exists to support and promote the culture and language of Wales, Cornwall and Brittany. The Queen Mother and the Archbishop of Canterbury are the most famous members of this kind of Druidry. And there is Druidism practiced as a philosophy, spiritual way, or magical/shamanic path. The majority of people associated with Druidism today follow this kind of Druidry.
How many Druids are there in the world today?
Accurate figures for the number of people interested in Druidism in its various manifestations do not exist, but there is enough information to make an estimate. Thousands attend the televised events in which the Druids of Wales appear each year at the Welsh National Eisteddfod, and hundreds attend similar events held in Cornwall and Brittany, while fraternal Druidism attracts several thousand. In 1996 a leading academic estimated that there were roughly 6,000 people practising Druidry as a spiritual way in Britain, and a major study in 2001 in the USA estimated the figure there at 33,000 If we include the other countries of the world, this figure of 39,000 in Britain and the USA could be increased to a total of perhaps 45-50,000 people worldwide. Around such a group of people, who could be called ‘Practising Druids’, there is a much wider circle of those who are interested in the ideas of Druidry, and who incorporate some of these into their own personal brand of spiritual practice. Only a minority of the people who are inspired by Druidry actually join a Druid order or group. The majority, for reasons of time or inclination, are more likely to simply read books on the subject, informally celebrate the old festival times, and feel inspired by Druid lore. At least one book on Druidry has sold over 140,000 copies, while about 100,000 people in Britain and around 426,000 people in the USA regard themselves as Pagan. While not all these people will consider themselves inspired by Druidism, a good many will, and it is quite likely that the wider circle of influence beyond the dedicated followers of Druidism could well exceed a quarter of a million people worldwide.
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