Pagans support petition to protect the UK’s ancient yew trees

UNITED KINGDOM — A new petition is seeking the protection for the Yew trees of region, some of which date back over 5000 years and have a history that is both sacred and rich as the culture itself. Yew trees are important to many UK Pagans, symbolizing the process of death and life beyond. The yew tree sends branches down into the ground, which then turn back into shoots, regenerating the tree. Unlike other trees, yews are also highly resistant to disease when they split. Perhaps because of these powers of regeneration, the yew has been planted in many churchyards throughout the UK with some of these trees are very ancient.

UK festival overview: Beltane to Lammas

U.K. —Beltane is the start of a busy early-summer season for British Pagans, with a range of events taking place between now and Lammas. Right now, British Pagans are still in the middle of their Beltane celebrations, coinciding with the May bank holiday, with a red and white dragon parade having taken place in Glastonbury on Sunday May 6 and Beltane celebrations across the country on May Day itself. The national press have not been slow to realize that traditional celebrations are once more becoming popular, after a period of decline in the 1980s and 1990s. This year, Morris dancers met across the country to dance in the dawn (there are estimated to be around 13,000 Morris dancers in the U.K.). There are also plans to erect a modern maypole in London’s Strand; it will be similar to the 130-foot-high pole that was put up by Charles II to celebrate the restoration of the monarchy in 1661.

Government legislation causes animal rights controversy

UNITED KINGDOM — The UK has had a long history of bringing in legislation to protect animals, beginning in 1822 with an Act to Prevent the Cruel and Improper Treatment of Cattle. The first general ‘protection of animals’ law was introduced in 1911. Since then, a widespread number of regulations have formed to protect animals from wildlife and farm animals to domestic pets,

However, there are still significant gaps in this legislation, and the British Pagan community remains vigilant. Issues such as the badger cull remain of great interest to the Pagan community, many of whom continue to be active against perceived animal cruelty. Fox hunting has now been banned in England.

NHS England proposes ban on alternative medicines; Pagans respond

UNITED KINGDOM — A petition has been circulating around UK-based Pagan websites calling on Parliament to act in the wake of a proposed plan by the National Health Service (NHSE) England to stop prescriptions for herbal, homeopathic and other alternative forms of medicine. Up until now, the NHSE has prescribed herbal and homeopathic remedies for patients. For example, it is used for those those patients who suffer from severe side effects caused by pharmaceutical medicines or for patients who have experienced no improvement in their health from those medicines. In the UK, treatment is free at the point of delivery, although patients have to pay a basic fee (£8.60 per item) for each prescription. This chosen route has not been without controversy historically speaking.

UK News Briefs: two unrelated criminal cases both end in jail time

Andover man jailed after using Pagan beliefs to justify criminal acts against children
ANDOVER, Hampshire, Eng. —  It is jail for paedophile who used ‘pagan’ beliefs to justify his crimes. Steven Lawrence Coatsworth, 52, of High Street, Andover, was sentenced in June to four and a half years in jail for paedophiliac offences, including attempting to arrange a sexual offence and making indecent images . Coatsworth was arrested by an officer who posed as the grandfather of an imaginary online 11 year old girl. Arrangements were made for him to travel from Andover to the north of England in order to meet both the girl and a 12 year old boy.