Around 100 members of UK armed forces are pagans
The UK armed forces cannot discriminate on grounds of personal beliefs.
London: Around 100 members of the British armed forces are pagans, while another 30 are witches, says a media report.
The strange details about the beliefs of soldiers, sailors and airmen were obtained from the Ministry of Defence using the Freedom of Information Act, the Daily Mail reported.
Paganism, which focuses on the worship of nature and its "vitality and spirituality", finds its roots in the traditional religions of ancient Britain. Stonehenge, the ancient British site of stone obelisks, is their favourite place of pilgrimage.
Their rituals and festivals take place in woods or caves, on hilltops or seashores, where members meditate, chant, play music and dance, and recite poetry. Pagans believe that casting spells can help people in their daily lives.
The vast majority of the servicemen recorded themselves as being Christian or of no religion.
Nearly 60 of the servicemen are spiritualists, a faith which believes that the spirits of the dead can be contacted by mediums. Thirty servicemen and women follow wicca, which involves religious witchcraft, or druidism. Both are offshoots of paganism.
Fifty are Rastafarians, a way of life which involves the worship of Haile Selassie, former King of Ethiopia. The Rastafarians are better known for their links with the reggae music of Bob Marley.
A spokesperson of the British Druid Network, Phil Ryder, says there could be more pagans than the figures suggested. "Druids and followers of wicca tend not to publicise their beliefs for fear of discrimination. In some areas it`s seen as odd," he told the Daily Mail.
However, under the Equality Act, 2006 the armed forces cannot discriminate on the grounds of personal beliefs.