Prisons are on the hunt for pagan chaplains

Prisons are on the hunt for pagan chaplains to 'provide for the religious care of prisoners and staff in the pagan faith tradition'.

The incumbent must 'possess the confidence and expertise to lead open ritual, officiate in Rites of Passage, and run workshops for mixed pagan traditions within the prison system,' a job advert on the government website states.

Pagan groups often use ancient stone circles as a focus of worship.Facebook

The successful candidate will be paid up to the standard £29,176 for the part time role and it is understood to be part of a longstanding policy to cater for pagan prisoners.

They will join a multi faith team of chaplains and are expected to 'appropriate pastoral care for all irrespective of faith or tradition'.

The Ministry of Justice recognises paganism, which is a broad term covering a number of faiths including Wicca, Druidry and Odinism, as a religion and guidance says that prisoners must be allowed incense, pentagram necklaces, crystals, a chalice and a flexible twig for a wand, according to The Daily Telegraph.

But Ralph Harrison, director of the Odinist Fellowship, told The Daily Telegraph that his organisation ministers to Odinist prisoners separately.

'There is a tendency to lump together historic pagan beliefs with modern traditions and witchcraft-based beliefs, which obviously will help simplify things for the prison services, but is not really in keeping with our religious outlook,' he said.

'We do offer a limited chaplaincy service, or a support service, for a small number of Odinists who are in prison or who have become Odinists while in prison.

'We have concentrated on making sure that they have Odinist literature, especially the Eddas, which are equivalent to the Bible or the Koran which are made available to Christian or Muslim prisoners and are not always available in prisons to Odinists.'