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First Pagan church for Northern Ireland: Stormont officially recognises The Order of The Golden River as a religion

Priest Patrick Carberry has been certified to legally marry pagans

By Claire Cromie

Published 23/04/2015

The ancient Beaghmore Stone Circles, near Cookstown, where the Order of The Gold River could marry its followers
The ancient Beaghmore Stone Circles, near Cookstown, where the Order of The Gold River could marry its followers

A Pagan priest and church have been given official recognition for the first time in Northern Ireland.

The Order of the Golden River, established in 2009 and headed by Patrick Carberry, was recognised as an official church by the General Register Office for Northern Ireland at the end of last month.

Pagan priest Patrick Carberry
Pagan priest Patrick Carberry

Mr Carberry, who goes by the title Sovereign and Founder and is Northern Ireland’s first recognised Pagan priest, said he had originally applied for official recognition only in order to legally marry people of his faith.

He describes himself as a traditional Celtic shamanic priest and says his true, or spiritual, name is Nighthunter. He gave up his career as a chef to become a full time shaman and psychic.

“We can now do hand passings, which is our official belief, rather than having to have a ceremony outside as we’d prefer and then another in the local registry office,” he said.

Mr Carberry, who is based in Glengormley and who has travelled extensively for his beliefs, asked Stormont for permission to be a certified holy man five months ago.

He said he was “absolutely over the moon” about the result, adding: “I’m still in shock, we were not expecting to be recognised.”

He added that although his religion has been in existence for some time, he and his followers previously operated underground for fear of prejudice.

Mr Carberry said although his religion did not require a building, as “generally we can use ancient stone circles and are involved closely with nature,” he has been offered the use of a building in Londonderry by a sympathetic supporter.

Since becoming an officially recognised religion, he said that the support had been overwhelming, admitting that he had jokingly queried: “what have I let myself in for?”

The Order of the Golden River aims to further the social acceptance of other belief systems, promote the benefits of holistic treatments, and to assist people suffering from terminal illness.

Additional reporting by The Independent

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