There are thought to be about 500 pagan officers - including druids, witches and shamens. The eight main holidays include Samhain, on Halloween, where pagans celebrate the 'dark winter half of the year' by leaving food outside for the 'wandering dead' and dress up as ghosts and casting spells. Imbolc - the festival of the lactating sheep - is held on February 2. Pagans pile stones on top of each other and make 'priapic wands' to celebrate fertility. Beltane, on April 30 and May 1, sees pagan and wicca worshippers celebrate the sun god with 'unabashed sexuality and promiscuity'. Married couples are encouraged to 'remove their wedding rings' for the night. And Litha - which takes on the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year on June 21 - involves pagans drinking honey mead and dancing naked in the sun to celebrate the upcoming harvest.
PC Andy Pardy, from Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire, is cofounder of the Pagan Police Association. PC Pardy - who worships Norse Gods including hammerwielding Thor and one-eyed Odin - said: 'As of May 2010 the Police Pagan Association officially received the support and endorsement of the Home Office and the National Policing Improvement Agency and is now a recognised Diversity Staff Support Association for serving and retired pagan police officers and staff in the United Kingdom.
'The recognition of paganism is a slow process, but the progress is evident.
'Officers can, for the first time, apply for leave on the festival dates relevant to their path, and allow them to work on other dates such as Christmas which bore no relevance to them.' He said an increase in pagan chaplains in police forces meant officers had a 'support base' close to hand.
The rules also mean pagans, for whom Stonehenge is a place of pilgrimage, will be allowed to swear upon their religion in court, pledging to tell the truth before what 'they hold sacred'. But one police officer, who did not want to be named, said: 'When they talk about political correctness gone mad, this is exactly what they are talking about. 'What has it come to when a cop gets time off so he can sit about making spells or dance around the place drinking honey beer with a wand in his hand?' A Home Office spokesman said: 'The Government wants a police service that reflects the diverse communities it serves.'
Other festivals that pagan officers can take off work include Yule - celebrated on December 21 - when pagans go door-to- door singing and burn a yule log to honour Kriss Kringle, the Germanic pagan god of Yule. Another festival is Lammas, on July 31, when pagans celebrate harvest time and are encouraged to go on 'country walks'.
Downloadable books (free):Solomonic Grimoires - Lemegeton I The Lesser Key Of Solomon Goetia
Rowan Moonstone - Pagan History The Origins Of Halloween
Robin Artisson - Reclaiming The Pagan Worldview The Heart Of Mysticism
Solomonic Grimoires - The Grand Grimorie With The Great Clavicle Of Solomon