Monday, October 19, 2009

CU-Boulder junior launching Pagan Student Alliance

CU-Boulder junior launching Pagan Student Alliance

Campus group welcoming of all, holding first meeting Monday
Posted: 10/18/2009 04:48:41 PM MDT

When University of Colorado junior Emma Lee transferred to the state's flagship university this fall from the much smaller Mesa State College, she noticed there was one big thing missing: a Pagan Student Alliance.

So she's doing the same thing at CU she did in Grand Junction -- starting one from scratch.

What: University of Colorado Pagan Student Alliance's first meeting
When: 5 to 6:30 p.m. Monday
Where: University Memorial Center Room 384, CU campus, Boulder
Etc.: Students and non-students welcome

"I was shocked and appalled that here in Boulder, we didn't have one," she said.

Lee, a 27-year-old geology major, wants to create a place where students with a variety of belief systems can gather, share ideas and make friends.

Everyone from Wiccans to Satanists to atheists like Lee is welcome in the club, which holds its first meeting Monday evening in the University Memorial Center. Paganism is an umbrella term that encompasses all religions other than Islam, Christianity and Judaism -- although Muslims, Christians and Jews are encouraged to come, too.

There's just one rule: Members must be respectful of others' beliefs.

"There's a place for all of us," Lee said.

Lee and a friend founded the Pagan Student Alliance at Mesa State three years ago, she said. The goal was to make sure people who practiced non-mainstream religions didn't feel alone.
"People have ideas that we're weirdoes and hide in corners and people never see us," Lee said.
The club ensured that didn't happen, she said. It held weekly meetings where students were encouraged to give presentations about their beliefs. Some of the topics included "The Use of Herbs in Magic," "Shamanism: Theory and Practice," "Reiki" and "Pagan Roots in Christian Symbolism."

The Mesa State Pagan Student Alliance also sponsored canned-food drives and wintertime mitten collections. It even co-hosted a Halloween party with the Catholic student organization and the physics society, complete with a costume contest, a maze and liquid-nitrogen-filled pumpkin hurling.

"We became a visible presence on campus," Lee said of the club, which attracted a wide spectrum of pagans. "If we did well at Mesa State, we're going to rock the socks here."
Lee's own journey toward paganism began when she was a teenager. She noticed she had "an inexplicable attraction to the moon;" when she was in the moonlight, Lee said, she felt nourished.
"I had a sensation like I was drinking milk," she said. "I thought, 'Well, that's weird.'"
Lee began doing some research and, before long, she found Wicca. But there were certain parts of the religion that didn't feel right to her, she said, "like wearing a pair of pants that doesn't quite fit."

So she adjusted her beliefs -- which she argued is one of the unique advantages of paganism.
"The fluidity of paganism is its strength," Lee said.

"There's no card to carry. That's what's fun about paganism."

Original article

In the Valley of Shadows

What the college student saw
A primer on Wicca, aka witchcraft and satanism, which it is often confused with.
To begin with, I am not on this page endorsing any particular belief system, merely stating where my research and experience has led.

Christians and other mainline religions have long confused Wicca or witchcraft with Satan worship. “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live...”

Witchcraft, however, simply means “wise craft” or “wise one.” In old times, these individuals were the medical center/midwives, etc. of a village, dispensing herbs and the like found in nature, much as modern medicine derives its base from compounds found in nature. This is why there is an outcry from medical quarters concerning the destruction of so many forests around the world, due to the possibility of undiscovered plant-based medicines that could cure a variety of human ills.

Satan is most often depicted as a horned beast/humanoid. In witchcraft, the male side of life, the fall and winter months, are represented by the buck, a figure with multi-pronged antlers, not horns.

The spring and summer months are associated with the female half of life, or the moon goddess, the most powerful figure in Wicca.
Further, Halloween (in the U.S.) was originally a cross between our Memorial Day and celebrating the harvest bounty. It had nothing to do with Christianity or the worship of the devil.
Females are witches while a male is called a male witch or a wizard, such as Merlin; they are not a warlock, which means liar.

Wicca’s most important holiday is May Day, celebrating the renewal of life, not mourning the end of life as during Halloween. Furthermore, Christmas (which we celebrate on December 25) correlates with the Wiccan or pagan holiday of Yule, the winter solstice celebration held the 21st or 22nd of December.
A final misconception... the pentagram. As in the illustration, the satanic pentagram has two points upward, representing the horns of the devil. The Wiccan pentagram, such as the stars on the American flag, have a single point up. Where does that come from? Take any apple, lay it on its side, and cut it in half. Now look at the seed core. It is a five-pointed star. The Wiccan symbol is the seed chamber of one of the most common fruits on earth, a symbol of life.

Mark was in his last year at North Idaho College in the fall of 1975. His parents had just divorced, and since no one could agree on who got what in the settlement, Mark was for the time being without a car and forced to bum rides until a settlement came from the court.
One Friday in late October, a little after four in the afternoon, Mark had come up empty in his efforts to get a ride home to Rathdrum.

The campus was fast emptying out. With mostly cloudy skies, a temperature barely 50 degrees and a steady wind, the college was starting to take on a bleak, forlorn, empty feel.
The sun barely peered through clouds low in the sky toward Spokane. Mark wasn’t relishing spending the weekend alone and mostly broke in his dorm room.

Just about to walk back to his building, another student he had seen around campus came out of the library, walking toward one of the few cars left in the lot, a ‘68 Fairlane.

Mark hurried over to the tall guy and saw the Bonner County plates. Asking if he was going north, the other introduced himself as Jerry and said he was hurrying to Sandpoint, but would be glad to drop Mark off at the Rathdrum turn off. Mulling over the chilly, nearly 8-mile hike, Mark agreed, thinking he could probably hitch another ride out to Spirit Lake.
Jerry let Mark out at the dumpsters just inside the turnoff, wished him luck, and drove off down the old section of 95 to Garwood.

Twenty minutes later, and with only a dim glow in the western sky, Mark was regretting having taken the lift. Strangely, no other car had come by and he doubted his lighter would be much good to see by.

Barely finishing these thoughts, he looked ahead where a side road intersected the secondary highway and saw what appeared to be a number of people standing in the intersection.
Hesitating, Mark slowed to a near stop a couple hundred feet from the group and could now see there were about eight or ten people, all wearing cloaks or capes, standing in a circle, hands raised to the dark sky. The wind brought what sounded like a faint chanting.

Standing at the side of the road in fear and uncertainty, a light appeared behind him. Looking back he saw a car about a quarter mile away. Pulling out his lighter, he flicked the flint and held it up for the driver to see. He was greatly relieved as the car pulled over and he was it was Jerry in his Fairlane.

Mark got in and Jerry explained that his conscience got the better of him. He’d rather be late than let Mark possibly walk all the way to Rathdrum. No telling what might happen.
As Jerry pulled back onto the road, there was no sign of the coven, if that’s what it was. It was if they had evaporated into the thin air...

This writer has seem something similar recently here in Sandpoint. Two autumns ago I was returning from a friend’s place and as I drove north on Ella, by the Pine Street athletic field, I dimly saw five people in cloaks or capes looking up at the full moon.

Happy Halloween.

Note: In last month’s “The Scarecrow of Sagle,” I neglected to mention that the clothes the neighbor gave to my Uncle Pat for his scarecrow belonged to the man’s son, who was killed in World War II.