Meditation, energy healing, visualization, spells, archeology, herbalism, mythology, polytheism, atheism and reincarnation…these are all terms that people use to describe paganism.
Emma Lee, a 27-year-old junior psychology major, transferred to CU from Mesa State College where she first created a pagan organization. In fall 2009, she established the Pagan Student Alliance here at CU.
The club meets every Tuesday in the UMC to discuss different aspects of their religion. But what exactly is their religion about? What specifically do they believe?
There is no pinpointing paganism; Lee says it is an umbrella term.
“A textbook definition would say paganism is anything not ‘Abrahamic,’ like Christianity, Judaism or Islam,” Lee said.
Other than that, there are no boundaries. Two people, who identify as pagans, could share many to no common beliefs. There is a vast spectrum of practices including spell casting, worshiping ancient Greek gods and goddesses, or even studying archeology to better understand one’s ancestors.
The Pagan Student Alliance’s mission is to provide a welcoming place where pagans can become part of an open dialogue and share their beliefs for spiritual growth.
Every meeting is dedicated to one member who presents a topic of their choice. Previously, they’ve covered different religious areas such as shamanism, Haitian Voodoo and Asatru.
Tuesday night, Lee led the group in a guided animal meditation, where participants were encouraged to take a walk and explore their mind. Afterwards everyone discussed what they experienced and where their journey had taken them.
Lee explained this was part of something she practiced as a healing technique.
“It’s very personal, your brain is speaking to you through symbolism,” Lee said. “It’s a chance to actually listen to what your brain is saying.”
Lee says sharing their own religious views helps expose each person to different areas of spirituality. Group members have their own practices and say they joined the Pagan Student Alliance for individual reasons.
For some, it’s about self-discovery, like Rhonda Holton, 20-year-old junior physics major, who is also a member of Campus Crusade for Christ.
“I’m exploring my spirituality,” Holton said. “I’m trying out everything.”
This is not uncommon when learning about paganism, those who practice it say. The main concept to understand is that everyone has their own beliefs. Lee says it is a highly personalized religion where everyone follows their own path.
Paganism followers say they search for what speaks to them spiritually. One member of the alliance, 19-year-old sophomore and environmental design major Rachel Saccardi, says she dabbles in herbalism in her own way.
“Many people do spells, I like to make lucky charms to carry around with me, “Saccardi said. “You can make brews to drink or do other things like bury them around your house for protection. It’s whatever works best for you.”
Despite all the differences, club members say they do have one thing in common: they are eccentric and atypical. Self-proclaimed “weirdo,” Lee says they form solidarity from their differences.
And with differences bring false impressions. Being a part of a group people don’t know much about is often met with many misconceptions, group members say.
“We don’t all worship Satan or do ritual animal sacrifices!” Lee said. “Pagans don’t participate in group orgies… well some do, but not everyone. “
Contact President Emily Lee with any questions about the Pagan Student Alliance at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Amanda Moutinho at Amanda.email@example.com.