Students seeking a different perspective on spirituality or who believe God is synonymous with nature now have representation on campus in the Pagan Student Association, an organization that hopes to promote solidarity among pagans.
Lin Press, a junior psychology major, began the Pagan Student Association in hopes of finding others who share beliefs similar to hers.
Press said she mixes a peaceful form of witchcraft, called Wicca, with Christianity.
“It’s a little more liberal,” Press said.
She described Wicca as a religion that involves thinking consciously about how the environment affects humans.
Paganism is not limited to Wicca, however.
Many pagans combine beliefs and rituals, and celebrate holy days from a variety of earth-based religions, such as Druidism, Shamanism, various Celtic religions and Native American religions.
“You have to respect what each other may believe, whether you believe in it or not,” Press said at the first PSA meeting.
Sophomore Bryan Sheets, a computer science major, also practices Wicca.
He said he attended the first meeting hoping that this group can correct some of the misconceptions many students have about paganism.
“We don’t believe in hell or Satan,” Sheets said. “We don’t worship the devil or an evil entity.”
The nation’s stigmatism toward paganism stems deep into its history, beginning with the witchcraft trials of the 1600s.
Those stereotypes are perpetuated by inaccurately portraying people who practice pagan religions.
For example, the 1987 movie “Dragnet” portrays pagans as drug addicts who sacrifice virgins.
Films like “The Craft” and “The Blair Witch Project” promote fears and myths created during the witchcraft trials.
Press encourages non-pagans who are interested in learning about paganism to attend a meeting.
She hopes that future meetings will include information about herbs, stones, candles and other metaphysical goods used in pagan rituals.
The SPA will select officers in upcoming weeks and may change meeting rooms.
For more information, contact Student Life.