At Northern Kentucky University, the Pagan Student Association (PSA) is working to support pagan students and educate the rest of campus about the tenets of their faith.
“You don’t really see a lot of non-Christian groups on campus,” Brittany Blair, president of the PSA, said. “It’s for people who are pagan have somewhere to go.”
The group, an organization of pagan students and their supporters, spreads information about the religion on campus through various events and workshops.
“So many don’t know what Paganism is,” Blair said. “Some people are interested and intrigued, others aren’t so thrilled. They don’t know enough about it.”
Paganism actually consists of a broad spectrum of beliefs that, technically, are not Judeo-Christian.
“There’s a lot of branches,” Blair said. “It’d be like the Christian Student Fellowship – a broad name to encompass all Christians.”
The most prominent and familiar branch, Wicca, itself a wide-ranging system of polytheistic beliefs, that stresses personal experience with divinity, according to Wicca.timerift.net.
Wicca and paganism, however are not synonymous with witchcraft.
“You can be pagan and not practice witchcraft,” Blair said. “A lot of Pagans do. You can, but you don’t have to.”
Blair said that the majority of the PSA consists of Wiccans, although she is trying to educate the members on other Pagan beliefs.
She is planning a tarot workshop, which believers say reveals the future. The group is also creating one to discuss Asatru, which is Norse mythology.
Those, however, are still in development, she said.
Members gather for each solar holiday, the solstices and equinoxes, which they call Sabbats. Halloween, which they call Samhain, is the next holiday.
“Typically, we’ll do some sort of activity,” Blair said. “We try to incorporate food, for the harvest times. In Winter, we’ll typically do Winter foods. Seasons are important to us.”
She added that the group will also perform a ceremony.
“We’ll do a ritual that has to do with the holiday,” she said. Although a very complicated rite, Blair described a layman’s version as covering the meaning of the seasons and mythology behind it. Then, they’d thank the god and the goddess for what they’ve received.
“We do some sort of divination,” she said. “For the Celts, it’s the New Year. A sort of communion with gods, goddesses; meditation time to ground and center yourself.”
The campus’ reaction to the Pagans, Blair said, is mixed.
“Some people are like ‘Why are they there?’ Others are like ‘finally someone represents me,'” she said. “There’s good and there’s bad, like everything else.”
The PSA meets every Thursday from 3 to 5 p.m. Everyone is welcome, including those who are simply curious about Paganism.