Nearly 15 students gathered in Anabel Taylor Hall on Saturday to kick-off a new Pagan student group. Advertisements for the meeting read, “Please come and have your voice heard. See what we can do for you.”
Four years ago, there was a Pagan student group that died out when members graduated and were not able to pass on the leadership. Now the only connection for students is the United Pagan Ministries, which is run by adults. Its goal, as described by its the website, is “to provide services, education, support and advocacy for the Pagan community of Cornell University and surrounding Ithaca and Tompkins County … N.Y. UPM also seeks to provide education and resources concerning Pagans and Paganism to other religious organizations and to the community at large.”
According to Bri Lance ’06, “there is a need for students here.” The Saturday meeting was held to “talk about what sorts of things we want to do. We don’t know what kind of response there will be,” Lance continued.
At an organizational meeting a few weeks ago, the meeting’s facilitators came up with a list of possible ideas. These included social networking, discussion groups, building connections with adults and forming a Pagan community.
“A lot of students weren’t raised [as Pagans], so they are new and inexperienced. It helps to have other people around. It can be very isolated if you don’t know many other Pagans,” said a facilitator of the meeting.
What’s a Pagan?
One might ask what Paganism is.
“Paganism is an umbrella term,” said Jeff Wong ’06, student liaison from UPM.
“Most people call it earth-based. They usually have a spiritual connection to the earth. Most people also recognize both female and male deities,” said one facilitator.
“Deities don’t really have genders,” another student said.
“It’s not like God is there, and you are here. It’s a more fluid form of deity. [Rituals involve] some kind of singing, energy-raising,” Lance said.
Wong added, “It varies a lot by what tradition you are in.”
Students’ reasons for attending the meeting varied greatly as well.
“I’m here because I’m interested in bringing people together. I am Wiccan leaning,” said one student.
“I came to check it out because I’m taking a class called Viking Madness