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Pagan students gather to honor nature, gods

By Christy Butler

"We celebrate things such as harvesting,
plantings and sheep lactating"

-Mike Dangler

Every Tuesday night one Ohio State group gathers to celebrate old religions and commemorate nature.

The Pagan Student Association, founded by Joann Tilley in Autumn 1997, averages about 14 members, said Mike Dangler, a junior member majoring in military history.

“Our goal is to provide a place of discussion and learning for Pagan students at OSU, or anybody else interested,” Tilley said.
Paganism is actually an umbrella term that represents a multitude of religions, she said.

The common belief shared by all religions under Paganism is that nature is sacred. Paganism is an earth-based religion formulated in Western Europe that predates Christianity.

The word Pagan derives from the word country person or commoner. These country people were often the last to convert to the newly developed idea of Christianity, and still practiced their traditions in private, Tilley said.

Pagan religions celebrate eight major holidays that are agriculturally based, occurring around solstices and equinoxes, Tilley said.

“We celebrate things such as harvesting, plantings and sheep lactating,” Dangler said.

People may question if Paganism is really a religion, but Tilley is quick to point out the religious qualities of Paganism.

“We worship deities, codes of ethics, celebration of holidays and believe in an afterlife,” she said.

Devil worshiping is a major misconception associated with Paganism, Dangler said. Because Pagans don’t believe in the devil, it would be very difficult to worship, he said.

One of the most controversial aspects of pagan religions is the use of magic. Not all pagans use magic, but a vast number do to control positive changes in their lives.

Sacred rituals are traditional for many pagans, Tilley said. They are performed by using the four major elements known as earth, air, water and fire. These individualistic rituals are commonly performed to celebrate or honor gods and goddesses for their many blessings and to reflect the personal sacredness of the person performing them.

Although the Pagan Student Association doesn’t perform rituals at its meetings, they teach ritualistic methods and symbols, Tilley said. The group offers workshops in visualization, meditation, Celtic Mythology, runes, tarot cards and Pagan Gaelic (the Old Irish language) which aid the Pagans in their religious and sacred experiences.


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