Students form on-campus group for pagans, wiccans

by Bridget Alex | 10/21/04 5:00am

Sometimes tutors, study groups and multicolored flashcards just aren't enough to produce satisfying grades.

To improve her study skills, Emma Sloan '05 uses the energies of the universe. In fact, with Pagan "magick," Sloan can attempt anything from better studying to healing a sick tree -- provided the tree consents, of course.

Sloan now has a way of sharing her powers with the rest of campus. She and Kevan Grimaldi '04 are forming a group for Dartmouth pagans, witches and wiccans to gather and discuss their beliefs.

Pagan is a general term that refers to anyone who practices a nature or earth-based religion, which includes wiccans and witches.

Created in the 1930s, Wicca is a religion based on pre-Christian European traditions.

The group's founders said the religion holds that all have the ability to change their lives for the better, so long as they do not harm others.

With visualization and prayer with props called "magick," pagans hope to align the universe's energies with their goals, Sloan said.

However, if that goal is to heal someone or something, permission is required from the ailing.

Magick is spelled with a "k" to differentiate it from the type of magic that magicians perform.

The group plans to hold its first meeting this Saturday.

So far, four undergraduates at the College have responded to their fliers.

Though she has never practiced paganism before, Latif Nasser '08 decided to join the group. Nasser said he likes it because it is different from other traditional religions and she appreciates its peaceful philosophy.

"I've never seen toothless wiccans wearing sandwich boards firing pamphlets at innocent passersby," Nasser said. "No one has suitcase-bombed buildings claiming to do it out of love for the wind."

Both Sloan and Grimaldi became pagans at age 13 and were raised without religion.

However, paganism is not exclusive and mainstream religions can participate.

Hoping it was only a phase and worried what others would think, Grimaldi's family objected.

Grimaldi explained that many people fear Wicca because it is so new.

Many people label pagans as Satanists, but the group's founders dismissed the stereotype, saything pagans do not believe in Satan or hell.

"The Satanist concept is really amusing; it's like asking Hindus what they are going to do at the Last Judgment," Sloan said.

The girls both realized their faith after reading books on Wicca.

"It wasn't like I decided to do this," Sloan said. "I recognized myself in it."

For now the group is called the Dartmouth Pagans, but it plans to change its name soon.

"At some point we'll have to get a spiffy name," Sloan said.

Interested students should e-mail, the group's organizers said. They added that they did not want to publicize when and where their first meeting was to avoid a bad reaction.

New members can look forward to a pagan holiday soon.

The religion's most important holy day, Samhian, takes place on Halloween and is a time to honor the process of death.

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