Come and share a hot drink and warm company at Citrus and Sage on Sunday. Bring your battle stories of Thanksgiving dinner and the night attack, known as “black Friday”.
Date: 25 November
Time: 11:05 AM
Location: Citrus & Sage
I have always watched the world through a broad lens. Growing up, my family experienced a lot of pain and a lot of death. It made me feel heavy, and it brought many burdens, but these experiences taught me about what life means, and they shaped me into the person I am now. I was never angry at God for the things that happened. I’m still not. I understood that being responsible for myself and loving others to the best of my ability are the only things I can do in this life, and that blame solves nothing. I turned to God without anger when times were hard and I never felt truly abandoned. I know now that the universe never abandons you, but that you often abandon yourself. The universe is always there waiting for you when you want to return home to yourself.
I love being pagan. I love the way it lets me make connections that are meaningful with nature, with my community, and with myself. I love the way that simple archetypes and symbols are like mirrors to my self, how they let me explore all of life as a deep reflection of my own, and celebrate it. Read more
In 1990 I was 14, LDS and beginning to understand that I could manipulate energy. This was energy no one seemed to talk about, but I could see the real effects of what it did to the world around me. I started looking into it at the local library and scared myself silly. The only information I could find that fit the description of what I did was “witchcraft” and as every good LDS boy knows…”witchcraft is evil”. I couldn’t figure out why what I was doing was evil but decided to put it on hold until I could find out more. Read more
To put it simply, paganism has always seemed right to me. Even when I was child and didn’t know that it existed, I knew I had a strong connection to nature and was meant to respect it. As I got older and became more involved in the more material matters of life, I felt that something was missing.
When I was in my mid teens, I acted upon the long-lingering doubt that I had been experiencing in the LDS faith and obtained the strength of will to leave it. My family did not approve and, for a while, employed any and every tactic they could think of (including bribery) to get me to return. Though I retained my closest friends, my real friends, I grew distant from many others. They could no longer associate with me because I had “strayed from the path of righteousness” and was bound to be a bad influence.
Immediately after high school I moved up to Logan and started attending USU. I enjoyed a freedom that I had never experienced before and for my first year simply enjoyed being without any pressure or obligation to do something on Sunday. I gained a sense of independence and explore my personal beliefs without rebuke, I developed my thoughts about the world and finally acknowledged the innate certainties that I had always possessed.
It was soon after this that I discovered the newly established Utah State University Pagan Alliance. It was something that I had always been curious about and I immediately became involved. The community was welcoming and open to any and all topics of discussion, and I learned a lot by listening to the other members and avidly attending the classes and events. I found areas that I wanted to explore in greater depth, and knew I could go from there when I felt like I was ready.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an odd certainty about certain aspects of the world that I could not explain. They didn’t really match up with anything that I had been brought up to believe, and yet, they were deeply ingrained within me and more real than the teachings of any book. I was delighted to find that paganism agreed with and encompassed these ideas like nothing else had.
I’ll admit that for the first couple months I wasn’t sure what I was doing. It took me a long time to have any idea when or what any of the festivals were, and, because I was so content with where I was and who I was with, I didn’t feel the need to do a lot of research. All I knew in those first few months was that I was in the right place. I was finally reestablishing my connection with nature and honoring the earth; I thought I couldn’t be happier.
After a few months of solitary practice, meditation, and group ritual, I received an intuitive reading from a dear friend that directed me to my path. Through meditation and a bit of research I learned the identity of my spiritual guide, my goddess Isis, whose influence I had felt but could not recognize. I became far more confident, more content, more enthralled in life than I had ever been, and it was only then that I was able to solidify my beliefs and obtain a level of specificity that had previously eluded me.
I believe in all gods and goddesses. In my opinion, any and every pantheon is valid. My thought behind this is that every god, both known and unknown in modern times, has, at one point or another, had some sort of offering or energy directed to it. I believe that this energy, this directed thought, is powerful. Whether the gods or the devotion came first I do not know, but I think that this is trivial when considering the idea that, yes, the gods exist and, if we want them to, can have a place in our lives.
To be clear, I do not claim to know that deities exist. I have more personal validation for my experiences than anything else, and I make it a point to approach every aspect of my spirituality with logic and reason.
I try to examine my beliefs from a psychological perspective (as a student of psychology, self-analysis is a fairly pervasive side effect). I support the idea that gods and goddesses may not be external forces, but rather influences from within ourselves as a perfectly viable option. No matter what being you interact with, whether they be a certain deity, spirit, angel, demon, or ancestor, they tell you something about yourself, your subconscious, that you would not have been able to see otherwise. Being open to these deeply psychological, these “spiritual” experiences makes you more aware of who you are and how you need to change to be who you want to be.
And so, I am a pagan because the spirituality that I have found and continue to find within it enhances my connection to the world, provides me with an outlet for continuous self-discovery as well as improvement, and is the epitome of truth as I know it.
Dear USUPA members and supporters,
I would like you all to know that it’s been a great pleasure to head the USUPA this year and am extremely grateful for the opportunity. Thank you all for making it an incredible year for me and for your meaningful friendships. May the hand of friendship always be so joyfully extended to all who meet USUPA members.
As we look to next year I would encourage you all to take the direction of the club in your own hands as well.
We learn nothing, if we do not make it our own.
Even if you don’t feel ‘knowledgeable enough’ or that you have the ‘experience’ to lead, I encourage you to take the leap and do so anyway. Rarely are we ready to take on our own selves, or let our own golden heart of joy shine without excuse…but we MUST.
You are all incredible, amazing people and there is a reason you are the founding members of this club ( which it is more than just a student club if you haven’t figured it out by now) One can not gain wisdom without making mistakes, our steps may be dogged by fear and insecurities but it is no mistake you are the ones taking the steps.
I would like to ask each of you to find a ritual to do for the group in the next year or a class to teach. It does not matter if we’ve already covered it.
All of you need to take a leap, as do I, to being your own guiding stars. Please submit an outline for the class or ritual a month before you would like to do it.
We will continue to grow as a group and welcome new people into our midst with each semester and I encourage you again to each make a point of welcoming everyone.
I’ve been perusing the Amhrán grade of druid training (as some of you know) and part of that training is to look at your death with eyes unafraid. I continue to see the USUPA as an important part of my life, but it will be wholly unremarkable if each of you do not take up part of the mantle as well, and come to know yourselves more deeply.
Remember I am merely the hermit with the lamp.
We are all equals, never think any different. Each one of us has our own power and no one should ever be afraid to reach out to any member of the USUPA for assistance or guidance. As always, myself and the officers are ever available to you for questions or just to talk. Sometimes work/obligations might force us to schedule time to talk but you and your concerns will never be ignored.
Each of you has a song that is different from my own and you must beat it out for the world to hear.
-Kassie, summer 2011
Handling the “Less-Than-Friendly” Non-Pagans
There are hundreds of different ways to be a Pagan, but to many outside that circle of knowledge it may seem to just be one large esoteric group of people that like to get together, light fires, and do cultic rites or other “weird” stuff. This is obviously incorrect for those of us with experience in the Pagan Alliance, but might be hard to explain to someone who hasn’t ever joined us for a ritual or is willing to listen at all. It can be difficult to have a discussion with such individuals in our particular environment since even other forms of Christianity besides the LDS [Mormon] faith are discounted as minorities.
The word “cult” is often used as a slur to disparage someone elses religious beliefs. We have and will likely see it used again when students and community members come upon us during ritual or in public [such as our club booths]. The difficulty that we thus face is to remember that everyone must choose their own path and we do not wish to “pick a fight” with someone who may be more of a spiritual bully than an ally.
If you do run into someone who insists on dis-respecting the Pagan religions or anything outside of their standard realm of knowledge, I would highly recommend that you gently correct them. Here are a few examples and responses I was able to think of:
Welcoming the Non-Pagans!
If you have non-Pagan friends that wish to attend one of our club’s rituals or even just social functions, that’s great! They might be curious or just want to come meet new people, but either way we can welcome them to our group. We don’t necessarily need to tip-toe around them, so long as we treat them with the same respect we provide for all our members. It’s good to give them any advanced information they might need, especially if coming to a ritual, so they know what to expect.
Whether or not we have non-Pagans in our midst, we should avoid bashing on other religions, since there may be people who came from a certain background and still have respect for family or friends that still worship in those faiths. This is not to discount playful banter among friends or even stating truths or observations; it is always important just maintain as respectful an air as possible.
Try to be as educated as possible on the rituals and what they entail so that your non-Pagan friends can feel comfortable asking you and learning more about what they are going to or have just recently experienced with the group. This opens the door so they feel welcome in returning and are more educated from the event. With great experiences at Pagan rituals and events, they may even consider joining full-time and taking up an earth-based Pagan faith!
Also remember that most new members to the group are going to be ‘non-Pagan’ so just remember to let them journey at their own pace!
We live in a primarily non-Pagan and heavily Christian [mostly LDS/Mormon] area. For many of us that is just the way it is and we have absorbed the rules and manners this region of the world taught us. With changes to many of our opinions, lifestyles, and beliefs it is important to remain polite and respectful despite facing negative [and quite possibly offensive] behavior from those outside our circle of safety.
The primary rule we should remember is not to give out other Pagan member’s information without their consent, even to fellow Pagans. This is called “outing” and can be terrible if someone is not comfortable with their information and identity being spread to others. If someone wants to make more contacts, get their information and provide it to the necessary individuals.
The next very important rule is not to touch or ‘fiddle’ with other Pagan’s material or possessions. If they have provided explicit permission, still be incredibly cautious and respectful. This includes crystals, rocks, tarot cards, jewelry, robes/garb, familiars, and altar tools [especially ritual knives]. If it’s out in public or on a booth table, it’s likely alright. Ask no matter what, the owner will appreciate the gesture.
If someone bestows upon you the very great honor of letting you near his or her personal altar, don’t touch anything on it.
The golden rule applies here as well. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Refrain from judging, gossiping, or being rude just because someone belongs to a different category of people. This includes gender, sexual orientation, health conditions, age, weight, or lack of, race, place of origin, dietary choices, and more.
Here are some guidelines for etiquette that will minimize conflict.