The Pagan Student Alliance is a campus club dedicated to bringing together students who identify with different sects of Paganism. The club was originally formed two years ago by senior Yvonne Ramirez, and when Ramirez decided not to run it again last year, sophomore Ashley Atkinson and junior Niki Ruffin took over as President and Vice President respectively.
“We wanted to have a space for people who identified as Pagans,” said Atkinson about continuing the club.
When she and Ruffin took the reins, with the help of freshman Sundee Perkins as treasurer, the activities the group undertook went from being largely ritualistic to more “fun” things like pumpkin carving and scavenger hunts. Despite this new direction for the group, there still are some problems.
“One of the hard things…is that people don’t know what Paganism is at all,” said Atkinson.
When asked to explain Paganism, Atkinson said that it is a largely Earth-based religion that entails a belief in equality. Therefore, Pagans believe in a god and a goddess in order to achieve balance between the male and female deities. Atkinson said that Pagans do not believe in heaven or hell, but they do believe in reincarnation, and the idea that bad deeds will haunt those who commit them.
She mentioned that Wicca, a religion based on beliefs, deities, and celebrations of the ancient Celts, is the most commonly known Pagan religion, and that not all Pagans believe in the exact same things.
The Pagan Student Alliance is looking into bringing more activities to Knox. Their ideas include having a group of ghost hunters from Peoria come sometime in March to explore supposedly haunted locations on campus, and bringing a Pagan priestess from Chicago to do divinatory workshops. The divinatory arts give people deeper insight and intuition through the use of oracles such as tarot, runes, and other methods like crystal gazing.
During Spring Term, they plan on camping out at Green Oaks during Beltane, a spring holiday which celebrates the renewal of life.
This club, which has roughly six faithful members, is open to new faces.
“We’d love to have new members, like anyone who’s interested in learning about [Paganism],” said Atkinson.
The Pagan Student Alliance meets in the Center for Intercultural Life on Tuesdays at 5 p.m.