It Is Time for Paganism to Get Its Due
Author: Zechari the Serpent
The idea of pagan seminary is not a new idea, and I easily know that I am not the only one. Sad thing is, this dream and idea I tried to stir support for in my own community died quickly when I tried to get people to rally behind it. The few pagans I had spread word to in my community stood for it but others in power and government would not, laughing at my attempts to raise some form of awareness upon the matter.
Even some of the community colleges I tried to talk to about this only looked at me with a sidelong glance, like I was crazy for even thinking this. They told me there was “not enough support from the community.” I was rather insulted. I did not believe it but that reason was all it took to shut it down before it even left the drawing board.
I do not see the reason why this concept should fall by the wayside and why private groups or government groups cannot offer aid to such students. I am not alone, nor am I truly one of a few.
I have heard voices speaking up all across the country and even in other countries, wishing to have a program or programs such as these. The silence is here to be broken, and others shall join the ringing of one voice. I say to any and all who read this, who support and think why not, to stand behind this cause.
If a Catholic, a Hasidic Jew, a Sunni, A Buddhist or a Sikh can have such open and funded for them, why not have such a program for us pagans. We are not few, we are not small and with this we can truly show you our voice. Not in some tyrannical oppressive speech or in violent actions against others…but in a peaceful way, a proper way and a way that speaks to all our brethren and sisters.
The age of isolation, of covens, circles, and clans hidden away as small little islands, needs to end. It is time for all of we pagan teachers and thinkers to step fully out and reveal the world OUR thoughts. It is our right.
With that said, I am a college student, a hard working blue-collar background college student. In college I am planning to do a double major in Philosophy and Religious Studies, which is part of my goal to create a pagan based seminary. Thusly I have done the obligatory research for funds, grants and whatnot to help pay for my college (seeing as I am poor, every little bit helps).
In my research I have found and noticed things that are rather…disturbing. The main thing I have noticed is that of all the religious based scholarships and grants, I have found next to NONE for ANY on one of the many paths that fall under the branches of paganism.
Seeing as paganism is a collection of the oldest religions in the world and also one of the peaceful groupings of religions, I find it highly odd that there are very little to no offerings of scholarships or grants given. The Abrahamic faiths, Ba’hai, Sikh’s, Buddhists, Jain’s, even some of the newer religions like Scientology or Spiritualist Christianity have scholarships or grants in their name.
I am a pagan, been practicing for two years now. My blend of paganism is a mix of Navajo and Hopi (my ancestors) paths, shamanism, with ritualist magick. I feel it is not right that every other religion has these opportunities given while we pagans are not afforded such opportunities.
There are many Wiccans, Druids, Asatru, ritualists, shamans, revivalists, and eclectic pagans of many paths. We are not a small group and we are growing, so it is insulting that we students of pagan faiths are given so little in the name of our faith while others in the names of their faiths are given so much.
I’m tired of seeing pagan communities have their attempts to start scholarships be drug under or have it dry up because of outside pressures. I’m tired of the government not caring when it is their job to care, which we pay them to do with our tax dollars.
I’m fed up with being jeered at or given a funny look because I wish to do a pagan seminary and start a program so I can teach and aid others, show them that there are many paths and to find their own truth.
In one place, a year back, I tried to gain some information from in searching for a way into seminary I was asked what my faith was. The moment I said “Well ma’am, I am an eclectic pagan.” I could see the look in her eye as her smile faded a bit.
Those thin pressed lips and that replying question “And what exactly is your purpose here?” was just like a dagger in my chest. In three minutes my dreams and aspirations seemed to be crashing down.
I did not see why she needed to be this way; I merely wanted to explore the question of faith and how it relates to the world. I do not let my pagan faith bias me in the slightest and in fact I wondered why I could not be allowed. Thus I was turned away, turned away with bitter disappointment on my face.
Luckily though I was able to apply for a more secular school to pursue my goal. What happened was not right in the slightest, and yet it is not an uncommon thing to have happen. I talked to a few students whom I knew, other pagans I know. They pointed into directions that painted a very sad portrait.
I had been one of a growing number of students who was shuffled off. To this day it sickens me still
There are many seminary branches out there, ranging from Jewish to Unitarian Universalism. It is high time for paganism to be given it’s due. The spectre of fear or intolerance must not be allowed to stifle out these dreams, these hopes for the future. As long as but one of us stands here and fights then they cannot ignore us, they will not ignore us, and we should not let them ignore us. Not anymore.
So I ask those of us out there to help those students, you know who they are or have seen them. Covens, circles, groups of all kinds, this is the hour where we must start banding together and letting our voice be heard.
It’s time we started getting our fair share and our fair do. This is the modern era where ideas can be freely exchanged; there is no excuse to back down when it is our right to have our way freely expressed in seminary setting like every other faith.