Pagan groups celebrate alternative religions
Media Credit: Damien Petranek
Psyche North Torok runs Fly by Night wiccan shop. The shop sells a variety of candles for customers to use during rituals.
The religions are older than Christianity.
Pagan or Neo-Pagan religions refer to a collection of separate religions which share a few common themes.
According to the Pagan Student Association at Ohio State, Paganism is individualistic, and it is difficult to list all the religions involved in the association. The differences among Pagan religions are largely because of the culture's pantheon and mythology on which each religion is based.
Common Pagan religions include Wicca, Druidism (based on pre-Christian Celtic religions), Greek (based on pre-Christian Greek religion and mythology) and Asatru (based on pre-Christian Norse religion and mythology).
According to the Pagan Student Association, the official purpose of the organization is to provide Pagan students and those interested in alternative religions a forum for discussing and learning in a social atmosphere. The members of the association at OSU include students from various Pagan paths as well as students of other religions.
Paganism can be found at other places in Columbus besides OSU. Last October, the city hosted its first National Pagan Pride day.
"The focus of National Pagan Pride Day was to celebrate spirituality," said Psyche North Torok, the coordinator of the Columbus Pagan Pride Day.
Torok also owns Fly-By-Night, a store specializing in nature-based religions. The store, located just north of campus, holds Pagan art shows and has a book club.
Torok does Tarot card readings at her store.
"I have been practicing Wicca since 1983," she said.
Priscilla Cope, a sophomore in Spanish and psychology, practices Wicca as well.
"I have been practicing since February of my freshman year," Cope said. "Prior to this, I had been a Sunday school teacher for an Evangelical Christian Church."
Wicca, one of the largest Pagan religions, was revived in 1954 by Gerald Gardener. Gardener revealed he was a witch following the repeal of the final laws against witchcraft in Britain in 1951, Cope said.
"The times are changing and acceptance of all beliefs is finally beginning to happen," she said.
The Wiccan religion includes some basic beliefs such as reincarnation, karma, the belief nature is sacred and the belief in the power of magic. Wiccans also believe that anything a person does returns to them threefold, whether it's good or bad, Cope said.
"I started practicing Wicca because of a love of ritual and a reverence for nature," Torok said.
Mary Williams, treasurer for the Pagan Community Council of Ohio, has been practicing Wicca since 1991.
The council has five festivals a year at various places, Williams said. They also have general meetings and e-mail meetings.
Some of the holidays still celebrated were derived from Pagan holidays. The time of year when Christmas is celebrated was chosen because of its closeness to the Pagan celebration for the winter solstice, Williams said.
The Pagan Student Association holds weekly meetings at 8 p.m. on Tuesdays in the Ohio Union.
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