Members from the Utah Pagan Alliance came to UVU Thursday March 26, 2009 to clear up misconceptions about Paganism, Wicca, witches and magic to students and others wishing to learn and understand more about the oft-misunderstood practices and religion of these groups.
One of the first things made clear about Pagans and their beliefs is that they speak only for themselves and not for all Pagans or any particular sect. Paganism, like a lot of religions, has many different ways of practicing, resulting in multiple sects and offshoots, including but not limited to Wicca, Druidism, and Neo Constructionalism.
Jessie Forster, a member of the council said, “Pagans, more then anything else, are compassionate and honor everything.” Throughout the presentation, there was a focus on how Paganism is about a personal relationship with deity or deities, and because of how personal this relationship is, the deity worshiped can be different to each single practitioner or coven.
Some of the gods worshiped are the Greek gods, the Egyptian, Roman, Nordic, Native American and Christian gods. Beliefs could also include the worship of a mix-and-match of gods from any of these religions or traditions. “There is more then one face to the divine,” explained Silence Maestas, an author and guest speaker. “We see the divine reflected in us and us in the divine.” Pagans worship more of an archetype of nature, believing that these gods from different religions all share the same source or sources.
Maestas explained that Pagans believe everything is interconnected. This is why when they perform what is often regarded as magic, it is not evil or a curse on someone. To do so would be ill advised; they believe that curses simply rebound upon the person who cast them.
Anibal Alvarez, a pagan who practices with a lot of ceremonies or rituals, explained that wands or other tools are not used the same way as illustrated by the likes of Harry Potter, but are tools used to help focus the mind on a desired outcome. “The mind has the power to change reality,” said Alvarez. “You’re not changing the world around you. You’re changing yourself.”
Alvarez shared with the group an altar that he uses. He explained that they do not worship idols, but use them instead as focusing tools to help worship deity. Alvarez also shared other tools to help focus the mind.
Other members of the council who attended were Stephen Dean and Phoenix Thorson. For more information, contact the Utah Pagan Alliance on MySpace at http://www.myspace.com/utah_wiccan_alliance