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Amethyst

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Practicing While at School
« on: June 06, 2012, 11:31:35 am »
I recently finished my freshman year of college, where I spent little time with my spirituality the entire year besides article reading, research, quiet prayers, and spending time in nature as much as I could while in a city school. I lived in a double, within a suite. Two of the girls I lived with were very Christian, and than combined with the fact that I hardly knew them at first made me very uncomfortable.

I was wondering how other people, who have gone through this before or currently are, follow a Pagan religion while in college. Do you have an altar, permanent or temporary? How open are you about your beliefs? Have you run into any problems? Do you do rituals in the dorms?

Next year, I hope to have a small permanent altar (with plants!) and be more active.
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Kessei

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Re: Practicing While at School
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2012, 12:51:56 pm »
Quote from: Amethyst;58779
I was wondering how other people, who have gone through this before or currently are, follow a Pagan religion while in college. Do you have an altar, permanent or temporary? How open are you about your beliefs? Have you run into any problems? Do you do rituals in the dorms?

 
I kept a small altar which wasn't necessarily recognizable as an altar, and I sought out other pagan students by striking up conversations with anybody who was wearing symbols or had a reputation for knowing "about herbs and stuff," etc. I wasn't terribly open - I discussed my religion with friends if it came up, or with those who had already confirmed that they were open to pagan practices, but otherwise I didn't discuss it.

My college wasn't explicitly religious, but it did have a strong affiliation with an Abrahamic religion. That definitely contributed to me being a quiet about it (one friend who found out ended up saying, "You realize I'm supposed to stone you, right?" and stopped hanging out with me). Your mileage may vary.

EDIT:  I wanted to add that I graduated from college a decade ago, and I'm not sure how things have changed (for good or for ill) in my college's culture since that time.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2012, 12:52:46 pm by Kessei »

Sharysa

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Re: Practicing While at School
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2012, 05:01:32 pm »
Quote from: Amethyst;58779
I was wondering how other people, who have gone through this before or currently are, follow a Pagan religion while in college. Do you have an altar, permanent or temporary? How open are you about your beliefs? Have you run into any problems? Do you do rituals in the dorms?

I'm actually quite open with it among my friends/theater group, who are open-minded about pretty much everything. I have no altar or physical worship space because I don't have any money for it, and I still need to live with my family. My mother is very intensely Catholic.

But the main problem with being open is that most people don't even know what Celtic/Irish Reconstructionism IS, and I don't want to have to give people crash-courses on Irish mythology all the time.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2012, 05:03:59 pm by Sharysa »
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Re: Practicing While at School
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2012, 05:29:24 pm »
Quote from: Kessei;58788
I kept a small altar which wasn't necessarily recognizable as an altar, and I sought out other pagan students by striking up conversations with anybody who was wearing symbols or had a reputation for knowing "about herbs and stuff," etc. I wasn't terribly open - I discussed my religion with friends if it came up, or with those who had already confirmed that they were open to pagan practices, but otherwise I didn't discuss it.

My college wasn't explicitly religious, but it did have a strong affiliation with an Abrahamic religion. That definitely contributed to me being a quiet about it (one friend who found out ended up saying, "You realize I'm supposed to stone you, right?" and stopped hanging out with me). Your mileage may vary.

EDIT:  I wanted to add that I graduated from college a decade ago, and I'm not sure how things have changed (for good or for ill) in my college's culture since that time.


O_o Stoning you is more than a bit much. My college is very liberal, even the Christians are liberal, and I'm sure people would be tolerant at the very least if I were to be open about my beliefs. But that's just not who I am - I don't usually talk about ANYTHING personal unless people ask me directly. I hope whatever school you went to has changed in the past years!

I like the idea of an "altar-that-doesn't-look-like-an-altar". I might see if I can find a cheap flameless candle, and a plant, and maybe a statue or two, and just leave that on my desk or windowsill or a shelf.
 
Quote from: Sharysa;58824
I'm actually quite open with it among my friends/theater group, who are open-minded about pretty much everything. I have no altar or physical worship space because I don't have any money for it, and I still need to live with my family. My mother is very intensely Catholic.

But the main problem with being open is that most people don't even know what Celtic/Irish Reconstructionism IS, and I don't want to have to give people crash-courses on Irish mythology all the time.


I get that - the only altar I have at my home is a very informal ancestor one, which is really more photos of loved ones stuck to my wall under an ankh. My parents, who are very Catholic also, don't mind it much because they're fine with me respecting deceased family and friends.

I don't have that particular problem, but I can see how that would be a deterrent about open worship/ritual/devotion/whatever word you prefer. I'm currently learning about Irish deities and I have to admit there are a lot of them, and many of the names are difficult for me, and I have trouble remembering everyone. I feel like a "crash course" on them is almost impossible!
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Sharysa

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Re: Practicing While at School
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2012, 08:02:04 pm »
Quote from: Amethyst;59035
I get that - the only altar I have at my home is a very informal ancestor one, which is really more photos of loved ones stuck to my wall under an ankh. My parents, who are very Catholic also, don't mind it much because they're fine with me respecting deceased family and friends.


Yeah, one good thing about my family is that they're devout FILIPINO Catholic--Mom has a bit of an animistic mindset, so she doesn't mind that I talk to plants or animals because she's the one who told me that things will listen if you treat them well. She also warned not to make the fairies mad (especially the ones that live in old trees), or else they'll give you bad luck.

In fact, the heavy Catholic/pagan syncretism is what prompted me to look at Irish mythology in the first place.

Quote
I don't have that particular problem, but I can see how that would be a deterrent about open worship/ritual/devotion/whatever word you prefer. I'm currently learning about Irish deities and I have to admit there are a lot of them, and many of the names are difficult for me, and I have trouble remembering everyone. I feel like a "crash course" on them is almost impossible!


Indeed. The Morrigan alone can either be the name of a single goddess, or three goddesses who are aspects of the Morrigan. I've been trying to learn Irish to help with the ever-present "How do you pronounce this?!" problem, and holy crap is it brain-breaking.

Not even getting to all the spelling variations I've encountered. CONSISTENCY LOLWUT.
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Re: Practicing While at School
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2012, 10:21:25 am »
Quote from: Amethyst;58779
I was wondering how other people, who have gone through this before or currently are, follow a Pagan religion while in college. Do you have an altar, permanent or temporary? How open are you about your beliefs? Have you run into any problems? Do you do rituals in the dorms?

Next year, I hope to have a small permanent altar (with plants!) and be more active.


My school is pretty liberal and my roommate is the best, but I'm still pretty much keeping in my broom closet as far as my beliefs go. There used to be pagan student union but not anymore; not sure of the details of that situation but I think it was just not enough members to keep it going.

I do temporary altars when I need them. I've been wanting to make a permanent altar but I don't know how I want to decorate it! Besides, there's the no candles rule and I'm constantly on the move from school, home, work that I feel unsettled. Maybe I'll make myself a little traveling altar set to go! But I keep my tarot cards, dream things, etc. out and scattered on display around my dorm and people are okay with it (and they'll come to me a lot for readings!) but I do wish I had more pagan things as it is.

I think the hardest thing for me, aside from the lack of other pagans in my school to talk to, is the holidays---the only place I can celebrate is in my dorm room and by myself!

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Re: Practicing While at School
« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2012, 11:49:56 am »
Quote from: RoselynLibera;62728

I do temporary altars when I need them. I've been wanting to make a permanent altar but I don't know how I want to decorate it!.


Candle restrictions are usually for good reasons (the burn times for old dorms are scarily short...) but there's some reasonable substitutions depending on what you'd like a candle for. If you want something that *looks* like a candle, the LED candles these days are surprisingly good, inexpensive, and there are even some you can 'blow out' or that have a gentle flickering glow.

If you use candles as a way to focus the intention of, say, inviting a deity or a guardian of the quarter (in my practice, the candles are partly that, and partly a specified place in the circle for them to sit, basically) then you might try making little decorated boxes (the kind you can get at craft stores for a couple of dollars, or small tins, or whatever) and open the box for the invitation where you would have lighted the candle (perhaps removing a couple of specific relevant small objects - beads, small figurines, etc ) and then close it where you would have extinguished the candle.
 
For candle magic, you can use a different magical technique. If you want the slow focus over time, I've done a fair bit of work with melting ice (instead of watching a candle burn) which can work for some applications very nicely. (Or snow, if you have access in the winter.)

Quote

I think the hardest thing for me, aside from the lack of other pagans in my school to talk to, is the holidays---the only place I can celebrate is in my dorm room and by myself!

 
If you want slightly more space - especially if it's only occasionally - you might talk to your campus chaplain, if there is one, and if there's a general campus religious space. They tend to be pretty ecumenical. For schools without a specific religious identity, the chapel is often not consecrated to a particular denomination, and there's often smaller spaces you can arrange to use for various other rituals. (Hindu students, Buddists, etc. might use these as well as Pagans.)

If you're not sure where to start, if your campus has a diversity office, usually they'll know who to talk to.

As far as campus Pagan groups: they do tend to come and go: people graduate, or get really busy, or there's an interpersonal thing that gets messy, and before everyone can sort it out, people graduate, etc. They're usually relatively easy to get started again if there's already been one.

(Way out of college, but I work at one, and have done some "hang out and chat" meetings with a student interested in getting the Pagan student group going here.)
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Re: Practicing While at School
« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2012, 12:55:25 pm »
Quote from: RoselynLibera;62728

I do temporary altars when I need them. I've been wanting to make a permanent altar but I don't know how I want to decorate it! Besides, there's the no candles rule and I'm constantly on the move from school, home, work that I feel unsettled. Maybe I'll make myself a little traveling altar set to go! But I keep my tarot cards, dream things, etc. out and scattered on display around my dorm and people are okay with it (and they'll come to me a lot for readings!) but I do wish I had more pagan things as it is.

I think the hardest thing for me, aside from the lack of other pagans in my school to talk to, is the holidays---the only place I can celebrate is in my dorm room and by myself!

 
This past fall semester I had a lot of roommate problems and was splitting my weeks between sleeping in my actual room (which I hated), crashing on the floor of the archive of the radio station I work at, or shacking up at my then boyfriend's place. I'm really familiar with that unsettled feeling.

But for some reason, probably because I desperately needed something solid to hang on to, that was probably the most religious time for me. I kept my tarot cards, things relating to my ancestors, some crushed up incense, and some LCD candles in a little bag that I kept in my bookbag which I was basically living out of at the time. And whenever I got a chance I'd find a quiet corner and pull out a card that reminded of the deity I wanted to contact at the time, light the LCD candle, and invite them in. I tried to have offerings. I would pick up chocolate from a convenience store when I could.

Travel alters/shrines can be as simple or complex as you want to make them. I needed simple. I needed something I could set up and take down in under a minute as a ran from class to class and couch to couch. But just having that bag with me all the time kept me centered. There was a concept I remember from my History of Sacred Places class, the term was Axis Mundi. The idea that a place is the center of the world. And I actually wrote my final paper for that class about on how my Axis Mundi was not some place like Mecca or Jerusalem or any other static place, but rather my shrine. For something as crazy and upending as college can be, I really really recommend having something small you can take with you. It helps with the scattered homeless feeling.

As for holidays, I started out trying to do small things by myself but I found a lot of my friends, even Christian and Muslim ones, wanted to help me celebrate my holidays. So now I usually put out the call to anyone who wants to get together on a holiday a couple days before and we all cook a meal, and I do tarot readings for everyone, and I explain what the holiday is about and tell stories and it's really nice. Any magic or ritual I do, I still do on my own, but for me holidays are really about togetherness. You might be surprised to find people who aren't your religion at all but who will not pass up an excuse for a good party and some intellectual discussion.

The biggest thing with college and having pagan things is that our lives are so temporary and you have to think about how everything will pack up and move. Also money. Money is a huge limiting factor. With those things in mind, look for things that are free and don't necessarily have to go with you. I like to pick things from nature like fallen leaves and branches and such and make things out of them. If you can't pack them, you just return them to nature and they're completely free. Other than that, look for ways to make things. I really wanted statues of my deities but I couldn't afford it so I drew picture of them and put them in frames I found on sale. They work just as well in my opinion!
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Re: Practicing While at School
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2012, 05:12:19 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;62738
Candle restrictions are usually for good reasons (the burn times for old dorms are scarily short...) but there's some reasonable substitutions depending on what you'd like a candle for. If you want something that *looks* like a candle, the LED candles these days are surprisingly good, inexpensive, and there are even some you can 'blow out' or that have a gentle flickering glow.

If you use candles as a way to focus the intention of, say, inviting a deity or a guardian of the quarter (in my practice, the candles are partly that, and partly a specified place in the circle for them to sit, basically) then you might try making little decorated boxes (the kind you can get at craft stores for a couple of dollars, or small tins, or whatever) and open the box for the invitation where you would have lighted the candle (perhaps removing a couple of specific relevant small objects - beads, small figurines, etc ) and then close it where you would have extinguished the candle.
 
For candle magic, you can use a different magical technique. If you want the slow focus over time, I've done a fair bit of work with melting ice (instead of watching a candle burn) which can work for some applications very nicely. (Or snow, if you have access in the winter.)


 
If you want slightly more space - especially if it's only occasionally - you might talk to your campus chaplain, if there is one, and if there's a general campus religious space. They tend to be pretty ecumenical. For schools without a specific religious identity, the chapel is often not consecrated to a particular denomination, and there's often smaller spaces you can arrange to use for various other rituals. (Hindu students, Buddists, etc. might use these as well as Pagans.)

If you're not sure where to start, if your campus has a diversity office, usually they'll know who to talk to.

As far as campus Pagan groups: they do tend to come and go: people graduate, or get really busy, or there's an interpersonal thing that gets messy, and before everyone can sort it out, people graduate, etc. They're usually relatively easy to get started again if there's already been one.

(Way out of college, but I work at one, and have done some "hang out and chat" meetings with a student interested in getting the Pagan student group going here.)


Quote from: TisiphoneSeraph;62932
This past fall semester I had a lot of roommate problems and was splitting my weeks between sleeping in my actual room (which I hated), crashing on the floor of the archive of the radio station I work at, or shacking up at my then boyfriend's place. I'm really familiar with that unsettled feeling.

But for some reason, probably because I desperately needed something solid to hang on to, that was probably the most religious time for me. I kept my tarot cards, things relating to my ancestors, some crushed up incense, and some LCD candles in a little bag that I kept in my bookbag which I was basically living out of at the time. And whenever I got a chance I'd find a quiet corner and pull out a card that reminded of the deity I wanted to contact at the time, light the LCD candle, and invite them in. I tried to have offerings. I would pick up chocolate from a convenience store when I could.

Travel alters/shrines can be as simple or complex as you want to make them. I needed simple. I needed something I could set up and take down in under a minute as a ran from class to class and couch to couch. But just having that bag with me all the time kept me centered. There was a concept I remember from my History of Sacred Places class, the term was Axis Mundi. The idea that a place is the center of the world. And I actually wrote my final paper for that class about on how my Axis Mundi was not some place like Mecca or Jerusalem or any other static place, but rather my shrine. For something as crazy and upending as college can be, I really really recommend having something small you can take with you. It helps with the scattered homeless feeling.

As for holidays, I started out trying to do small things by myself but I found a lot of my friends, even Christian and Muslim ones, wanted to help me celebrate my holidays. So now I usually put out the call to anyone who wants to get together on a holiday a couple days before and we all cook a meal, and I do tarot readings for everyone, and I explain what the holiday is about and tell stories and it's really nice. Any magic or ritual I do, I still do on my own, but for me holidays are really about togetherness. You might be surprised to find people who aren't your religion at all but who will not pass up an excuse for a good party and some intellectual discussion.

The biggest thing with college and having pagan things is that our lives are so temporary and you have to think about how everything will pack up and move. Also money. Money is a huge limiting factor. With those things in mind, look for things that are free and don't necessarily have to go with you. I like to pick things from nature like fallen leaves and branches and such and make things out of them. If you can't pack them, you just return them to nature and they're completely free. Other than that, look for ways to make things. I really wanted statues of my deities but I couldn't afford it so I drew picture of them and put them in frames I found on sale. They work just as well in my opinion!


 
Thank you both for the advice and thoughts! I really like the box and ice idea, Jenett. I did think about looking up the old members and seeing if anyone was left still, but I do have a great group of lucid dreamers that fulfill that need for me, so I'm content. :) And the idea of an "Axis Mundi" really hits home (ha ha!)--mine would be my bedspread and my bedside box: where I make my bed and put the box down, I call it my home. I actually found an offering bowl that I want to use to keep my tarot cards and candles and the like in, to keep them all together and not scattered about.

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Re: Practicing While at School
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2012, 12:59:14 am »
Quote from: Jenett;62738

For candle magic, you can use a different magical technique. If you want the slow focus over time, I've done a fair bit of work with melting ice (instead of watching a candle burn) which can work for some applications very nicely. (Or snow, if you have access in the winter.)


I missed this the first time I read through this thread.

I've been looking for a replacement for this for ages and this is absolutely perfect. Better than candles even since ice is basically free if you have or know someone who has a fridge.

What about magic the requires you carve symbols on the candle? Ice is a little hard to do that with and you can't really write on it.

Thoughts?
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Re: Practicing While at School
« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2012, 09:22:48 am »
Quote from: TisiphoneSeraph;63170
I missed this the first time I read through this thread.

I've been looking for a replacement for this for ages and this is absolutely perfect. Better than candles even since ice is basically free if you have or know someone who has a fridge.

What about magic the requires you carve symbols on the candle? Ice is a little hard to do that with and you can't really write on it.

Thoughts?

 
Food colouring and a small paint brush?  I don't even know if that would actually work, but that immediately sprang to mind.

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Re: Practicing While at School
« Reply #11 on: July 08, 2012, 11:19:47 am »
Quote from: TisiphoneSeraph;63170
I missed this the first time I read through this thread.

I've been looking for a replacement for this for ages and this is absolutely perfect. Better than candles even since ice is basically free if you have or know someone who has a fridge.

What about magic the requires you carve symbols on the candle? Ice is a little hard to do that with and you can't really write on it.

Thoughts?


Well, the symbols and inscribed things are a way to focus the intention. There are different ways to do that with ice.

Two things I've done are shape and freezing something (usually a small suitable bead) inside. (I adore the silicon ice cube trays that come in a wide variety of shapes: they make me happy on a day to day basis, but they're also really useful for this kind of work. I have hearts, stars, and triangles at the moment.)

You could also add a couple of drops of an appropriate magical oil to the water - you'd want to be careful how you mixed it (a drop or two of essential oil in water might be easier than actual oil). Or rub a (skin friendly) oil on your hands just before you start the melting process.
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Re: Practicing While at School
« Reply #12 on: July 08, 2012, 09:22:20 pm »
Quote from: Amethyst;58779
I recently finished my freshman year of college, where I spent little time with my spirituality the entire year besides article reading, research, quiet prayers, and spending time in nature as much as I could while in a city school. I lived in a double, within a suite. Two of the girls I lived with were very Christian, and than combined with the fact that I hardly knew them at first made me very uncomfortable.

I was wondering how other people, who have gone through this before or currently are, follow a Pagan religion while in college. Do you have an altar, permanent or temporary? How open are you about your beliefs? Have you run into any problems? Do you do rituals in the dorms?

Next year, I hope to have a small permanent altar (with plants!) and be more active.


When I lived on campus in my first year of university, I was lucky enough to have my own (very small) room, and I kept a little shrine in a corner. I wanted it to look really inconspicuous, because not only were most people not very familiar with paganism, a lot of people I knew thought of religion in general as irrelevant to modern society. Being around liberal intellectuals is nice in some ways, but really frustrating in others. None of my visitors ever noticed it, or at least they didn't say anything about it, as it mostly was a candle, incense holder, and pictures of the gods printed off from the internet ant taped to the wall. I did set off the smoke alarm with my incense once, and the whole floor gathered outside my room because of the commotion, which was embarrassing. Be careful when burning things, that's my advice. :p

For the other three years I just commuted from home, and my parents don't care, they just think I have eccentric taste in decor and complain about the smell of incense.

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Re: Practicing While at School
« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2012, 01:10:22 am »
Quote from: TisiphoneSeraph;63170
What about magic the requires you carve symbols on the candle? Ice is a little hard to do that with and you can't really write on it.

Thoughts?

 
You could write your intention on a piece of paper and freeze the paper inside the ice cube. When it melts, the intention is released.
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Re: Practicing While at School
« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2012, 06:55:59 am »
If this thread is a bit old to reply to, sorry! I just thought I might have something to add.

Quote from: Morag;63342
You could write your intention on a piece of paper and freeze the paper inside the ice cube. When it melts, the intention is released.


That is really clever.
 
Quote from: Carnelian;63313
When I lived on campus in my first year of university, I was lucky enough to have my own (very small) room, and I kept a little shrine in a corner. I wanted it to look really inconspicuous, because not only were most people not very familiar with paganism, a lot of people I knew thought of religion in general as irrelevant to modern society. Being around liberal intellectuals is nice in some ways, but really frustrating in others.

 
Yes. I have a smallish shrine in my room that no one has ever commented on. People sometimes ask me what I'm wearing around my neck (a hammer of Thor) but rarely do I ever say outright that I'm a Heathen. Mostly for two reasons:
1. As Carnelian was saying, people are not familiar with paganism in general, and also it's hard to explain the scope of my belief in a concise way.
2. Again, around university, especially mine, there are a lot of liberal intellectuals, most of whom think religion is 'stupid', 'useless', and otherwise conflict-provoking. It's difficult to explain to people.

So mostly, I just keep a low profile and I'm not very public about it. I do go to the nearby park a few times a week (well, I try to, anyway) and meditate/do ritual, and I feel quite free there, but that is well away from the dorm environment. I would like to be more public, but I suppose the main thing is I don't feel comfortable around so many people. Also, my practice is admittedly mostly research.

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