Sophomore Japanese major and sophomore Jason Powell is the president of the Pagan Students Community. Powell considers himself Pagan and associates with a religion known as Wicca, a modern revival of an ancient form of witchcraft. Jason hopes the Pagan Students’ Community will foster a greater knowledge of less common and often misunderstood forms of religion and spirituality.
What is the Pagan Students’ Community? What can we expect to see from the group in the future?
The Pagan Students’ Community is a religious group that seeks to provide a community and opportunities for practice and worship to those students who consider themselves Pagan or to those who are simply interested in the idea and wish to explore it further. Since the club is pretty new, in the near future we hope to establish a strong presence on campus and solid groundwork for future generations of club members to use as a guide.
The term “Pagan” can mean many things and encompass a number of different belief systems. How does the PSC define Paganism?
“Paganism” is indeed a tricky term to define. We define it as an umbrella term used to encompass a wide variety of spiritual beliefs and practices that primarily focus on reverence of the earth, the inner spirit and/or the awareness of the natural world. I realize it’s a vague definition, but all the word originally meant was “someone who lives in the countryside.”
What is your personal history with regards to religion and Paganism?
Personally, I have been involved with Wicca since I was about 16 years old. Around then I took an eight-week course on the fundamentals of Wicca at a local Newage shop and realized fairly quickly that there was definitely something for me there. Many Pagans, including myself, tend to be very eclectic with their beliefs and pull influences from many different origins. My connection to the natural world is something I will always honor.
Do you think that less common belief systems are unfairly viewed by most people?
Yes, and they always have been. Even the predominant religions today were persecuted at some point in their histories. I feel like many followers of mainstream religions today often forget that at one point in time they were the “heathens” too. Much of the problem with religious bias is simply lack of information.
Bridgers is a member of the class of 2008.