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A day of possibilities is here.  It’s the first day of the academic year and students are attending the first classes of the semester.  Tonight is also the first meeting of the Pagan students for the year as well.  I look forward to this time because it is a time full of wonder, excitement and the knowledge that anything is possible. It is the last that I love more than anything.

So what do I have in mind for this year?  I’m not sure about the definitive but I do know the possibilities:

  1. Finish my bulletin board (it may not seem like a lot but trust me it is)!
  2. Participate in at least two interfaith events on campus.  This will be fun and I’m already working on it.
  3. Figure out fundraising – This one is actually very important.  Every other religious organization or church has on going funding from their larger denomination or sponsoring church.  I would like to see that happen here in order to better serve the students.
  4. Finish a few writing projects.  Some are about the Chaplaincy and some are not.
  5. Write my blog more!  This is actually the number two priority – write here at least once a week.  The number one priority is actually:
  6. Teach what I can to the students and find others qualified to teach them what I cannot.  I only know what I know and that is all.  There is so much in this to offer and give to the students that I am continuously looking for new and different people to introduce them to and in the process new and differing views on faith, belief and themselves.

So let’s take this journey of possibility together.  Keep me on track where you can and in the end we will end up in a much better place than we started because we worked together.

And if you want to help out with getting the fundraising part started right away you can always go to our Contribute page.

Many Faith One Humanity

Getting Ready to Leave

Tired, awake, excited, and full of wonder we arrive in London.  The adventure has begun.  Less than 48 hours ago 17 of us waited at the Syracuse airport to board our plane to being 10 days of sites and discussion.  With little sleep during the in between we are safe and sound and through our first day in England.

When we arrived yesterday morning we were greeted by the SU London staff who guided us to the coach that would take us to our hotel – the Royal National.  On the way I was treated to a front row seat (on the left side of the coach) and just took in the scenery.  A little something called The Globe to my left… then a cemetery, churches of all types, and brick buildings that remind me of Mary Poppins all in view.  Traffic on the left side of the road didn’t seem strange, at least not then.  I was tired but ready to get the day started.

Many Faith One Humanity

Lunch and Introductions

We deposited our bags at the hotel, couldn’t quite check in when we arrived but we knew that ahead of time, and then off to Syracuse’s Faraday House; the center for SU London.  Our orientation to the UK was fun and informative on both the joys and the dangers of being a tourist.  I am thankful for the information!  We are also treated to lunch along with introductions to several people on the staff.  So far we are still excited and alert.  I’m amazed at the energy still being so high, especially in myself.

Once done we are back to the hotel to check in, unpack and start on our first event: a walking tour of the local area with Prof Richard Tames.

Many Faith One Humanity

Wisdom and Youth

 This gentleman was a repository of knowledge regarding London history and briskly walked us through the squares, the University of London, past Virginia Woolf’s home, to the British Public Library.  An hour and a half of non-stop information about the area we are calling home for 10 days.  He returns us to our hotel and graciously hands us his complete notes regarding the tour just given.

After our thanks for his generosity we finally have a moment to breathe – 45 minutes until we need to meet and leave for dinner.  I have to say that riding the London tube is an experience, especially when you are entering the Underground for the first time during the end of the day commute rush!  It was wild finding out where to go, herding 17 bodies in the same direction and onto the same commute line, and ending up at the same stop.  Thank goodness we had two guides from London helping us navigate the system; if not I’m sure that we would still be looking for some of our party.

Dinner was at Maroush, a Lebanese restaurant serving family style to our table.  The food, flavors, smells, and comfortable chairs a truly welcome relief.  Conversations all around the table were buzzing on a number of topics and I couldn’t have enjoyed myself more.  But the lack of sleep finally caught up with all of us.  Soon I could see in others a mirror of what I was feeling – a need to close my eyes and let my body rest. 

It has been a wonderful beginning to the trip and I imagine that it can only get better.  Today the Imperial War Museum, a Zen Garden visit, Notre Dame Church, tea at St. Martins in the Fields, the Buddhist Society, and then back to the Faraday House.  A full day indeed.

The adventure of a life time began a few months ago when the Pagan students and I were invited to participate in the “Many Faiths, One Humanity” interfaith trip to London.  We were all excited, thrilled that we were finally “included”.  Then reality hit: how are we going to pay for this?  It was interesting to sit in the room and watch the faces move from total excitement to complete terror of “what if I can’t come up with that much money”?  $3600 each – that seemed overwhelming.  Well, that’s when magic happens.

I’ve been asked on a few occasions how far along we have gotten in our fund-raising activities.  The questions of “how much is left,” “what has come in so far,” “what can I do” and a myriad of other little inquiries have been tossed at me all along the journey.  I haven’t answered any of the questions for a reason. You don’t interfere with magic and manifestation while it is still working.  I believe in that fourth pillar of the pyramid – you keep silent.

But today it’s done, yes the manifestation is complete.  Not necessarily in the way that the students envisioned in the beginning.  There was no large donor handing over a huge check, we didn’t see thousands of checks for $10 each coming in the mail, but what happened is true magic.  As we began I told the students simply not to worry; the money was the least of our issues, the Universe had already provided what we needed and all we had to do was the required work.  What was that work?  Allowing ourselves to be open to opportunities that would present themselves which would result in the funding to become reality.  They looked at me like I had grown a second head.  But it was simple magic, simple money manifestation that we needed to do.  Tell the Universe what we needed, not be greedy, and then be open to the results.

I had to explain that what we expect the magic to look like and what it really looks like is usually very different.  That doesn’t matter; what matters is going with the flow and being thankful for the results.  So, let’s see how the expectation and the reality differed.  Each student understood that there was a price to be paid: $3640 each.  I had one student tell me to worry about the others first, she would be okay.  The other students (students of all faiths) were told to go back home and ask their local “churches” to help in sponsoring them.  Hmmm… that was a tough one and I had to explain to the Chapel Dean that we don’t exactly have churches and if the students could find a group chances were it would be small and have very little funding to help.  Second suggestion: have the students talk to their home colleges and see if there was any co-curricular funding that might help them out.  That was a novel idea and we had no idea what it meant, but the students decided to go for it and off they travelled to talk to some Deans.

First piece of magic: one student asked and was granted $1000 from his home college. First set of defeats, kinda: two students are told no funding was available.  But during the one of the conversations a students had a most unusual experience; she saw one of the cards she reads with on the Dean’s desk.  That’s right, one of the cards from her Russian Gypsy Fortune Telling cards.  She knew she had to be seeing things, it really wasn’t there; it was just HER imagining it.  At the same time the words of the Dean telling her no were flying past her like birds.  She heard the words but they didn’t matter.  As she left the office she understood the adage “nothing ventured, nothing gained” and realized an opportunity opening up in front of her.  She emailed the Chancellor of University and explained that even if she wasn’t able to go due to finances that the opportunity being presented was too great to fail.  She explained where she had tried to find funding and asked if the Chancellor had suggestions where else there might be funding that she could pursue.  The Chancellor responded, she granted each student in the program $1000, $12000 total. Second piece of magic falls into place. 

All this time donations were coming in; the pagan community responded and gave what they could.  I had to explain to the students that when pagans give it isn’t necessarily in the form that you are expecting.  Those that had funds to share did, but the bulk gave energy to allow the doors to open and the road to clear so that we could achieve our goals.  That was just as important, if not more so, than actually sending cash.  Gifts come in all sorts of manners.

The magic continued and the Chapel found that somehow it had funds it didn’t have before to help students, based on need, to pay for the trip.  Grants of $900 each were given to those students that applied and now we are getting closer.  The Dean that told our very brave student no, finds out that there is an academic portion to the trip and awards her a $500 grant.  The end was no in sight and my understanding that the money was there all along began to take hold in the minds of the students.  The magic solidifies.  Two events were now being organized to finish out the fundraising efforts.  Both were psychic fairs of a sort.  The first was a milestone; we held it on campus with just the students doing readings.  That’s right, a psychic fair on the campus of Syracuse University.  The cost was a donation of any amount.  The students raised $83.50.  Not bad since most of the people donated $1 for their reading.

The second fair was held about a week later at a local UU Society church.  Dryad Design sent us two very large boxes of statuary and jewelry to auction in order to raise donations and a local stain glass artist dropped off five pieces to help as well.  The event began to take on a life of its own.  I would get calls and emails from local readers wanting to know if they could participate.  People from all areas were giving items to place in the silent auction.  A wine chiller, tie dye t-shirts, wands, pottery, salon packages, are only a few of the things that people could bid on.  And so we began the evening.  Three hours later at the close of the event I began to count the money that had come in.  Magic happened; manifestation was complete.  What we needed had been raised and the three students who required help to go on this trip were completely taken care of.

As of today I can say, we are done.  That’s right, we have hit our goal.

The fourth student, the one that had said to take care of the others first, we are still working on her portion.  I say that in the context that generosity is wonderful when found in another.  Her fees are paid, yes.  But I would like to help her as well so that the burden isn’t completely on her family.  If you wanted to donate and can any funds that come in at this point will go to reimbursing her.   You can find out how on our donation page.  And the efforts of the students are continuing.  We are still waiting on one last grant that may come through this week.  If it does, we will be overly blessed. 

I want to thank everyone that helped us reach our goals through whatever means that they gave.  It all matters, it all counts, and when we pull together, well that is when magic happens.

Time for an update on the progress made so far in fundraising for the Interfaith trip this Spring.

First, I want to thank everyone and the generosity that they have shown during the past few months.  The energy and effort have worked hand in hand to create the prosperity necessary to see that this trip become a reality. The manifestation of funding has been incredible but we are not yet finished.

We are close, between now and March 1st we need to raise our last $2900.  So how are we going to do that?  Well, a couple of ways and this is where, once again, you can help.  We will be doing the following:

  1. Everyone is encouraged to contribute directly if you haven’t already.  We never turn down funding.
  2.  “Day of Divination” on campus where students can come and enjoy the divining skills of the campus pagans. 
  3. A psychic fair held for the community at large.

Anyone can send their contribution through PayPal.  Just log in at www.paypal.com and hit the “send money” button.  Use the email address COTGCampusPagans@gmail.com as the email to send funds to.  This will put the funds directly into the account setup for the student’s fundraising. 

The “Day of Divination” is the result of students wanting to hold a psychic fair of their own on campus.  I mean just imagine – going to class and then off to get a bite to eat, in the process you stop in the lounge and have a tarot reading or some other sort of reading along the way.  The cost will be a donation of any size.  The students will be doing the readings, I will as well, and in the process we will be talking and educating about divination versus fortune-telling. This will be held January 28th in the Nobel Room for you students that are reading.

Our psychic fair will be held February 5th, 5-8 pm, at the May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society (3800 E Genesee Street, Syracuse, NY).  I’m very excited about this particular event.  There will be several readers available during the entire evening.  You can choose from runes to tarot and a few other methods of divination.  Along with the readers we will be holding an auction for several different items.  One of the main contributors is Dryad Design of Vermont.  Through their generosity we will be auctioning several pieces of statuary and jewelry.  You can see the photos of the items below.  If you aren’t able to come to the evenings events (like you live in Kansas) but want to bid, send me an email and I’ll make sure that you are in the running for the piece.  We also have handcrafted offering bowls (small) from our friend Raven, tie dye pieces generously donated by Luna Moonflower, and a tarot party for six to just name a few.  Dessert will be on hand for purchase.  That’s right.  Cookies, cake, and other goodies to feast on while you wait to have a reading!  At 7 pm we will be entertained by a troop of belly dancers to round out the evening. 

So one way or another we will get there.  I ask that if you can contribute.  This really is an important event, one that should not be passed by.  The students have worked so hard to get this far it’s time to just get this done.  We are close; $2900 is just a step away.  The full amount is due March 1st so please help if you can.

It is always an interesting ritual; one that each of us has to go through, one that can’t be avoided, and yet the emotions that go with it are mixed. Sometimes the individual is happy, sometimes sad. Sometimes it is a mixture of both, the realization that this portion of their life is complete and it is time to move forward. What is the ritual? It is the cutting of the cords.

Last night as the snow fell around us, we gathered as a group to cut the cords of the one Senior that is graduating at mid-year. It was a beautiful setting, powder like snow all around us, the chill of the air, the smell of sage and a gathering of friends in the night. I enjoyed letting this one go, this particular friend. It isn’t that I want to see her go, but she has to. There are times when we all have to move forward to discover who we really are.

Last year I had a group of students ask if they could observe the ritual. They didn’t really understand what the significance was, but they were interested in watching a “pagan ritual.” As they arrived we talked and I explained what would be happening – they still didn’t understand. I invited them to participate in the ritual if they chose; if not I asked that they show respect by observing silently during the rite. I was a little surprised and pleased when about half of them decided to join in.

They followed the queues that the pagan students gave, asking questions about what to do when they couldn’t figure it out. The callings occurred and they became part of what we were doing. Then it occurred, the students to be let go came to the center, and like last night, each had their cords cut. There were tears at that ritual, there were none last night – difference between individuals and their readiness to face the next stage. After the ritual was done, the guests had questions about what they had just experienced. The question that I remember the most came from one very emotional young man. He told me that he didn’t expect what happened, that he felt the ripping and tearing of the cords as each person had theirs cut. As he was relating his own experience he said he felt the pain of the cut that it seemed brutal and uncaring and did it have to happen. Why do we have to cut cords?

It’s a question that I get asked often, especially from those that are the reason we are having the ritual. It is simple; it has to be done in order for individuals to grow and for the group to remain thriving. As I explained to the young man, cutting of the cords isn’t a “gentle act” to wish someone well. It can be a violent act since what we are doing it cutting the ethereal ties the individual has to the group. I explained that for the growth and survival of each, the cutting must take place. I went on to describe it in the only terms that I could: this is the cutting of their spiritual umbilical cord. When a child is born into the world their physical umbilical cord connecting them to their mother is severed. If it isn’t both the child and the mother die. The cutting is bloody, messy, tough to do, violent, and yet absolutely necessary. The student group at the University in many cases is the spiritual womb for these students where they begin to learn who they are spiritually and what path they need to walk.

Once the cutting is done they are not left alone to face the world on their own. I always ask members of the larger community to be there. It may be only one or two, but they are there. The student stands alone for a moment. Some travel through it easily, others say it is a time when they feel absolutely isolated. But I don’t leave them there that would be irresponsible. They are reconnected to community, loved ones, beings outside the smaller University group, and given the knowledge that are part of the greater pagan world now where connections will be made when necessary. The ritual is complete.

Last night was an easy traverse of the void between womb and world. She was ready to separate awhile ago and she did so with joy. In fact, for me it was a joyous ritual, one where silliness and fun needed to be present. She will move forward, on her way home in less than a week she will find her community. That is my next obligation to her: a connection that I promised near her hometown.

So as you travel through life take a moment to think about your own cords. Have you cut the ones that need to be? If you haven’t, are they harmful to your growth? If so, what are you going to do about it? And yes, that moment of absolute alone after the cutting can be terrifying, but the discovery that it leads to can be amazing.

It has been a special week so far.  On Monday I spoke with of students on topics ranging from Hendricks Chapel and what makes it work to Atheism.  These discussions really didn’t have anything to do with Pagans or paganism, but my opinions on the various subjects to be included in their class projects.  What made the discussions special was when I began to think about them later.

In one “interview” that wanted to find out how the different religions/belief systems get along and work together so well; what makes Hendricks Chapel unique.  In the conversation the student told me he had interviewed several people, chaplains and administrators, and asked the same question.  What he had found was an interesting attitude when specifically asked about how easy it to integrate Paganism into the mix was.  He was told that administrators never asked us/me to “water down” what we do.  And it is true, they never have.  I have always been given full support in all areas.  That isn’t to say there aren’t things that I have decided over the years aren’t a good idea for a college campus.

First, no sky clad rituals.  I don’t know about anyone else, but this just doesn’t seem like a good idea on a campus. Second, I don’t hold Beltainne on campus.  I don’t want to add sex energy to a campus that is already full of hormones, once again doesn’t seem like a good or responsible thing to do.  Last, no athames.  Come on, no matter how you look at it they are a double-bladed knife (generally speaking) and considered a weapon.  You can’t have it in your control 24/7 and who knows what your room mates boyfriend’s/girlfriend’s best friend’s new party friend is going to do.  That being said, we do everything else.

So Monday night the students met like every Monday evening.  Everyone had asked the same question at some point: “So Mary, what are we going to do tonight?” But business first; there was a couple of “things” to discuss and get out-of-the-way regarding information that they all needed. When that was done I started in on what I had planned: spell making/spell casting.  Something that I think gets talked about a lot but practical instruction doesn’t necessarily occur.  Did I teach how to do specific spells? No.  More to the point, how to construct a spell and the ethics behind why you would or wouldn’t do this type of work.  The evening was great, lots of questions on everything from the difference between a spell and a curse, why would you use a binding spell, what a “love spell” really is, the cost of doing spell work, and lots more.  The evening was great.  One of the students asked it was okay to do spell work for personal gain.  He had heard/read/been told that it was not a good idea, that it was “forbidden”. 

I explained that it was my personal opinion that doing work for yourself, your own “personal gain” was perfectly okay, in fact we all do it all the time.  How many times do we ask for energy to help us get a job, understanding, healing, or… well you get the picture.  It doesn’t make us bad people.  How many times do we WISH to do well in our work, or personal relationships, to be able to make the bills?  Spell work is part of this; I also explained that I had been doing as much work to allow the Universe to open opportunities to help us raise money for their trip during spring break.  That is in a sense personal gain, but it is always done with the highest good in mind.  Let the opportunities present themselves without hurting anyone in the process. I don’t want someone to give funds instead of paying a bill.  That isn’t productive.  The evening was wonderful, the most important part, the ethics part was understood. Do what you will but do it ethically and with the greatest good in mind.  Intention is everything.

The next day I received an email regarding the Interfaith trip and I knew that magic had happened, spells were at work using an unlikely source.  One of the students had secured $4000 for the trip; $1000 for each student.  The Universe had answered the energy put out there by everyone, money was found that could be used.  Like I said magic happens.  Are we at our final goal yet? No.  We still need about $9000, but it will happen.  We have things planned.  The students understand that you can’t just cast a spell and do nothing else.  They are planning fund-raisers of all sorts and the money will come.  I thank everyone that has already given and who plans on giving in the future, we will continue to what we are going to do.

In the meantime remember that magic happens, spells really do work, and I hope that you find joy and unexpected happiness in your day.

I want to thank those that have contributed generously to help out the students.  We still have a long way to go in raising all the funds, but we have a good start and that’s what counts.  If you want to donate but haven’t, you still can; just go to the page “Contribute to Campus Pagans” for directions. I’ll be posting more on our progress as we go along. 

Because of the fundraising I have been doing a lot of “other” work and not necessarily writing, but this morning I was thinking back on the last few weeks and all that has gone on. Yesterday I sat with Father Linus, one of my two office mates, discussing a proposal we are preparing for the Universities Resident Advisor Mid-Winter conference.  In other words, we are looking to grab time to talk to the student RAs for all of the dorms.  These are the students that are “in charge” of a dorm floor, taking care of crisis’, helping with disputes, and generally acting as house mom for students usually younger than themselves.  As we talked our plan came together on what it is we wanted to let students know about faith, religion, the Chapel and the details that come with that.  Seems like a tall order, but after coming home I thought about what Linus and I were doing and began to see a simple pattern that has played out over the last couple of months.

Students that wouldn’t normally come to the Chapel are finding their way to our doors.  They come in and hang out and just want to talk.  Well, honestly some of them just want to see a friendly face and to feel included.  They stop by and say hello, shyly peeking their heads in and asking “are you Ms. Hudson”.  A good portion of them aren’t pagan, they grew up in other traditions and are not looking to change their faith.  What they are looking for is connection with someone – anyone.  They don’t feel as if they belong, they are disconnected from home and all that is familiar to them.  They are feeling a little lost and need some grounding.  So we talk.  Well, they talk – I listen.  They become a little more comfortable and then their questions start. They are confused by what they were taught about life growing up.  It doesn’t necessarily match what they are experiencing now that they are on their own. What they really want is a sounding board to work out the confusion. 

Unfortunately there is a common belief that if they go to the Chaplain of their own faith tradition they will get nothing but rhetoric and dogma; they want someone who won’t judge but will allow them to begin to work out loud the doubts.  I listen a lot. I invite them to come and join the students in SPIRAL so that they can gain a sense of connection to the Chapel.  We have students of differing faith traditions come to the weekly meetings regularly.  Do they continue to come over time? Not usually, they come for a while, make friends, and begin to see people of multiple pagan traditions enjoying their commonalities AND their differences without judgments.  They make those connections that allow them to find a different beauty in their own faith tradition; one they could not see from a “child’s” eyes.  They return to their own faith with new perspective.

This was truly what Linus and I want to do: give a new perspective, an evolving perspective, of what faith, religion and the Chapel are.  Let students know that we are there for them – all of them regardless of “religious designation.” More important, our presentation will be done together. A priest and a pagan standing together to say you really don’t know who we are but we are here to start the conversation and to let you understand, your faith is your’s to own and define and that’s okay.

Several of you have suggested that we use PayPal to accept funds from people for the students.  We took all of your advice, had been working on the account for a while, and we can now accept monies through PayPal.  So if you would like to help out the students in their fund-raising efforts but prefer to use PayPal you can now do so.  Just log into PayPal at www.paypal.com and hit the “send money” button.  Use the email address COTGCampusPagans@gmail.com as the person to send funds to.  This will put the funds directly into the account setup for the student’s fundraising. (It stands for Church of the Greenwood Campus Pagans.)

I appreciate all of the help that has been given so far and all that I know that will be coming in the future. Once again, please pass this along to those you know and those beyond that and may the gods and goddesses bless all of you and your generosity.

Interfaith, an interesting word that can lead to many things; in the case of Syracuse University it has led to recognizing minority religions and value they bring to our world.  But it doesn’t mean just recognition here at the University, it means inclusion.

I have always wanted my beliefs to be accepted. Last year Syracuse University did just that, they accepted Paganism as a faith tradition when they recognized my appointment as a chaplain.  What a wonderful thing, but that could have been the end of it. Nothing else needed to be done other than give me the same space as the other chaplains have and life would return to “normal.”  But that wasn’t the case.  Hendricks Chapel at SU embraced its diversity, it embraced us. It is not just lip service given to placate a small group; it is true acceptance as a member of the faith community. 

In the past the Chapel has sponsored interfaith/inter-religious student trips to places of significant religious meaning.  They have always focused on the Abrahamic religions and recognized “three faiths, one humanity.”  This year that has changed, three faiths have turned to many faiths and all faiths are welcome to join the interfaith trip to England.  This year I have been asked to chaperone the trip, what an adventure!  But it isn’t just me.  There are four chaperones: a Jew, a Christian, a Buddhist, and me – a Pagan.  We will visit seven religious sites including Stonehenge.  I was asked if I had preference for dates to visit the stones and since the Jewish festival of Purim begins on March 20th I asked if we could be there on the 19th – the time of the full moon.  How amazing that the school has worked to include all faiths.  Not only that but to also go out of its way to ensure religious celebrations that may occur during the trip be included.  I am thrilled, and yet there are challenges to making this a reality.

And so for my request of you, of the pagans you know, and of the pagans and supporters that they know.  I need to raise money to help to our pagan students pay for this trip. 

I don’t need funds for myself; my expenses are taken care of.  This trip is an opportunity unlike any other that I have heard of being offered to pagans, especially from a mainstream institution.  But there is an expense associated with going.  Each student will need to pay approximately $3800 for the trip.  That is a lot of money when you are already paying regular tuition along with room and board. But I have four students that have signed up and are willing to do whatever it takes to raise the funds.  So I’m asking you, the pagan community and its friends, to help out.  The Church of the Greenwood has put together a an account to collect any contributions towards this effort. There is an immediate need for $2000 for the students to pay their deposits. The deadline for the deposits is November 12th. We will be working on the additional funding as we move forward.

I’m asking the pagan community to help in this endeavor for a couple of reasons.  First, when Syracuse University recognized my appointment they placed their academic, professional and financial reputations on the line.  The University did not back down from that decision when critics questioned why they would do such a thing; it didn’t cave when donors threatened to pull their monies. Rather it has fully integrated pagans into mainstream life at the Chapel.  Second, as I said before this is a unique opportunity.  It would be a shame to let it slip by and possibly affect whether or not we are invited to participate again.  More importantly we need to step up and recognize that this was not a small thing.  Supporting the new generation of pagans as they move forward and letting them know that there is an entire community “out there” helping to pave the way is unbelievably important.  I am continuously asked by students and parents alike “are there others out there and how do I know where to find them?”  Let them know you are out there, let them know that you want the next generation to move into areas of acceptance that you didn’t get to enjoy but had to fight for.  Pagans have said for so long that they wanted a “place at the table” unfortunately we didn’t know where it was.  Well now we do.  But I have to add to that, not only have we been given a place at the table, we have also been asked our opinion.  It may seem like a small thing to some, but this is no small thing.  These students have the ability to celebrate the full moon at Stonehenge while engaging others in interfaith dialogue to help create understanding of whom and what we are. 

I know that there are a great many causes to support, but I have to say why not show those that have risked their reputations to stand up for us that we appreciate their efforts?  Why not help these students move understanding forward?  You will hear from me again on the subject I’m sure, but for now think of the ignorance that has been moved aside and help us support the continued effort of education and acceptance.

We have a couple of ways to contribute funds.  First is through PayPal.  Just log in at www.paypal.com and hit the “send money” button.  Use the email address COTGCampusPagans@gmail.com as the email to send funds to.  This will put the funds directly into the account setup for the student’s fundraising. 

The second way is to send a check to the church directly.  If you are able to help please send your contribution to:

Church of the Greenwood
P.O. Box 5323
Syracuse, NY 13220

Make sure to mark “Campus Pagans” to route it properly.

I appreciate all of the help that has been given so far and all that I know that will be coming in the future.  Once again, please pass this along to those you know and those beyond that and may the gods and goddesses bless all of you and your generosity.

The Dean of Hendricks Chapel was installed to the position on October 25th, 2010.  This was a grand day, a significant day, in the history of the Chapel.  Tiffany Steinwert’s installation marked her inclusion to a very exclusive list.  In the 80 year history of the Chapel Rev. Steinwert is just the 6th Dean and the first female.  I note that she is female only for the record books; her gender has no bearing on her ability to lead, her ability to listen, her ability to understand, nor her ability to move the Chapel to what it will become in the future.  It is only a point of interest to some.

But there was more to the day than the formality of the installation.  Gathered for the event were members of a multitude of religious traditions.  Muslim, Jew, Christian, Pagan, Hindu, Buddhist, and Sikh sat together to watch the proceedings. On the stage each faith was represented with their clergy robed and seated to exemplify the deep commitment to interfaith/interreligious recognition and dialogue that make up the Chapel.  I was proud to represent the Pagan community.  I was even more proud that in the clergy procession Druid and Wiccan representatives were among those present.  I was also proud that there were many other members of the Pagan community in the audience.  Asatru, Solitary, CUUPS, Wiccan, Eclectic and more – all present, all invited as equals on this day of celebration.  But I am beginning in the middle; I should go back to the beginning of the day’s events. So I’ll go back a bit…

As my friend and I arrived at the Chapel I had no idea where to go or what to do.  I was dressed in my finest pagan garb: a sky blue dress, athame on my hip, deep blue velvet cloak, and labradorite pendant.  When we finally figured out what to do I left Tim upstairs in the main chapel where the installation was going to occur so he could find a seat.  I headed downstairs to gather with others that were going to process at the beginning of the ceremony.  Now knowing where to go I felt the day was finally beginning.  As I entered the Nobel Room I spotted Skip Ellison, ADF Arch Druid Emeritus.  It was nice to see a familiar face.  Soon Gail Wood found us and we all waited for instructions on what to do.  At one point a gentleman from another faith commented on Gail’s cloak, a compliment.  Many of those in the room had most likely never knowingly interacted with Pagans.  To have Pagans in the room as recognized clergy was probably a new experience for them.  Our instructions came.  I was to line up with the Hendricks Chapel Chaplains, all other clergy were to line up in front of us and walk in pairs. I saw another Pagan had joined Skip and Gail but could not see who it was. I had to smile; three individuals representing our multiple traditions just as the triple god and goddess represent the depths of their being – how appropriate.

I was in the second row of Chaplains when I entered the room.  Such grand ceremony and ritual this was, and now to reenter the middle of the story… we entered the chapel, and as a collective representation of the multiplicity of faith that is Hendricks Chapel, we took our seats to witness and give approval to the installation of the Dean.  The ceremony was the usual line up of prayers, short speeches and music that you would find in a church service; one couched in an academic setting that is.  But today there was a small difference – the student speaker was Pagan.  She is a member of SPIRAL, the student Pagan group on campus.  She is also the official face of Hendricks Chapel.  Sierra is the President of the Hendricks Chapel Choir, Vice President of SPIRAL, and member/leader in many other groups.  I consider her a living, breathing, walking example of interfaith. Sierra was giving the student welcome to the new Dean and to the guests in the audience.  As she went through her speech I thought of the discussion we had earlier, she was scared and nervous.  What she portrayed was grace and beauty, gifts from the Goddess that Sierra carries through every part of her life.  Her welcome was inclusive, warm and ended with an unexpected note.  Sierra closed with “Peace be with you and Blessed Be.”  Nothing, in my opinion, was more moving or profound than those two statements being said together. 

As the ceremony ended we processed out, continuing on to the reception that followed.  There I was able to talk to friends old and new from the Pagan community.  Friends of mine who were present wanted to meet the Dean and so I made sure to bring her to them for the introduction.  She was pleasant as always and told us something that was a little surprising.  As far as religious groups were concerned, Pagans had one of the largest representations for the event.  We can be proud; we did not hide from being recognized.

I was also able to meet several others during the reception. People who were both Pagan and non-Pagan that wanted to introduce themselves and begin to invite our voice to other locations, other discussions. Transition is beginning, Pagans are beginning to be seen and heard.  We need to be ready to accept the responsibility of telling our stories and moving forward.  Most will never get the opportunities that have been placed in front of me but that doesn’t mean that my voice is any greater than another.  It just means that this part of my journey has put me in this position.  I will continue to work, talk, walk, yell, scream, discuss, get scared, and move forward.  I hope you do to. 

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