Life and Times of a College Pagan

I should note for this post, I have been a “college pagan” for a good chunk of my life. This is because I’ve been pagan for most of my life, and have over 10 years of post-secondary schooling to my name.

However, I haven’t really felt “college pagan” as an accurate descriptor until now. Previously, it was that I was in college/university and I happened to be pagan, but the two didn’t really mesh that much during the pursual of my Bachelor’s degree. Now, they do.

I started full-time classes this month for a Medical Office Assistant certificate. It has been an incredible amount of work so far, and the semester has just started, really. This track of schooling is very intense.

Combined with this, I am currently living in a place where I’ve found it very hard to do the experiential part of my religions at all. (I’ve mentioned this a few times, I think, both on my other blog and here.) I truly believe there is a malevolent spirit crouching in this house, and it’s been messing with my life since we got here.

While work is being done on getting the spirit to back off from me, I have been also looking at ways to do religion outside the house. And doing it at school has become an answer.

The other week while I was driving to school and running late, I prayed hard to Ganesha to remove obstacles both in traffic and in parking. I chanted Om shri Ganeshaya namah over and over and over again in the car, and then once I was sitting in class (not only on time, but early), I grabbed a piece of paper, drew an elephant head on it, wrote the mantra under the elephant head, and then folded it so the drawing was sitting up and the rest of the paper created a little “bowl” underneath.

I then proceeded to give Ganesha some treats from my lunch box. (Also Timbits, because our professor actually bought some to share with the class that day because we did really well on an exercise that apparently none of his classes ever does that well on.)

The mini shrine sat there for the entirety of my two classes (both in the same room; my class scheduling ability is pretty awesome sometimes), and at the end, I did something I’ve never done before: I ate the offerings.

Usually I don’t do this because it feels wrong, and tends to be wrong for most of the gods I follow. (I’m too Celtic.) But I know Ganesha wants people to eat the offerings he’s given after, and that it’s an important part of Hindu practice. So I ate the offerings, to do things right.

It didn’t feel wrong, for once; I could taste something extra in the food. Early on, when I first tried eating offerings, I didn’t taste anything extra in the food; instead it tasted like something essential had been stripped from it. Hence why it felt wrong to me.

Now it’s very clear to me that I need to deal with food offerings in line with cultural tradition, because whether something is given to the offering or taken from it is going to be dependent on the home culture of the god I’m honoring.

This has been the first overt act of religion or witchcraft I’ve done while at school, and I felt really good about doing it. (I ended up doing it again that week, actually, and the “shrine” stays in my backpack.) I’ve decided to find more ways to overtly blend school and schoolwork with my faiths.

Other things I’ve done, or ways in which my spirituality has come to play in my going to school:

  • Drew a Brighid’s cross on the front page of my planner. This is to invoke Her for the year. Later I might add extra symbols on either side of the cross, to symbolize the other 2 members of The Three.
  • Been doing my Medical Terminology homework as an ancestor offering. My Oma was a nurse and my aunt was a doctor, and doing Medical Terminology makes me feel closer to them (while also reminding me how much I miss them both).

Other things I’d like to try:

  • Doing actual spell work while on campus or nearby. There is actually a small copse of woods right beside campus that I can wander into to do some things, so I might do that.
  • Dedicating more classwork to different deities.
  • Perhaps dedicating my tickler file for General Office Skills to someOne appropriate.

Another way in which my schooling is spiritually important is that I feel that my chosen track and future career is very much in line with what many of my gods want, and I do feel as if I have been called, on some level, to do this. So even in non-overt ways, going to school has become a religious act for me.

Meanwhile, I am working hard at making my house more livable both physically and spiritually. I have a master plan for cleaning and rearranging things this year as well as preparing to move. I’m slowly working on packing up boxes of things so that when it is time for us to get out of here, most of the work will be done already.

The big projects for this month are to put away the Christmas decorations (nope, haven’t done that yet) and to reorganize my office and bedroom. (My husband and I have started sleeping in separate rooms because we find it’s better overall for both our health and well being, especially now that I’m in school.) My office/bedroom area is also where the majority of my shrines are, so reorganizing that will be a huge step in making this place better, spiritually.

(I’m happy to say that since starting writing this post, I took a break from sitting and made a huge step in reorganizing: moving my bed. Now to clear all the stuff off it so I can sleep tonight.)

I also think I need to fight back against the spirit that is in my house. As I mentioned in the post I linked above, someone has been praying on my behalf, and it’s been slowly making a difference. I think it’s made enough of a difference that I’m now strong enough to do some of my own fighting.

I’m not entirely sure what that fighting will look like, but I’m going to think on it this week.