Dear Daily Nexus Readers,
I have recently noticed, with increasing unease, the growing presence of religiously oriented content in the public sphere here at UCSB and Isla Vista. This has taken the form of wooden crosses and bibles on Del Playa Friday night, posters around campus, between class sermonic haranguing and weekly columns in our beloved daily paper, to name a few. My upbringing has always taught me that one’s religious and spiritual beliefs, or lack thereof, are extremely private and personal expressions of man’s search for meaning, and that any unsolicited public discussion of these beliefs is tactless, uncouth and to be perfectly honest, rather rude. However, a true gentleman knows when he has been beat, so I have endeavored to “jump on the bandwagon,” as they say. Therefore I hope you will enjoy my new weekly column, “Ask a Pagan.”
This week’s question: “I’ve tried several major belief systems, including atheism, and none of them worked! Is paganism right for me?”
It’s true paganism isn’t for everyone. I’ll admit that sometimes, when I wake up covered in dried wine and the love juices of nine other parishioners, I wonder if I’ve chosen the right path. Then I untangle myself from the naked bodies lying next to me and go take a shower. Crisis of faith averted.
Any religion where bacchanalian debauchery plays a major role is probably not one for the squeamish. There is obviously a lot more to paganism, but any practitioner is going to need to be pretty comfortable with heavy drinking, all manner of anonymous sex and, of course, the occasional animal sacrifice.
Also, if you’re at all homophobic you might have a problem, as it’s almost impossible to participate in an orgy without coming into pretty intimate contact with members of the same sex. Not only that, but if you’re a pagan and you want a toasty Saturday night Jesus burger — good luck.
On the other hand, you can see, touch and sometimes taste almost everything we celebrate and believe in and pretty much everyone involved is pretty mellow and un-judgmental. It’s also the first religion that’s ever gotten me laid.
Cogsworth Wellington is a fifth-year bro studies major.
When I came to UCSB from northern California I was a practicing Neo-Rastifarian, and I partied pretty hard too. But my drunken sex-capades started to feel deeply meaningless, and I began to question why Haile Selassie would allow the quality of the ganja to be so poor in Santa Barbara. I searched aimlessly for spiritual fulfillment, right up until the point I was introduced to paganism by a close friend.
As soon as I participated in my first moon drenched bacchanal, I knew I had found the faith to fill the void in my heart. Paganism is for those who love life, liberty and drunken group sex under the stars. It’s not even a religion as much as it is a quest for the oneness of all things, the beauty of nature, the primal nature of man and the divinity of the female form.
Forest Moonbeam is a third-year herbal sciences major.
Isla Vista is a great place to be a pagan. The weather is super warm, which is huge when you’re doing a lot of naked dancing around a bonfire. There’s great nature to enjoy, and the skies are clear most of the year, so there’s plenty of an opportunity for sun and moon worship. The IVFP are mostly concerned with busting WillieJ with an MIP, so the heat’s off in terms of beachside debauchery. Plus, in this hard-swinging town, there’s never any trouble picking up a fourth if you’re one man short for a masked gang bang.
Sure, not everyone is comfortable with some of our beliefs. People have objected to our practice of publicly consummating marriages, and the SPCA has raised some concerns about certain rituals involving goats. But as pagans, we don’t condemn or judge those who choose alternate religious lifestyles. Believers are encouraged to be decent accepting folk and treat their fellow man with respect and dignity.
In all fairness, the toughest part about being a pagan in Isla Vista is tracking down the requisite virgin for deflowering every winter and summer solstice.
Hughe Caulk is a second-year female biology major.