Pagans practice, instruct in magic

The class focuses on meditation and centering, not the magic shown on TV.

Emily Kaiser

Although Lydia Vilt practices magic, she said it isn’t anything like Harry Potter.

Vilt, an English junior, is a pagan and said magic is often a part of her daily life and her religious customs.

“Daily, it’s more like an awareness of my surroundings and the rituals focus more on nature,” she said.

The University Pagan Society is sponsoring a free class next semester to teach interested students the basics of pagan magic, said class instructor Diana Rajchel.

Rajchel, a Minneapolis resident, said she volunteers her time to teach the on-campus class.

The skills learned in class will look like meditation and focus on the idea of “grounding and centering,” she said.

One of the skills students will learn is the ability to stay focused in class when their minds begin to wander, Rajchel said.

“It’s recognizing health, body and spiritual needs,” she said.

Rajchel said she taught the class twice in the past at the University and averages four students per class. She said the class was set to begin this week, but because of time conflicts, the course will begin next semester.

University Pagan Society president Lisa Hario said the class is a service to the community, but also a chance to gain more members.

“If everyone brings a different knowledge and experience to the group, we can discuss more topics,” she said.

The magic taught in the class is a form of discipline, Rajchel said.

Rajchel said magic is a part of her daily life and usually includes meditation, prayer and lighting candles for sick friends and family.

She said she uses other spells less frequently, such as a spell of protection before a long road trip.

Continuing education student and pagan Wendy Seidl said she believes God is in her and in all aspects of nature, and magic offers the ability to create change.

“Magic is almost like a prayer except where in Christian religion it’s in the hands of specific people, we believe the power is within ourselves,” she said.

Classical and near Eastern studies professor Philip Sellew studies religion from ancient times and said much of what pagans considered magic was the same as what Christians used to practice, such as prayer and ritual customs.

Despite the similarities, traditional pagan practices were sometimes labeled demonic, he said.

“It comes down to what people think is authentic,” he said.

Vilt said she is not taking the class, but thinks the class is a great opportunity for students to understand magic.

“I think anything that opens people’s minds to different lifestyles is a good thing,” she said.

Pagan magic often is misunderstood because of the representations of magic seen in movies and television, Vilt said.

Rajchel said people have “wild imaginations” and often learn false information about paganism.

“Religion is the most competitive market and everyone wants members,” she said. “The best way to keep members is to say every other religion is bad.”

As with all religions, Seidl said, results come from believing.

“It’s all about your belief, and that’s how magic works, essentially,” she said. “To make something happen, we just strongly believe we have the power to do it.”