Defining what a pagan believes is nearly impossible. Getting a group together that encompass all the variations of pagan beliefs is even harder. But that’s exactly what Daniel Cureton, president and founder of U of U Pagan Society, has done. For nearly two years now, the society has hosted weekly events, holiday celebrations, and education and awareness activities.
“Our motto is understanding through education and education through experience,” Cureton said.
The term pagan is used to broadly define a large set of beliefs including wiccan, druid and other faiths, he said.
“One thing about paganism is that it’s very inclusive to all people of all walks of life,” Cureton said. “A lot of people who attend our meetings are queer. It seems pretty silly to say, ‘those people can’t be as spiritual as we can,’” Cureton said.
For two years Cureton has been working to help people understand more about paganism and its tenants. Because there are so many styles and belief systems, the group helps educate not only the general public, but also their own members. The types of pagans take turn presenting at the weekly meetings and different holiday celebrations.
The members also focus on the community in general, not just students at the University of Utah. Everyone is invited to attend the meetings and events on and off campus.
“We’ve outsourced some of our education to local pagan shops and it’s working out really well for us. We really like to have the classes at the local stores,” Cureton said.
To help spread awareness about paganism, members from the group attend different events and booths on campus. They also sponsor a variety of service activities, including writing letters to people in prison.
“Most people react really well when I tell them I am a pagan or I am from the society,” Cureton said. “I really haven’t had very many problems. Most people are just interested to know more about what we do and our activities.”
However, educating and helping others understand paganism is difficult because there are so many facets and beliefs within the broader concept of paganism, Cureton said.
“It’s all very personal in the sense that what I’m doing isn’t wrong. There isn’t a concept of all wrong or right,” Cureton said. “It’s about my relationship with deity and what it does through me.”
The society also manages a newsletter called the Neo Pagan Times which helps keep the Utah pagan community well-informed and unified. To sign up for the newsletter or find out more about upcoming activities, go to UofUPaganSociety.org.