Finding a community
On Monday nights around 9 p.m., or more accurately 9:05 or later, members of the Society for Earth-Based Religions (SER) head to the basement of Ball State’s Bracken Library to discuss the night’s topic. At meetings, the executive members announce a topic or a question. Those in attendance then share their opinions in a safe place—a place where conversations are encouraged.
Kora Wilson, the president of SER, says it is a non-practicing religious discussion group, which means that although the group’s focus is on religion, the meetings don’t involve participating in religious activities. Members discuss religious topics, usually revolving around Pagan topics, which is an umbrella terms for several religions that are usually polytheistic. So Pagan can really mean anything that isn’t considered traditional. Essentially: not Christianity, Judaism or Islam.
But the meetings aren’t only for those who practice an earth-based religion. Wilson says they encourage anyone who wants to participate in the conversation to attend. Sometimes, those in attendance don’t practice a religion at all or are unsure about their religion.
SER typically hosts anywhere from 10 to 20 people on Monday nights. Some members go off campus to the Sunshine Cafe afterward and continue to talk. Wilson said that these meetings are where she truly feels a community, because they can just talk and hang out in a less-structured environment.
SER also hosts two events per year, the Witch’s Ball in the fall semester and Spring Bash in the spring, to engage with the community. Both events are aimed at just having fun and gaining more recognition on campus.
On Fridays, the group does tarot and oracle card readings at a table in the Atrium of the Arts and Journalism building. They don’t charge for the readings, but Wilson says donations are welcome. Members read for about 15-20 people each week. They also sell various Pagan-related items, like crystals, at these tables.
One of Wilson’s greatest hopes for SER is just to be able to be more widely recognized around campus. She says that sometimes, people don’t know what they are, but hopes to change that through further engagement, like working with other student organizations. They’ve already begun reaching out and collaborating with other groups, and they hope that this continues.
Ball State’s SER is the oldest student-run pagan organization on a college campus in Indiana, according to Wilson. This is something they are proud of, because although they may not be a huge group, they have longevity on their side.
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