When University of Colorado junior Emma Lee transferred to the state's flagship university this fall from the much smaller Mesa State College, she noticed there was one big thing missing: a Pagan Student Alliance.
So she's doing the same thing at CU she did in Grand Junction -- starting one from scratch.
What: University of Colorado Pagan Student Alliance's first meeting
When: 5 to 6:30 p.m. Monday
Where: University Memorial Center Room 384, CU campus, Boulder
Etc.: Students and non-students welcome
"I was shocked and appalled that here in Boulder, we didn't have one," she said.
Lee, a 27-year-old geology major, wants to create a place where students with a variety of belief systems can gather, share ideas and make friends.
Everyone from Wiccans to Satanists to atheists like Lee is welcome in the club, which holds its first meeting Monday evening in the University Memorial Center. Paganism is an umbrella term that encompasses all religions other than Islam, Christianity and Judaism -- although Muslims, Christians and Jews are encouraged to come, too.
There's just one rule: Members must be respectful of others' beliefs.
"There's a place for all of us," Lee said.
Lee and a friend founded the Pagan Student Alliance at Mesa State three years ago, she said. The goal was to make sure people who practiced non-mainstream religions didn't feel alone.
"People have ideas that we're weirdoes and hide in corners and people never see us," Lee said.
The club ensured that didn't happen, she said. It held weekly meetings where students were encouraged to give presentations about their beliefs. Some of the topics included "The Use of Herbs in Magic," "Shamanism: Theory and Practice," "Reiki" and "Pagan Roots in Christian Symbolism."
The Mesa State Pagan Student Alliance also sponsored canned-food drives and wintertime mitten collections. It even co-hosted a Halloween party with the Catholic student organization and the physics society, complete with a costume contest, a maze and liquid-nitrogen-filled pumpkin hurling.
"We became a visible presence on campus," Lee said of the club, which attracted a wide spectrum of pagans. "If we did well at Mesa State, we're going to rock the socks here."
Lee's own journey toward paganism began when she was a teenager. She noticed she had "an inexplicable attraction to the moon;" when she was in the moonlight, Lee said, she felt nourished.
"I had a sensation like I was drinking milk," she said. "I thought, 'Well, that's weird.'"
Lee began doing some research and, before long, she found Wicca. But there were certain parts of the religion that didn't feel right to her, she said, "like wearing a pair of pants that doesn't quite fit."
So she adjusted her beliefs -- which she argued is one of the unique advantages of paganism.
"The fluidity of paganism is its strength," Lee said.
"There's no card to carry. That's what's fun about paganism."