by Indy Srinath, staff writer
In the basement of Vining A, people are dying eggs. Pastel tinted, artificial dyes and a spectrum of crayola crayons provide a backdrop for a scarlet clothed shrine. The shrine is a homage to the Wiccan practice and the Campus Coven (our resident group of Wiccan students). Member Elina Baumholser composed it in order to celebrate the Wiccan holiday Ostara on Tuesday afternoon, March 20.
Ostara is a celebration of the spring equinox. It is tradition to take a hollow egg and cover it in designs of winding snakes and spiraling swirls. The snake represents infinity and everlasting life and the spirals symbolize the orb of light that created the goddess. Holes are also made on each end of the egg so that one can drain the contents and use the hollow inside for written wishes. However, in the Spiritual Life room, students were coloring the eggs with whatever their artistic ability dictated as they chatted and inadvertently dyed the tips of their fingers pink in the cup of red dye.
Elina Baumhauser is a self described Ecclectic. She explained what exactly that meant as she took a break from blowing through a hole in the egg in an attempt to clear it of the runny mustard colored insides.
“I would describe Wicca as being very liberal. And not very structured. Nothing is set in stone. If you make a mistake–that’s okay. I also believe in reincarnation and that there is no heaven or hell. My beliefs are similar to the Karma system in Buddhism and I am polytheistic as well. Being ecclectic depends on which pantheon you subscribe to. It could be Egyptian for example or Greek. Some people also use Tarot cards. It just depends on what you are doing.”
This celebration was open to all community members–only Elina and another participant actually practice Wicca. A traditional Coven (meeting of Wiccans for spiritual practices) consists of four, seven, or thirteen women and the group must meet consistently.
In modern practices, however, a Coven may include males and have a varying number. The members hold positions such as Priestess or High Priestess and will set up a shrine like the one Elina created.
On the red scarlet cloth-covered end table were objects placed for their significance in the Wiccan practice. There was a chalice that had a violet symbol that resembles two crescent moons sandwiching a full moon. This symbol represents the goddess and the chalice is used for offerings (similar to that of a Catholic communion). Next to the chalice was a framed picture of Elina’s personal goddess as well as the goddess’ favorite incense–frankincense. There were antlers that represented God, as in Wiccan practices God is said to manifest with a crown of antlers. There were two cranberry red candles, one short for the goddess and a tall one for the god, a wand, a dish for holy water, and a pentacle–the symbol of the faith.
The campus Coven may be small now, but they are hoping to attract more members so that they may become a full fledged practicing Coven. They meet regularly in the Spiritual Life room to open their beliefs to the campus.
May 1 is the next Wiccan holiday and you will once again find the Campus Coven in the Spiritual life room, staining their fingertips deep indigo and sharing the practice of Wicca.