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Author Topic: Name for Pagan Group?  (Read 14673 times)
Ellen M.
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« Topic Start: July 24, 2010, 03:37:30 am »

As many of you know, I've transferred schools and will be attending a brand new college this fall. One of the tasks I've appointed to myself is starting a Pagan group at my new college, since I enjoyed having Athena's Circle at Bryn Mawr. I'm fairly certain that I know how I'd like to advertise my group and the various activities and discussions I think we could have, but the one thing that really stumps me is the name.

Originally I was just going to call it Athena's Circle, since I was joking with my friends that the group at my new college would totally be AC South. (And since another one of our members had graduated and was going to grad school with a possible goal of starting a Pagan group there, she was going to do AC Midwest.) However, as close as Athena is to me, she really doesn't have the same impact at my new college as she does at Bryn Mawr (which named her as its patron goddess over a century ago).

So... help? I've been contemplating the functional (Campus Pagan Union) to the mystical (Fellowship of the Earth) to the downright crazy-awesome (both suggested by my friend: Pagans are Really Awesome, Yeah! (PRAY) and Great Occultists Doing Stuff (GODS)). My group would be focused on being a general resource for networking, discussions, rituals, and studies for anyone on campus who is, might be, or is curious about any Pagan path. If the school weren't a private Lutheran college, or if it was a lot bigger than it is, I'd try to be a bit more specific, but at the moment I think I need to cast the barn doors wide open and try to snag as many campus Pagans as possible.
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« Reply #1: July 24, 2010, 07:56:17 am »

I'm fairly certain that I know how I'd like to advertise my group and the various activities and discussions I think we could have, but the one thing that really stumps me is the name.

I don't know why Athena's Circle could not work, but I have to admit "Great Occultists Doing Stuff (GODS)" has a strong draw, although the acronym is a bit much.  I don't really like "Fellowship of the Earth" as it sounds like it is limited to "earth-centered" religions.
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« Reply #2: July 24, 2010, 01:43:52 pm »

If the school weren't a private Lutheran college, or if it was a lot bigger than it is, I'd try to be a bit more specific, but at the moment I think I need to cast the barn doors wide open and try to snag as many campus Pagans as possible.

My campus has a pagan group (called the Pagan Alliance), and it is a decent sized state school.  Even then they get a fair amount of back-lash from the community, even though my school is pretty liberal (however, the town it is located in is pretty conservative).  I'd keep the name generic as you suggested, and perhaps something that would not seem so out there to a group of Christians.  My concern is that because it is a private school, make sure that you are able to have the group and advertise it.  I don't know how the rules would be different from a state university, but I believe a private school has more control over what goes on.
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« Reply #3: July 25, 2010, 09:56:58 am »


Why not try to find the right people first and decide about the group name after that? Smiley
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« Reply #4: July 25, 2010, 10:04:05 am »

I don't know why Athena's Circle could not work, but I have to admit "Great Occultists Doing Stuff (GODS)" has a strong draw, although the acronym is a bit much.  I don't really like "Fellowship of the Earth" as it sounds like it is limited to "earth-centered" religions.

My issue with the name Athena's Circle is that while it completely made sense in the context of Pagan community at Bryn Mawr, my next school isn't going to have the same associations with her as being a patron of the school with references to her everywhere. Taking out the Bryn Mawr aspect, the group wouldn't be dedicated to Athena, so it seems to make about as much sense as picking any other random deity's name out of a hat and slapping it on the group.

My friend also pointed out that "Fellowship of the Earth" sounded like a bat LotR knockoff. See what sort of ideas I think sound cool at four in the morning? Wink
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« Reply #5: July 25, 2010, 10:07:09 am »

My campus has a pagan group (called the Pagan Alliance), and it is a decent sized state school.  Even then they get a fair amount of back-lash from the community, even though my school is pretty liberal (however, the town it is located in is pretty conservative).  I'd keep the name generic as you suggested, and perhaps something that would not seem so out there to a group of Christians.  My concern is that because it is a private school, make sure that you are able to have the group and advertise it.  I don't know how the rules would be different from a state university, but I believe a private school has more control over what goes on.

A good friend from high school goes to my new college, and from what I've heard from her and in my own study of the school's website (and associated policies of starting a new club), there shouldn't be an issue. I might get crap for it, but dammit, if the campus Catholics and Jews can have their own group at a Lutheran school, so can I. I do like a broader name like "Pagan Alliance" especially as the group would be new and still forming an identity.
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« Reply #6: July 25, 2010, 10:15:36 am »

Why not try to find the right people first and decide about the group name after that? Smiley

Good question! At my old school, names for clubs were decided on pretty quickly. Fliers promoting new clubs said things like "Come to Underwater Basket Weavers Anonymous's first organizational meeting!" rather than "Interested in pointless hobbies? Let's start a club!" Now that I think about it, this probably has more to do school culture than any real rule about how to gather folks together under a common interest.

I guess part of the reason I'm stressing (mild stress! very mild!) is that I want this to be a success, and I feel like I've got a pretty good game plan to at least get the group up and running. Especially since I'm planning on at least trying to go the official route and becoming a school-sanctioned club. (If that doesn't work, I'll still have a group, I just won't have a budget and can't officially advertise.) The name isn't just initially going to attract interested folks, it'll also be our image to the rest of the campus, particularly in the first weeks when we're a very new presence. "Campus Pagans" or something like that has a completely different tone than, say, "Hekate's Emporium of Magical Practitioners" (which is.. HEMP. Awesome.).

Of course, I know that at the moment I'm putting way too much thought into this. XD It's just my baby! What if the other kids don't like the name and tease him in class? D:
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« Reply #7: July 25, 2010, 04:31:30 pm »

Good question! At my old school, names for clubs were decided on pretty quickly. Fliers promoting new clubs said things like "Come to Underwater Basket Weavers Anonymous's first organizational meeting!"

I would totally have gone to that.
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« Reply #8: July 25, 2010, 06:49:25 pm »

I would totally have gone to that.

What about something like the Circle of the Ancient Ones, or .. ok that's really all I got
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« Reply #9: July 26, 2010, 03:39:03 pm »

I do like a broader name like "Pagan Alliance" especially as the group would be new and still forming an identity.
I think something broad, that has the continuity of being quite common among college pagan groups, is probably better for starting out; then if, as it develops, people want to have something more unique, they can.  This year's "I joined my college's Pagan Alliance," becomes 2014's, "I joined my college's Pagan Alliance, Thoth's Scholars."

If you were going to have something more unique immediately, "Athena's Circle" isn't completely random - it's not as obvious as it was at Bryn Mawr, where you could hardly have chosen anything else, but presumably part of why she's Bryn Mawr's patron in the first place is because of her connection with wisdom/scholarship, which applies with any post-secondary academic institution; and there's the way in which this group could be considered to be an offshoot of Athena's Circle at Bryn Mawr.  The trouble with the last bit is that other pagan students at your new school might resent being, however loosely, an offshoot - but I don't think referring to Athena is inherently out of line; a good case could be made that, if you're going to make reference to an individual deity at all, she's the least, or one of the least, random choices.

(There actually is/was a group called Fellowship of the Earth - their site no longer exists at the URL I had bookmarked, so I can't check my recollections, but IIRC, they were one of those "local community" groups, and, unless I'm confusing them with a different group with a somewhat-similar name [which is quite possible, though I'm not seeing a likely alternative in the bookmark subfolders I'd expect to see it] the originators of the hotly-debated purple "pagan pride" ribbon.)

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« Reply #10: August 24, 2010, 06:27:19 am »


Do you have any particular goals/focus for the group?  What do you want to accomplish?

When I created a writing group on campus last year, I literally started with "The Writer's Group" and our members decided to pick a literary genre.  The club still had its diversity (people wrote and shared what they wanted) but having that genre in the background was unifying and added sentimental value to the meetings.

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« Reply #11: August 24, 2010, 11:27:26 am »

Do you have any particular goals/focus for the group?  What do you want to accomplish?

When I created a writing group on campus last year, I literally started with "The Writer's Group" and our members decided to pick a literary genre.  The club still had its diversity (people wrote and shared what they wanted) but having that genre in the background was unifying and added sentimental value to the meetings.

I think I've identified two goals for the group:

1. Form a network between campus Pagans/interested folk to study and celebrate together.
2. For those who'd like it, provide and opportunity for outreach and education on campus as to what Pagans are and the many different ways we celebrate our lives (public rituals, teaming up with other clubs for events, etc)

Obviously goal 1 is the big one. I was pushing for goal 2 with Athena's Circle at Bryn Mawr, and it was incredibly slow going. Hopefully since I'll be leading this new group, I won't have to fight against "But this is the way we've ALWAYS done it" mentality that ticked me off so much. Also, re: goal 2, it's not my intention to out anyone, but I'm loud and proud and hope that at least by my example, others will either see that it's okay to be, or that us Pagans are normal folks. (Though I'm hardly the posterchild for normal. Smiley)
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« Reply #12: August 30, 2010, 08:08:43 pm »



This is a bit off topic but I thought I remembered reading somewhere that you hoped to make it a more national group eventually with chapters at different schools and I just wanted to throw out there that regardless of what you name it I would be interested in making a chapter at my university. Especially considering the goals you've outlined here. Personally I think Athena's Circle really works for a college based pagan group but I could see the benefit in a more utilitarian name as well.

I'm starting a Interfaith group right now at my university to promote accurate information regarding all faiths so I've been kind of following your posts about your group. Your posts actually helped spark my idea.
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« Reply #13: August 30, 2010, 08:40:53 pm »

This is a bit off topic but I thought I remembered reading somewhere that you hoped to make it a more national group eventually with chapters at different schools and I just wanted to throw out there that regardless of what you name it I would be interested in making a chapter at my university. Especially considering the goals you've outlined here. Personally I think Athena's Circle really works for a college based pagan group but I could see the benefit in a more utilitarian name as well.

I'm starting a Interfaith group right now at my university to promote accurate information regarding all faiths so I've been kind of following your posts about your group. Your posts actually helped spark my idea.

Haha, glad I could start something. Smiley The national group thing, if it happens, is a long, long way off. I've actually been leaning towards Athena's Circle more over the past few weeks, just because it is a good name for a college group. I will definitely post updates as things go along.

At the very least, I think it'd be great to network between college Pagans and give everyone support and resources, whether it's the mundane aspects of getting members and keeping them, to how to deal with negative attention on campus, all the way to ideas on how to run rituals on a small or nonexistent budget.
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« Reply #14: August 31, 2010, 02:54:35 pm »

I do like a broader name like "Pagan Alliance" especially as the group would be new and still forming an identity.

Or even something like [College Name] Pagan Society. I think broad is good, and if you get "pagan" in there somewhere, that's good too. But as much as I'm down with Athena, I think putting a deity name in there, especially when there is no existing collegial connection, might make people think that the group is only for followers of that particular deity.
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