“Most of us know a pagan or a witch, even here on campus,” said history professor Martha Rampton. “We just don’t know that we know one.”
Rampton will speak about witchcraft as a part of human culture, how it has changed over time and how it plays out in contemporary American society during the next installment of the PUB Lecture series.
She said she wants paganism to be taken seriously and explained that it is a much broader term than people assume.
Rampton said there is a huge misconception and discrimination toward the series of pagan religions because of the wrong assumptions that witchcraft and devil worship are the same.
This could not be further from the truth, she said, as the majority of pagan religions don’t even believe in the devil.
Contrary to what the majority of American society believes, pagan religions are very peaceful and nature loving. Rampton said there is no dark magic or devil worship. Paganism is actually a large group of religions that speak towards modern liberal concerns such as feminism and environmentalism.
“I have a tremendous respect for people who practice magic and identify as witches,” said Rampton.
She said America was moving towards accepting paganism as a real and respectable religion before 911. After the attack, she said fundamentalism took over and characterized witches as evil, sending America backwards.
Rampton described the pagan religion in comparison to the sororities in the Greek system. She said they all share a general common ideal but there are many individual sets of ideas and practices within the broad term.
When the school board asked her to speak on her area of expertise Rampton said she was thrilled for the chance. She explained however, that the board thought it would be a good idea because of the close proximity to Halloween, which is another large misconception about pagan religions as they have nothing to do with Halloween.
Rampton studied paganism and witchcraft during her doctorate program. She said she had no experience with the subject prior but saw that it was one of the subjects offered and fell in love with the study of the practice since. Her understanding of modern magic and paganism came from being a professor over the last 20 years and seeing it evolve.
The PUB series lecture will be held Nov. 6 at 6 p.m. at BJ’s Brewhouse in Portland. Rampton said she plans to make the event fun and light and will focus a majority of the time on the moon as an important icon to the witchcraft culture. Registration is $25 and can be done through the alumni relations office.