Modern-day shaman and pagan practitioners linked their practices to the “Harry Potter” book series during an event in Dickinson Community Sunday evening.
Fifty students, ranging from curious residents to “Harry Potter” enthusiasts, drank butterbeer, played Quidditch water pong, competed in Harry Potter jeopardy, played drums and participated in a shaman ritual during “Harry Potter: The Magick Behind the Fantasy.”
Daniel Harms, 37, a practitioner of paganism, opened for the event, explaining paganism’s routes in nature.
“Where is the divine energy?” Harms asked. “If you are in one of the monotheistic faiths, energy comes from a higher source. Paganism sees magic as something all around in nature.”
Harms described the array of items pagans would use, including a pentagram, a wand, a blade, a cauldron, tarot cards, runes and a rites object. He also connected the practice to environmentalism, emphasizing the importance of respecting nature.
“If you see the entire world as being divine, that changes how you treat it,” Harms said.
Robert Wandell, 49, a shopkeeper for Imagika in Binghamton, explained the role of drums in paganism.
“You drum all night, and you see the sun come up,” Wandell said.
Lise Weaver, an office administrator for Open Door Missions and a shaman practitioner, closed for the event with a shaman ritual.
According to Weaver, Sunday was the New Year in the Roman tradition, a day when groups of shaman baked bread for the community. Using a pestle and mortar, she invited a student volunteer to come up to grind grain into flour for the making of bread, and asked the audience to put their energies in the bread.
“Everyone is thinking of fortune — put your energy toward that,” Weaver said. “Everybody is partly a shaman.”
The speakers presented links between pagan practices and the popular book series.
“Harry Potter drew me in,” said Henry Aery, a sophomore majoring in accounting. “It’s an unusual take on something everybody knows about.”
Johana Lopez, a junior majoring in English, enjoyed the event “because of the magic.”
“You just really wish these places were real as you get older,” Lopez said.
Kaila Pfister, a resident assistant for Whitney Hall, organized the event. According to Pfister, the event was inspired by her outings on First Fridays.
“I always go to Imagika, and I thought about asking them to come in for tarot card readings, and it progressed from there,” she said.
But Lakhan Kumar, an undeclared freshman, said the event was strange, and seemed uncomfortable.
“I don’t know what this shamanism is and they do all this stuff that’s really outdated,” Kumar said. “We’re students, we don’t really do this. It’s kinda weird for me.”
Lopez, however, said the event was a great opportunity to study nontraditional beliefs.
“It’s always interesting to learn a new culture,” Lopez said. “You can take something from everything, and you can be your own person — they don’t teach you who to be.”