Today: Jun 25, 2024

Queer spirituality has a place at ‘Monthly Magic’

Ali Fernand Features Editor

Representation of different religious practices has grown to cover an array of faiths on campus. However, Monthly Magic seeks to add a unique perspective for those who still may not feel included. 

“We gather together once a month to discuss topics of queer spirituality as well as that of folk wisdom and magic from around the world,” Monthly Magic’s mission statement says. 

This group is dedicated to shining a light on the queerness that can be found in spirituality. There is no religious affiliation, making this an open space for conversation.  

“Monthly Magic helps to educate students on the history of religion and spirituality in all faiths,” SAGE Center graduate intern Brandon Iovene said. “It demonstrates how queerness has been interwoven in these faiths.  

These topics explore spiritual beliefs such as angels, crystals, God, deities, tarot cards and many other practices. Each week, Nagri will prepare a lecture on a specific topic to educate those who attend. This includes topics within his beliefs and outside of them.  

Nagri himself is a devout Episcopalian, a progressive form of Christianity. As someone who practices religion, he wanted to create an inclusive interfaith group on campus. The idea initially was to begin a rosary group. Though after thinking through facilitating the rosary group, he then began to create different plans.  

“I decided a discussion group would be more prudent and interesting for college students,” Nagri said. 

With this type of group, the experience is much more diverse. Faiths of all kinds are talked about. The rosary group would have entailed time praying, which Nagri felt was not intriguing to others. Instead, Monthly Magic was created to offer a different type of spiritual experience.  

“I think your average student doesn’t feel included in that because most aren’t religious, they practice spirituality,” Nagri said. 

Talking to his other queer friends, he came to notice that their spiritual practices did not revolve around a specific religious institution. He describes much of what they were doing as folk magic. These are different practices such as candle magic, crystals and tarot cards.  

Historically, queer people have felt excluded from various religious practices. Queer activists have criticized different forms of religions for anti-homosexuality, anti-transgender people and against female leadership within religion. 

“Religious institutions can be exclusionary to queer individuals and such bigotry can cause many people to feel disconnected from their spiritual selves,” Iovene said.  

Iovene grew up Catholic but left because of the bigotry against his sexual orientation. He now practices Paganism, which has helped him recover from some of the religious trauma he endured from the church.  

A group like this was proven to be something students were drawn to. Nagri said that most meetings had drawn 20 attendees looking to practice and learn. He even said that some of the attendees are atheist students, looking just to educate themselves on the history of different religions and spiritual practices. 

“We are filling a void for those people who feel like they don’t fit in at your average interfaith gathering,” Nagri said.  

Not only does this group exist because of Nagri. Monthly Magic is sponsored by PRISM and hosted by SAGE, both queer focused organizations on campus. This collaboration allows for queer students to further explore different experiences they might have. SAGE takes its home on the third floor of the student center, where it has other events and resources for students.  

“It’s a supportive space to discuss the historical context and queer themes in religion and spiritual practices,” Iovene said.  

With this help, Monthly Magic facilitates more than just education and an open space. They can also help students in their practices.  

“We have a free resource table where we offer free crystals, rosary beads, spiritual tools, tarot cards, statues and icons,” Nagri said.  

This gives students easy access to some of the practices they are learning about. They even have an hour after each talk to partake in an activity. This even includes a tarot card reader who gives free readings.  

“We do these queer intersections about thinking about God, the divine, angels, deities, that you typically wouldn’t think are queer and we investigate how they are queer,” Nagri said. 

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