Ritual and Greek Life

Although I never thought it would be my thing, last year I joined a Greek organization on my campus.  For people who aren’t familiar with these groups, they are fraternities and sororities designated to form an intensely close group of people around a specific interest.  Most often, they come together over social life i.e. partying.  My fraternity (it’s co-ed.  Hence why I am a girl in a frat) is a service group.  Looking back, I don’t think it was the best decision I’ve made because I really am not a Greek life kind of girl, but I have gotten an interesting education out if it.  When I decided t join, I really didn’t know much about it other than it was a really good public service opportunity.  I went into its beginnings blindly, thinking my initiation would just be saying a pledge and maybe a little time getting to know my brothers.

Funny enough, I often think back to that experience when I am creating Pagan ritual.

I have been doing a lot of research lately into the origins of ritual and what I have found is that groups like the Masons and Greek organizations kept a lot of old Pagan ritual practices going.  They invoke deity in their oaths, light symbolic candles, and use a top-down structure.  Sororities and fraternities also use the four principles of to know, to dare, to act, and to keep silent.  Many initiates have to have some sort of knowledge of the organization and about Greek life in general.  They also need to take the step and live their college lives according to a specific set of principles.  Last, members of Greek life do not like to share certain aspects of their ritual with other.  While obviously less of a commitment than becoming an initiate in a coven, the mirroring effect is uncanny.

© Ariadne Woods

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2 thoughts on “Ritual and Greek Life

  1. While I see that there are a lot of ritual like elements in the Greek organizations, I would be careful with how we (Pagans, and mainstream society) praise them. I live in the US, and most Greek ‘rituals’ that happen at college campuses are actually based off of the traditions of the Ku Klux Klan – for me personally, that’s a dealbreaker.
    Very interesting observation nonetheless.

    1. Very true point. I know some organizations have taken steps to root out some Klan symbolism in rituals, but others aren’t aware of the origins of their rituals.

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