Junior changes religion, discovers self

Junior changes religion, discovers self

Shanthi Guruswamy


Ian Hurtado converts to paganism to follow his heart

When junior Ian Hurtado changed his religion, he caused quite a sensation. Hurtado changed his religion to paganism from Catholicism. He wanted to find something to which he, as a unique individual with just as unique interests, could actually relate.

Although he claimed that his parents were convinced that he was a devil-worshipper, Hurtado gradually converted to paganism starting from 2005. His religion has caused him to change many things about himself: his hair, his image, and even his last name.

“Actually, I gained the name Wolf Runner in a vision. That was like an [initiation], so it was like my welcoming into the religion,” Wolf Runner said.

Wolf Runner went through a process of self-initiation by meditating and going into a trance, known as the Theta state. In this stage, the brain slows down and functions at waves of 4 to 7 Hertz. This is the state of mind in which dreams are formed where the mind cannot control the images created. Wolf Runner meditated and attained the Theta state, and saw himself running along with wolves in a forest. They stopped at a river and he drank from its waters, eventually shape shifting into a wolf. They continued running until they arrived at a cliff and watched the sunrise. In honor of this vision, Wolf Runner unofficially changed his name and began his life as a pagan.

Paganism is a broad term applied to any religion other than Islam, Judaism, or Christianity. Wolf Runner’s specific sect in paganism is shamanism, which is a religion based on the belief that shamans are messengers between spirits and humans. Wolf Runner believed that his dream signaled that he was singled out by the spirits, and convinced him that this religion was right for him.

“My specific sect is shamanism and witchcraft. Shamanism involves the use of going into other altered states and exploring your own inner divinity,” Wolf Runner said.

Wolf Runner has a number of pagan friends who as a group started a coven, which is a circle of witches or pagans who join together to perform rituals. Unfortunately, Wolf Runner’s coven disbanded, but this does not stop them from performing rituals on occasion. His uniqueness and willingness to follow his own path might have taken many of his friends aback, but most of them have responded positively to his decision.

“His change was pretty gradual, actually…I didn’t really care, though it was a bit weird to watch him going from loving the Black Eyed Peas to [being] a full-fledged hippie,” Wolf Runner’s long time friend, junior Anna Shabrova said.

His parents, however, do not know of his religion change. “[I] operate underground…[My parents] know that I’m not Christian, but bringing [the change in religion] up with them would just cause problems. It would just rekindle the fire. It took me a while for me to get to get to a point where I can walk around the house and not get assaulted for having different beliefs, and I don’t want to risk that,” Wolf Runner said.

In his spare time, Wolf Runner practices having visions, doing dream work, practicing divination, and reading. Wolf Runner also casts runes, which are a pre-Latin alphabet used to write various Germanic languages. He is learning to interpret them, based on preset rules which he follows. Runes are a major element in paganism and are used for a wide variety of purposes, especially divination.

Wolf Runner does not regret his decision to change, and has come to love his new religion as a whole for its openness. He has finally achieved the sense of community he was looking for and found the path he wanted to take.

“[What appealed to me the most about my religion was] the love of nature,” he said, “because it’s all about living and cooperating with everything around you, and just, you know, being one with everything.”

Wolf Runner believes that his change in religion has affected his life very deeply. “I’ve actually learned a lot about myself. There is not one day where I do not learn something. I just feel very in touch with everything, and very at ease,” Wolf Runner said.