Graduate Papers - When My Brain Was BIG


As the title suggests, this section of the site is dedicated to presenting papers written during my stay at the University of Colorado at Boulder as a Master's student in Religious Studies. My chosen area of focus was Neo-Paganism and New Age religious traditions with an emphasis on those drawing from Scandinavian sources. Sadly, unlike my undergraduate career, my goal never came to fruition, due to a variety of circumstances, and I withdrew from the University in the fall of 2007, roughly three years into the program.

Purpose and Epiphanies

I originally decided to go into the field of Religious Studies because I believed that it would foster an environment that allow for beneficial communication between peoples of various faiths and the scholars who wish to study them. Furthermore, I assumed that the field itself would make use of tools, such as critical thinking and ethnography, with which I was already familiar from my undergrad career in Philosophy and Anthropology. However, I found that the Religious Studies field, or at least, how it was presented by the RLST Department at CU, coincided little with my initial hopes and this realization was one of the greatest disappointments I have experienced in recent years.

Reoccurring Themes

Many of my papers give voice to the struggle between my, as some have called it, 'idealized' concept of what Religious Studies, and how I actually found it to exist. Here are some reoccurring themes:

A Notable Exception

Toward the latter part of my stay at CU I had the pleasure of working with the department of Germanic & Slavic Language & Literature's Scandinavian faculty. They were very support, willing to go the extra mile and were very much the place of solace I needed while my time in the RLST was coming to a close. Furthermore, I learned quite a good deal about what it takes to be both a benevolent teacher and worthwhile student at a graduate level. Hopefully, someday I will return to higher education and put this knowledge to good use.

Regarding Paper Presentation

The papers offered here are, minus some minor formatting changes presented as I turned them in. They have not been edited to reflect any comments made by professors. The files themselves are .pdf format. They can be opened using Adobe Reader

Usage of Papers By Readers

The papers presented here MAY NOT be republished without the express permission of Matthew D. Holtmeier. You may include limited excerpts of the works herein with the appropriate attribution. To request permission or for more information on a source, feel free to email me at

Furthermore, all works contain a works cited sheet so that readers can review the material from which I have drawn my information. I would suggest to those who wish to explore the topics dealt with in the papers consult these for further reference.