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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Pagan Themes in Fiction

b2ap3_thumbnail_silent.pngIn his science fiction novel, Out of the Silent Planet, C. S. Lewis takes readers to a new vista, a strange planet, not unlike Earth called Malacandra. The main character, Ransom, is taken prisoner and brought by two scientists to the planet, where they hope to use him as a sacrifice for the strange inhabitants, the sorns. Not long after arriving, Ransom escapes and begins to navigate the new terrain. He encounters both the sorns and the hross, and befriends one creature, Hyoi, and spends time with him learning their customs and ways. Later, Ransom travels through an ether type atmosphere to commune with a god-like spirit-presence called, Oyarsa, an eldil or ruler, who explains that Ransom’s own planet, Thulacandra, or the silent planet, is ruled by an evil warring people, abandoned by the eldil. Ransom goes through a few more obstacles in order to get back to Earth, and once returned, wants to share his story, one he doesn’t think anyone will believe.

C. S. Lewis, best known for his Narnia series, takes on spirituality and human actions in this thinly disguised sci-fi novel. It is said the novel was inspired by a conversation with J. R. R. Tolkien, about how unsatisfied they were with the state of fiction at the time. For this blog post, we’ll take a look at the pagan themes presented in Lewis' work, perhaps even hidden away in this gem.

One of the first take-aways for the pagan reader is the relationship Ransom has with the hross, a sort of human-animal creation, that lives in nature, and does not hurt or take more than it needs. At first, Ransom can’t understand the hross, but as he quiets his own thoughts and expectations, he slowly starts to communicate with them. It is similar to the way earth-based spiritualities honor the natural world. Whereas the mainstream might accept that trees, rocks, animals, and so forth can’t communicate, pagans do. It is when Ransom releases his fear that he is allowed to be part of the hross community and ultimately understand them.

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For this installment of Well at World’s End, we’ll take a look at the Pagan themes in the novel, Star Wars, written by George Lucas, Donald Glut, and James Kahn. Many people have watched the movies, which have become fan-classics. If you haven’t read the book, you might enjoy the story on a more personal level. As you read, even though you have the visual image of the characters and location from the movie, your own imagination takes over to reconstruct something new. Before long, the world and characters become new inventions in your own mind. There are also nuances in the book that you won’t find or will miss in the movie. Here is a sample of the opening pages, which describes the planet, Tatooine.

“At first it seemed certain nothing could exist on such a planet, least of all humans. Yet both massive G1 and G2 stars orbited a common center with peculiar regularity, and Tatooine circled them far enough out to permit the development of a rather stable, if exquisitely hot, climate. Mostly this was a dry desert of a world, whose unusual starlike yellow glow was the result of double sunlight striking sodium-rich sands and flats. That same sunlight suddenly shone on the thin skin of a metallic shape falling crazily toward the atmosphere.”

 

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For this installment of Well at World’s End, we’ll take a look at the pagan themes in J. R. R. Tolkien’s fiction. I could easily dedicate the entire blog to Tolkien, but have chosen one rather obscure piece to focus on, “Smith of Wootton Major.” If you would like to read the story first, and then read along, you can find the selection here.

 “Smith of Wootton Major” is a short story written by Tolkien in 1967. It was originally known as “The Great Cake,” since the story starts off with the festival, Feast of the Good Children, which is celebrated every twenty-four years, and attended by only twenty-four village children. Baked inside the cake are a variety of trinkets, and hoped to be won by the children. (Cake with trinkets, can you see where this is going?)

One special trinket, by accident, makes it in the cake and is later swallowed by the blacksmith’s son. The star allows the boy to enter into the land of the Faery. Most of the story recounts various adventures the boy takes into the realm of Faery; the reader eager to tag along.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Hunter Liguore
    Hunter Liguore says #
    Yes, it's truly one of my favorites, and shows the dimension of his work--and also the pagan elements...
  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    Thanks for much for reminding me of this--it's one of my favorites.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Warning: blatant self-promotion ahead! But, there is a really good reason for said self-promotion, so please bear with me.

Science fiction as a genre is both extremely popular and notoriously difficult to define. It is often a case of "I'll know it when I see it." Stars Wars? Yes. Star Trek? Yes. McCaffrey's Pern books? Yes. KA Laity's Owl Stretching? Considering the people-eating aliens and near-future setting, yes. Devon Monk's The Age of Steam series? Um ... it's set in the Wild West, but it's steampunk, which is often considered a subgenre of science fiction, but it's got faeries and magic, too, so ... maybe? Lucian of Samosata's True History? Um ... second century fable-ish proto-science fiction? 

Throwing "Pagan" into the mix makes things even more difficult. How does one define "Pagan" in this context? Does the author of a work have to identity as some flavor of Pagan? Or does only the work itself have to deal with Pagan Deities, philosophies, and myths?

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  • Eli Effinger-Weintraub
    Eli Effinger-Weintraub says #
    Hey, Rebecca. I wanted to mention The Pagan Anthology of Short Fiction, a co-effort of Llewellyn and our own Witches&Pagans. Sever
  • Ryan Musgrave-Evans
    Ryan Musgrave-Evans says #
    Hey guys. If there's a free-for-all on self promotion going at the moment, I'll mention my own works. "Dead Stars" is a 110,000 wo
  • Sophie Gale
    Sophie Gale says #
    Now you've got me hunting for Pagan authors! SF is a labor of love for JMG, not necessarily a paying gig. Patricia Kennealy-Morr

I have been enjoying the wonderful world of web-series for a couple of days now and it got me thinking; there are web-series for every minority you can think of so why don't we have one? If we do, please let me know in the comments and I will eat these words for tomorrow's breakfast. Seriously, though, there are (NSFW) web-series about super heroes, people with a disability, geeks, video games, lesbians, gays, washed out actors, you name it. Where are the Pagans?

A web-series is a series of short episodes about a certain topic or focussing on a specific person or group, created specifically for viewing on the internet. With all the diversity and the many stereotypes we either embrace or feel the need to debunk, we could surely make a good web-series? Here are a couple of proposals for those with the ability to act, some extra funds, time and a camera:

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  • Maggie DeMunda
    Maggie DeMunda says #
    There is, after a fashion. Through Witchschool.com. They have different video series.

This past summer, science fiction readers mourned the passing of Ray Bradbury, the author of such classic literature, as Fahrenheit 451 and Something Wicked this Way Comes. For this installment of Well at World’s End, we’re going to take a look at the pagan themes present in Bradbury’s short story collection, Sound of Thunder and Other Stories, and more specifically the title story.

Sound of Thunder” tells the story of Eckels, a safari hunter living in 2055, who signs up with Time Safari Inc., a service that will take him to any destination in the past to hunt big game (now extinct). Eckles wants to go back to the dinosaur age to land a T-Rex. As preparations are made for departure, the team discusses the presidential election that’s underway, between a fascist candidate, Deutscher, and a more moderate one.

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  • Hunter Liguore
    Hunter Liguore says #
    Yes, someone asked, this story was done as a movie, and does take into account the And it Harm None principles. You can check it o

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