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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in fiction

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Precious Nature

While I usually spend my time in more distant history, I have found myself lately digging into early twentieth century pagan writings like Sylvia Townsend Warner's Lolly Willows (which I wrote about here: Nettles & Mugwort) and just recently Mary Webb's classic Precious Bane. While often connected to Thomas Hardy due to both the time period and geography they share, Webb has a much more inspiring view of nature and a generous view toward her fellow humans.

Telling the story of Prue Sarn, Webb explores many of the traditions the writer knew well from her childhood, practices that included everything from sin eating to mummers at Christmas. And she offers one of the most beautiful pieces of transcendent writing about the power of nature in Prue's moment of enlightenment. She has hid herself in the attic of their old farm house, not long after the death of her father, because her brother made her realise that her 'bane' was a terrible thing. She was born with a cleft palate, known then as a 'harelip' because it was believed, a hare spooked by the devil had crossed her pregnant mother's path, cursing her.

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A Lost Pagan Classic: Rereading Gerhart Hauptmann's 'Island of the Great Mother'

Gerhart Hauptmann's novel The Island of the Great Mother or the Miracle of the Île des Dames: A Story from the Utopian Archipelago was first published (in German) in 1928, but 90 years on, it still reads appositely, especially for the pagan community.

Here's the story.

A passenger liner filled with women (they're going to a women's convention) is shipwrecked somewhere in the Pacific. Several hundred women, with only one male among them—the prepubescent son of one of the castaways—are washed ashore on an uninhabited island.

There they create a glittering women's civilization, with its own gynocentric culture and religion.

Then something amazing happens. One by one, the women begin to become pregnant and give birth.

It's one of the novel's great strengths that these mysterious pregnancies are never explained. Hauptmann makes it quite clear that they are not, in fact, due to the only surviving male on the island, now grown to adolescence. They arise, apparently, as an inherent quality of the island itself.

Well, but there's trouble in utopia. Half the children born are female, half male. What to do with the males?

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Fireverse 6: Mythology is Subjective

Mythology is stories, and stories reflect the mind of the storyteller. We acknowledge that when we talk about how a given mythological tale reflects a culture and its level of scientific and social advancement. The individuals who told the stories also projected them through their own personal lenses, not only as members of their culture but as people with internal psychology.

One of the things I learned while writing Some Say Fire, in which I retold as much of the heathen lore as I could find along with original material inserted interstitially, is that it is impossible to write objective fiction about the gods no matter how hard I try. Even though I relate to the gods either as people with personalities or as nature, when I wrote fiction about them they inevitably turned into archetypes. For example, the ways that Fireverse Odin differs from traditional Odin all turned out to be about my real life deceased father. I didn't intend to do that. I didn't even realize that until after I had enough of a draft completed to show it to someone else and my critique partner pointed it out to me; I knew I had turned my problems over to my higher power by giving them to Loki, but I hadn't realized how much that distorted all the other characters in the story.

Only after I had dealt with those issues was I able to get past them and reach the real Odin. In mythology or fairy tale, the father figure is your father, the road is your path, and the mountain is whatever obstacle you yourself must overcome. Everything turns into dream symbolism.

This same phenomenon must surely have happened when the lore that we have received in written form was first written down. The lore contained in Snorri's Edda must therefore reflect Snorri the individual as much as it reflects the lore as he had heard it in his lifetime, and as much as it reflects his culture and the times he lived in.

Fireverse Odin turned into my father and Fireverse Loki my wounded inner child because those are the personal issues I needed to resolve through my creative writing. Snorri's Odin turned into Yahweh and his Loki turned into the Devil. As a Christian with recent heathen ancestors living in the time of conversion, watching his culture be destroyed by the very thing he most passionately believed in--the Church-- resolving the cognitive dissonance between his Christian beliefs and his love of the stories of his culture must have been his greatest psychological need.

The subjectivity of story, even mythology from an oral tradition, is something to keep in mind in interpreting the lore. Some of my fellow Asatruars treat the Eddas as if they were the word of the gods. The Eddas were written by men; men have human needs, including psychological needs. The storyteller shapes the story even if he tries not to.

Image: image from publicdomainpictures.net

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_256px-Moreau_Europa_and_the_Bull.jpgThough Terebus knew it was the time of his death, he gathered gifts of abundance to give each person. These were gifts that would help pass the cold season until he would return again: clay for making bowls, reeds for making baskets, glass and beads, paint and songs. Even knowing that he was to die, he pranced and tossed his horns, jingling the bells that had been tied there. When all the gifts were gone, he came and stood before Tellus, in her dark domain, mother of the soil who limits us all.

She spoke, “Terebus, we have spent and built, created and sold, grown and developed for a season. Now it is time to rest, to assess what we have done, to cherish what we have created, to enjoy the fruits of our labors.”

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

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You may not know the story of how Arachne defied the Goddess Athena with the beauty of her weaving, and you may know the story of how Arachne, born again as a mortal woman helped the hero Theseus defeat the Minator. But you probably do not know the tale of what came after.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Gern Laverty
    Gern Laverty says #
    I follow Athena, and I suppose you could say, I am a follower of Arachne, as well. She has amazing transformative properties. Than
  • Rob Nelson
    Rob Nelson says #
    19-11-14 "As the Butterfly emerges, you are reborn to a Higher level of Consciousness, and you are entering another level of Reali

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

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Title: The Ruin of Beltany Ring: A Collection of Pagan Poems and Tales

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    @Shirl: *blinks innocently* Yeah, okay; some kind of anniversary edition of Eternal Haunted Summer is a good idea. Just a matter o
  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski says #
    ...maybe the timing would be better now for someone else to release a similar project. It's five years later, and a LOT of pop cul
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Oh, honey, I'd love to. But after the financial drubbing I (and Llewellyn, too) took on this book http://www.amazon.com/The-Pagan-
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    I've been remiss not to mention Deborah Blake! I'm sure I'll think of more folks over time.
  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    Maaaybe a themed w&p issue on modern Pagan/polytheist literature ...? *big puppy dog eyes*

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