March article round up - magic, myth, and fantasy
I’ve been doing some reading into magic, myth, conceptual theming, and core character / personality realisation, encompassing the historical aspects of setting and external forces. Historical fantasy commands underlying currents and deep pools to supply the forces that not only propel the story forward, but also take the reader along with it.
So this month, my round up is in someway indicative of future storytelling – the ongoing Crossing the Line series and beyond.
First up is this piece about “witchcraft”, Hekate grooves with my inner green hippie from the 3 Pagans and a Cat blog. Author, Gwyn, looks at magic traditions and meanings around the Goddess Hekate and how they work with her own more earth-based leanings. I sometimes find the mix of beliefs bundled together under the “pagan” label do not sit well with how I understand such thinking. Hekate, for instance, is from one culture while the author’s Green Earth witchcraft is either from another or a continued mash-up of borrowed symbols and rituals. I’m not sure which culture or belief Green Earth comes from though I suspect this forms the basic gnosis for many a pagan. Later in the article, Gwyn shares how the two fit together in her worldview and I see how well this works for her. If you’re interested in learning a little about Hekatean witchcraft, click on the link. Hekate Grooves is quite a good read.
Next up is a lithub.com article, On rediscovering the natural world through Ovid by Nina MacLaughlin. I’ve always had a love of trees. I like to walk among them, feel the safety of their canopy overhead, the reliability of their bark beneath my hand. I recently moved to an area where the trees (Blackbutts) are huge and wide. They put me in mind of the Standing Stones I’ve visited on Isle of Lewis and the Orkneys. Slabs of granite that jut out of the ground to poke holes in the sky. Nature’s cathedrals. I look at the trees, as I did the Standing Stones, and wonder over the spirit that resides within. As MacLaughlin quotes from Ovid in sharing the tragic story of Dryope who has unknowingly plucked a flower from a tree that was once the nymph Lotis. As she gives her baby to her husband to raise and safeguard, she warns,
He must not.
Pluck any flowers from trunks;
and any bush he sees
he must remember this
the body of a goddess.
And I quote, MacLaughlin,
Any bush, the body of a goddess.
A third article that informs backgrounds to themes, character, and setting is Mark Cartwright’s, Sacred Sites & Rituals in the Ancient Celtic Religion. Sacred sites are often located near or beneath venerated trees, by waterways or at distinctive geological features. The Celts were a people linked by language and similar beliefs rather than race (it’s complex). Those beliefs included a strong thread of the power and magic of nature. Cartwright’s article gives a brief introduction to the Celtic races and then goes on to discuss Druids, their nature based rituals and the sites that held the strongest connection to the sacred.
From these readings, I look again at characters from Keeper of the Way and understand how they might change as they travel, face conflict, experience magic. How might they react to certain unexplained occurrences? What are the ripple effects of their actions in present and future times?
If I want to have a deep connection with the stories I write, and if I want to share that connection with readers, then a fundamental requirement is the ability to understand influences outside of my own sphere. I think of it as what’s happening in the shadows, in between the layers of what we see on the surface of reality.