So, yesterday, the second in my Benevolence Tales series was released, One Imbolc Gloaming. The Benevolence Tales center around the charming little town of Benevolence and the adventures of Isabella Fox, a mediocre witch, and the once-outcast shapeshifter, Emily Deer, the woman she’s fallen in love with. I call them original fairy tales and tell them in a somewhat fairy tale-esque style, but they’re really fantasy stories. And lesbian stories.
And they’re also Pagan fiction.
That word “Pagan” causes a lot of knee-jerk responses if you’ve got preconceived notions about what Pagans are and do and do not do. So pull yourself up a cup of tea and let me talk you through some things. I’m drinking green tea with pomegranate myself. Go ahead and pour a cup–I’ll wait. :) <3
This spot of tea could even INVOLVE COOKIES. Your mileage may vary.
Pagans are a diverse group of people that follow an earth-centered spirituality. Individual beliefs are as varied as grains of sand on the shore, but suffice it to say that most Pagans have some things in common. Some Pagans worship a Goddess, rather than a God (or both), and revere nature as sacred. Pagans believe that magic is all around them, and some perform spells to help make their lives better. Rituals are sacred times of the month where some Pagans gather together (or by themselves), cast a circle of sacred energy and commune with the divine through meditation, energy raising and prayer.
Paganism has nothing to do with the devil or Satan (as these are Christian constructs that Pagans don’t believe in) or flying around on brooms or waving around wands and turning people into toads. It has a lot to do with a deep reverence of the sacred and magic.
This is kids dancing around a may pole, a Pagan tradition. NOT SCARY IN THE SLIGHTEST. Just ADORABLE. <3
I’ve been Pagan since I was fifteen, and my religion is a very large part of my life. I worship the Goddess, have rituals beneath the full moon, cast spells for abundance and meditate daily. I’ve been trained by different priestesses, groups and traditions and have priestessed my own covens and now run open Sabbat (holiday!) rituals at our Unitarian Universalist church, and a weekly meditation circle there. My religion colors every aspect of my life, and is a deeply ingrained and beloved part of my daily existence.
I also do things like use hula hoops to raise energy when doing a beach ritual. But that’s just because I’m weird. ;D
Now, a lot of religions have fiction to go along with them. Think about the “bonnet romance” Amish fiction books for Christians. That sort of thing. There are entire genres of fiction dedicated to religion + made up stories, but sadly, there’s hardly any Pagan fiction. Oh, there’s fiction that if you squint your eyes just so, it’s Pagan enough (Harry Potter is one of my favorites, after all! ;D), but still not much.
This is Jenn and I in bonnets, SO TECHNICALLY THIS IS A BONNET ROMANCE. (Hah. ;D)
As a Pagan who has always wanted Pagan fiction, and as a lesbian who’s always wanted fantastical lesbian fiction, it’s only natural that I’d want to marry the two in what I write. The Benevolence Tales are what I decided to create.
First off, I wanted to create a series that anyone could read, whether they were lesbian or Pagan or straight or Christian or what-have-you. I believe that we gain empathy for people who are not like us by reading their stories, and that’s always been a deeply important reasoning for what I write. And I wanted to make these stories accessible and fun and a wild romp of adventure, because that’s exactly the type of story I’d love to read.
Since the stories are set in my world, Sapphira, they also would need to have different pantheons (groupings of gods) and different gods and goddesses than modern Pagans, since it’s a fantasy world. I also wanted to turn the idea of magic up: modern Pagans don’t fly on brooms like Isabella and don’t weave together ribbons to keep monsters from their villages. But in every bit of magic and religion in the Benevolence Tales is a root of Paganism that I consciously chose to put there.
Modern Pagans do celebrate eight holidays in the year. We call them Sabbats, and they begin at Samhain (which is Halloween), and go through the year with Yule (Winter Solstice), Imbolc, Ostara (Vernal Equinox), Beltane, Litha (Midsummer), Lammas and Mabon (Autumnal Equinox). They are our holy days, and we treat them with reverence and have parties and rituals on these days (or several days for some of them!) quite like in the Benevolence Tales. We worship gods and goddesses very similar to the ones I created for the Benevolence Tales. We make magic like Isabella, but it’s not quite as showy (or, in most cases, catastrophic–poor Isabella! ;D).
ALTHOUGH WE CERTAINLY ACT LIKE WE CAN FLY BROOMS A LOT OF THE TIME.
But if you’re Pagan, you’ll see the threads of what I’ve done and hopefully enjoy them. And if you’re not Pagan, you’ll wonder “what the heck does the word ‘Imbolc’ mean, but hey it’s a Fantasy novella, so I expect that sort of thing.” And I’ve put out the stories that I wanted to read into the world. And other people want to read them, too.
And that’s it’s own special kind of magic. <3