Posted at 9:00 am
My stomach began to twist into knots as we tried to find parking. We live in the suburbs of a major city, and the often vicious hunt for parking is a mundane part of life. But the country girl in me always takes it as a bad omen for the coming event; what do these people have against parking lots? We had left with plenty of time to navigate the cramped little side streets without being late, but the hassle added to the quiet unease already bubbling under the surface.
I hate having to go to church.
We park a block away and walk. The sheer number of cars, and the fact that I don’t recognize any of the people making their way in the same direction tell me that this is not what we’ve been told it is. This is a normal mass (on Saturday?) and not a memorial service for Zio. I feel trapped and angry and I carry those emotions with me as we pass over the threshold. We loiter in the entryway, alternatively poking our heads around the ornate double doors that lead into the chapel proper and looking back outside, frantic for a familiar face to tell us that this is indeed what we were supposed to be expecting.
A cousin appears, ushering four kids from that side of the family into the chapel. He kisses me on the cheek in the very Italian gesture of greeting, and I smile, hiding my growing anger as my “This is normal” mask slides into place. “I go to mass all the time,” my dead eyes say. And inside I’m struggling not to laugh hysterically. There’s a witch in your congregation. Continue reading
Posted at 9:00 am
A depiction of Diana, the Roman goddess of the hunt, the moon and childbirth
Mythology as we know it has a couple of different components. Primarily, mythology conjures scenes gods and goddesses in resplendent elegance or fierce battle. Every society to have ever existed has acknowledged powers greater than themselves: things like light and dark, flood and drought and the changing of the seasons. It’s easy for us today to see how placing these things within spirits that resembled human beings was a way to make sense of a chaotic and often dangerous world and to make someone or something other than ourselves accountable for life’s difficulties and blessings.
The second part of mythology is the stories of human or semi-divine heroes: men and women who went to the extremes of human existence and thereby highlighted the peaks of what we are likely to experience in our own lives. Things such as sadness at illness, grief in the face of death, love and all of its many strings and the need to fight for our own space in the larger world are all taken to almost super-human ends to demonstrate hope and courage. Continue reading
Posted at 6:29 pm
There are fewer forces in our own world that carry the same weight as religion. Wars are fought, lands conquered, and entire peoples wiped from the face of the planet in the name of the gods. From the earliest forming of human societies, religion has shaped the way we view ourselves, our fellows, the natural world and the greater forces around us. We give them names and attributes to make them more relatable. We build monuments in their honor and create sacred rites to amuse them. There are as many faiths as there are individuals, and that’s the perfect playing field for the fantasy writer.
No matter what its intent, religion causes strife in the real world. Period. People are tormented, persecuted, polarized and killed over differing perspectives. Even if religion doesn’t play a large part in your fantasy novel, it can bring undertones of conflict that help color the world. It can also serve as a haven or justification for a character’s actions. In cases where faiths do not play any major roles, usually describing a few key difference between two religions and/or deities suffices. But if faith and the valor of the gods has more of an impact on the world or your characters, it’s vital to develop those religions (organized and not) further.
Consider the following: Continue reading