Angels and Demons, Books, Villains, Writing

An Ancient Tome

I wrote a paper on JRR Tolkien for an independent study while in school in London, this thirty years ago. Time is beating the crap out of me, no doubt. So I wanted to travel to Oxford to have look at a few original sources kept in the University libraries.  I am big on original sources.

One of my professors proudly supplied me with a pass. However, I did not realize there were limitations to the pass. Much to the horror of the librarians, I was drawn to a restricted section full of ancient tomes. Most were locked behind glass. That should have been a hint.

There was, among those moldy old books, one left unintended written in a script and language I could not decipher. On impulse, I picked it up thus earning my lifetime banishment from that library.

It was totally worth it, despite the possible apocalyptic horror it might have unleashed. Oopsie.

In the  moment I touched that book, I felt a surge of energy pulse through me. Possibly  brought on by the horror of the ruddy security guard sputtering at me, but I rather believe that electrified pulse came from the book itself, the book wanting to impart its contents to someone, anyone. Or possibly it unleashed the apocalypse, given current events.

All books are magic. I have no clue what was in the book I came across, be it spells of a lost power or possibly a transcription of some church records. I never could find out. My escort, the one that unceremoniously threw me out of the library into the rain, only lectured me on how rude Americans could be and would hear no excuses from me.

I only had my imagination to go by. I think the script was Gaelic of some kind. It possibly came from a monastary but I don’t even know how old the book might have been. I did not have enough time to examine the vellum. Might it have been crafted of human skin? There was a time… but such parchment would not hold ink for so long. Well, unless there was some evil enchantment at work. Definitely a possibility.

Yes, all books are magic and so, some are quite dangerous. Magic and truth in equal measure all in black and white. Most people avoid both of these more vehemently than they do root canal.

My imagination crafted that old restricted book into a grimoire, a spell book for the darkest of sorcerers. And so filled my nights with horrors for years after, some demon force chasing me across time and space.

Now, I seek a way to defeat the dark magic unleashed on me by that ancient tome, to tame or banish the demons that rose with its powers. Sadly, books of miracles, are so rare. Well, I never could find one equal to the demons that haunt me so I decided I would write one, an Idyll. I am running out of time. I can’t hold off those demons  much longer.

I do apologize if my jaunt into the restricted section of the library ultimately leads to a zombie apocalypse. Awkward.

Angels and Demons, Villains, Women, Writing

Angels and Demons – Lilith

Lilith_1Lilith has been around a long, long time in myth, legend, and appearing in all sorts of cultures, mostly as a demon. The Babylonians, Assyrians, and Sumerians all cast her as a demon. Lilith or “lillit” translates as “Night Hag” or “Night Monster” or “Screech Owl” in Hebrew language texts. Literature often enhances these references. However, I understand her. She might be wrong, but heaven knows, she has her reasons.

In Jewish lore, Lilith is Adam’s first wife.  She appears as his first wife, created equal from the very same dirt that brought about Adam. It is satire, this folklore so we are not meant to take it seriously. In this story, Adam divorced Lilith when she refused to “obey” him.

Subsequently, Eve was then created from Adam’s rib. Clearly, I was Lilith’s progeny and not from subservient and idiotic Eve. What kind of woman accepts an apple from a serpent? Seriously, Lilith did less damage leaving Adam behind in the garden.

Yes, this is just a story, one of many with no hard proof of veracity,  but it makes me rip-roaring furious. There are lots of examples of  female deities, both demonic and divine, getting pushed into the trash heap of history. It is not only Lilith, cast as a villain (first wife, demon- what man doesn’t think of his first wife as a demon?) .

There is also Asherah. She was the wife of God, also consort to the Sumerian deity, El.  In the Bible, in the book of Deuteronomy, God commands her shrines destroyed so as to keep his worship pure.  Even though Jeremiah proclaims her to be the “queen of heaven”, there is not a lot of talk about how God is both male and female.

Honestly, I’m too weary to rail on about the patriarchy. It’s been wearing on my nerves for half a century. No wonder Lilith went full-on demon. She was created equal and told by Adam that he wasn’t having it. Yeah, at that point, fire starts pouring out my eyeballs too.

 

 

Angels and Demons, Books, Villains, Writing

An Ancient Tome

I wrote a paper on JRR Tolkien for an independent study while in school in London, this thirty years ago. Time is beating the crap out of me, no doubt. So I wanted to travel to Oxford to have look at a few original sources kept in the University libraries.  I am big on original sources. 

One of my professors proudly supplied me with a pass. However, I did not realize there were limitations to the pass. Much to the horror of the librarians, I was drawn to a restricted section full of ancient tomes. Most were locked behind glass. That should have been a hint. 

There was, among those moldy old books, one left unintended written in a script and language I could not decipher. On impulse, I picked it up thus earning my lifetime banishment from that library. 

It was totally worth it, despite the possible apocalyptic horror it might have unleashed. Oopsie. 

In the  moment I touched that book, I felt a surge of energy pulse through me. Possibly  brought on by the horror of the ruddy security guard sputtering at me, but I rather believe that electrified pulse came from the book itself, the book wanting to impart its contents to someone, anyone. Or possibly it unleashed the apocalypse, given current events. 

All books are magic. I have no clue what was in the book I came across, be it spells of a lost power or possibly a transcription of some church records. I never could find out. My escort, the one that unceremoniously threw me out of the library into the rain, only lectured me on how rude Americans could be and would hear no excuses from me. 

I only had my imagination to go by. I think the script was Gaelic of some kind. It possibly came from a monastary but I don’t even know how old the book might have been. I did not have enough time to examine the vellum. Might it have been crafted of human skin? There was a time… but such parchment would not hold ink for so long. Well, unless there was some evil enchantment at work. Definitely a possibility. 

Yes, all books are magic and so, some are quite dangerous. Magic and truth in equal measure all in black and white. Most people avoid both of these more vehemently than they do root canal. 

My imagination crafted that old restricted book into a grimoire, a spell book for the darkest of sorcerers. And so filled my nights with horrors for years after, some demon force chasing me across time and space. 

Now, I seek a way to defeat the dark magic unleashed on me by that ancient tome, to tame or banish the demons that rose with its powers. Sadly, books of miracles, are so rare. Well, I never could find one equal to the demons that haunt me so I decided I would write one, an Idyll. I am running out of time. I can’t hold off those demons  much longer. They are consuming me so back to it.

 I do apologize if my jaunt into the restricted section of the library ultimately leads to a zombie apocalypse should I fail at my writing. Awkward. 

Books, Reading, Villains, Writing

Week 31 2016 -Madame Darke

SarielasCatDreadful tales are told about Madame Darke, ones designed to discourage people from seeking her out. Of course, like the many cautionary tales about using drugs, drinking too much, and promiscuous sex, few listen. After all, she has magic that will short-circuit many immediate problems.

So many little cures for little problems and all for small favors. Bring her tea, and that test you were certain to fail is passed although the knowledge is never yours. Bring her cake, and that acne marring your face is gone, and your complexion perfect. Confidence accompanies your next encounter with those you desire to desire you in return. Bring her a cat, and that little sore contracted in some lustful embrace disappears and so forth. There are no consequences for your failure to study, your vanity, or poor judgment, none that you can see as she gathers little bits of your soul, painlessly extracting them. Oh, if you need your enemy to disappear, the favor is bigger than a cat, but she can do that as well.

I spent most of this week in Madame Darke’s company, trying to understand her motives. The woman seemed so inclined to help for a rare jasmine tea. I suppose my coffee addiction is not so different than her tea obsession.  Her cottage is crawling with felines, but it is snakes that slither among her books. I wonder how it is all those snakes, so many of them, are not enough to warn her many visitors that perhaps the price to cure their little nagging complaints might be much higher than they imagine.

WickerWomanSnakeI needed to flee for myself. Snakes scare me more than my desire to see what books she keeps in her library. Young Husk Grayvesone felt differently, a lonely, fat boy whose love for books far outweighed his fear of serpents.

“Are they magic books?” Husk asked.

“All books are magic,” Madame Darke said.

I would have said the same to the boy, but snakes do not guard my library. It is open to all. Still, Husk acquired access to Madame Darke’s books without giving much away. Of course, he had not sought her out intentionally. His cruel classmates had driven him into the forest with their bullying, and he accepted the old wicker woman’s invitation into her little cottage out of despair and a need to hide away for a time.

Madame Darke sent him away with books in his arms, his promise to return them and to do favors for her from time to time. I do not think Madame Darke realizes that little black cat also left with Husk or that the one book she gave him to keep, one in which few pages had any content, was the most valuable thing in all of the world. Madame Darke never counts her cats and she sees little value in a blank page.

I wonder if the snakes ever eat the cats or the reverse. Have you seen a cat with a snake in its jaws? I believe I have, but it might have been my imagination. I have no wish to return to the cottage to find out. Husk, I fear, must return a time or two before the end.

I do worry what will become of it all. Madame Darke has a world to enslave using little but a slight of hand. A pimple hidden with illusion that given time, would have gone away on its own; a venereal disease taken from the body and encased in the soul that might have been vanquished with proper medicine for a fist of coin, a death in exchange for long life in Madame Darke’s service, riches that do nothing to obscure a fading ability to feel joy or see in the light. I do wonder. Madame Darke has so many in her service now. I pray Husk escapes her reach, but maybe, it is already too late. We shall see.

 

 

Evil, Reading, Villains, Writing

Week 23 2016 – Walking Like a Villain

YingYangI spent the bulk of this weekend struggling with the villains of my series. Evil characters who are mindless, snarling, ugly and stink of dog poo are, well, dull. Lazy fiction will create the stock character villain with nothing redeemable or clever about him or her. A great story creates a villain that evokes real emotion. To accomplish that, a villain must have scope. This is difficult as we so desperately need to divide everything into this or that, right or wrong, good or bad.

Writers are tasked with thinking beyond common dichotomies. Almost no one thinks of themselves as evil. In fact, most of us, I would wager think we are good people or at least making a go of being good. Evil, I am afraid, is often in the eye of the beholder. And its not even that simple. We are so afraid to name evil, it often has its way with us. We never see it coming.

This weekend alone, a seven year old boy was executed for blasphemy, more were beheaded for believing something the headsmen did not, and one gunman of the same ilk that executed the child and the unrepentant headsmen, walked into a nightclub and killed fifty people. How easy it would be to simply dismiss all these people as aberrations and mentally challenged individuals with nothing at all in common with each other.

None of these people think they are doing evil. They don’t even think what they are doing is wrong. They believe with all their heart that the people they are killing are evil. Put in more general terms, everyone, no matter how good and decent and tolerant, is thought of as evil by someone else, someone who feels quite justified in making them dead.

When it comes to conflict, for me writing about the dark side of humanity, even in fantasy, is difficult. It’s unsettling to do, but when creating an antagonist to build conflict in a story, writers need to stand in the villain’s shoes and understand why they do what they do and think what they do. Feeling sympathy for the devil is a damn sight easier than understanding a kiddie rapist or a raving fanatic that kills in the name of God.

It is something that if a writer can get it right, they can offer hope that somehow evil can be overcome. Frodo Baggins did finally destroy the ring of power, but if not for the villain, Gollum, he would never have managed. Anyhow, I go to battle my demons. As always, they remain leashed but untamed.