“I want to be a Pagan!” My cousin slammed the door behind her, pulled a book out of her backpack and shoved it so close to my face that I could smell it.
I leaned back in order to check the cover, The Alchemyst by Michael Scott. “Does Auntie know about your latest, um… desire?” My young cousin’s life changing decisions, which last a couple of days at the most, are usually inspired by reality shows and young adult romance novels.
“Are you insane?” She looked at me like I was already wearing the straightjacket. I didn’t blame her. Anyone who knew my cousin’s mother would react in a similar manner.
“Okay, she doesn’t know. So why do you want to be Pagan?”
“Ohmigod Magaly! I would expect that question from anyone but you. You are a Witch. You know what the Pagan gods can do.” She stared at me expectantly, but I didn’t know what she thought Pagan gods could do, so I didn’t say a word. She continued, “I mean, I just love the teleporting, the glamour and the lightning bolts!”
I glanced at the moon and sun symbols on the book cover and wondered about how to answer my cousin’s question, without living her disappointed with the book’s theme or with real life Paganism.
First, let me thank every fertility god for my abundance of cousins, which has allowed me to write this story without fear of eminent torture. My beloved aunt would probably skin me alive and bathe my cousin in holy water, if she ever learned about the blasphemy contained in her child’s latest reading choices.
Now I’ll move on to the reason behind this post: to introduce the topic of Paganism in fiction. I love fiction—in particular, Dark Fantasy, Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. I enjoy reading this type of writing because it is exciting to see a writer’s imagination at work, and because these sub-genres often portray Pagan characters and traditions. Plus, where else am I going to find stories about Pagan superheroes who can travel through time/space, change their appearance at will, and throw lightning bolts?
But as with any other relationship, my fiction-Paganism affair is complicated. Many Pagans believe that there is already way too much talk about Paganism being fake, so why add more fuel to the fire by using Pagan characters and beliefs in fantasy writing?
The answer is simple: I don’t think fantasy writing is bad for Paganism or that it threatens the credibility of the belief system. Not as long as fantasy lovers realize that what they are reading is a fictitious story; a wondrous tale about real life characters and events that have been made incredible, by a writer, for their enjoyment.
I do understand that certain books and movies have made non-Pagans—my cousin for example—believe that Paganism is something otherworldly, unnatural and often scary. But this does not make fantasy writing a bad thing. It is just fantasy.
What about you, do you believe that modern fantasy writing affects Paganism? If so, is the effect positive or negative? Are you a non-Pagan who first heard about Paganism through a fantasy book or movie? Are you a Pagan who enjoys fantasy writing?