I'm currently replaying the God of War series. Each time I play this series, what fascinates me about it is how Greek mythology is portrayed in the game series, and how that very process of representation consequently creates new interest in the original mythology. And this isn't just limited to God of War. I've noticed this same phenomenon with the Percy Jackson series, Marvel's version of Thor, and other modern variants of older mythology, which simultaneously create new mythology and also revitalize older mythology by getting people interested in the source material.
While there may be some knee jerk reactions to this concept from purists, I think that its worthwhile to examine and understand how pop culture can revitalize interest in older mythologies, and how this may even be intentional on the part of the deities associated with those older mythologies. The reason it may be intentional is that said deities recognize that one way to get attention, belief, and eventually worship involves utilizing the medium of modern culture in order to get in front of the various people who might be receptive to those deities. And in this age of multi-media, the opportunity to get in front of such an audience is unparalleled for there are more people living now than have ever lived in previous eras of history.
At the end of 2012, I looked over what I had read the previous year and came up with a list of Literary Discoveries. Considering how much I have read this year -- novels, novellas, anthologies, short stories, essays, longer works of philosophy and history and spirituality -- continuing the tradition seemed like a good idea. And, just like the previous list, not all of these titles were published in 2013 (though most were); I just discovered them this past year.
So, in no particular order, here is my 2013 edition of Literary Discoveries.
So … the "God Graveyard." Yeah, it's been all over the Pagan blogosphere. I admit to being ambivalent in my reaction. Anger, annoyance, frustration, and exasperation all mingle alongside "the stupid! it burns!"
Only after I took a really close look at some of the very fuzzy, rather crummy photos of the "graveyard" did I hit upon a response appropriate to BookMusings.* "Furrina?" I squinted at the photograph. "Who the heck is that?" I wondered -- and pulled out my battered copy of Goddesses in World Mythology by Martha Ann and Dorothy Myers Imel. I picked up Ann and Imel's book many many years ago, and it has never let me down; though the entry on Furrina** was brief, it was enough to pique my interest -- and the extensive bibliography offered plenty more venues of research.
Amazons have long fascinated me. As a little girl, the idea of living in an all-female society (free of bullying boys) was highly appealing. I spent many summer afternoons running around my backyard or curled up on the couch, fighting minotaurs and going on grand adventures with my sister Amazons. And you can be darn sure I preferred Wonder Woman* to that silly Superman -- I mean, she was from a super secret island and worshipped the Old Goddesses! How cool was that?
That fascination remained with me as I grew up. I gravitated towards the powerful women of history (like Hatshepsut and Elizabeth I) and those women who challenged the restrictive mores of their society (Harriet Tubman and Matilda Joscelyn Gage, to name two). When I wanted to escape into a fictional world, I chose those which featured women warriors and generals and starship captains.
So I recently read a blog that said if you want to pray for help for Syria, then pray to the old gods of Syria. I think that is an interesting idea. Who would know the people, their needs, their problems and the sources of dissension more accurately? Who would want healing and unity more? Send them the energy to help them heal their people. For non-polytheistic Pagans, who the gods of the region are may seem unimportant to you but think of it in terms of context. For hard polytheists, it would be important to know who the gods of Syria are. For soft polytheists, it may be important to know to who they are similar. Alternatively, ask your own divinities to relay your prayers/gifts/well-wishes to their Canaanite brethren.
My fascination with mermaids has come and gone over the years. I never went through a unicorn phase as a little girl, but I definitely went through a mermaid phase. My interest in them faded, returned in my teens, faded again, then recently returned. Over the last year or so, I have been reading and writing and reading and writing some more about the aquatic ladies (and gentlemen).
Once I started looking, I was surprised at just how ubiquitous mermaids are -- they're everywhere! In literature, mermaids appear in every genre, aimed at every age group. There are picture books aplenty, but also mysteries, teen adventure tales, romance novels, collections of mythology and folklore, art books, you name it.