Saints of Pagan Catholicism – Science Fiction

 

SAINTS OF PAGAN CATHOLICISM – SCIENCE FICTION

 

Following on from yesterday’s apostles of the goddess in science fiction, these are the genre’s saints of pagan catholicism

 

FEAST DAY SAINTS OF PAGAN CATHOLICISM

 

ST. H.G. WELLS OF MORLOCKS & MARTIANS (FEAST DAY 21 SEPTEMBER)

 

My world of science fiction is still mostly Morlocks and Martians – and so is the world of science fiction in general, due to St. Wells. Just as St. J. R. R. Tolkien defined modern literary fantasy, St. H.G. Wells defined science fiction – but even more definitively. St. Wells gave science fiction its most archetypal themes and tropes, notably time travel and alien invasion (not to mention steampunk) – and he did so in just two short novels, The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds, which are arguably the still beating mythic heart of science fiction.

 

Bonus points for also giving science fiction its dark apocalypse of evolution and entropy – with humanity between the devil and deep black infinity.

 

 

ST. DOUGLAS ADAMS OF THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE (FEAST DAY – TOWEL DAY 25 MAY)

 

“In the beginning, the universe was created. This made a lot of people very unhappy and has widely been regarded as a bad move”.

 

St. Douglas Adams gave us The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a series of books (and other things) that is my latter-day Bible. (Well, one of them, anyway). After all, the Bible could well do with the same practical advice in large and friendly letters on the cover – Don’t Panic!

 

The Bible could also do with comic absurdity with which The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy leavens, well, Life, the Universe and Everything. (The Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything is of course 42). Not to mention God’s Final Message to His Creation, written in thirty-foot high letters of fire on a distant planet – “We apologize for the inconvenience”.

 

St. Douglas Adams played with religion throughout his works with his characteristic “devout atheism”, embodying the playful spirit of pagan catholicism.

 

Bonus points for the electric monk in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – a labor-saving device that believes things for you, “thus saving you what was becoming an increasingly onerous task, that of believing all the things the world expected you to believe.”

 

ST. CHARLES STROSS (FEAST DAY – 18 OCTOBER)

 

St. Charles Stross is another characteristically humanistic writer of science fiction and hence prime candidate for canonization as one of my saints of pagan catholicism.

 

In particular, however, he earns his canonization as a follower of St. H.P. Lovecraft of the Cthulhu Mythos, updating that Mythos to twenty-first century bureaucracy. I’ve always held that religion is simply organized magic (in the same sense as organized crime) – and in St. Stross’ Laundry series, magic is simply higher mathematics, which applied in certain circumstances can open gates to other dimensions.

 

Bonus points for putting a dark Mythos spin on the apocalypse and rapture, if by rapture you mean something coming to suck out our souls – with increasing computational power and mathematical applications of the modern world (and of human minds) amongst other things (such as the position of our world in space), our world will inevitably be align or opened up to other dimensions (“when the stars are right” in the parlance of the Mythos). God is a hole in the heart of the world – and He’s hungry. (Omnipotent, omniscient, omnivorous). Of course, the British occult secret service plans to go down swinging – CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN and all that.

 

ST. ROBERT SILVERBERG (FEAST DAY – 15 JANUARY)

 

St. Robert Silverberg earns his canonization as a prolific writer of fantasy and science fiction – at his most prolific, writing a million words a year (holy crap!), a miracle worthy of canonization in itself.

 

A recurring theme in his work is of mystical transcendence, which lends itself to his canonization – as does his Majipoor mythos, a religion in which I sometimes believe, particularly its Lady of Dreams.

 

However, I have a soft spot for posthumous fantasy (particularly that set in heaven or hell) and it typically earns its writers canonization as saints of pagan catholicism. In this case, it is Silverberg’s To the Land of the Living, which evolved from his story “Gilgamesh in the Outback”, his contribution to the posthumous fantasy anthology series, Heroes in Hell. Everyone who has ever lived and died throughout humanity’s history – and prehistory – finds themselves reborn in the afterlife, neither hell nor heaven, but more akin to a mysterious and vague limbo. Bonus points for its hero and protagonist, none other than Gilgamesh (of the Sumerian epic), who sets out on a quest to return to the land of the living itself, mirroring the quest of his mythic epic to find eternal life.

 

ST. LARRY NIVEN & JERRY POURNELLE (FEAST DAY – ST. NIVEN 30 APRIL & ST. POURNELLE 7 AUGUST)

 

Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle might well be canonized for their achievements in fantasy and science fiction. However, I tend to canonize any writer for posthumous fantasy – particularly this case when their posthumous fantasy is Dante’s Inferno, or as Norman Spinrad put it, “quite literally a cakewalk through hell”, literally updated in all its infernal glory of its nine circles of hell (and their various subdivisions), from the perspective of SF author John Carpentier (or Carpenter), who dies and finds himself in it, playing the role of Dante uncomfortably close to all its detail. Fortunately, he is somewhat familiar with Dante’s poem from studies at college, and even more fortunately has a guide to play the role of Virgil – with their quixotic quest to find a way out of hell. And perhaps preach a better gospel of salvation than any other version of Hell I’ve read. Bonus points for miracles, even in hell. (After all, they’ll need it).

 

SAINTS OF PAGAN CATHOLICISM

 

ST. MICK FARREN

 

St. Mick Farren is canonized for his novel The Adventures of Jim Morrison in the Afterlife. Yes, that Jim Morrison. Need I say more? The title alone is enough to earn canonization – and the novel does indeed live up to the title, in which  the Afterlife “is practically anything you wanted it to be…an environment out of our previous realities and fantasies”.

 

Bonus points for heroine Semple, one of the s€xiest female characters in science fiction – even more so as she is one half of former (and historical) evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson. Bonus points also – the Beeman Cometh.

 

 

 

Apostles of the Goddess – SF

 

APOSTLES OF THE GODDESS – SF

 

It’s time to canonize my apostles of the goddess and saints of pagan catholicism from the writers of my Top 10 Books of SF. Tonight, we’ll canonize the two apostles of the goddess – with the balance of saints of pagan catholicism to follow tomorrow.

 

Of course, all poets and writers of fantasy – and I regard writers of science fiction as a bit of both – are by their nature saints of my pagan catholicism, but some more so than others (and writers of science fiction do tend to be more at the humanistic end of my spectrum of pagan catholicism).

 

 

APOSTLES OF THE GODDESS

 

ST. ROBERT SHEA & ROBERT ANTON WILSON OF ILLUMINATUS

(FEAST DAYS – WILSON 14 JANUARY / SHEA 18 FEBRUARY)

 

St. Robert Shea and St. Robert Wilson would be canonized for their Illuminatus Trilogy alone, but beyond that they are true apostles of the goddess for their role in the trilogy’s precursor, the Principia Discordia (subtitled “How I Found Goddess and What I Did to Her When I Found Her”), and the Discordian ‘religion’ that permeates the trilogy itself.

 

 

Both were involved in the actual Discordian Society, a parody religion (or is it the ultimate cosmic truth disguised as a joke?) based on the worship of everyone’s favorite goddess of chaos and true supreme being of the cosmos – Eris or Discordia.

 

Hail Eris!

 

 

ST. PHILIP JOSE FARMER OF RIVERWORLD (FEAST DAY 26 JANUARY)

 

St. Philip Jose Farmer brought the kink to my science fiction and to science fiction in general, which would be more than enough to canonize him – or as literary critic Leslie Fiedler characterized it, Farmer’s distinctively “odd blending of theology, p0rnography and adventure” (or alternatively,  a “gargantuan lust to swallow down the whole cosmos, past, present and to come, and to spew it out again”)

 

Not to mention incarnating Jesus on Mars, as well as on Riverworld (where he is disillusioned that humanity does indeed know what it’s doing) – Riverworld being his posthumous fantasy series of an afterlife on the eponymous planet. Posthumous fantasy, particularly set in heaven (boring) or hell (much more interesting), automatically qualifies a writer for canonization.

 

What reveals him as an apostle of the goddess is his novel Flesh – in which astronauts return to a future Earth to find the post-apocalyptic “matriarchal, orgiastic society of the future” reconstructed along the lines of Robert Graves’ The White Goddess, with the neo-pagan cult of the Goddess and Her Horned Consort reigning supreme. (Planet of the Babes, perhaps?).

 

She is the goddess and this is her body – o yes!

 

Saints of Pagan Catholicism – Fantasy

 

SAINTS OF PAGAN CATHOLICISM – FANTASY

 

Once again, it’s time to round up my saints of pagan catholicism from my latest cult and pulp fantasy, although no apostles of the goddess or feast day saints.

 

ST JAMES BRANCH CABELL

 

Well, it helps for canonization as one of my saints of pagan catholicism to be tried for obscenity for one of your novels – as St. James Branch Cabell was for his comic fantasy novel, Jurgen: A Comedy of Justice.  The obscenity was pretty mild, much of it consisting of double entendres – as the presiding judge ruled (dismissing the case), “the most that can be said against the book is that certain passages therein may be considered suggestive in a veiled and subtle way of immorality but such suggestions are delicately conveyed”. However, what concerned the prosecution most was the work’s mocking expression of philosophy, including a jest about the nature of papal infallibility – which just earns more bonus points as a saint of pagan catholicism.

 

Bonus points also for the subject of the novel – the titular anti-hero seducing his way through ever fantastic realms, ultimately even to Hell and Heaven, and subverting both with pagan humor. His journey to Hell (where he even seduces the Devil’s wife) is the highlight of the novel – it’s the obligatory underworld passage for any aspiring pagan solar deity or hero, Hell as a democracy (as opposed to the authoritarian monarchy of its adversary Heaven) but one which has been suspended during its war with Heaven, and that its occupants make their own Hell through their power of belief (with Jurgen’s father in the fire and brimstone hell of his belief).

 

ST. JACK VANCE OF DYING EARTH

 

St. Jack Vance is just simply too influential as the writer of a massive amount of incredibly diverse fantasy and science fiction not to be canonized as a saint of pagan catholicism – not least for influencing the whole Dying Earth sub-genre

 

 

ST. MICHAEL MOORCOCK OF THE ETERNAL CHAMPION

 

Again, St. Michael Moorcock is simply too influential as a prolific writer of fantasy and SF not to be canonized as a saint of pagan catholicism.

 

Even more so given the underlying subversive paganism of his ‘monomyth’ of the Eternal Champion (along with the Eternal Consort against an Eternal Enemy – distinct shades of Robert Graves’ monomyth of the White Goddess) – “a being who undergoes repeated incarnations throughout time, and is destined to maintain the balance between Law and Chaos— whether he wants to or not”.

 

Bonus points for many of the incarnations of the Eternal Champion having initials of J.C.

 

More bonus points for his short story, Behold the Man, in which a time traveler hoping to meet the historical Jesus but finds himself having to impersonate the latter.

 

 

ST. JAMES BLISH

 

 

Few things qualify a candidate as one of my saints of pagan catholicism like posthumous fantasy (particularly those set in heaven or hell) or subversions of the Book of Apocalypse. For St. James Blish, it is the latter. In Black Easter (subtitled Faust Aleph-Null), an arms dealer contracts with a black magician to literally let all hell break loose for one night on earth. Throw in the passive observation of the Catholic Church as well as a particularly fetching succubus and you have the Apocalypse with a distinctive plot twist – the War is Over and God is dead, so Hell cannot be compelled to return. The sequel The Day After Judgement doesn’t quite rise to the concluding punchline of the first novel, but comes close with its reluctant Satan having to take God’s place and finding it not to his taste.

 

ST. PIERS ANTHONY OF TAROT

 

St. Anthony just made it in as one of minor saints of pagan catholicism, on the persuasion of his devil’s advocate, for his subversion of religion in his Tarot series

More Apostles of the Goddess & Saints of Pagan Catholicism – Fantasy

 

MORE APOSTLES OF THE GODDESS & SAINTS OF PAGAN CATHOLICISM

 

It’s time to canonise my saints of pagan catholicism from last week’s fantasy special mentions – no apostles of the goddess this time but another clean sweep for saints of pagan catholicism

 

SAINTS OF PAGAN CATHOLICISM (FEAST DAY SAINTS)

 

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ST. MARY SHELLEY OF FRANKENSTEIN (FEAST DAY – 30 AUGUST)

 

St Mary Shelley earns her feast day as one of my saints of pagan catholicism for creating one of the most mythic figures of fantasy, horror and science fiction – or more precisely twin mythic figures in Dr. Victor Frankenstein and his monster.

 

Bonus points for casting it as a modern Promethean myth (explicitly in her own subtitle for the novel) of stealing the fire of creation, or in this case, the creation of life – or for that matter, a subversion of Creation itself in John Milton’s Paradise Lost.

 

Bonus points also for lending a name to science playing God. After all, somebody’s got to…

 

 

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ST. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON OF JEKYLL & HYDE (FEAST DAY – 13 NOVEMBER)

 

St. Robert Louis Stevenson ranks among the feast day saints of pagan catholicism for his creation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, twin halves of one of the most mythic figures of fantasy and horror – and one that suggested that heaven and hell lie within ourselves.

 

 

ST. BRAM STOKER OF DRACULA (FEAST DAY – 8 NOVEMBER)

 

St. Bram Stoker rides to his canonization as a feast day saint of pagan catholicism on the bat wings of his most famous creation, Dracula – perhaps the most mythic figure and certainly the archetypal vampire of popular culture, so much so that he might readily be re-imagined as a dark pagan god. Dracula codified the definitive vampire tropes in fiction, and with him, Stoker arguably created a cult mythos of modern vampire fantasy to rival Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos (or indeed to surpass it in terms of popularity).

 

Bonus points for making it a s€xual mythos, particularly with the Brides of Dracula, from the archetypal trinity of ‘weird sisters’ in Dracula’s castle to his newfound brides in Victorian England (Lucy Westenra and Mina Murray). Indeed, it wouldn’t be hard to recast Dracula as a Dionysian figure in a dark modern version of the Bacchae, with the Brides as latter day Maenads or attendants.

 

 

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ST. EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS OF TARZAN (FEAST DAY – 1 SEPTEMBER)

 

St. Edgar Rice Burroughs swings to his canonization with his creation of Tarzan, perhaps the greatest mythic hero of popular culture and archetypal barbarian jungle hero.

 

Bonus points for the pagan goddess figure La, high priestess of La, one of the background characters in Tarzan’s adventures (and for that matter, his Martian princess Dejah Thoris in his Barsoom planetary romance series).

 

 

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ST. ROBERT E. HOWARD OF CONAN (FEAST DAY – 22 JANUARY)

 

St. Robert E. Howard’s Conan earns his feast day as the creator of Conan, one of fantasy’s greatest and most iconic heroes, and a thoroughly pagan one to boot – “Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian; black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jewelled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feat”.

 

Conan is a pagan hero in a pagan prehistoric world, one adapted or drawn from numerous mythologies and condensed into the so-called Hyborian Age. Conan himself draws from Celtic mythology, with his indifferent deity Crom (possibly derived from the Irish Crom Cruach), typically invoked more in expletive than in prayer – “What use to call on him? Little he cares if men live or die. Better to be silent than to call his attention to you; he will send you dooms, not fortune! He is grim and loveless, but at birth he breathes power to strive and slay into a man’s soul. What else shall men ask of the gods?”

 

Crom, indeed!

 

Bonus points for crucifying Conan (in “A Witch Shall Be Born”), although of course Conan is stong enough to pull himself off the crucifix, which would make for an interesting gospel according to Conan.

 

SAINTS OF PAGAN CATHOLICISM

 

 

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ST. OSCAR WILDE

 

St. Oscar Wilde earns his canonization pretty much for just being Ernest Oscar.

 

Bonus points for his pagan philosophy of aestheticism and his aesthetic works.

 

 

Apostles of the Goddess & Saints of Pagan Catholicism – Fantasy

 

APOSTLES OF THE GODDESS AND SAINTS OF PAGAN CATHOLICISM – FANTASY

 

Following on from my Top 10 Fantasy Special Mentions (for iconic children’s fantasy), it’s time to canonize their authors as apostles of the goddess and saints of pagan catholicism – and it’s pretty much a clean sweep across the board for all of them, as they all either spread the gospel of the goddess or the mythos of pagan catholicism in their works.

 

 

APOSTLES OF THE GODDESS

 

ST CHARLES PERRAULT (FEAST DAY – 12 JANUARY)

ST JACOB & WILHELM GRIMM (FEAST DAYS – 4 JANUARY & 24 FEBRUARY)

ST HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN (FEAST DAY – 2 APRIL)

 

Few fantasy female characters are as iconic as the female protagonists of literary fairy tales – and that alone is enough to canonize this classical trinity of creators (or codifiers) of modern literary fairy tales as apostles of the goddess.

 

Indeed, it doesn’t take too much to reconstruct the female protagonists of fairy tales as a modern pantheon of goddesses (let’s see Red Riding Hood as Artemis, goddess of beasts and the hunt, Cinderella as Aphrodite…) or as various incarnations or manifestations of the goddess in general – maidens or princesses for the lighter side, wicked stepmothers or witches for the darker side. And of course fairy tales tend to follow the mythic rule of three, evoking the Triple Goddess

 

Bonus points to the Brothers Grimm for the recurring spinning motif in their fairy tales, reminiscent of the Fates (or perhaps rather, given their Germanic origin, the Norns).

 

Bonus points to Hans Christian Andersen for perhaps the most famous literary fairy tales, becoming to fairy tales what Shakespeare is to drama – not to mention perhaps the most mythic and consistent pagan sensibilities.

 

 

ST. LEWIS CARROLL OF ALICE (FEAST DAY – 27 JANUARY)

 

If any single female protagonist is to stand as the definitive modern literary goddess, then it would be Lewis Carroll’s Alice, of his classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking Glass (although the two books are often merged in popular culture).

 

Allusions to Alice have earned their own trope on TV Tropes, and the name Alice, when used in reference to Alice in Wonderland, evokes fantastical or ethereal characters or concepts – and goes into a world of the hero’s journey that doesn’t conform to real world logic (and in which our heroine has to use intuition, a good heart, and an ability to acquire allies).

 

As for Alice herself, Lewis Carroll described her (when writing on her personality in “Alice on the Stage”) as “wildly curious, and with the eager enjoyment of Life that comes only in the happy hours of childhood, when all is new and fair, and when Sin and Sorrow are but names — empty words signifying nothing!”. I can’t think of a better evocation of the goddess than that.

 

Bonus points for creating a modern literary goddess as a thoroughly Discordian female figure, evoking (intentionally or otherwise) Eris Discordia, the goddess of chaos – an Alice of dreams, madness and nonsense, “a parade of the surreal, with all the logic of a dream — and invoking the madness of quite a lot of mankind’s so-called “logic”. (And there are echoes of Eris’ most famous icon, the golden apple inscribed “To the Fairest”, in Alice’s recurring labelled drinks or foods)

 

Further bonus points for the matriarchal world of Wonderland and the land through the looking-glass, ruled by equally Discordian Queens

 

 

ST. L.FRANK BAUM OF DOROTHY (FEAST DAY – 15 MAY)

 

Of course, if any other single female protagonist comes close to Alice as modern literary goddess, then it would be Dorothy Gale of L. Frank Baum’s Oz series, particularly the first novel (and cinematic adaptation) The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

 

Through her adventures with their vivid imagery and characters, not least the central trinity of her companions in the original novel and cinematic adaptation (the Scarecrow, the Tinman, and the Cowardly Lion), she has been a source of adaptations and allusions throughout popular culture.

 

Bonus points for a world in which power ultimately seems to reside in princesses and witches.

 

FEAST DAY SAINTS

 

 

ST J.M.BARRIE OF PAN (FEAST DAY – 9 MAY)

 

JM Barrie is best known for the eponymous trickster hero Peter Pan in his original play and novels, as well as a source of subsequent adaptations, allusions and inversions in popular culture – “a playful demigod, with aspects of Puck and Pan” (the latter even in his name) and “a cultural symbol of youthful exuberance and innocence”.

 

It doesn’t get much more pagan than the iconic elements of Peter Pan, that have so readily lent themselves to adaptation and popular imagination – Neverland itself, mermaids and fairies (with their magical pixie dust), Tinker Bell, Lost Boys and so on.

 

Bonus points for reinventing Pan, that most pagan of classical pagan gods – indeed, the one that came to embody classical paganism – as a trickster hero of children’s fantasy, “a playful demigod, with aspects of Puck and Pan”. Not to mention giving him a thoroughly Dionysian character and retinue of maenads or nymphs, albeit in the form of fairies, mermaids and other figures (Tinker Bell, Wendy Darling, Tiger Lily).

 

 

ST. A.A.MILNE OF POOH (FEAST DAY – 18 JUNE)

 

Created a modern pantheon of animal deities in children’s fantasy. Need I say more?

 

 

ST C.S.LEWIS OF NARNIA (FEAST DAY – 29 NOVEMBER)

 

Like his fellow saint, St. J.R.R. Tolkien of Middle Earth, St. C.S. Lewis of Narnia may seem somewhat incongruous as a saint of pagan catholicism, given their shared strong Christian beliefs (Catholicism in Tolkien’s case, Anglicanism in Lewis’)

 

However, let it not be said that the mythos of pagan catholicism restricts itself to pure paganism – it extends itself everywhere! After all, it is pagan catholicism, with all its universal implications. Indeed, some of the best saints of pagan catholicism are actual saints of Roman Catholicism, or as I like to dub them, double saints – especially fictional or legendary saints, which like poets or writers of fantasy are by their very nature saints of my pagan catholicism.

 

And notwithstanding his Christian advocacy or apologetics, like any saint of pagan catholicism, St. Lewis couldn’t help but spread the mythos of pagan catholicism. He was converted to Anglicanism from his first (and true) love for classical pagan mythology and philosophy. And so his Narnia is not only thoroughly imbued with classical philosophy, notably that of Plato, but he also populated his Christian allegory with thoroughly pagan figures, not least nymphs, satyrs (fauns), river gods and Dionysus himself – and the latter’s triumphal restoration of magical Narnia by Aslan in Prince Caspian essentially replays the triumph of Dionysus in Euripides’ Bacchae.

 

Bonus points for hot White Witches with Turkish delight…

Apostles of the Goddess & Saints of Pagan Catholicism – Fantasy

 

 

APOSTLES OF THE GODDESS & SAINTS OF PAGAN CATHOLICISM – FANTASY

 

These are more of my apostles of the goddess and saints of pagan catholicism from the genre of fantasy.

 

APOSTLES OF THE GODDESS

 

 

ST. FRITZ LEIBER

 

Like St. Gaiman, St. Leiber is a goddess-saturated writer of fantasy – in this case, as an acolyte of Robert Graves  and the White Goddess.

 

St Leiber evokes the Goddess throughout his fantasy, albeit more indirectly than directly. His most direct evocation is in his SF novel of time travel and alternate history warfare, The Big Time, through the Cretan or Minoan Amazon figure Labrys, who fights for the classic Triple Goddess, “the birther, bride and burier of men”. Mostly however, he evokes the goddess more indirectly in the female characters of his fantasy – from the female magic of the witches of Conjure Wife to the dark side of the Goddess in the female vampire of The Girl with The Hungry Eyes. Although Leiber’s protagonist flees the Girl in that story, I can’t help but feel the Girl continued to haunt Leiber into his older years (marred by alcoholism and world-weary widowhood), so that when he effectively evoked her again in his story Horrible Imaginings, his protagonist, so similar to Leiber himself, instead embraced her as a beautiful death. But then, what is death to an apostle of the Goddess but a return to the mother – as Leiber himself evoked, in a literal sense of time (and history) running backward, in his story The Man Who Never Grew Young.

 

SAINTS OF PAGAN CATHOLICISM (FEAST DAY SAINTS)

 

Do you accept Cthulhu as your Lord and Saviour?

 

ST. H.P. LOVECRAFT OF THE CTHULHU MYTHOS (FEAST DAY – 20 AUGUST)

 

St. Lovecraft easily earns his canonization as the creator of a modern fantasy mythos – and not just any mythos but the most pervasive and, dare I say it, cult mythos of modern fantasy, the Cthulhu Mythos (although his disciple Derleth named it as such – Lovecraft himself referred to it as Yog-Sothothery, a much less catchy nomenclature).

 

Bonus points for the cosmic horror of his Mythos, an inversion of more traditional religion (and indeed secular optimism in science and progress) – “he almost single-handedly created a new cosmology…of otherworldly horror and blind, raving deities”. And so help me, I almost know those deities as well as those of any religion – Cthulhu himself of course, but also Yog-Sothoth, Nyarlathotep, Azathoth and Shub-Niggurath, the Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young…

 

Bonus points also for creating the mythic text of the Necronomicon (as written by the equally mythic mad Arab Abdul Alhazred) for evoking the Mythos – to the point that some readers believed it to be real.

 

ST. GARY GYGAX OF DUNGEONS & DRAGONS (FEAST DAY – 27 JULY)

 

St. Gygax deserves his canonization as the creator of arguably the definitive work of modern fantasy – the game of Dungeons and Dragons, which contains within it the most systematic and comprehensive codification of the genre of fantasy.

 

Bonus points for doing so in the context of a game, effectively creating the genre of role-playing games in general. It is arguably a subversion of traditional religion, which is itself a form of role-playing – fundamentalist Christianity is playing Dungeons and Dragons with the Bible.

 

Bonus points for creating mythic pantheons within the game itself – or using ones from world mythology, as in the rulebook Deities and Demigods (with its sexy illustrations of goddesses).

 

SAINTS OF PAGAN CATHOLICISM

 

ST. STUART SLADE

 

Yes – a somewhat minor saint of pagan catholicism, somewhat like one of the thousands of minor saints of Roman Catholicism (you know, like patron saints of apothecaries and so on – seriously, there are some incredibly specialized and obscure patron saints out there!)

Even more so, as his primary fantasy work was an online serial in an internet forum, titled as The Salvation War. So what canonizes him as saint of pagan catholicism above all those other writers of fantasy? Only the most kick-ass subversion of the Apocalypse, that’s what – in which Heaven sells us out to Hell, so humanity kicks both their asses with its sweet, sweet military technology. I mean, if that doesn’t qualify you for sainthood of pagan catholicism, I don’t know what does…

 

ST. TERRY PRATCHETT OF DISCWORLD

 

St. Pratchett wins his canonization through his Discworld series of novels, the most systematic and comprehensive parody of the genre of fantasy – and much else besides, including religion and mythology. Just read Pyramids or Small Gods

Apostles of the Goddess & Saints of Pagan Catholicism – Fantasy

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APOSTLES OF THE GODDESS & SAINTS OF PAGAN CATHOLICISM – FANTASY

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These are my apostles of the goddess and saints of pagan catholicism from the genre of fantasy.

Of course, all poets and writers of fantasy are by their nature saints of my pagan catholicism – but some more so than others and I have only canonized the former, including those saints who dance with the goddess as her apostles.

 

APOSTLES OF THE GODDESS

 

 

ST. NEIL GAIMAN

 

St. Gaiman is as goddess-saturated as any other apostle, maybe even more so. His works of fantasy consistently evoke goddess or goddess-like figures (including faery queens and witches), even if they are dark as often as not. Bonus points that these figures are often drawn from actual goddesses of pagan mythology or folklore.

 

The epitome of this is arguably (because I’d also argue for American Gods) his magnum opus, the Sandman series. There’s its abundance of actual goddesses and mythological figures – indeed even evoking that metaphoric apostolic trait, dancing with the goddess, in the form of Ishtar. There are the feminine figures of the Endless themselves – Death (everyone’s favorite and my image for this entry), Desire, Despair and Delirium (who rivals Death as my personal favorite), who indeed outnumber the male figures (particularly with the abdication of Destruction), although balance is achieved in the androgynous and shifting gender of Desire.

 

Above all, there are the recurring trinities of female figures that evoke the Triple Goddess or trope of the Hecate Sisters (and Three Faces of Eve), not least the Hecatae themselves as well as the Fates and Furies. Indeed, they recur in his other works as well, such as the Hempstocks in The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

 

And of course there is his evocation of the goddess in American Gods (even if it is somewhat tongue in trickster cheek).

 

 

O yes!

 

SAINTS OF PAGAN CATHOLICISM (FEAST DAY SAINTS)

 

ST. J.R.R. TOLKIEN OF MIDDLE-EARTH

 

St. Tolkien earns his feast day as the patron saint of fantasy, with The Lord of The Rings defining modern literary fantasy. Indeed, what he identified as his ‘legendarium’ of Middle Earth is a reconstruction of English mythos in modern fantasy, such that it was one of two modern mythologies – along with Wicca – to originate in England in the twentieth-century, except that it infused literary fantasy rather than religion. As a result, modern literary fantasy is thoroughly infused with Tolkien’s ‘fairy stories’ (as he classified literary fantasy in his famous essay On Fairy Stories) and Nordic mythology.

 

Bonus points for pagan catholicism as his legendarium is literally pagan catholicism – his native Roman Catholicism infused with those same ‘fairy stories’ and Nordic mythology. There are his elves as angelic and otherworldly beings (along with other more angelic and otherworldly beings, some of them fallen). There is the Lady of Lothlorien. And there is his trinity of Christ figures – Frodo (as crucified or sacrificial Christ), Gandalf (as resurrected Christ) and Aragorn (as messianic Christ or Christ the king).

 

ST. STEPHEN KING

 

St. King is not often overtly pagan, even if he did write of Pan in The Lawnmower Man – not that you would be aware of that or anything from the original story from its abominable cinematic adaptation.

 

However, he earns his feast day from having created his own modern mythos that resonates throughout popular culture, particularly as a result of cinematic or screen adaptations – a mythos that is overarching and overlapping throughout his individual works and might well be identified as a story universe (the Kingverse) centered in King’s home state of Maine. Of course, that was most demonstrable when King deliberately sought to do so through welding much of his canon into his Dark Tower multiverse.

 

However, it was and is evident before and after (as well as outside) the Dark Tower in the way in which his works crossover from each other. Personally, I prefer his precursors to his Dark Tower multiverse (although they were also ultimately linked into it) of The Stand and The Talisman. The former has been observed to be King’s American The Lord of the Rings, but in my view it is the latter that is his equivalent of the mythic fantasy quest across the United States.

 

ST. RICHARD KADREY OF STARK

 

One way of earning your feast day as one of my saints of pagan catholicism is a suitably subversive take on Christian mythos – and it doesn’t get much more subversive than St. Kadrey’s Sandman Slim (or James Stark – hence his pagan saint title). No simple revenant clawing his way out of the grave, Stark claws his way like a badass out of hell, only to find himself trying to keep one step ahead of the magical forces – celestial, infernal and terrestrial that would like to see him back there or worse (the latter arguably including ruling it as its new Lucifer).

 

Bonus points for God being a lot more, ah, multi-sided, than might be expected.

 

Further bonus points for succeeding to the position of Lucifer’s own scribe, in the continuation of that character in comics as commenced by St. Gaiman (and St. Carey).

 

ST. JAMES MORROW

 

St. Morrow earns his feast day for taking theology and making it flesh in the form of absurdist (and humanist) fantasy, particularly in his Godhead trilogy – where he takes St. Nietzsche’s philosophical theme that God is dead and makes it flesh, literally in form of a two mile long corpse or Corpus Dei in the Atlantic Ocean.

 

Bonus points for the second book of the trilogy, Blameless in Abaddon, in which theodicy is made flesh in the form of a trial in which humanity is the plaintiff and God is the defendant (and in which the mind of God is made over into Plato’s Cave).

 

SAINTS OF PAGAN CATHOLICISM

 

ST. SIMON KURT UNSWORTH

 

St. Unsworth doesn’t quite earn his feast day, but after vigorous case presentation by his devil’s advocate has earned his canonization as a saint of pagan catholicism – for his subversion of hell (and heaven) in his posthumous fantasy of The Devil’s Detective and its sequel.

 

Bonus points for also giving hell its hero and champion of justice, even if he has to harrow all hell to be it – Thomas Fool

Apostles of the Goddess & Saints of Pagan Catholicism

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APOSTLES OF THE GODDESS & SAINTS OF PAGAN CATHOLICISM

 

This is where I canonize my apostles of the goddess and saints of pagan catholicism (as a special feature or running list within my top tens of everything).

 

What is pagan catholicism?

 

It is my personal, playful, pagan mythology of my eightfold path – although technically, in full, it is my pagan, shaman and zen catholicism, but the focus for my apostles and saints is pagan catholicism.

 

It is my mythos in which I believe in all the gods, especially the goddesses.

 

It is my mythos in which The Iliad is my Old Testament and The Odyssey is my New Testament – my myth and sacred mystery of The Bacchae and The Golden Ass, The Golden Bough and The White Goddess.

 

It is my mythos of Hellenism and humanism, Dionysianism and Discordianism.

 

Although it’s not just the Olympic pantheon, all pantheons are welcome here – Asgard, Avalon and so forth. It’s pagan catholicism or catholic paganism after all – we’re an open church. As life is the laughter of the gods, pagan catholicism also includes Roman Catholicism, with all its pagan inheritance of the Roman Empire, as well as its monotheism of the Holy Trinity, the Virgin Mary and pantheon of saints – so that “by the time of the Crusades, it was the most polytheistic religion ever to have existed, with the possible exception of Hinduism”.

 

What is a saint of pagan catholicism? Quite simply, it is my equally playful designation for anyone who espouses or embodies the mythos of pagan catholicism, whether intentionally or otherwise. The latter allows even for saints of Roman Catholicism, who earn bonus points as double saints. Indeed, fictional or legendary saints qualify by their very nature as saints of pagan catholicism.

 

For that matter, all poets and writers of fantasy are also by their nature saints of pagan catholicism, albeit some more so than others.

 

The highest order of saints of pagan catholicism are the apostles of the goddess – those saints who dance with the goddess, who espouse or embody the mythos of the goddess. For she is the goddess and this is her body. O yes!

 

As for the main body of saints of pagan catholicism, some may fall into the order of high saints, for those that were particularly definitive in creating or shaping their own mythos of pagan catholicism