Religious Fiction

There are a few different types of Wiccans and/or Pagans out there. One of those groups likes to research their faith through solid scholarly works like Ronald Hutton’s Triumph of the Moon and classic texts on mythology like Edith Hamilton’s Mythology. Of course, this group doesn’t ignore the influence of popular works of fiction on their faith or on the general perception of their faith. But, they don’t see these works of fiction as the gospel (if you will pardon the expression). Fiction is recreation, and if it adds to your spiritual journey, so much the better.

There is another group, however, which sees books like Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Mists of Avalon as words coming directly from the mouth of the goddess. They seem to forget that it is fiction, and that while Ms. Bradley may or may not have hosted woman’s circles in the past, she died as a Christian. A work of obvious fiction does not make a good basis for a religion. It may inspire you and it may teach you, but it should not be the final word on what you believe.

I see the division between these groups most clearly when it comes time to pick a book for a study group. Delphi has decided to tackle Triumph because we want to understand our past, to discover where our religion came from. (And yes, a lot of the ideas grew from the Romantic Poetry movement.) A forum that I sometimes read has also decided to start a book study group. They chose Mists. I suppose something can be learned from it, but it is a little sad to see Triumph, or any other good scholarly work, passed over for a piece of fiction that many Pagans have all but memorized.

Wicca may be religion with homework, but I think a lot of people enjoy slacking off.


3 Responses

  1. Joy says:

    I am glad you are feeling better!

    “I think a lot of people enjoy slacking off.”

    Probably the single most accurate statement I have heard in months. And one I am guilty of doing myself. Thank you for the gentle reminder that I haven’t done my own homework in a while. 🙂

  2. Rae says:

    I agree with you on the Mists of Avalon thing (my being pagan has nothing to do with the fact that this is my all-time favourite book)…

    To put a spin on it though, there was a book written quite a few years ago that spawned a religion all itself. Have you ever heard of the Church of All Worlds? It was spawned from the book “Stranger in a Strange Land” (in and of itself a very weeeeird book) by Robert A. Heinlein, so the concept itself is not new, for sure!

  3. Kelly says:

    I think as pagans we have plenty of troubles and the subgroups should not start attacking each other. We have mainstream religion to do that already. I am not saying you are attacking, I just think that we should be mindful of how we treat other pagans.