All posts by Cynthia Clay

I was judged to be a computer program on Shakespeare at the First Loebner Prize Competition of The Turing Test—a truly science fictional experience. I'm an author who likes to write sf, fantasy, updated versions of old myths.

The Tarot and the Mysteries of Love and Sex

For those of you who would like to see a sample of the deck, here you are!

FWTheFool

FWEightofCupsFWPrincessandPagePentaclesFWFortitude

The Tarot and the Mysteries of Love and Sex — Trick and Treat!

TarotofMysteriesofLoveandSexOestara Publishing is excited to announce the publication of The Tarot and the Mysteries of Love and Sex, meanings written by Mel Fleming II and artwork by Cynthia Joyce Clay. The Tarot and the Mysteries of Love and Sex is available as an e-book or a paperback. The e-book is available at oestarapublishing.com/EroticaTarot.html and at Fictionwise.com. The paperback is available at oestarapublishing.com/EroticaTarot.html and will soon be available at Amazon.com. The paperback is designed so that you can cut out the artwork to make your own deck.  The Tarot and the Mysteries of Love and Sex will also be available as a deck of cards, so keep checking with Oestara to find out when you can order your deck.

 

The story behind The Tarot and the Mysteries of Love and Sex is very much like the quest of so many Pagans. Mel Fleming was reared a Fundamentalist Christian and he even attended seminary school. This upbringing instilled in him many beliefs about sex that were bringing him discord in his life because the beliefs were, he found, simply wrong. He turned to Paganism to find a spirituality that was both deep and joyous, and he found that the tarot was for him a means to answer questions of sex and romance in a private setting. The tarot helped him as a spiritual tool to rid himself of incorrect ideas about sex and helped him develop a sense of the truly sacred nature of sex. This view of sex as something inherently sacred Mel feels is part of what Paganism offers spiritual seekers. Mel wrote up the answers he found about sex and romance through the tarot and sent them along to Oestara Publishing as tarot meanings that can be used with any deck.

 

At Oestara Publishing, Cynthia Joyce Clay, a Pagan author and Wiccan High Priestess was so inspired by Mel’s insights into the tarot that she decided to create artwork for a deck to go with Mel’s tarot meanings. Cynthia sought out masterpieces of explicitly erotic art as the basis for the deck and coupled it with Wiccan symbolism, calling her artwork Tarot of the Divine Union. Cynthia found, as she searched erotic art, that the masterpieces all emphasized the emotions of the couples engaged in sex, the bliss and joy of consenting adults, the anxiety of couples forced into a love hidden in the shadows, the emotional hurt when sex is used as a power play, and the humor of love when sex is at its most playful or when lovers are caught off-guard. Like Mel, Cynthia embraces the Wiccan view that sex is sacred and healthy. Sex is meant to bring joy and intimacy between consenting adults and so she felt it important that artwork for a Pagan tarot should be completely explicit. For too long the nude female form has been depicted as a mere object and for too long the nude male form has been considered so aggressive that the male’s naked beauty has not been depicted. Worse, the sweetness of sexual congress is usually depicted as a vulgar activity rather than the intense, exquisite moments of feeling which are the essence of sexual congress.

 

In The Tarot and the Mysteries of Love and Sex Mel Fleming passionately and lovingly explicates the sexual and romantic meanings of the tarot and Cynthia Joyce Clay provides the art of the Tarot of the Divine Union, the beautiful moments of sexual congress. This Halloween, this Samhain, go to oestarapublishing.com/EroticaTarot.html and acquire The Tarot and the Mysteries of Love and Sex for your trick and treat.

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/b96047/The-Tarot-and-the-Mysteries-of-Love-and-Sex/Mel-Fleming/?

 

The Essay Review as Conversation

As discussed in my previous blogs, reviews tend to be written in three different formula styles, the puff piece, the argued review, and the essay review. Essay reviews tend to be four lengthy paragraphs or even longer. In the essay review, the reviewer brings in information other than a description of the book and how good it is. For fiction books, this information tends to be some biographical information about the author to say what of the author’s personal life influenced the author’s writing of the book. Literary trends, schools, or devices that the author uses or follows are also often mentioned by the reviewer to place the book in a literary context. For non-fiction books, the reviewer will touch on additional information of the book’s topic—science, history, psychology, what-have-you—and the reviewer does so for a variety of purposes. Sometimes the information given by the reviewer is to help the reader understand the context of the book. Also the information is given as a reason for the reviewer’s negative or positive evaluation of the book. For instance, the author includes this information, which is good; or the author includes this information which is bad because it makes the book a rehash of what is known; or the author touches on this information as a springboard into new and interesting ideas. Sometimes the reviewer gives the information as a sort of conversation with the book. As in, the book mentions this which has to do with all these other things the reviewer knows (and tells the reader about!). By relating the reviewer’s own experience or knowledge of the subject in the context of what the book discusses, the reviewer shows the book is engaging.

Essay reviews are helpful to readers for both non-fiction and fiction books. Even though fiction books try to capture your interest through emotions, this does not mean fiction is “uniformed.” The author of the fiction book has the interesting problem of providing information that gives you a specific feeling. The author draws from her or his own experience the events that gave the author a certain feeling and tries to put enough of that experience into the story to give the reader the same emotion. Also, the author will have researched many details for the story—historical details, lore, science details—consulting with books and experts on the needed points. Romance writers, for instance, writing historical romances are careful to accurately use details such as correct historical occurrences or making sure that mentions of flowers in bloom are accurate. If an author using flowers as a metaphor in her book, a reviewer can make use of the essay review to talk about the accuracy of the details in the book and point out how those accurate details are worked together to make the metaphorical statement.

The reviewer of the essay review has to be knowledgeable about the subject she or he is reviewing. This means that if reviewing fiction and literature, the reviewer needs a degree in English or comparative literature or has enough courses in either of those fields to have a worthwhile opinion.  The reviewer of fiction and literature must have a sound knowledge of literary theory which means knowing about literary devices, literary styles, and literary history, etc. A layman’s understanding is rarely good enough for writing an essay review. The same goes for non-fiction works; the reviewer must have advanced knowledge of the subject in order to write about it in a way that informs and delights readers. Nevertheless, this not yet a perfect world, and reviewers often are given reviewing assignments that are out of their depth. If the reviewer knows he or she is out of her depth, the reviewer can still write a worthy review, so long as the reviewer approachs the book as a student seeking to make sense of what he or she knows in relation to what they are reading for review. When a reviewer is out of her or his depth, it can be a disaster for the authors, especially if the author is published by a small publisher or is a self-publishing author.  Read “O! The Horror of Bad Reviews” by Gary R Varner about getting a bad review, a bad review that clearly was written by a reviewer out of her depth. In addition to the problems Varner relates that inappropriately bad reviews cause, the essential problem is that they do hurt sales and the author’s reputation.

An essay review by an ethical reviewer means the reviewer is well-aware of the extent of her or his knowledge of the subject, and approaches the book with humility not arrogance. Essay reviews by sensitive, intelligent reviewers are usually a delight to read because the reviewer applies her or his own knowledge to the task in the way of an informed conversation. A review that is couched as an informed conversation is reviewing at its best as opposed to the type of an arrogant Ph.D. getting her rocks off belittling a book by an author more knowledgeable than herself.

I am third degree Witch which means I studied and worked under a teacher for three years as the beginning basis of my magickal practice. I am very informed about Witchcraft because I never stop studying and practicing and because I subject my studies and practices to the same tests of quality that my formal university studies taught me about applying to any practice. This means I keep reading, I go to festivals to take workshops and drain the brains of other Pagans, and I keep practicing.  I don’t do magick half assed. I am at point where most information in Witchcraft books is information I already know or simply not of my area of interest (Christian and Jewish magick), but as I am trained in the humanities and arts, I know this is the case with all experts who research. You take a bit from this book and a bit from that book and make your own project. Further the books are going to disagree with each other and this is good because now you have to figure out where the truth is yourself. This is unlike the hard sciences where there are very few books on a given subject and all the books will agree. You can read one professional level science book and have all the information for that type of science. That is impossible in the humanities.  In the humanities you have to keep an eye on everything, not just the new discoveries, but all the old writings as well.

When I read a book about fairy magick, for instance, I know what the author is talking about and I look to the author to help me discover new ways of engaging in fairy magick both through new understanding and through new techniques. I know the author knows many things I do not, and this makes the book enjoyable. I first assume that the author has done every single piece of magick she or he describes in the book. This means the author is more informed than I am in that he or she has experiences of magick I do not have and am reading the book to discover. Further, when I read a book on Witchcraft, I am basically having a conversation in my head with the author: I find confirmation of my own experience, which is no small thing; I find suggestions of what to do in my practice; and I find additional ways to comprehend magick. What is really fun, is when an author throws out some detail of information I have been searching for as though answering a question specifically for me. Being confident of my own knowledge means I am very sensitive to the honor an author has done me by providing me with even more information. This is why I love reading essay reviews. I love to hear about the connections the reviewer finds between her own experience and knowledge and that of the author. A really knowledgeable reviewer can take a point or detail an author has given and expound upon it, for this makes the book and the review very interesting reading. As a reader, my favorite review to read is raves of my novels—ah well, yeah, but I meant to say my favorite reviews to read are essay reviews by reviewers letting us listen in on the “conversation” between the reviewer and the author.

A Compendium of Magickal Practice

Oestara Publishing announces the publication of a new book on magick in time for Halloween, or Samhain as Pagans call the holiday where the beloved dead are remembered. A Compendium of Magickal Practice from Ethics to Sex by Sapnabella and Axis will be available October as an e-book and a paperback.  A Compendium of Magickal Practice from Ethics to Sex is written in two voices—his and hers, echoing the divine compliment of the Lord and Lady. Sapnabella and Axis are a Pagan couple who compliment each other’s magickal Workings. Sapnabella is a Wiccan High Priestess and a Witch born who has a private practice in dream interpretation and divination, and she has led magickal Workings of many kinds for years. Axis is an especially pure Channel who has led many workshops on Pagan parenting and on developing psychic talents. He roamed Latin America for many years learning South American magickal techniques and teachings and then came to the US where he refined his psychic abilities and spiritual views.

A Compendium of Magickal Practice from Ethics to Sex is designed to help Pagans  advance in their magickal undertakings. By presenting a progressed learning chain that exercises and develops the sub skills common to most magickal tasks, A Compendium of Magickal Practice from Ethics to Sex enables Pagans to return to their own form of magick strengthened in power. This means that important areas of magick are re-examined in new ways as parts of a learning chain. The chapter “Channeling,” for instance, details how the individual her or himself can channel accurate and meaningful information rather than relying on specific spirit guides. “Of Fairies and Magick” explains why the magickal practitioner must make on the spot decisions on how to behave with the Fair Folk. The chapter “Movement for Ritual, Workings of Ecstatic Trance” gives examples of body movement that can be incorporated into ritual work for those who enter trance most easily through physical exertion. The chapter also looks at Between Actions and how they relate to magickal Workings. “Dream Work,” a topic familiar to all those of the Craft, presents the only means of dream interpretation that allows dreamers to remember more of their dreams than they ever have before and then places the understanding of dreams, myths, and fairy tales into a context to better perceive mundane life as a magickal existence. A Compendium of Magickal Practice from Ethics to Sex also includes frank and fresh, sex magickal Workings.

Donald Kraig, author of Modern Magick calls A Compendium of Magickal Practice from Ethics to Sex “A literate and in-depth collection of magickal technique and theory, primarily from a Pagan perspective, that adds new impetus to the assertion that modern Neo-Paganism consists of complete spiritual systems. It shows how such paths may include complex theology and high ethical conduct. There are also explicit and complete instructions for spiritual development, including channeling, psychic self-defense, working with spirits, and sex magick. A welcome addition to all who are beginning one of these paths and an excellent supplement to those who already follow the Old Religion.”

A Compendium of Magickal Practice from Ethics to Sex will be available the first week in October as an e-book available at Oestarapublishing.com, Fictionwise.com, and Barnes & Noble on-line store. A Compendium of Magickal Practice from Ethics to Sex will be available as a paperback at Lulu.com and Amazon.com the first week of October.

Release date: October, 2009

E-book:  $6.25

Paperback: $18.60

Published by: Oestara Publishing LLC

Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9842166-0-4

E-book ISBN: 978-0-9842166-1-1

Library of Congress Control Number:  2009935982

coming early October!
coming early October!

Why Reviewers Review

Most book reviewers have a reason why they review books and this reason is rooted in a sense of fairness and ethics. Here are some examples of statements of ethics:

“I’ve seen many, many lists of recommended books, very few of which tell me why I should read them. I’m very aware of the pitfalls of book reviews, but I’d rather have them to read than buy a book blindly.” –Hearthstone http://www.geocities.com/hearthstoneshaven/

“I want to make sure that all of you have the information you need to make informed decisions as to the worth and value of many of the books on the market.” —Daven

http://davensjournal.com/index.htm?Header.xhtml

The Midwest Book Review has an entire essay page devoted to explaining their ethics about book reviewing.  http://www.midwestbookreview.com/bookbiz/advice/system.htm

 

          An important part of the ethic of review writing has to do with point of view. As Pagans we have religious mores and values that give us a specific point of view. This point of view can be used to shape the ethic of review writing as well as shaping reviewing insights. For instance, the vast majority of Neo-Pagans believe that the individual has her or his connection to the Gods and to any other divine or Other beings believed to be part of the earth and cosmos. Further, how the individual finds and makes this connection is the individual’s right and is to be respected as part of the individual’s self-determination and responsibility. In terms of reviewing, this will mean that at its most basic level, the Pagan reviewer respects the author and is appreciative of the author expressing her or his views in his or her writing, whether this expression finds form in the subtext of the writing or more overt expression through character statement or through interplay of events, and, in non-fiction, finds form in the subtext of choices of facts revealed, juxtaposition of facts, and the overt states.

            Reviewer ethics are especially important in argued reviews. Argued reviews are pieces where the reviewer quotes from the book she or he is reviewing as support to her or his argument that the book is good. Occasionally a book is panned through argument, too. To say a book or film is panned, means the book or film (or play) received a very bad review. When composing an argued review for non-fiction books, the reviewer mentions the salient points of the book in the order the book mentions them and quotes key lines from the book. For fiction books, the reviewer mentions the characters the reviewer most liked or disliked, the exciting or dullest moments, and also mentions any instance of a turn of phrase that particularly appealed to the reviewer or turned-off the reviewer. Again for each element of the book mentioned, a quotation is given. These reviews tend to be five to eight paragraphs in length. In argued reviews the reviewer gives her or his reasons, supported with concrete examples from the book reviewed, of why the book is good or not. The argued review, then, is at best a thoughtfully considered evaluation, a judgment.

Does the reviewer judge fairly? How does the reviewer judge the book: by commercial appeal, by importance of the work, by literary criteria, or by what message the book is actually making? Does the reviewer choose fair criteria for judging the book? Each of these questions reflects on the ethics of the reviewer. Does the reviewer demonstrate real understanding of the book?  The point of view of the reviewer is going to be reflected in what and how the review argues her or his point about the book. The Pagan view of the respect for the author as an individual expressing a personal truth or seeking an answer of personal importance creates a firm foundation for writing an ethical argued review. 

            As already said, argued reviews argue for the quality of the book by giving examples in the form of quotes from the book and brief descriptions of scenes and characters. One of the ways to help Paganism be accepted in the world is to help promote Pagan books through book reviews., The argued review becomes a particularly good tool in this regard because the argued review shows exactly why a specific Pagan book should be read by everyone, not just Pagans.

Pagan Point of View and Argued Reviews

In her blog “Using Fiction to Explore Personal Issuesmagalyguerrero brought up the very important issue of the author’s point of view. Indeed, this blog of hers made me decide to have a blog theme today about argued reviews. Finding authors’ point of view is an essential part of writing an insightful argued review. In this blog, I am going to delve into how reviewers like magalyguerrero find authors’ point of view, and I’m going to do this in the context of one of my own books, a collection of short stories, New Myths of the Feminine Divine. I am going to use examples from my stories to bring up points of how we, as Pagans, write and understand stories differently than the larger culture.

In fiction, finding the author’s point of view is done through a combination of techniques. First, the author’s choice of who is the protagonist (“hero“) and who the antagonist (“villain“) gives a good idea of what characteristics the author finds good and bad. Many people who write scripts and fiction believe the protagonist and the antagonist have to be characters. For them, then, in “Where’s Mercy” the protagonist is Hope and the antagonist, the ogress. Howevr,  the ogress is not evil. The ogress is not a villain. There is the character Glarmor who is a very unpleasant sort who refuses to help the people who are helping him. There is also Faith who causes one third of the town to get killed because she refuses to believe the truth. Are either of these characters the antagonist? As Pagans, you are probably suffering at the idea that one character has to be the actual antagonist (or protagonist for that matter) especially when you see that the actions of three characters—the ogress, Glarmor, and Faith—contribute to the suffering and death of the townspeople. Likewise you may consider that Prudence, Hope, and Larson form a sort of protagonist unit. As a Pagan, you may be thinking along the lines of triple-aspected deities, and you would be absolutely correct.

The Pagan perspective that there is not always One person, or One way, or One point of view helps in understanding stories because the Pagan view is not going to try to force a villain-versus-hero interpretation on a story that does not fit that mold. The Pagan view of there being many Gods, triple-aspected deities, and a variety of Other Realm entities gives the Pagan reviewer a way of thinking about stories that is both flexible and useful.

It is a common mistake in analyzing stories to think that the antagonist has to be one of two central characters, the evil one, and the protagonist also has to be the other central character, the good one. In stories, characters are actually things that are moved to action by forces. It is the force behind the characters that is antagonistic or protagonistic. Further these forces can be many, and they unite, like seeking like, just as magical energies do. Therefore, a variety of forces can be influencing a character. These forces can be coming from the environment—outside of the character—or they can be coming from inside the character—the character’s thoughts, emotions, memories, etc. The same is with the things and places in the story; like seeks like to strengthen and build; opposites change each others’ courses if they brush each other by gently, destroy each other if they hit head on. Only if one is larger or stronger in some way will it survive the impact. If the two opposite forces are of equal strength and all other things are equal then a balance of stasis, a balance of life, can be created, just as with magickal energies. (For a deeper explanation of looking at the elements of literature as forces, read Vector Theory and the Plot Structures of Literature and Drama.)

Consider the ogress and Faith in “Where’s Mercy?” Faith is one of the human beings in danger every week of being eaten. She has the courage to maintain her religious beliefs in a very difficult life and conducts religious services for the other humans. These are positive qualities, and yet her views prevent her from accepting that what Hope says is true; they are all going to be eaten if they do not escape immediately. Faith has good qualities, and yet her actions and beliefs lead her and others to their deaths. What is the point of view I seem to hold about such attitudes? As a Pagan, what sort of religious person do you think Faith is based on? What is the author’s (Hi!) message about Faith? Now think about the ogress. The ogress eats people. She cooks up babies and serves them as hors d’oeuvres to the ogre of her dreams, and he likes them so much he proposes to her. (So, we can say she eats babies and has sex afterwards!) Now this is, from a human perspective, terrible, yet she is an ogress. She is not human. She sees humans like we see chickens. Her humans are “organic”; they are free running and vegetarian. She doesn’t mistreat her humans; she protects them from other predators. She is, all in all, a humane farmer. Nevertheless, she is penning up an intelligent species and eating them. The ogress acts as humanely as she knows how, and yet her way of life is based on cruelty. Look at how the ogress acts at the end of the story. What change occurs in the ogress? What is the ogress going to do in the future? What is the author saying—what point is the author making in this change the ogress undergoes?

This brings us to another way of how reviewers find out what the author’s point or message is. They compare who the characters are at the beginning of the story with who they are at the end of the story. In “Where’s Mercy?” which character makes the biggest change? What character or characters don’t change? Think about Faith. She was pretty arrogant and bossy through most of the story. Her arrogance got many of the people killed because they followed her. So when an ogress thanks her for giving up her life to the ogresses, how do you imagine Faith behaved? There is no description of how she acted. This means the reader is invited to imagine for him or herself how Faith acts at the time of her death. How then do you think Faith died? The one character who has a fundamental change that is told about is the ogress. Thinking about how she changes, what does the title of the story mean? How does the title question fit in with elements of the story? The ogress’s change and the title of the story are big indicators of the author’s message.

In the “The Aurora Mask,” how do the characters behave at the beginning of the story? How do they behave at the end of the story? Who changes and how? Most important will be the transformation of the Queen Iyer as the antagonist and of Cymbeline as the protagonist. What sort of person is Cymbeline at the beginning of the story? What sort of person is she at the end of the story? What sort of person was Queen Iyer at the beginning of the story? What sort of person was she at the end of the story?

Settings also reflect the forces the author is working with in the story. What state is the castle in, the country in, at the beginning of the story? What state is the castle in, the country in, at the end of the story? Special objects (props) in a story also reflect the influence of the forces the author is working with in a story. In “The Aurora Mask” masks are central to the story. Cymbeline’s punishment is to make for herself a mask that once she puts it on she can never take off. Yet, at the end of the story, the rest of court is forced by Cymbeline to make masks. What happens when they put them on? What happens to the mask that Cymbeline wears? What is the meaning given to the masks? What do the changes in the characters, the changes in the setting, and the changes in mask-wearing tell about the point of the story? What does the title “The Aurora Mask” say about the story?

Many Pagans, especially Wiccans, use masks for some rituals. If you yourself have used masks in Circle, compare your use of masks with how they are used in the story. Anytime you bring your personal experience to a story you will have an interesting insight to bring to your reviews. What is the author saying about mask use? Do you agree with it? Wiccans use things in their magic as symbols of things the magic is about. Consider the two stories in this way. What are the masks symbols of in “The Aurora Mask“? What is the ogress a symbol of, and what symbolic meaning is there in the doll clothes the people have to wear in “Where’s Mercy”? Looking at the details of stories as symbols helps to make clear the author’s message because once you figure out what is a symbol, you can easily figure out what the symbol means. What the symbol means is part of the author’s point or message. In very good writing, every detail will contribute to the story’s meaning. That is also a good point to bring up in arguing about the quality of writing. Do all the details serve the meaning of the story or not?

Lastly, an author reveals her or his point of view or message in the situation they set up in the story. Again, reviewers as they study the work of fiction compare the situation at the beginning of the story with the situation at the end. What is the situation at the beginning of “The Aura Mask”? What is the situation at the end of the story? What has happened? What has changed? From this comparison reviewers are able to gauge the message the author is giving.

Finding the message and deciding what you think of the message are very important parts of reading and writing an argued review. There will be times you will like a story or non-fiction book because of its message even if you do not like the writing that much. Conversely, there will be times when the story and writing is very good, but you do not like the point of view or the message. Sometimes messages of hate can be subtle, and these are dangerous. Reviewers have to use their sense of ethics to decide if they should warn against untrue or hate-inspired messages or not.

I was at a science fiction convention where most everyone was excited about a particular sf book. The author was at the convention. The book was well written and quite entertaining, but I hated it. I hated it because of the underlying message. Basically the story was of a civilized planet that was discovered for the first time. It was discovered because the beautiful music of the civilization was caught by a sweep of radio waves or some such method. The Catholic Church decided to help fund the scientific team to be sent to the planet. The Catholic Church decided to do this because they believed that such beautiful music could only be created as expressions of love of god. So naturally they put a priest on the science team. When the team arrives, they discover that the songs are created as expressions of sexual ecstasy. There are two races, a predator race and herbivore race, with the predator race enslaving the herbivore race. The predators seasonally rape some of the herbivores, finding this sex to be the best. Then the predators eat the herbivores’ babies. Ironically, just two weeks before the convention, a leading Middle Eastern paper had printed a vicious article claiming that the Jewish sader (the feast held during Passover) was a ritual where Jews ate gentile babies. We as Pagans have read some of the silly accusations that we have sex orgies and then eat babies afterwards. So as you can see, I disliked the book because it was perpetuating the falsehood that a foreign culture, a culture that creates music out of the joy of sexual ecstasy, is really just a bunch of rapists who eat babies. When these sorts of ideas are presented in entertainment, people tend to find them palatable because the story is so good. However, once the idea is put in people’s minds in a way they accept, then if it is repeated enough in different ways, people become willing to act on these false ideas and they put into political office people who act on these ideas on a large scale, often drastic way. When stories do this I think it is important to expose. Did I just write and argued review or an anti-puff piece?

 

Here is a summary of ways to find the author’s point or message.

 

*Determine the antagonist and the protagonist—and think like a Pagan!

The antagonist may not necessarily be a character!

The protagonist may not necessarily be a character!

 Who or what else in the story is compelled by the same type of forces as the protagonist?

Who or what else in the story is compelled by the same type of forces as the antagonist?

*Examine the adjectives and adverbs used to describe the main characters.

Who and what is describe in positive terms?

Who and what is described in negative terms?

 

*What characters change from the beginning of the story to the end,

and how do they change?

 

*What special objects change from the beginning of the story to the end,

and how do they change?

 

*How does the setting change from the beginning of the story to the end of the story and why?

 

*How does the story’s title relate to elements in the story?

 

*What details of the story work as symbols, and what do those symbols mean?

 

As a Pagan reviewer, once you have determined what the author’s point or message is, you have a perspective that is fresh and insightful—your Paganism. Let your personal experience of the Craft tell you things about the fiction and non-fiction you read.

Putting the Pagan in the Review: the Lady

            Just as the imagery of the Horned Hunter can be used as ways to frame thinking about books, so the imagery and meaning of the Goddess of Moon and Magick can give Pagan reviewing an insightful point of view. The Wiccan Goddess, as a Goddess of Magick, has to do with imagination, self-knowledge, arcane and occult knowledge, unknowable knowledge such as knowledge of the future or of distant, unseen events that is nevertheless given to mortals. Is the book being reviewed about this sort of illumination, this sort of knowledge? The Wiccan Goddess is also a Moon Goddess; therefore, does the book follow a moonlike pattern of something entirely hidden eventually being fully revealed? The Wiccan God and Goddess are a Divine Couple, symbolizing a romantic coupling of the earth and nature with the celestial and with mysterious light. Yet the Goddess and the God often interchange these qualities, depending on the Sabbat, the time of year, as who they are becomes better known. Does the novel being reviewed approach sex and romance as something mystically divine? Do the qualities first thought to be those of the hero turn out to be also the same qualities of the heroine, and those of the heroine  in time revealed to those of the hero? These are the types of questions that looking at books through lenz of the Wiccan Gods bring insight to novels. Similarly the pantheons of other Trads will bring fascinating ways to consider novels. Paganizing review formulas comes from the types of questions Pagans ask. Therefore, the questions differing Trads ask of us as Pagans also become ways of enjoying deeper reads of books.

Pagan authors, like me, are often putting these kinds of Pagan undercurrents into their work; reviewers help readers discover these delightful, hidden themes.