The Lilith Archetype

Lilith. The Dark Mother. Mother of Demons. I’ve written previously about the Lilith archetype in relation to the types of protagonists in Angel Lit and the Great Mother archetype. I feel like I’ve made a good case as to why Lilith is an important archetype, and why she’s important to young female readers. Today I want to explore her a little more.

Lilith is most famously the first wife of Adam in Judaism, a figure cast out and demonised for refusing to submit to the will of her husband. But Lilith in religious literature has other origins and other stories too. She is not merely the baby killing demon of the night Judaism painted her to be. Lilith has been seen as a desert spirit, a storm spirit, a goddess, a demon, a human, and a handmaiden to Inanna. In Sumerian literature Lilith plays a role (under the name Lilitu) in the Epic of Gilgamesh and figures of Lilith dating back to ancient Babylon have been recovered. According to Natalia Klimczak from ancient-origins.net Lilith was a figure in the myths and culture of the Hittite, Egyptians, Greek, Israeli and Roman peoples.

Lilith as the Dark Mother can be known under many other names; Hekate, Kali, Erishkegel, Circe, Medea, The Wicked Witch of the West, Bellatrix Lestrange, Baba Yaga, Maleficent, The Evil Queen. Any dark and powerful figure in the realm of mythology, folklore, fairy tale and fiction is a potential Dark Mother. Whether they are intentionally evil or simply misunderstood these figures are representations of the Dark Mother. The Dark Mother, the Lilith, is a force of nature. She creates as easily as she destroys.

Cyndi Brannen says of Hekate,

               “While there are many different ways of understanding Hekate, there is little
               argument over her status as an ancient, powerful Dark Goddess. She is the night,
               the shadow, and rebirth. She is also the light that leads us through hell. She is
               necessary to guide us through these troubling times.” (Brannen, Nov 2019)

The same can be said of Lilith. Lilith calls us to fight, to become wild and untamable, to take that which we want and deserve, and to be unconquerable.

I believe that the portrayal of Lilith-women, in popular culture like Angel Lit, and in real life (I mean Nancy Pelosi ripping up Trump’s impeachment speech is a bad ass Lilith thing to do, so is calling the speech in question a “manifesto of mistruths”) has been a major turning point for our western culture.

Even before the advent of Angel Lit we had pop culture figures embracing the Lilith archetype and inspiring real women to do the same. Buffy, Zoe Wash, Daenerys Targaryen, Dorothy Gale (hey she killed two powerful witches in her quest to get home), Rowena MacLeod, Brienne of Tarth (okay so there’s a ton of Lilith characters in GOT), Xena Warrior Princess, Mulan, Veronica Mars, Jessica Jones, Katniss Everdeen, Sabrina Spellman (in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) and Hermione Granger (she broke rules when it suited her and used transfiguration as a form of punishment on adults twice her age while still in school) are all pop culture icons and they all exhibited aspects of the Lilith archetype. In real life we can see the Lilith woman in Rose McGowan, Jacinda Arden, Megan Markle, Tina Fey, Celeste Barber, Kesha and so many more.

They refused to play by the rules. They forged their own way through their worlds. They were unapologetic about fighting for what they believed in, even if it had the potential to get them into dangerous situations. Veronica Mars was nearly murdered trying to find out who killed her best friend, and she made sure the villain got what was coming to them. Hermione Granger uses her wits and her intellect to make her world a better place, not just for herself but for everyone in it, and is not afraid to get her hands dirty to do it. Mercy in the Mercy Series is an Angel who doesn’t display that which she is named for when it comes to punishing a man who has been abusing teenage girls. She uses her powers to blind and maim him while she waits for the police to back her up.

Jaclyn Cherie at Nephilim Rising put it like this “the world is full of angry Women, and the people who love them.”

These characters, and the women inspired by them, are refusing to be subjugated, like Lilith. In Feminist and Rebel Angels I covered some of the popular characters of Angel lit and how they fit the Lilith Archetype. In The Great Mother in YAUF I wrote:

               “The Lilith nature requires women to question everything, to refuse to bow to
               compromising pressures and to refuse to acknowledge a patriarchal authority
               that only serves its own interests.”

In reality it is any compromising pressure that the Lilith woman cannot abide.

Lilith, as an archetype, is at the forefront of our consciousness as a society, even if we don’t realise it. In these times of political upheaval, global pandemics, and social justice movements, the energy of the Lilith archetype is a strong current in our world.

Lilith is the spirit of #metoo and the women coming forward with their heartbreaking stories. Lilith is the women fighting to fix climate change. Lilith is the women fighting for better reproductive health accessibility. The Lilith women are here, they’re angry, and they aren’t going to quietly go away. I don’t know what the future holds but it is being forged right now. Our choices are shaping our future and the characters I’ve mentioned earlier, and many more, have contributed to how women are perceiving the world. There has been a shift in our consciousness and now there is a shift in our actions. For authors like myself it is no longer enough to write about how the future could be, although we will never stop doing this, we must plant the seeds of the future in our stories for other women to read. Writing is no longer enough; our words must match our actions. We, as well as the women we inspire, must water those seeds to make the future better for everyone.  

The Lilith Archetype, and indeed Lilith herself as a character, have been instrumental in inspiring my upcoming series The Lady of Zion. The protagonist Grace Haskiel is an embodiment of the Lilith archetype, a woman who is unapologetic as she attempts to take down the ultimate patriarchal figure, and who sees what she wants and goes after it. Later in the series Lilith herself becomes a vital character guiding Grace and helping to build a better world. 

The Lady of Zion is in Beta Reading at the moment and I’m trying to get it ready to be launched for the 30th of March 2020. 

Some of the sites that were mentioned in this article or inspired it:

Book Review: Haunted On Bourbon

Book Review: Haunted On Bourbon Street (Jade Calhoun #1)
Author: Deanna Chase
Genre: Paranormal Romance
$$$: $0 AUD for Kindle,
       $21.65 AUD Paperback
       (at 3/2/2020)
Publisher: Bayou Moon Press, LLC (23 November 2013) ASIN: B005EHRSUY

I give it: 4 stars

Blurb from Amazon:

Jade loves her new apartment—until a ghost joins her in the shower.

When empath Jade Calhoun moves into an apartment above a strip bar on Bourbon Street, she expects life to get interesting. What she doesn’t count on is making friends with an exotic dancer, attracting a powerful spirit, and developing feelings for Kane, her sexy landlord.

Being an empath has never been easy on Jade’s relationships. It’s no wonder she keeps her gift a secret. But when the ghost moves from spooking Jade to terrorizing Pyper, the dancer, it’s up to Jade to use her unique ability to save her. Except she’ll need Kane’s help—and he’s betrayed her with a secret of his own—to do it. Can she find a way to trust him and herself before Pyper is lost?”


First thing I want to say about this book is that it is a part of several series, not just Chase’s Jade Calhoun series. I’m not sure what she’s calling the universe this story sits in (I’m going to call it the Spirits of Bourbon Street) but in her world the stories of several series are interlinked. For example connected to this series is the Pyper Rayne series. Pyper is Jade’s friend and I actually began reading this universe with Pyper’s first novel Spirits, Stilettos and a Silver Bustier. SSSB is clearly set after Haunted on Bourbon Street but reading them “out of order” was no hindrance to the enjoyment of either book. Judging from the content Haunted On Bourbon Street is our first foray in to Jade and Pyper’s world.

I picked this book up as a freebie, I think it was a recommendation from read.freely, or from the author’s newsletter. I really enjoyed this book so I decided to do a review for you my lovely readers. In the interest of transparency, I am not getting paid for this, and the book wasn’t a freebie in return for a review. I just really enjoyed it and thought you might too.

So, Haunted on Bourbon Street. What a starting place for a series. Jade has just moved to New Orleans only to find her best friend shacking up with Jade’s ex so she’s on the lookout for a new place to live. She rents an apartment above a strip club only to discover the owner wasn’t lying about the handsy ghost rumoured to live in the place. But when the ghost begins to hurt people though Jade knows the ghost has got to go.

It was really fun to read the “will they won’t they” of Jade and Kane’s relationship and get to know the other characters of the series like Bea a little better. I got to know their backgrounds and relationships more fully in this book. The story didn’t go into as much detail as I’d probably would have liked, but as it’s part one of a series I’m assuming things that didn’t get expanded upon probably will in a future book. Sidenote: Can I get like a Book-Daddy who buys me all the books I want and then brings me tea while I read them? This book is full of sexual tension, sleuthing to find out who the ghost is and how to get rid of him, magic, and the best part of all: finding friends who are your kind of crazy. My favourite scene was probably the first time Jane and Kane get it on. It was well written and romantic. You could really feel the passion between the characters.

Haunted On Bourbon Street was an easy read. I read it in a couple of hours (maybe three or four). Chase has a great talent for the craft of writing and enough knowledge of the Craft to make the magic realistic. I really enjoy her writing (I think this is the third book of hers I’ve read) and look forward to getting further into her catalogue. I recommend this book for readers who enjoy paranormal romance, PR cozy mysteries, and books about fictional witches.

Interested in this book? I made the cover a link to take you straight to Amazon. This is not an affiliate link, I was just trying to be helpful) 

Book Review: The Vampire’s Last Dance

 

 (Image screenshot from www.amazon.com)

  The Vampire’s Last Dance (Witch Island Brides #1)
  Author: Deanna Chase
  Genre: Paranormal Romance
  $$$: $4.99 AUD/$3.99 USD
  Publisher: Bayou Moon Press, LLC (April 5, 2018)
  Publication Date: April 5, 2018
  ISBN: 1940299578

  4 stars

Curses. Witches. Vampires. Bridezillas. This book had it all. Witch Island is the premier paranormal wedding location in Chase’s created world, and the hometown of Felicia Patterson, a witch cursed to never have her own happy ending. All Felicia’s relationships are doomed to fail after her jealous cousin curses the florist to a life of loneliness. Enter Christopher Park, a vampire burned by past love and determined to live the bachelor life.

I picked this book up as a freebie, I think it was a recommendation from read.freely, or from the author’s newsletter. I really enjoyed this book so I decided to do a review for you my lovely readers. In the interest of transparency, I am not getting paid for this, and the book wasn’t a freebie in return for a review. I just really enjoyed it and thought you might too. I enjoyed other works by this author (Haunted on Bourbon Street and Spirits, Stilettos and a Silver Bustier) and so I was excited to read this book.

What can I say about The Vampire’s Last Dance? You know the romance book is going to be sexy and funny when the protagonists meet in the opening scene with Felicia creating bouquets of flowers and vibrators for a hen’s night. Unlike Chase’s Jade Calhoun and Pyper Rayne books paranormal creatures and magical users do not seem to have to hide in the Witch Island series. Witch Island caters to the supernatural, giving them a place to play, or live, their lives freely. Romance aside, when a mysterious witch causes trouble for the wedding Felicia has been hired to work for, it comes down to Felicia and Christopher to find the witch responsible and fix the relationship between the bride and groom before the wedding is cancelled for good.

Witch Island is the kind of place, if it existed in the real world, I’d love to visit. The author made not only the characters appealing, but the location as well. I pictured a small, semi-tropical island, maybe off the coast of New England America or the Florida Keys.

The Vampire’s Last Dance was an enchanting, funny, engrossing and easy to read (I think I read it within 3 hours). The story focuses on the romance between Felicia and Christopher, but introduces a host of side characters whom I’d love to read more about, especially the local healer Mystia. I really enjoyed Felicia and found her relatable. She had a wicked sense of humour. I found the depiction of the villainess a little flat, playing her role in perpetuity, not learning from her past.

My favourite part of the book was probably the Bingo Club scene, but I’m not going to go into details for fear of spoilers. Needless to say, I found it extremely funny. The book, in parts, didn’t seem very realistic. I don’t think that the relationship between Felicia and Christopher would have developed so quickly especially with Felicia feeling held back by her curse, and Christopher’s fear of being burnt again. That said, no one reads romance novels for their realism because the realism would usually kill the romance quickly.

I recommend this book for readers who enjoy paranormal romance, PR cozy mysteries, and books about fictional witches.

Book Review: All Souls Trilogy

Disclaimer: This was originally posted on my old website 10/09/19

Yesterday was crazy! I was away from my computer for most of the day so this post is later than usual, but as this post keeps getting delayed I really didn’t want to postpone it further. This week I’m reviewing the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. In the interest of transparency; I thought I read this series over the last couple of months. On reviewing my notes I realised that I read A Discovery of Witches over September/October 2018, Shadow Night over July/August 2019, and The Book of Life over August/September 2019. I reviewed Shadow of Night on Goodreads but I haven’t reviewed A Discovery of Witches or The Book of Life. If you follow me on Goodreads you might recognise some of the content from below.

I decided to read the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness because I’d heard good things about it and I’d seen Bad Wolf and Sky Productions were making a series (is it still a TV series if it’s made for streaming services? Do we need a new vernacular for the streaming phenomenon?) of it with one of my favourite actresses (Alex Kingston) so I wanted to read the books before I saw the show. I haven’t been able to see the show yet because I don’t have Foxtel. The internet tells me it is accessible on Foxtel or Amazon Prime, although I’ve not been able to find it in my Prime content. 

I’ve read a lot of Urban Fantasy and the All Soul’s trilogy holds its own in the genre. There is something I can’t quite define that makes it different from other similar books, yet still satisfies the expectations and conventions of the genre. Perhaps this is because it is adult fiction. Young Adult Urban Fantasy is more common and other Adult Urban Fantasy seems to mirror YA tropes. The heroine, Diana Bishop, is in her 30s. I don’t recall Matthew’s “human” age (for as a Vampire he is like insanely old) but he is of a similar age. These are well rounded characters with their foibles and their gifts, and thankfully not the angst ridden teens of YA. I’m going to endeavour not to release any spoilers, although some plot points will be discussed. 


The first one, A Discovery of Witches, was ok. I give it a 3/5 stars. I thought some of the scenes played out a little too long but it was an enjoyable read. I grew to really love the Diana character and felt that, if she were real, we’d get along great. A Discovery of Witches seemed to focus on Diana and Matthew’s relationship with a lot of world building. In contrast the later books seemed to focus more on the adventure/search for Ashmole 782 (a mysterious magical manuscript that creatures the world over are searching for) over their relationship, and whilst I enjoyed paranormal romances the search for Ashmole 782 interested me far more than Diana and Matthew’s relationship. This series, whilst having a distinct romance sub plot is more Urban Fantasy than Paranormal Romance.

In the world of ADoW there are four “distinct” creatures: humans, witches, vampires and daemons. The first three are pretty self explanatory in nature, having been staples of the genre for decades, although the daemons were a nice touch. These daemons are not hellish creatures such as you would find in Supernatural, Charmed or Buffy, these demons are more like fae creatures or muses. They are heavily creative forces often lurking in human society as “genius” poets, artists etc. As Diana and Matthew are Witch and Vampire respectively, their creature allies and enemies are focused on more often than the daemons; who I would have liked to learn more about. There is a council of 9 elders (3 from each creature group, no human representatives) called the Congregation who are effectively the creature law keepers, upholding the segregation of the species and keeping them safe from human discovery. Diana and Matthew’s relationship breaks their law so due in part to this Diana and Matthew disappear into history to buy themselves time at the end of ADoW.

I enjoyed Shadow of Night so much more than its predecessor. I give it 5/5 stars. I found the pacing much improved in SON and was impressed with the historical accuracy. In SoN Diana and Matthew are hiding out in Elizabethan England, in no less danger than they were before. In fact with witch trials happening in North Berwick, Scotland, they may be in more danger than ever. Which does pose the question of why they thought time walking to the past was the solution to their problems in modern day England. That said, the characters were enjoyable (both old and new) especially the Elizabethan ones, and I appreciated Shakespeare essentially being a footnote in the book and not one of the School of Night. It is unusual for a book/story centered on Elizabethan England to not focus on Shakespeare and I found it refreshing. I learnt quite a bit reading this book as there were figures from British history that I hadn’t come across before. Names like Dr Dee and Edward Kelley were familiar but not so much the other characters (with the exception of Sir Walter Raleigh). I enjoyed the Elizabethan coven as well, and rather wished I could have spent time with them too.


I was suitably horrified by the creeptastic revelation made regarding Ashmole 782 (which I will not go into here due to spoilers). It was horrendous yet seemed the perfect choice for the narrative. There was one part of the book that I thought the author glossed over where more detail would have been appropriate but again, I won’t mention that part due to spoilers. SoN kept me engaged through the whole story and I had trouble putting it down. Gallowglass became one of my favourite characters as did the Lord of Northumberland. Diana’s magic becomes more pronounced during SoN, and as such more magical events occur. These were written beautifully and were utterly fascinating. Upon finishing this book I rushed out to my local library to borrow The Book of Life. (Note I forgot to take a photo of Shadow of Night so to the left there’s a screenshot I took from Amazon. The copy I read was a red and black cover matching the two I remembered to take photos of.) 

The Book of Life blended the first two books together, and while I enjoyed it much more than ADoW, I enjoyed SoN the most out of the three. I give TBoL 4/5 stars because I would have liked some of the story lines played out a little more. Diana and Matthew have returned to their own time and must resume the search for Ashmole 782, as well as contend with the Congregation who are out to punish Diana and Matthew for their forbidden romance. Like ADoW some parts were slow moving but it was enjoyable none the less. Like the Elizabethan coven, I enjoyed getting to know the coven Sarah (Diana’s aunt) belongs to in America, and I enjoyed some of the surprises TBoL held regarding characters from SoN. It was nice to see science explaining/justifying magic, complementing each other instead of creating the usual either or situation. As such revelations about the origins of the four creature groups conveyed powerful messages that can be applied to real life situations. I would have liked some of the characters story lines developed more. My favourite character arrived in book two and towards the end of book three he just disappears. There’s narrative reason for this, and it makes sense, but there’s a small epilogue at the end. It would have been nice to see him get his happy ending too.

It was really satisfying to see Diana really come into her own in TBoL, and take back the power she’d always denied. Diana and Matthew’s relationship is that of equals, something I especially appreciated, they are both powerful in their own right and great role models. Urban Fantasy as a genre can have a tendancy to promote relationships that are quite imbalanced, often to the detriment of the female character (I’ve discussed it previously here in regards to the Fallen series), and while Matthew technically is “more powerful” than Diana for most of the series he tries really hard not to rule over her. As with all relationships one partner will inevitably will take on a leadership role. In my opinion Chick Lit and Chick Flicks often portray unrealistic “perfect” romances that can be psychologically damaging when they can’t be found in the real world. Harkness has portrayed a relationship of two essentially equal partners working together to build their relationship. Neither partner is prefect and it’s not a “perfect” relationship but the characters as continually developing their relationship and communication skills together. It was refreshing to read and I really enjoyed seeing such a healthy relationship represented. 

I wasn’t quite prepared for the horrors of the character of Benjamin, briefly mentioned in SoN, and a major antagonist in TBoL, but his actions were part of what made him so horrific and had a place in the narrative. Warning: I did find some of Benjamin’s scenes triggering. Although I did like that there was a bit of a role reversal in the story. Slight spoiler: in most Urban Fantasy books I’ve read if a character like Benjamin came along he would take Diana captive causing Matthew to rescue her. While there is a capture and rescue plot, it is Diana who does the rescuing which was a refreshing change, and she is helped by her allies in a way that shows strong friendships are an asset rather than indicating she is too weak to be the hero on her own. Diana is an excellent heroine, flawed and gifted all at once. She’s relatable and strong (kind of like Buffy) and the world needs more characters of this quality.

One thing that did disappoint me about this series is that in the Book of Life there is a scene that is eerily similar to a scene I wrote in 2017 for Samhain Sorcery (which comes out next month: eek). I suppose it goes to show, that even with the best intentions, nothing is truly original. I certainly hadn’t read this book prior to writing Samhain Sorcery, in fact I finished writing the book last year. And if I had I would have probably changed the scene I wrote. It didn’t make me enjoy the book any less although I’ll be honest and admit that I had a slight panic attack that people might think I’d copied Deborah Harkness on purpose. I didn’t; it’s just one of those things. I think that with Indie Authors flooding the market (which is good in so many ways) it is going to be harder for writers to write truly “original” content. It is quite possible, as this tale shows, to write extremely similar scenes, without having ever heard of the content that came first. There are only so many situations, types of character and props that we can write about after all. There have been so many times where I’ve gone back and changed scenes in manuscripts I’ve been working on after having read similar content elsewhere. I try to live my personal and professional life ethically and with honour. I want to be remembered for my writing for the right reasons. 

I highly recommend this series. Harkness has a follow up book out focusing on the relationship of Marcus (Matthew’s son) and his partner. I’m definitely going to look for that at my local library. I hope that the author writes more, although judging by her Goodreads bibliography she tends to write non-fiction, because she writes well and is engaging. 

Poem: The Changing Flame

In yet another testament to “my life doesn’t always go to plan”, the book review I promised of the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness has been postponed to next week. Unfortunately I haven’t finished reading The Book of Life yet. So I’m swapping next week’s content for this week, and next week will be the review. And it will be next week as the book is due back at the library in a couple of days. 

This week I’d like to share a short poem with you. This is one of my more recent poems. I wrote it earlier this year. Most of what I’ve shared on this blog so far has been older writings, poems I created in college. The poem could probably use more work, but then I’m never one hundred percent happy with my writings and it’s hard to know when to stop. Sometimes life seems to rage out of control; like a fire. The flames change everything, burning away the old, and taking you down a new path. That’s the inspiration for this poem. 

The Changing Flame

By B. Forrester

Withstand the heat of the changing flame,
Your life will never be the same,
Take your dreams and make them soar,
Fly higher than you did before,
When defying gravity,
Dreams become reality.

Poem: The Dangers of Writing

This week I thought I’d share with you another poem. I wanted to share with you the cover of The Lady of Zion but I’m having technical difficulties. Apparently the power supply to my external hard-drive is damaged, so while I’m organising a work-around I decided to pull this post up the schedule. 😀

Hopefully next week I’ll have a shiny new book cover to show you!

I wrote this poem at uni as a bit of fun for an assignment.

The Dangers of Writing

By. B. Forrester

It starts off fun – a little hobby,
fills in time in the dentist’s lobby,
over time it grows sincere,
something you won’t want to hear,
Time draws on and still you write,
now of things that sting and bite.
A therapy it lets you heal,
another way to learn to deal.
An easy catharsis for the heart,
you don’t remember how it starts.

Furiously you’ll study every word,
wanting your message to be heard.
As you become obsessed,
loved ones will be distressed.
You’ll forget to sleep and eat,
You have deadlines that you must keep
You’ll withdraw, hide-away;
from deepest winter to early May.
You’ll wonder one day where they went,
and realise that your life is spent.

The Lady of Zion

Disclaimer: This was originally posted on my old website 1/07/2019.

I’ll be writing today about my inspirations for The Lady of Zion because due to the Christian, Judaic and Pagan themes, I fear it might be a little controversial.

Let me preface this by saying: the series is not meant to be a criticism of any religion or it’s practitioners.

I feel like it’s important to say that upfront because in The Lady of Zion, Yahweh (or the Judeo-Christian God) is the bad guy. Or at least, from the main characters points of view.

This story was originally a project for my Masters thesis. The driving question behind the story is “What if Western Judeo-Christian religions are wrong. What if “God” is the bad guy?”

Naturally in the Urban Fantasy sub-genre of Angel Literature God/Heavenly forces are usually the “good” guys and Lucifer and the Demons are the “bad guys”. The stories usually follow Judeo-Christian mythology as their basis for the underlying world building and mythic structure. My story turns that on its head.

Historically speaking this story is allegorical of the path Christianity took as it evolved over time. Christianity started as a minority movement growing out of Judaism that other religions, especially Judaism, tried to squash. Over time Christianity grew popular and eventually became the dominant religion. As it grew bigger it did it’s best in turn to squash the smaller religions, especially the polytheistic religions. This is a historical fact. It was one of the first things I learnt at University where I was studying History at the time. I wish I still had access to my old texts regarding the matter, but I’ll put some links you can check out below. (See further reading 1,2, 3 and 4)

In a lot of esoteric writings you’ll hear the phrase “as above so below”. So, what if the wars waged by Christianity against minority religions were reflected in the Heavens? What if Yahweh, a warrior God, decided that he wanted to be the head of the pantheon? What if he waged war on the other gods and took the Kingship of Heaven? That doesn’t necessarily mean he is the “bad guy” as such, but wouldn’t he be the bad guy from the point of view of the gods he over-threw?

There is quite a lot of evidence in the Bible (depending on which version(s) you’re using) to indicate that the Judeo-Christian God is not the only god.

  • “Who among the gods is like you, Lord?” (Exodus 15:11)
  • “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Deuteronomy 5:7)
  • “Do not worship any other gods or bow down to them” (2 Kings 17:35)

There are others, but you get the point. (See further reading 9, 10, 11)

Christians generally interpret these passages as indicative of deceiving spirits and demons, rather than other divine beings, because that fits better with their mythology. However other indications within the Bible include references to the “Elohim” which in its original context was a Hebrew word for “gods” but has now, through the lens of monotheism, become interpreted as a reference to the Heavenly host (angels). (See further reading 16).

There is also a lot of academic evidence that at one point a Goddess was worshiped alongside Yahweh, both within the Bible and in texts found at Kuntillet Ajrud. In fact, some scholars have stated that Asherah is mentioned in the bible at least 40 times (See further reading 17). While studying this at university I kept seeing Asherah referred to as the “lost goddess” (due to her suppression in Christianity as monotheism gained popularity) and I thought her story, would make a great story. (See further reading 18, 20 and 21)

The story of Asherah in religious and archaeological evidence is patchy at best. Which is great for me as a writer, it means I can take quite a lot of artistic license with her story. And Asherah’s story is a large part of the story that I’m telling in The Lady of Zion.

What little we do know of Asherah doesn’t come from Judeo-Christian texts, it comes from the discovery of tablets in Ras Shamra regarding the Ugarit Gods. The Ugarit Gods were the gods worshiped by the ancient Canaanites before Christianity took its hold. (See further reading 23 and 24). According to these texts Asherah is the mother goddess; wife of El (King of the Gods). Little else is said of her, except that she intercedes on Baal’s (the equivalent Storm god) behalf on at least one occasion.

The Lady of Zion uses multiple Middle Eastern mythologies as inspiration to create the world within it. Notably Greek, Egyptian, and of course Ugarit. It is an Urban Fantasy, so it is primarily set in our world, and as Judeo-Christianity absorbed culture and mythology from its conquered neighbours so too has The Lady of Zion used the mythologies of the Middle East.

In the first book of the series, The Lady of Zion, twenty something Grace Haskiel, nursing student and Nephilim, gets swept into the War between Heaven and Hell. The appearance of Fallen Angel Nikili sets off a chain reaction of events that leads Grace to a meeting with Lucifer, King of Hell, and a quest to find the missing Goddess Asherah. Her quest takes her on a journey through the Australian Outback, the Middle East, Egypt and beyond, only to discover a truth even more shocking than the one which Nikili had brought to her.  

Closer to the series release date (which I’m hoping will begin January 2020 or earlier) I’ll re-release the previous blog posts I wrote about the Angel Lit genre. Both because I feel it’s a relevant time to share the articles and part of my mission to pull my old blog posts across to the website for consolidation. The current plan for The Lady of Zion is a five book series, with several novelette/novellas accompanying it.

In the meantime, you may be interested to check out some of the texts I’ve used in researching this series:

Further Reading: 

  1. https://www.history.com/topics/religion/history-of-christianity#section_8
  2. https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/romans/christianityromanempire_article_01.shtml
  3. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Christianity/Relations-between-Christianity-and-the-Roman-government-and-the-Hellenistic-culture
  4. https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/debra-macleod/pagan-culture_b_7058758.html
  5. https://www.patheos.com/blogs/agora/2018/06/hearth-of-hellenism-genocide-and-the-triumph-of-christianity/
  6. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/dec/28/the-darkening-age-the-christian-destruction-of-the-classical-world-by-catherine-nixey
  7. https://www.learnreligions.com/st-patrick-and-the-snakes-2562487
  8. https://www.history.com/topics/st-patricks-day/who-was-saint-patrick
  9. Fox, R. L. (1988). Pagans and Christians: In the Mediterranean World from the Second Century AD to the Conversion of Constantine. London, England: Penguin Group
  10. https://www.openbible.info/topics/other_gods
  11. https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Polytheism
  12. http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/gods.html
  13. Penchansky, D. (2005). Twilight of the Gods: Polytheism in the Hebrew Bible. Louiseville: Westminster, John Knox Press
  14. Olyan, S.M. (1988). Asherah and the Cult of Yahweh in Isreal. Atlanta: Scholars Press
  15. Urrutia, B. (1973). “About El, Asherah, Yahweh and Anath”. American Anthropologist. 75(4). 1180-1181
  16. Burnett, J.S. (1999). A reassessment of biblical Elohim. (Doctorial Dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global. (Order No: 9927030)
  17. https://www.ancient-origins.net/human-origins-religions/asherah-0010611
  18. Yamashita, T. (1964). The Goddess Asherah. (Doctoral Dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global. (Order No: 8103904)
  19. https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/ancient-cultures/ancient-israel/asherah-and-the-asherim-goddess-or-cult-symbol/
  20. https://archive.archaeology.org/0503/abstracts/israel.html
  21. Dever, W. (2005). Did God have a Wife?. United States of America: Wm.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co
  22. Brenner, A. The Hebrew God and His Female Complements.
  23. Coogan, M. D., & Smith, M. S. Stories from Ancient Canaan
  24. Day, J. (2002). Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan
  25. https://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/.premium-archaeologists-discover-god-s-wife-1.5335007

Poem: Sister

This poem is titled Sister and was written during my college years about my sister. All of my siblings are adopted so this poem is rather special to me. I have two sisters, and two best friends who might as well be my sisters, and like all sisters we haven’t always gotten along at times, but this poem could easily be about either of my sisters. In case either of them actually read my blog I’ll refrain from commenting on whether the poem references one over the other.

Sorry girls.

Side note: I’ll never forget an argument I had about this poem. The lecturer teaching the class I wrote this for was perturbed by the line “This woman that life gave to me”. The lecturer insisted that the line should be “This woman that gave life to me” and insisted that the poem was about my mother.

For some reason she really wouldn’t believe me that it was about my sister. Even the title Sister did nothing to detract from her vehement assertions that this poem was about my mother. At least the whole exchange has given me something to laugh about and a good story to tell for years.

So, here’s the poem. Family to me is one of the most important things in life, and family doesn’t necessarily mean blood. Family are the people who love you unconditionally through the good times and the bad times, and who are always there for you in the end. Even when they don’t have to be.

Side note: if my nieces ever read this know that sometimes blood relations will let you down but family will always be there for you, no matter whether you’re “related” or not.

Sister

By B. Forrester

This woman that life gave to me,
to travel along on my journey.
An angel’s hand to guide me,
from being ecliptically lonely.

Life presented her as my friend;
she acts the warrior – defends.
Together, us, until the end.
On her I can always depend.

She’s my sister in all but blood,
she pulls me up out of the mud,
killing my self-loathing bug.
Together we weather the flood.

Living in the Internet Age

Time to be honest, I kind of hate the internet age.

Don’t get me wrong, the internet has given us many wonderful things, and quite frankly I couldn’t be an Indie Author if the internet hadn’t opened all these opportunities. I live in Australia, but my current editor and printing services are in America. I’ve never met any of the people who have printed my book, or my current editor; and that hasn’t been a barrier. That’s one of the beautiful things about the internet age. Of course, I’d love to meet these people, and build better business relationships with them, but the fact that I can’t hasn’t been a barrier. If I was doing this thirty years ago I don’t think I could have done this.

But, the internet has also made life harder.

Nowadays everyone is pushing so hard for “authenticity” on social media that it is really hard to actually be authentic. Sometimes it feels that what the people pushing for authenticity want isn’t authenticity. It feels like what they want is a clear, defined image of who you are, what you stand for, and what you want. If you do something that they feel is not true to their image of you you are “inauthentic”. I realise it’s not that simple, and I do believe in being as authentic as I possibly can be. But, I have so many contradictory sides that I feel that I should only present the ones that “match”.

Have you seen this meme? 

It totally sums me up, and yet I have trouble taking on the advice. Why? Because I love gothic culture, and skulls, and the dark witchy aesthetic. I want to be the weird lady at festivals dressed as a witch with a pet dragon. The lady who teaches kids writing classes and who gives out bags of “dragon treasure” to the kids, because she knows they’ll love it. But I also love pinks and purples, florals and a girly romance aesthetic. Social media gurus talk a lot about branding. They talk about how everything you post on the internet, wear, use in your public appearances etc. should essentially match. There’s very good reasons for this. By using signature colours and imagery for example, people can easily identify your brand as something they like (or fits in with other things they like). It seems more professional, for everything to be on point. But it’s really hard to be someone like me, someone whose interests and style can vary to such staggering degrees, and fit this into a “brand”. It seems really inauthentic to me to only portray one side of myself in my dealings with people in real life and on social media. It’s also really hard to choose branding themes and imagery when I’ve grown and changed so much by this point in my life that I can’t believe in ten years I might not be another person altogether. 

I write Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance primarily and the on point marketing means I should fit in with other books in my genre. My books should look more like this:

Don’t you just love my screenshotting skills? These types of covers are typical in the Indie Author publishing scene. My current covers have more similarities with traditionally published covers than they do with other Indie Authors. Partly this is because traditional covers were the type of cover I was trying to emulate when I created them. I wanted to come across as professionally as I could. I still feel that the original stigma that surrounded Indie Publishing exists. It doesn’t exist to the extent that it did ten years ago, but I wanted to put the best book, with the best cover, that I could create out there, and prove that just because it was Indie Published didn’t mean that I wasn’t “good enough” to get traditionally published. So I tried to make it look like a traditionally published book. I wasn’t trying to “trick” the reader, I was trying to be professional. I also chose to emulate this kind of cover art partly because of my own skill set. I’m only just beginning to learn graphic design now and I just don’t have the technical skills behind me to produce a cover like the ones above. I also don’t have the funds to buy cover art from an artist more skilled than I. 

But, technical skills aside, the covers I want to make look more like this:

(And FYI, I only noticed the face on the cover of The Rules of Magic when I was editing the picture above. I never noticed it looking at the book itself.)

Part of the reason I like covers like this is aesthetic, and partly because they are easier. I’m not only an Indie Author, I’m also a photographer, and models can be highly unreliable, especially when you aren’t hiring professionals but getting well intentioned friends and family to be your living doll. I want to be successful and professional, and I realise that means fitting in with existing authors and the body of works they have created, but sometimes I just don’t know how to. And, sometimes I just don’t know how to be “on brand”. I’ve never done marketing or PR courses. I’m figuring this out as I go, learning from books, the internet, and podcasts mostly. 

These feelings recently came to a head when I was designing a tri-fold brochure to hand out at the upcoming Denmark Festival of Voice. The feelings I had during that process led me to write this post. I was stressed with work, both my own as an author and my day job, and stressed about some other things as well. Things came to a head while I was making the brochure and I felt very much like I was drowning.

I originally made the brochure in Microsoft Publisher and then I had printing issues. So I decided then was as good a time as any to give Canva a try. Quite a few of the authors I know on social media have advocated using Canva for their marketing needs, as well as cover art, and so I’d been interested to try using it. It took a little getting used to at the beginning, but fairly soon I had a professional feminine looking brochure. It wasn’t quite what I wanted. I had trawled through Canva’s free images and found plenty of images that would be appropriate for a romance writer (they have a lot of wedding themed stuff), but I couldn’t find much in the way of fantasy/magical type imagery. The brochure that I ended up with, the one that I finally felt professional, didn’t really feel to me to be particularly Urban Fantasy-y, although if would work well if I were a contemporary romance writer.

This was the result.

It’s beautiful, really. I just don’t feel like it would speak to my audience. I think it would work well for an author like Meg Cabot, or maybe even Kennedy Layne readers. I have to say I got pretty frustrated. Mostly, because of the reasons I outlined earlier: branding and authenticity. It felt beautiful but was this the kind of branding that would work with my target audience? It authentically captured my romantic heart, which could work for PNR, but it didn’t really fit with my gothier side. I used to claim myself a proud goth. Now I feel I’m more gothish. I don’t think that I really fit into any specific label. I like what I like, I wear what I like. My gothy tendancies are starting to surface again so maybe in the future I’ll once again call myself a goth? Maybe my likes will change again and I’ll be drawn to something else?

I decided to give the brochure another go. Because, it really didn’t feel right. I changed my search terms, and actually found some witchy images and some fantasy type images. Unfortunately a lot of the images I liked the most were premium images and I would have had to pay extra. As money is an issue I resolved to stick to the free images I could choose from and came up with this:

I like this much better. I created these to have at my children’s writing workshops. I wanted to include information about my books for adults, as well as my upcoming children’s series, and information about the workshops parents, teachers and social groups can hire me to teach. As these are going to be around children I wanted to keep the imagery to fit in with the gothier parts of my nature, and my urban fantasy writing, and I wanted to steer clear of PNR imagery. Most PNR covers have couples in various degrees of intimacy and I just didn’t feel it was appropriate for the brochures at children’s writing workshops. I feel like the final result, the brochure above, is more authentic to me. It’s pictures can easily suggest fairy tale type stories which feature heavily in both my writing and my teaching, but they can also seem a little gothy. So I ended the brochure drama on a high note. 

But I still have to wonder, why can’t we just be ourselves without second guessing everything. I understand branding/marketing has to be clear, for the reasons I wrote about earlier, but social marketing gurus make me feel that if my branding isn’t 100% on point and consistent across everything I’m doing, then I’m going to come across as unprofessional and ultimately, have limited success as an Indie Author (I would consider success to be able to make writing my day job and not have to worry about money). It’s really hard to be consistent when I’m learning as I go. My Indie Publishing journey has been a hands on, learn as you go, evolution that has spanned not just my writing career but has seeped into every aspect of my life. I’m doing the only thing I can do: trying to do my best and get better at it. I’m trying to ignore my anxiety (because with an anxiety disorder, if I didn’t ignore it where possible I would literally not do anything) and hope for the best but it’s incredibly hard. 

Tips for DFOV 2019

Disclaimer: This was written ahead of DFOV 2019, some links may be out of date but the tips will still be valid for future festivals.

Next month I’ll be at the Denmark Festival of Voice for my second year running! I’m so excited.   I thought now would be a great time to share some tips that I learnt last year. If you’re   attending DFoV 2019 hopefully these tips will make the experience more enjoyable for you. If   you’re not maybe they’ll entice you to make the trip in 2020 😊. At the very least these tips  are applicable to most festivals anyway and they may help you with future events.

 1.  Plan ahead!

There are so many amazing acts to see and workshops to experience that I found I really  needed to plan ahead. As I was an “act” last year I really found it useful to mark out on my  timetable the things that I was presenting and teaching in orange highlighter and then the  things that I wanted to experience in pink. I also volunteered at the festival for the organisers  and I highlighted that schedule in green. It gave me an instance way of telling if any of the  events clashed for me and helped me remember where I needed to be when. At other festivals  I’m employed similar techniques by marking the timetable and it’s always made things easier  for me. The time table hasn’t been released yet but generally speaking it is available prior to  the festival online. Last year I simply printed one out a week or so before the event.

Last year I noticed that while most of the venues are central to the Denmark township there is almost no buffer time to get from one show to another if you must travel to different venues. For this reason, I opted to stick to only a couple of venues so I had less distance to travel. I suggest taking the map that comes with the timetable and marking out the venues of the acts/workshops you’re interested in so you can gauge distance between them. Luckily for me most of what I was interested in required very little traipsing up Strickland Street but at other festivals distance has been an issue. One year for WAMED (Western Australian Middle Eastern Dance Festival) venue location was a real issue, with venues spread out over several streets in Subiaco.

There are quite a few cafés in town that host musical acts so that you can get some food and see a show at the same time. If you’re working on a budget however I suggest bringing your own snacks or a picnic lunch that you can munch on through out the day. If you’re coming down from say Perth and don’t want to carry much with you while you travel, there are two supermarkets and a health food shop where you can pick up healthy things to eat that won’t necessarily need to be kept refrigerated.

 2. Pace yourself

 This is something I learnt at the festival last year. I used to be able to flit from workshop to  show without stopping for two days when I took on festivals such as WAMED or Crimescene.  Apparently, I’m getting older and can no longer do that. Last DFoV took a lot of out me. This  year I’m going to pace myself a bit better. I volunteered behind the scenes last year in  addition to being an act and trying to catch other show, seeing as I was going to be in town  anyway, and it was too much for me. This year I’m taking on less roles so I can enjoy the  festival more. I also managed to dehydrate myself which I think contributed to my lack of  energy, and catching a rather nasty sinus infection, so make sure you bring your reusable water bottle! There is a fountain available to fill your bottles at free of charge on one of the  main streets of town, and I vaguely remember Denmark Arts setting up designated water stations for refilling reusable bottles. Denmark is very much striving to reduce plastic pollution so bringing your own utensils, reusable coffee cup and bottles is a must. Most of the café’s in town offer discounts to patrons bringing their own cup.

 3. Notes about Denmark
 
June is typically very cold in Denmark. For the last two festivals the weather has been sunny  and dry during the day and freezing cold at night. Last year the morning temperatures were  ~3˚C with ice on windshields and frost on the grass. Saturday night last year when I was working the door of a concert it was -1 ˚C at midnight when we went home. I suggest layering up on your clothing, making sure you have scarves, beanies and gloves, and carrying a bag or backpack large enough to store excess items (and snacks) when the sun gets warm.

Another thing to keep in mind is that parking is of a premium. I suggest finding an all-day parking spot central to the venues you plan to go to and then leaving your car there for the day. It will be much easier than trying to move your car several times through-out the day. Alternatively, try carpooling from accommodation or walking. Rivermouth Caravan Park is about 2 kilometres from the town centre and there is a quite a bit of centralised accommodations.

 4. Relax

I learnt this one at 70k Tons of Metal 2012. I was stressing a lot that I would miss out on the  acts I wanted to see, that I would get lost etc. I was alone in a semi-foreign country and quite  nervous. This was before FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) was considered a thing. On the first night my watch, which had been an 18th birthday present, fell off my wrist and over board. It’s currently somewhere between Florida and Cuba at the bottom of the ocean. I took it as a sign  to not be caught up in the time so much and relaxed. And do you know what, I didn’t miss out  on anything. I got to see my favourite band (which had been the whole point of going).

I got to see the band who’d stayed in the same hotel with me (they had been so friendly I wanted to catch a set) and I got introduced to some other bands I wasn’t really familiar with previously (the bass player from Alestorm even bought me drinks). All in all, I think I had a better time than if I had mercilessly stayed glued to the schedule I’d highlighted on the plane trip over.

5. There is always help

The people of Denmark Arts are some of the nicest people I’ve met. They want your experience to be positive and are ready and willing to help at any point. If you have questions feel free to talk to one of them. They’ll point you in the direction you need to go. If you’re coming to DFoV 2019 I’d love to meet you! Come and find me at one of my workshops or at my story telling session. I’ll be the crazy woman dressed like a witch with a pet dragon. 

You can still book tickets through https://www.denmarkfestivalofvoice.com.au/ and you can follow the festival on social media at: 

Instagram Page https://www.instagram.com/denmarkfestivalofvoice/

Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/denmarkfestivalofvoice/

Facebook Event https://www.facebook.com/events/311523326186868/