On Witches, Fantasy, and Christian Cosmology

hearneI don’t often rant. I prefer to praise and celebrate and point people in the direction of excellent literature (or at least entertaining literature). But I feel the need to rant.

First, a bit of background. While I read almost every genre of fiction, I tend to read more fantasy and science fiction than any other type. There’s nothing quite like escaping into an exciting, terrifying world of monsters and warriors and wild Gods. I especially enjoy a good witch story: powerful, kick-butt women are awesome. (Not that the witch has to be good, just the story. Ethically ambiguous characters often make the most interesting protagonists.)

Unfortunately — here comes the rant — the overwhelming majority of fantasy out there is based on a pseudo-Christian cosmology. One supreme, omnipresent, omniscient God; hosts of angels; hordes of demons; and (sometimes) Lucifer. And, in the middle of that mix is a witch or two or three, boldly fighting on the side of Good, occasionally falling into bed with a super-sexy angel or demon.

I’m tired of it. I want to read a good fantasy (epic, dark, urban, whatever) starring an awesome, amazing witch that is based on some mythology other than that of a pseudo-Christianity.* I want to read an epic fantasy about a nahualli set in a magical Aztec Empire. I want to read a dark fantasy starring a kitsune-tsuki in Occupied Japan. I want to read an urban fantasy about an inyanga in modern-day Johannesburg. Maybe a nice sword-and-sandal epic centered around a Roman lamia, or a good science-fantasy set on a world colonized by Wiccans.

In all fairness, there are some fantasy novels and series out there which deal with other-than-Christian mythologies. Keven Hearne’s The Iron Druid Chronicles is a good example. Hearts of Chaos by Kira Brady includes Norse, Native American and Sumerian mythologies. Lily Ivory, the protagonist in Juliet Blackwell’s Witchcraft Mystery series, is a hereditary witch of Aztec, Mexican and European descent. And the Cainsville books by Kelley Armstrong center in the fae lore of the British Isles. But they are too few.

Magic and those who use it are understood in different ways in cultures around the world. They might be benevolent or malevolent, selfish or altruistic, deeply devotional or agnostic, healers or diviners or warriors, and everything in between. I am tired of one kind of witch (and it’s almost always that word) fighting the same good versus evil battle over and over again. I want variety! I want something new!

You hear that, all you Pagan and polytheist and Pagan-friendly writers out there? Gimme stories!


* For a Pagan twist on Christian cosmology, check out Joey W Hill’s In the Company of Witches and Something About Witches; and Erzabet Bishop’s Sigil Fire. Hill’s duology is set in a universe maintained by God, Goddess and Lucifer. Bishop’s book features angels and demons, but Lilith and Hekate also play important roles in the story.