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Elizabeth Barrette

 

His Story, Her Story, Our Story
The Evolution of Pagan Fiction and
Pagan Literature

by Elizabeth Barrette


Recommended Reading List

 

Below I list a few favorite examples of Pagan Fiction. Some feature Pagan characters, societies, or motifs; others have generally Pagan values. I only listed one book by each author, but several of these authors have written many books with Pagan elements, so watch for those too. I have broken them down into stories set in our past, our present with speculative elements, our future, and other worlds, plus anthologies with some Pagan stories included. Read and enjoy.

Past

The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel. General Publishing Company Limited, 1980.
Prehistoric epic about a Cro-Magnon girl adopted by Neanderthals; detailed exploration of animal totems, primal magic, herbalism, and living close to the earth. Well researched.

 

Strands of Starlight by Gael Baudino. Signet, 1989.
Set during the Burning Times, this story follows young Miriam through a series of dramatic transformations as she learns to love herself and her power; eloquent rendition of the Goddess as Creator of the universe and also of elves "to help and heal." Reasonably well researched.

 

The Year the Horses Came by Mary Mackey. HarperCollins, 1993.
Ancient historic epic about a girl's quest to prevent the downfall of a Goddess culture spanning most of Europe; splendid vision of what living in a Goddess-inspired society is like, in several variations. Reasonably well researched.

 

The White Raven by Diana Paxson. Avon, 1988.
Set in the sixth century, this is a retelling of "Tristan and Isolde" from the Arthurian cycle. Heavy Celtic influence with the Goddess Brigid and related motifs appearing throughout. Well researched.

 

Present

Moonheart by Charles de Lint. Ace, 1984.
A deep and powerful story of romance and war spanning both time and realities. Rich elements of Welsh, Druidic, and Native American culture, magic, and belief systems.

 

Gate of Darkness, Circle of Light by Tanya Huff. DAW, 1989.
Novel in which avatars of the Goddess interact directly with this world to thwart evil; She appears as Maiden-Warrior, Mother, and Crone. Great urban fantasy.

 

Children of the Night by Mercedes Lackey. Tor, 1990.
A practicing Witch and a decent vampire team up to defeat a nasty monster; nice detail on traditional Wicca plus lots of psychic fireworks. More great urban fantasy.

 

Walkabout Woman by Michaela Roessner. Bantam Spectra, 1988.
The return of the Dreamtime allows Australian aborigines to slip from this world back into a more primal one. This story draws extensively on Australian aboriginal material and handles this magnificently, but where it touches on European influence the results are not very pretty.

Future

Powers That Be by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough. Del Rey, 1993.
A fine sentient planet story. Combines (don't laugh, it works) Celtic and Inuit motifs liberally; good detail of society, planet likes the responsible colonists but clobbers the rude ones. Watch for the selkies.

 

Two to Conquer by Marion Zimmer Bradley. DAW, 1980.
A Darkover story with several Goddess threads running through the plot, including a sanctuary of priestesses and some wonderful karmic backlash; set against a backdrop of male power struggles.

 

Midworld by Alan Dean Foster. Del Rey, 1975.
Another great sentient planet story. Consider the planet a character, although it's only dimly aware; exquisite detail on evolution, interdependence, communication with plants, living lightly on the land, and instant karma. Foolish capitalists attempt to exploit the planet and get colorfully munched.

 

The Copper Crown by Patricia Kennealy. Roc, 1964.
Celtic science fantasy. Stunning coverage of Celtic magic and beliefs in the course of interstellar relations between the star kingdom of Keltia, its enemies, and its new allies from Earth.

Other Worlds

The Diamond Throne by David Eddings. Del Rey, 1989.
Rich in satire and other sharp humor. Although the religious/magical systems depicted are fictitious, many elements spring from reality -- especially the Child Goddess. The plot concerns a knight's quest to save his rightful queen.

 

Sheepfarmer's Daughter by Elizabeth Moon. Baen, 1988.
Our heroine Paks evades an unwanted marriage to become a warrior, and eventually a paladin of Gird. Intricate social structure packed with hundreds of different religions, most with a distinct Pagan feel.

 

The Last of the Renshai by Mickey Zucker Reichert. DAW, 1992.
Inspired by Norse mythology, this story details the end of a notorious warrior culture and the teetering balance of the world itself. Emphasis on Law vs. Chaos, Good vs. Evil; sharp detail on Norse deities.

 

The Shaman by Christopher Stasheff. Del Rey, 1995.
Dynamic epic featuring the battle between two demi-gods, one good, one evil; strong connections with Green Man/Sacrificed God and Death/War God myth cycles. Nice detail on personal growth with the warrior/shaman lead character and his trickster friend.

Anthologies

Sisters in Fantasy 2 edited by Susan Shwartz and Martin H. Greenberg. Roc, 1996.
Several stories here touch on women's spirituality in various forms; unusual, high-impact fiction not welcome in more conservative markets.

 

Enchanted Forests edited by Katharine Kerr and Martin H. Greenberg. DAW, 1995.
Tones range from warmly empathic to justifiably vindictive; emphasis on power and consciousness of woodlands. Lots of "karma running over dogma" scenes.

 

Hecate's Cauldron edited by Susan Shwartz. DAW, 1982.
Stories about witches, mostly bad, but the good ones are worth the price of the book.

 

Ancient Enchantresses edited by Kathleen M. Massie-Ferch, Martin H. Greenberg, and Richard Gilliam. DAW, 1995.
Strong female characters use magic to meet their needs, sometimes involving Pagan deities.

 

This list of Pagan Fiction copyright 1997 Elizabeth Barrette, first published in Moonbeams Journal 1 (Spring 1997) as a sidebar to His Story, Her Story, Our Story: The Evolution of Pagan Fiction and Pagan Literature.