Paganism and Witches in Mainstream YA? Probably Not Soon

Recently a member on a pagan forum I visit asked if we knew of any coming of age novels about pagan families. Specifically, they were looking for a book where the paganism aspect was in the background, much like the religion of Christian, Jewish and even Muslim characters is treated in many books.

To give an example, a typical character in a mainstream YA novel might wear a cross or go to church somewhere along the story line and readers would barely notice it. They’d be more interested in what happened AT church and the interactions with anyone there, than the fact that Suzy was going there in the first place.

Here are a few reasons I don’t think we’ll be seeing Mainstream Pagan YA anytime soon:

Pagans Are Focused on Our Religion

For most of us who are pagan, our faith is a huge part of what we are. Most of us chose our paths rather than being born into it. Therefore we’re pretty much invested in and focused on it. Many of us have had challenges with family, friends and co-workers because of our religion.

It’s an important part of our lives. Because a pagan viewpoint character will be focused on their path, much of the focus of a book about a pagan character will be on religion–and not as a background item. That goes even when their religion is not the main point of the plot.

Even Pagan Kids Are Religion Focused

Although more parents are raising their children pagan, it’s still a relative rarity. Because their birth religion makes them “different” it will be heavily on their radar. In Dark Moon Gates, Willa’s family is in the broom closet to all but a few friends, family and coven members. Because of a problem in the past, her mom is paranoid that someone will find out that they’re witches. Willa can’t wear a pentacle to school. She keeps her altar hidden in a cabinet so that visitors won’t see it. Her sister is cautioned on how to behave when she visits Christian friends, and isn’t allowed to bring Tarot cards to school.

If their local community is pagan supportive it will still be a big part of their lives. My younger nieces participate in drum circles, rituals and other events for the local pagan children on a regular basis.

Unless their parents have purposefully decided not to teach them religion, their parent’s focus will filter down to them, as they’ll be raised with celebrations of the Wheel of the Year or other festivals. The same way that any strongly religious family of most faiths (as opposed to the Sunday-religious) will make opportunities for their children to receive religious teachings.

Writers are Conflict Junkies

Face it, we writers thrive on getting our characters in trouble. Good plot is full of conflict. Few writers are going to pass up the opportunity to get their characters in hot water. Putting a pagan character in the midst of non-pagan ones is bound to create conflict somewhere. And it should. Otherwise the writer isn’t doing their job.

There may well be a day when paganism is so normal that being Wiccan or Asatru or Voudoun or what-have-you won’t be something to remark on. That day isn’t yet.

Props Tell Us About People

There’s an old adage that if a gun is introduced in Chapter 1 it should go off in Chapter 3. If something isn’t important to the plot or the character, the writer should probably edit it out.

Here’s an example:

Jason leaned against the hood of his Maserati, idly picking the dirt from under his broken fingernails, as he waited for Doris to finish her shopping.

Right there we’ve said something about the character, and possibly brought up a few questions.

First, Jason has a Maserati. That’s a car that even used, goes for at least $50-100,000. Since he’s waiting in what is probably a public space and his manner is casual, we’re going to assume that he didn’t steal the car.

Now the fact that his fingernails are broken and he’s picking dirt from them comes into play. Rich, successful people don’t tend to run around with ragged nails and dirt under their fingernails. The fact that he’s doing it “idly” raises another question. If his nails were ragged because he spent the past few hours digging a secret grave to bury his ex-business partner, there wouldn’t be any idleness about his actions. He would have raced to get himself cleaned up. So who is this Jason, why are his nails broken and dirty, and most of all, why doesn’t he seem concerned?

So let’s say we have Kalietta running around in her “What Would Thor Do?” t-shirt with her neck and ears dripping pentacles. The reader is going to make some big assumptions here. Mainstream readers are going to make some very different assumptions than the average pagan reader might. At the very least they’ll label her a misfit. They may even (depending on how extreme their own beliefs are) decide she’s the bad guy.

What most readers would probably not see is that the character is basically “normal” other than the usual quirks that any character should have to make them interesting.

I write fantasy, so the fact that my characters are witches is a main plot point. They use their magick to advance the plot and in the final scenes. If I wrote mainstream coming of age/YA novels, I probably wouldn’t bring the subject up at all. It’s far too distracting, and the last thing I’d want to do is alienate a potential reader because my character “just happened” to be pagan.

Now there MAY be books out there where Kalietta wears a pentacle that is never remarked on, and casts spells in the gym with nobody really noticing or caring, but if so they’re few and far between. If you know of one, please do let me know.

SPAM from the Goddess

I’ve been finding tidbits of my older writings that weren’t lost in the fire, and thought it would be fun to post this again.


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Demons, poltergeists and other things that aren’t quite ghosts?

Some things appear to be ghosts but really aren’t.

Poltergeists: Nobody’s entirely sure about poltergeists. They’re the spirits that have the ability to raid your refrigerator, break your mirrors, do the laundry, send photos flying, and in general wreak havoc with your house. The most popular theory is that poltergeists  aren’t spirits at all. They’re the residual of (usually female) kids going through puberty. Their psychic energy gets a little wacked out with power surges and such related to their normal hormonal growth spurts.

Actually if they’re doing the laundry then you’ve probably got a faery of some sort, not a ghost. If they’re helping you out, then you should be nice to them and leave them a bowl of milk or honey or some other gift. In my house, I can’t leave them milk because my cat, Odin will drink it, so I leave honey instead.

Some faeries also like to hide things. For instance if you put down your keys, then five minutes you don’t see them and five minutes later (after you’ve torn the house apart looking for them) you find them right back in the same place, you might be dealing with a faery, though a poltergeist is also possible.

Faeries come in different types and powers and not all of them are friendly to humans. In fact, if you read Dark Moon Gates you’ll know that some of the Sidhe are pretty nasty. The big cautions: Don’t lie to them – they hate that. Don’t insult them – they’re vengeful – and they’re probably smarter than you and me put together.  Don’t eat faery food unless in the presence of a wise Elder who can keep you from being trapped in the Faery Realm. It happened to Tam Lin and I’m still afraid it might happen to me before I get rid of my personal faery problem!

Demons are evil beings who can act and behave a lot like ghosts. If you’ve got one of these in your house (or worse, in you) then you do have a major problem. Run, do not walk to your nearest priest, powerful witch or other metaphysical helper. If your “ghost” is doing things like clawing you, or otherwise harming you or people in your home, you may well be dealing with a demon.

Lionrhod is working on a book on how to deal with unfriendly ghosts and demons. Hopefully she’ll get it done sometime soon.



What do you think ghosts are?

There are a few types of ghosts that I’ve encountered:

Residual hauntings are usually created by a traumatic event. For example. your ghostly spirit might wander around the house looking for someone or something. They might repeat the event of their death again and again.

Residual spirits seem to be stuck in a time loop. They don’t have any affect on your home or the environment around them, though they can be pretty freaky.

Intelligent ghosts walk around your house and actually interact with you and your home. They may or may not be able to move objects, touch you, talk to you, or more. The good news is that they usually don’t have a bad intent. They’re just attached to the place where they lived and like to hang out there. You CAN ask them to go away, but there’s rarely a good reason to unless just having a ghost around creeps you out.

A lot of times (and so long as they have good intent) they’re pretty fun to have around the place. With all the TV programs (Ghost Hunters T.A.P.S. and so on) they make these guys pretty scary. It drives ratings, after all! The occasions when these guys become a problem are pretty darn rare.

Spirit guides are sometimes, but not always, the spirits of departed ancestors. They can also be your future unborn children, animal totems, god or goddess avatars and more. They’re here to help us along the way of our spiritual paths and provide various guidance. Many mediums rely on their spirit guide to help them contact the beloved departed of their clients. The spirit guide helps protect them from possession by other spirits that might harm the medium.

Next we’ll talk about things that “look” like ghosts, but aren’t quite.



Can I Copy Your Article?

Someone asked recently, whether they could copy one of my articles and repost it with a link to my site. They said they didn’t see my terms. So here they are.

While I’m flattered that someone would want to, the short answer is: “It depends.”

The fact that the poster’s link led to a porn site didn’t lead me to want to give them permission for that. Among other things I write books for children and teens, and certainly don’t want my name associated with that sort of nonsense.

However if you have a legitimate writing, book, pagan or metaphysical website (or something else appropriate) I will consider it. Email me at lion AT lionrhod DOT com. Tell me what article you’d like to use. Send me a link to your website and let me look it over.

I will want:

A link to my article on my blog or website. That includes your promise to change that link if I notify you that I’ve moved my website. (Which I have no plan of doing, but you never know what might happen 10 years down the road.)

Your promise not to insult me, my writing or my religion on that site/page. – This may sound odd, but I’ve had one person steal one of my poems–without a credit link)–and then allude that I didn’t know what I was talking about when I wrote the poem. I later allowed her to keep the poem up with a link to my website. (Which reminds me…I need to locate her again and get her to change the link to my new site here.) I don’t mind honest criticism or reviews of my work – in fact I welcome them. What I won’t allow is using my writing for the express purpose of defaming paganism or Wicca, or to trash my own work.

Fellow writers, how do you handle requests like this?

Dark Moon Gates gets an awesome review from Wicca Witch 4 Book Blog

Thanks much to Amanda of Wicca Witch 4 Book Blog for a fantastic review of Dark Moon Gates.  She writes”…the characters were awesome and the story was quite adventurous!” and “a story that leaves people on the edge of their seats throughout the whole book dying to know what is going to happen next!” plus several other comments that made me blush happily.

You can read the full review here. (Scroll down a bit to get to the review.)

I think I just saw a ghost. Am I crazy?

Relax, you’re probably not.

Ghosts do exist. Since I haven’t died, I can only theorize what they are and how they work.

I’ve seen a few ghosts in my career as a witch in training, and Lion’s seen a lot more of them.

A few signs it may be a ghost:

  • Shadows moving around your house.
  • Cold or hot spots in a room.
  • Actually seeing an apparition.
  • Items being moved. (Though that could be faeries or other spirits as well.)
  • Hearing ghostly voices or having them touch you.
  • EVP’s or Electronic Voice Phenomena. Sometimes if you tape record in a haunted area, you can play the recording back and hear sounds (sometimes even intelligible speech)! Lion’s brother went to Washington Irving’s grave (author of Sleepy Hollow) and actually brought back a recording that said, “Get the f– out!” Very freaky!
  • PKE Monitor feedback. A Potential Kinetic Energy Meter is sensitive to fluctuations in localized electromagnetic fields. This is used for ghost hunting and is probably pretty darn expensive. Most likely you don’t need one. Trust your other senses.

Most ghosts are harmless, so if you see one, don’t panic.  They can’t hurt you. Lion lived with a ghost named George for several years. He used to like to watch TV with her. She’s also got the ghosts of her husband’s two deceased cats roaming around. They cuddle up on the bed or couch sometimes and sometimes her live animals play with them, but they’re not a problem to have around. Years ago she had the ghost of her grandmother show up…and leave her with some extra powers. I’ll let her tell you about that one.

I’ll continue this post in a bit.

Smashwords and the Impossibility of Good Grammar

So forgive me, I’m whiney about good grammar and excellent spelling.

Blame it on my Grandma. She was an English and remedial reading teacher devoted to the methods of Rudolph Flesh (Why Johnny Can’t Read). By the time I was eight, we were not only reading Shakespeare (Midsummer Night’s Dream) together, but I was working as her trainee teacher in helping folks to learn to read.

So it seems simple to me. As a writer, it’s important to me to master my craft. That means my spelling should be impeccable (and with Spell Czech, why should that be a problem?) and my grammar should be as well.

I should know the difference between passed and past. They’re and there and their should be automatic. And they are.

So it drives me absolutely batwhack crazy when I can get these things right, and many of my fellow Smashwords authors can’t.

Why does this make me nuts? Because as a Smashwords author, I’m judged by all other Smashwords authors. Because the majority can’t seem to be bothered with such things as spelling and grammar, it makes every one of us look bad.

Ladies and gentlemen, I understand if you haven’t had the training I have and sheerly stink at spelling and grammar. Please, if that’s a problem for you, respect our craft. Hire me or another writer to clean up your act and make all of us look good.