Mythology

Get your Christmas out of Sol Invictus! (That time again.)

By
4
December 18, 2013

Originally posted on December 20th 2011, then again last year. As I mentioned last year, I think I’ll probably repost this every year. It’s worth reading if you don’t know and worth a reminder if you do. It’s fun to learn about our culture, kids! This blog is concerned with stories and these cultural myths are the greatest stories of all. Everything we know is built on them. Off we go then…

We’re nearly at that time again. It should be stated from the outset, and really doesn’t need to be for regular readers, that I hate Christmas and everything about it. I do love being able to spend time with friends and loved ones, enjoy good food, exchange gifts and all that malarkey. But you don’t need a special day for that. Just like you should tell your partner that you love them all the time and not only on February 14th. But what really pisses me off is all the Christians who think it’s okay to berate people who leave Christ out of Xmas. Given that the whole thing is stolen and shoe-horned into a medieval fantasy in the first place, it’s a bit rich.

I’ve also taken to responding to, “You can’t have Xmas without Christ!” with, “Then you can’t have Thursday without Thor! Where’s your celebratory hammer?” There’s history with all these things, and it behoves the modern mind to know it.

evil santa1 Get your Christmas out of Sol Invictus! (That time again.)If you get off on the whole Christ mythology, then bully for you. Why you pick one crazy mythology out of hundreds and insist it’s the truth absolutely mystifies me, but if that’s your wagon, then giddy up. And the Western world has certainly jumped on board the whole Xmas lunacy and subverted it into a materialistic circus of misery and one-upmanship. So I can understand the desire to suggest that people look past the crass commercialism and look for what Xmas is really about. But you know what? It’s not Christ. Sure, it’s been hijacked to be about Christ, but if these people were really honest with themselves, they’d admit there’s more to the story. Then again, as that great physician Gregory House said, “Rational arguments don’t usually work on religious people. Otherwise there would be no religious people.” – (Season 4 Episode 2, The Right Stuff.)

The Christians, since some decades after the death of Christ when the Christians began (thanks to the cult set up by Paul), have always been keen on appropriating something popular, pretending it’s theirs and then using it to further their own agenda. They’re like a virus, chewing up holidays and spitting out Christian rhetoric. But it’s not only the Christians who have pinched things for their aims.

Over the years we’ve merged and melded many things into our modern culture and, while the Christians always shout the loudest at Xmas, there are many other influences that have survived the Jesus takeover.

Burning candles, mistletoe and holly berries, for example, are originally from Yule, the Pagan celebration of the sun god, Mithras. Who is also a very clear blueprint for the myth of Christ himself:

“Both Mithras and Christ were described variously as ‘the Way,’ ‘the Truth,’ ‘the Light,’ ‘the Life,’ ‘the Word,’ ‘the Son of God,’ ‘the Good Shepherd.’ The Christian litany to Jesus could easily be an allegorical litany to the sun-god. Mithras is often represented as carrying a lamb on his shoulders, just as Jesus is. Midnight services were found in both religions. The virgin mother…was easily merged with the virgin mother Mary. Petra, the sacred rock of Mithraism, became Peter, the foundation of the Christian Church.”

Gerald Berry, Religions of the World

Mithras (from the Persian god, Mithra, adapted to Greek as Mithras) allegedly has many features Christians might find familiar:

- Mithra was born on December 25th of the virgin Anahita.
- The babe was wrapped in swaddling clothes, placed in a manger and attended by shepherds.
- He was considered a great traveling teacher and master.
- He had 12 companions or “disciples.”
- He performed miracles.
- As the “great bull of the Sun,” Mithra sacrificed himself for world peace.
- He ascended to heaven.
- Mithra was viewed as the Good Shepherd, the “Way, the Truth and the Light,” the Redeemer, the Savior, the Messiah.
- Mithra is omniscient, as he “hears all, sees all, knows all: none can deceive him.”
- He was identified with both the Lion and the Lamb.
- His sacred day was Sunday, “the Lord’s Day,” hundreds of years before the appearance of Christ.
- His religion had a eucharist or “Lord’s Supper.”
- Mithra “sets his marks on the foreheads of his soldiers.”
- Mithraism emphasized baptism.

Funny old list, that, eh? I said allegedly above as there’s often about as much evidence for these things as there is for the mythology of Christianity; that is to say, not much at all. Though the vast majority of it is backed up by archeological evidence well predating Christian times.

220px Disc Sol BM GR1899.12 1.2 Get your Christmas out of Sol Invictus! (That time again.)The Roman emporer Aurelian first instigated Dies Natalis Solis Invicti in 274 CE, which is the birthday of Sol Invictus, the sun god, often considered to be one and the same as Mithras. This birthday festival was celebrated with a huge party and feast on December 25th, a date I’m sure you’ll find familiar. It was Constantine who decided, for mostly political reasons, that Christianity would be the state religion, though he did release an edict in 313 CE proclaiming religious tolerance of all faiths. But there were still enough adherents to the Mithraic tradition that even in the 5th century, Augustine preached against them as Christianity continued its takeover.

Incidentally, it was also Constantine who made Sunday a day of rest. Not because of Christ myths, but for Sol Invictus. In March, 321 CE he decreed:

On the venerable day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country however persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits because it often happens that another day is not suitable for grain-sowing or vine planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost.

But I digress. Going back to Christmas being a Sol Invictus celebration, even the Syriac bishop Jacob Bar-Salibi wrote in the 12th century:

“It was a custom of the Pagans to celebrate on the same 25 December the birthday of the Sun, at which they kindled lights in token of festivity. In these solemnities and revelries the Christians also took part. Accordingly when the doctors of the Church perceived that the Christians had a leaning to this festival, they took counsel and resolved that the true Nativity should be solemnised on that day.”

Ernest Renan, in 1882, pointed out how things could have been when he said, “if the growth of Christianity had been arrested by some mortal malady, the world would have been Mithraic” (Renan, E., Marc-Aurele et la fin du monde antique. Paris, 1882, p. 579)

And the whole celebration of the sun god idea can be taken back to well before Roman times. There is much evidence — including many ancient monumental alignments — to demonstrate that the event of the winter solstice, and the return of the sun through longer days, was celebrated hundreds to thousands of years before the common era in numerous parts of the world.

When “the people” are really into something, the worst thing to do is try to tell them they can’t enjoy it any more. The best option is to co-opt it into your own agenda over time. So the Pagan sun worship was Borged (resistance is futile) by Mithras and Sol Invictus celebrations, and those in turn swallowed by the Christians; not as biblical doctrine but to compete with Pagan cults.

Regardless, in the end the effect is the same: “Christmas” is not the birth of the “son of God” but the birth of “the sun”. The deity Mithras and the celebration of Sol Invictus, inextricably intertwined, also ended up drawing in the Christian mythologies and the Christ myths gathered the most adherents and strength and swallowed up those things that birthed them.

Then combine into this Saturnalia, described by the poet Catullus as “the best of days”, which was a big old party in honour of the Roman deity, Saturn. There was a huge banquet followed by gift-giving and partying, where social norms were put aside in the name of hedonism and good times. Which sounds damned fine to me. This festival was originally held on December 17th, but subsequently extended right through to the 23rd. After all, why party for one day when you can get your groove on for a week? And many of those practices were also taken into the Christmas celebration and made a part of the whole thing.

saturnalia 1 Get your Christmas out of Sol Invictus! (That time again.)
Saturnalia

And everything I’ve written here only touches on the depth and complexity of the history of our culture. So the next time some twat says, “You can’t have Xmas without Christ!” you can respond with, “Yes, you can, actually. Just ask Mithras.”

Enjoy the things that make you happy. Be nice to each other, have fun and indulge yourselves. Give gifts, eat too much, drink too much, and don’t forget to spare a thought for those less fortunate and try to do something to help them as well. But don’t be wilfully ignorant. It’s never been easier to explore truth and history, to understand yourself and your culture. Get out there and expand yourself.

And blessed Solstice to you all.

.

Dreaming of Djinn in the house

By
2
May 20, 2013

dreaming of djinn 300x300 Dreaming of Djinn in the houseLook at the pretty shiny. Those are my contributor copies of Dreaming of Djinn that arrived this morning. Edited by the brilliant Liz Grzyb and published by Ticonderoga Publications, this is an anthology of stories inspired by The Thousand and One Nights. Isobelle Carmody says of the book:

To open Dreaming Of Djinn is to open a jewel encrusted box full of exquisite and mouthwatering delicacies.

This sensuous and truly mouthwatering collection melding the modern and the ancient with the strangeness of speculative fiction, is a treasure trove of originality and exotic magic.

It will ravish your senses as it transports you to a world of flying carpets, powerful ifrits, exotic foods and above all, dancing as deadly as it is beautiful.

Sounds pretty sweet, right? It features my story, On a Crooked Leg Lightly. I would highly recommend this book, and not only because I’m in it. There are 18 stories in all, from a wide variety of authors:

18 stories by:

  • Marilag Angway “Shadow Dancer”
  • Cherith Baldry “The Green Rose”
  • Alan Baxter “On A Crooked Leg Lightly”
  • Jenny Blackford “The Quiet Realm of the Dark Queen”
  • Jetse de Vries “Djinni Djinni Dream Dream”
  • Thoraiya Dyer “The Saint George Hotel”
  • Joshua Gage “The Dancer of Smoke”
  • Richard Harland “The Tale of the Arrow Girl”
  • Faith Mudge “The Oblivion Box”
  • Havva Murat “Harmony Thicket and the Persian Shoes”
  • Charlotte Nash “Parvaz”
  • Anthony Panegyres “Oleander: An Ottoman Tale”
  • Dan Rabarts “Silver, Sharp as Silk”
  • Angela Rega “The Belly Dancing Crimes of Ms Sahara Desserts”
  • Jenny Schwartz “The Pearl Flower Harvest”
  • Barb Siples “The Sultan’s Debt”
  • Pia Van Ravestein “Street Dancer”
  • DC White “A Dash of Djinn and Tonic”

Go get some!

.

“The Fathomed Wreck To See” to be published in Midnight Echo #9

By
0
February 28, 2013

AHWA logo3 copy The Fathomed Wreck To See to be published in Midnight Echo #9I’m very happy to announce that my modern myth-based horror story, “The Fathomed Wreck To See”, will be published in Midnight Echo #9. This particular issue called for horror stories based on a modernisation of any established legend or myth. I won’t spill exactly what direction I took, but it’s a story I’m very of, and I’m really pleased it’s found a home here (with thanks to the Drs Brain for their invaluable help!). Midnight Echo is the official magazine of the Australia Horror Writers’ Association, and one of my favourite publications. It’s a big old glossy magazine, always packed full of excellent fiction, articles, art and more. It’s available in electronic form as well, of course. I was published in Midnight Echo once before, in issue 6, the sci-fi horror special.

Issue 9 already has confirmed contributions from Jonathan Maberry (a Joe Ledger short story), James A Moore (a Jonathan Crowley tale), and Robin Firth (a non-fiction dissection of the myths within Stephen King’s Dark Tower series), as well as the selection of submitted short fiction including my story. The full Table of Contents has yet to be announced, but I’m already excited.

You can learn more about Midnight Echo here, and Issue 10 submission guidelines are already up. Ghost stories!

.

Black Feathers: The Black Dawn, Volume One by Joseph D’Lacey – review

By
0
February 26, 2013

BlackFeathers Black Feathers: The Black Dawn, Volume One by Joseph D’Lacey – reviewBlack Feathers: The Black Dawn, Volume One
by Joseph D’Lacey
Published by Angry Robot Books
UK ISBN – 978-0-85766-345-0
US ISBN – 978-0-85766-344-3

Black Feathers is the first volume in a new horror series by Joseph D’Lacey. The story follows two main threads simultaneously. We have young Gordon Black, a thirteen year old boy living in a slightly alternate version of our own modern day. In Gordon’s England, the world is sinking into economic collapse and being ravaged by various naturally destructive phenomena like solar flares and earthquakes. The land is ruled with an iron fist by The Ward, a combination of brutally right wing political party and zealous corporate conglomerate, driven by a greed for money and power. The people of most countries have voted The Ward into control globally after the successful lobbying of the party to convince the populace that only The Ward can protect the people against the swift descent into Armageddon facing them all.

Concurrent with this story is the tale of Megan Maurice, a young girl living far in the future, in a green and pleasant post-apocalyptic land where people have returned to living with the Earth, putting back as much as they take out and revering the Great Spirit and The Earth Mother. Megan is approached by Mr Keeper, a very revered holy man among the people, and he tells her that it is her destiny to walk the Black Feathered Path. This is a path of Shamanic learning, where she puts herself in the path of the stories of the Crowman, for someone must keep the tales alive in order to never lose the knowledge.

By now I’m sure you’re getting the feel for where this book is going. Gordon’s family are abducted by The Ward, but Gordon escapes and goes on the run. He is told he must find The Crowman, a terrifying creature of modern legend who some say is pure evil and others say is a force for good. As Gordon runs, the world descends quickly into its destructive cycle as the Earth Mother shakes off the scourge of humanity and The Ward are desperately hunting Gordon, as he is prophesied to usher in the end times, which is something they can’t allow if they are to maintain their grip on power and profit.

It should be quite clear by now that this is a book with a very clear and unashamed agenda. D’Lacey has an affinity for the Native American mythology of the Earth and it manifests throughout this narrative. The thing is, D’Lacey is a brilliant writer and while the message is something of a sledgehammer throughout, the story, the characterisation and the sheer beauty of the prose make that okay. This is an excellent story, very well told.

Read the rest of this review over at Thirteen O’Clock.

.

Dreaming of Djinn cover revealed

By
0
February 1, 2013

dreaming of djinn web Dreaming of Djinn cover revealedCheck out that beautiful cover art, revealed yesterday by Ticonderoga Publications for the new Arabian Nights inspired anthology Dreaming of Djinn, edxited by Liz Grzyb. I am never disappointed with the cover art from Ticonderoga, and they’ve excelled themselves once again. I’m especially pleased as I have a story in this book, due out around April. People are always talking about not judging a book by its cover and, ironically, that applies to pretty much everything except books. It’s right to not judge people by their appearance, for example, or the quality of a home by the building it’s in. But people do, quite rightly, judge books by their covers. That’s what covers are for. They’re the first port of call for a prospective buyer. If the cover looks good, they’ll pick up the book and read the back cover blurb. If that grabs them, they’ll maybe thumb through a page or two. Then they’ll buy the book. If they’re buying on recommendation anyway, the cover is less important, but bad covers still do put people off.

In this day and age of mass production and awful, homogenous graphic art that makes all books look the same, it’s great to see something with some real artistic value and quality design going on. In this case, the artwork is from Ukraine artist, Nadiia Starovoitova, and the design is by Ticonderoga’s own Russell B Farr.

My story in this one is about a young woman with challenges in her life, not least of which being a father who won’t let her grow up. Then she meets someone connected with the Djinn. My story is called On A Crooked Leg Lightly and I’m very proud it was accepted for this book. Look who else is in there:

  • Marilag Angway “Shadow Dancer”
  • Cherith Baldry “The Green Rose”
  • Alan Baxter “On A Crooked Leg Lightly”
  • Jenny Blackford “The Quiet Realm of the Dark Queen”
  • Jetse de Vries “Djinni Djinni Dream Dream”
  • Thoraiya Dyer “The Saint George Hotel”
  • Joshua Gage “The Dancer of Smoke”
  • Richard Harland “The Tale of the Arrow Girl”
  • Faith Mudge “The Oblivion Box”
  • Havva Murat “Harmony Thicket and the Persian Shoes”
  • Charlotte Nash “Parvaz”
  • Anthony Panegyres “Oleander: An Ottoman Tale”
  • Dan Rabarts “Silver, Sharp as Silk”
  • Angela Rega “The Belly Dancing Crimes of Ms Sahara Desserts”
  • Jenny Schwartz “The Pearl Flower Harvest”
  • Barb Siples “The Sultan’s Debt”
  • Pia Van Ravestein “Street Dancer”
  • DC White “A Dash of Djinn and Tonic”

Dreaming of Djinn features 18 incredible tales of romantic Orientalism. The book will be available in April and you can pre-order it here.

.

Bloodstones contributor copies arrived

By
0
January 25, 2013

IMG 6287 300x300 Bloodstones contributor copies arrivedLook at this beautiful tome. It’s the Bloodstones anthology from Ticonderoga Publications, edited by the awesomely talented Amanda Pillar. You can tell she’s awesomely talented because she picked one of my stories to be in this book. And all the others, of course. Bloodstones is an anthology of short fiction using unusual creatures, myths and legends in dark, urban fantasy settings. And let’s be honest, that kind of brief is right up my flagpole. My story is called Cephalopoda Obsessia and it’s my little cephalopod overlord homage. I won’t say any more than that.

The book has a great line-up of authors (I’ll post the full list below) and boasts a broad range of subject matter. From the back cover blurb, we’re told we’ll encounter ancient Greek monsters, lamia, gorgons and kraken, as well as the Malay toyol and dukun, Chinese xiannu, Haitian voodoo, ghosts, Cthulhu, selkies and (get this!) the Philippino Alan. That one really has me interested. I mean, I’ll be honest, I have no fucking idea what half the stuff on that list is. But there’s a monster called an Alan? Sign me up!

The forward is by the very talented author, Seanan Maguire, and she says really lovely things about the anthology. Things like, “There was not a story in this book that did not surprise and delight me…” and “…a map to a whole new realm of horror.” Shit, yeah, I like the sound of that. So I can’t wait to get my teeth into this one. You can get your copy from indiebooksonline.com, or all the usual Amazon type places.

Here’s the full list of 17 stories:

  • Joanne Anderton, “Sanaa’s Army”
  • Alan Baxter, “Cephalopoda Obsessia”
  • Jenny Blackford, “A Moveable Feast”
  • Vivian Caethe, “Skin”
  • MD Curelas, “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”
  • Thoraiya Dyer, “Surviving Film”
  • Dirk Flinthart, “The Bull in Winter”
  • Stephanie Gunn, “The Skin of the World”
  • Richard Harland, “A Mother’s Love”
  • Pete Kempshall, “Dead Inside”
  • Penny Love, “A Small Bad Thing”
  • Karen Maric, “Embracing the Invisible”
  • Christine Morgan, “Ferreau’s Curse”
  • Nicole Murphy, “Euryale”
  • Kat Otis, “And the Dead Shall be Raised Incorruptible”
  • Dan Rabarts, “The Bone Plate”
  • Erin Underwood, “The Foam Born”

.

Get your Christmas out of Sol Invictus! (Redux)

By
0
December 19, 2012

Originally posted on December 20th 2011. I think I’ll probably repost this every year.

We’re nearly at that time again. It should be stated from the outset, and really doesn’t need to be for regular readers, that I hate Christmas and everything about it. I do love being able to spend time with friends and loved ones, enjoy good food, exchange gifts and all that malarkey. But you don’t need a special day for that. Just like you should tell your partner that you love them all the time and not only on February 14th. But what really pisses me off is all the Christians who think it’s okay to berate people who leave Christ out of Xmas. Given that the whole thing is stolen and shoe-horned into a medieval fantasy in the first place, it’s a bit rich.

I’ve also taken to responding to, “You can’t have Xmas without Christ!” with, “Then you can’t have Thursday without Thor! Where’s your celebratory hammer?” There’s history with all these things, and it behoves the modern mind to know it.

evil santa1 Get your Christmas out of Sol Invictus! (Redux)If you get off on the whole Christ mythology, then bully for you. Why you pick one crazy mythology out of hundreds and insist it’s the truth absolutely mystifies me, but if that’s your wagon, then giddy up. And the Western world has certainly jumped on board the whole Xmas lunacy and subverted it into a materialistic circus of misery and one-upmanship. So I can understand the desire to suggest that people look past the crass commercialism and look for what Xmas is really about. But you know what? It’s not Christ. Sure, it’s been hijacked to be about Christ, but if these people were really honest with themselves, they’d admit there’s more to the story. Then again, as that great physician Gregory House said, “Rational arguments don’t usually work on religious people. Otherwise there would be no religious people.” – (Season 4 Episode 2, The Right Stuff.)

The Christians, since some decades after the death of Christ when the Christians began (thanks to the cult set up by Paul), have always been keen on appropriating something popular, pretending it’s theirs and then using it to further their own agenda. They’re like a virus, chewing up holidays and spitting out Christian rhetoric. But it’s not only the Christians who have pinched things for their aims.

Over the years we’ve merged and melded many things into our modern culture and, while the Christians always shout the loudest at Xmas, there are many other influences that have survived the Jesus takeover.

Burning candles, mistletoe and holly berries, for example, are originally from Yule, the Pagan celebration of the sun god, Mithras. Who is also a very clear blueprint for the myth of Christ himself:

“Both Mithras and Christ were described variously as ‘the Way,’ ‘the Truth,’ ‘the Light,’ ‘the Life,’ ‘the Word,’ ‘the Son of God,’ ‘the Good Shepherd.’ The Christian litany to Jesus could easily be an allegorical litany to the sun-god. Mithras is often represented as carrying a lamb on his shoulders, just as Jesus is. Midnight services were found in both religions. The virgin mother…was easily merged with the virgin mother Mary. Petra, the sacred rock of Mithraism, became Peter, the foundation of the Christian Church.”

Gerald Berry, Religions of the World

Mithras (from the Persian god, Mithra, adapted to Greek as Mithras) allegedly has many features Christians might find familiar:

- Mithra was born on December 25th of the virgin Anahita.
- The babe was wrapped in swaddling clothes, placed in a manger and attended by shepherds.
- He was considered a great traveling teacher and master.
- He had 12 companions or “disciples.”
- He performed miracles.
- As the “great bull of the Sun,” Mithra sacrificed himself for world peace.
- He ascended to heaven.
- Mithra was viewed as the Good Shepherd, the “Way, the Truth and the Light,” the Redeemer, the Savior, the Messiah.
- Mithra is omniscient, as he “hears all, sees all, knows all: none can deceive him.”
- He was identified with both the Lion and the Lamb.
- His sacred day was Sunday, “the Lord’s Day,” hundreds of years before the appearance of Christ.
- His religion had a eucharist or “Lord’s Supper.”
- Mithra “sets his marks on the foreheads of his soldiers.”
- Mithraism emphasized baptism.

Funny old list, that, eh? I said allegedly above as there’s often about as much evidence for these things as there is for the mythology of Christianity; that is to say, not much at all. Though the vast majority of it is backed up by archeological evidence well predating Christian times.

220px Disc Sol BM GR1899.12 1.2 Get your Christmas out of Sol Invictus! (Redux)The Roman emporer Aurelian first instigated Dies Natalis Solis Invicti in 274 CE, which is the birthday of Sol Invictus, the sun god, often considered to be one and the same as Mithras. This birthday festival was celebrated with a huge party and feast on December 25th, a date I’m sure you’ll find familiar. It was Constantine who decided, for mostly political reasons, that Christianity would be the state religion, though he did release an edict in 313 CE proclaiming religious tolerance of all faiths. But there were still enough adherents to the Mithraic tradition that even in the 5th century, Augustine preached against them as Christianity continued its takeover.

Incidentally, it was also Constantine who made Sunday a day of rest. Not because of Christ myths, but for Sol Invictus. In March, 321 CE he decreed:

On the venerable day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country however persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits because it often happens that another day is not suitable for grain-sowing or vine planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost.

But I digress. Going back to Christmas being a Sol Invictus celebration, even the Syriac bishop Jacob Bar-Salibi wrote in the 12th century:

“It was a custom of the Pagans to celebrate on the same 25 December the birthday of the Sun, at which they kindled lights in token of festivity. In these solemnities and revelries the Christians also took part. Accordingly when the doctors of the Church perceived that the Christians had a leaning to this festival, they took counsel and resolved that the true Nativity should be solemnised on that day.”

Ernest Renan, in 1882, pointed out how things could have been when he said, “if the growth of Christianity had been arrested by some mortal malady, the world would have been Mithraic” (Renan, E., Marc-Aurele et la fin du monde antique. Paris, 1882, p. 579)

And the whole celebration of the sun god idea can be taken back to well before Roman times. There is much evidence — including many ancient monumental alignments — to demonstrate that the event of the winter solstice, and the return of the sun through longer days, was celebrated hundreds to thousands of years before the common era in numerous parts of the world.

When “the people” are really into something, the worst thing to do is try to tell them they can’t enjoy it any more. The best option is to co-opt it into your own agenda over time. So the Pagan sun worship was Borged (resistance is futile) by Mithras and Sol Invictus celebrations, and those in turn swallowed by the Christians; not as biblical doctrine but to compete with Pagan cults.

Regardless, in the end the effect is the same: “Christmas” is not the birth of the “son of God” but the birth of “the sun”. The deity Mithras and the celebration of Sol Invictus, inextricably intertwined, also ended up drawing in the Christian mythologies and the Christ myths gathered the most adherents and strength and swallowed up those things that birthed them.

Then combine into this Saturnalia, described by the poet Catullus as “the best of days”, which was a big old party in honour of the Roman deity, Saturn. There was a huge banquet followed by gift-giving and partying, where social norms were put aside in the name of hedonism and good times. Which sounds damned fine to me. This festival was originally held on December 17th, but subsequently extended right through to the 23rd. After all, why party for one day when you can get your groove on for a week? And many of those practices were also taken into the Christmas celebration and made a part of the whole thing.

saturnalia 1 Get your Christmas out of Sol Invictus! (Redux)
Saturnalia

And everything I’ve written here only touches on the depth and complexity of the history of our culture. So the next time some twat says, “You can’t have Xmas without Christ!” you can respond with, “Yes, you can, actually. Just ask Mithras.”

Enjoy the things that make you happy. Be nice to each other, have fun and indulge yourselves. Give gifts, eat too much, drink too much, and don’t forget to spare a thought for those less fortunate and try to do something to help them as well. But don’t be wilfully ignorant. It’s never been easier to explore truth and history, to understand yourself and your culture. Get out there and expand yourself.

And blessed Solstice to you all.

.

Tuesday Toot – Jodi Cleghorn and Deck The Halls

By
0
December 4, 2012

Tuesday Toot is a semi-regular feature here. An invite-only series of short posts where writers, editors, booksellers and other creatives have been asked to share their stuff and toot their own horn. It’s hard to be seen in the digital morass and hopefully this occasional segment will help some of the quality stuff out there get noticed. It should all be things that regular readers here will find edifying.

This time, it’s Jodi Cleghorn talking about something I can really get behind. Take it away, Jodi!

JodiProfilePic Tuesday Toot   Jodi Cleghorn and Deck The HallsWho is Jodi?

Jodi (@jodicleghorn) is an author, editor, publisher and innovator.

By day (and sometimes night), she runs the many facets of eMergent Publishing (eP), a small press dedicated to nurturing next-crop authors, editors and visual artists.

Between the cracks she chases her own characters in a blending of themes and genres best described as “dark weird shit”. Fruits of these adventures include the collaborative epistolary serial Post Marked: Piper’s Reach and Elyora (Review of Australian Fiction—special edition), a horror novella set just off the New England Highway.

She’s occasionally known to loiter at her blog 1000 Pieces of Blue Sky.

FRONT COVER DtH small2 187x300 Tuesday Toot   Jodi Cleghorn and Deck The HallsWhat are you tooting about?

Deck the Halls: festive tales of fear and cheer, the first and most recent (I can explain) publication from eP’s Literary Mix Tapes imprint of conceptual anthologies. But first…that explanation.

Born From…

The origins of Deck the Halls are bizarre, to say the least.

In December 2010 I created a shit storm on Facebook when I commented about my displeasure with the overtly Christian tone of the carols night at my son’s school. (He goes to a state school with a diverse ethnic demographic and I felt it totally inappropriate to push any one brand of religious fervour, when their Easter bonnet parade is included as a ‘cultural’ event on the school’s calendar, devoid of religious connotations).

I know, I know, Christmas is a Christian holiday… but, historically, it was many other things before the Christian’s got their pesky hands on it.

Rather than whinge—or delete the exploding Facebook thread (with people telling me, among other things, how intolerant I was)—I decided to publish a bunch of twisted, non-traditional Christmas tales. It’s apparently the sort of therapy an editor-writer-publisher seeks out in the wake of a social media implosion.

In The Beginning

The original idea was to rope nine friends into writing stories based on the lyrics of Deck the Halls (the idea of a troll for Christmas set my imagination on fire as I sat there in the hot, humid school hall!) and then publish the stories online on Christmas Eve. First, I contacted Jim Wisneski to get his blessings (I was riffing off his idea from 12 Days project) and then sent announcements out through the usual channels to see who was interested. I referred to the project as a Literary Mix Tape (a concept everyone immediately got and a name that’s stuck.)

Nine places became nineteen places, with the caveat everyone was to beta read for each other—I was too busy to edit. On Christmas Eve twenty twisted stories—rocking the dark and light side of the Christmas and New Year period—went up, one an hour, on a dedicated website. Christmas Day I made all the stories available as a free eBook.

Beyond Christmas

The ideas of writing to musical prompts and cooperative submission (a term later coined by Tom Dullemond) found traction. That traction spawned the official launch of Literary Mix Tapes (as an imprint under the eMergent Publishing umbrella) and three more anthologies: Nothing But Flowers: tales of post apocalyptic love, Eighty Nine and From Stage Door Shadows [I have a story in that one! - Alan]. Two years on I am still amazed that of all the ideas I’ve had over the years, this was the one that garnered the most enthusiasm. Many of the cornerstones of the LMT imprint, and the way each anthology is released, can be directly traced back to that very first Christmas adventure.

Redux

I felt the original authors deserved to see their stories in a paperback, so I rebooted Deck the Halls in 2011, opening ten (then twelve) new places in the anthology. Andrew McKiernan offered to do the front cover (based on Susan May James’ chilling story, “Bosch’s Troll”). This Thursday (6th December) a revised, revamped, extended and fully edited edition of Deck the Halls goes on worldwide sale as Deck the Halls: tales of festive fear and cheer.

DECK THE HALLS traverses the joy and jeopardy of the festive season, from Yule to Mōdraniht, Summer Solstice to Years’ End. The stories journey through consternations and celebrations, past, present and future, which might be or never were.

Along the way you’ll meet troll hunters, consumer dissidents, corset-bound adventurers, a joint-toking spirit, big-hearted gangbangers, an outcast hybrid spaceship, petrol-toting politicians, mythical swingers and a boy who unwittingly controls the weather.

Heart-warming and horrifying, the collection is a merry measure of cross-genre, short fiction subverting traditional notions of the holiday season.

At under $20 for the paperback (or $4.95 for the eBook) it’s a brilliant stocking stuffer or Secret Santa present. Better still, treat yourself to a copy and use it as an antidote to everything irritating, painful and nauseating about the holiday season.

.

Dreaming Of Djinn and Urban Occult

By
0
December 4, 2012

I love being able to announce new forthcoming publications, so you can imagine how happy I am to be announcing two. This is a fine way to round out the year. Two new anthologies have bought stories from me and both will be published in the first half of 2013.

The first is Dreaming Of Djinn from Ticonderoga Publications, edited by Liz Grzyb, which will feature my story, “On A Crooked Leg Lightly”. The blurb goes like this:

Scheherazade’s One Thousand and One Nights stories have captured imaginations for a millennia. Fairy tales and fables abound, telling of the fantastic and mysterious, the comic and dramatic.

This anthology will explore romantic Orientalism through a speculative fiction lens. You might find lost cities, magical lamps, mummies, thieves, intrepid explorers, slaves, robotic horsemen, noble queens, sorcerers, outcast princes, harems, dancers, djinn, assassins and even smart-talking camels and cats, set in exotic Persia, Egypt, Arabia, the Ottoman Empire, or a modern incarnation of these. More information on the exact mysteries contained will be revealed shortly.

I can tell you that my story contains assassins and djinn and palaces and market bazaars and all kinds of dark magical goodness. I’m very happy to have scored a place in this book. Here’s the full ToC:

Marilag Angway – “Shadow Dancer”
Cherith Baldry – “The Green Rose”
Alan Baxter – “On A Crooked Leg Lightly”
Jenny Blackford – “The Quiet Realm of the Dark Queen”
Jetse de Vries – “Djinni Djinni Dream Dream”
Thoraiya Dyer – “The Saint George Hotel”
Joshua Gage – “The Dancer of Smoke”
Richard Harland – “Tale of the Arrow Girl”
Faith Mudge – “The Oblivion Box”
Havva Murat – “Harmony Thicket and the Persian Shoes”
Charlotte Nash-Stewart – “Parvaz”
Anthony Panegyres – “Oleander: An Ottoman Tale”
Dan Rabarts – “Silver, Sharp as Silk”
Angela Rega – “The Belly Dancing Crimes of Ms Sahara Desserts”
Jenny Schwartz – “The Pearl Flower Harvest”
Barb Siples – “The Sultan’s Debt”
Pia Van Ravestein – “Street Dancer”
DC White – “A Dash of Djinn and Tonic”

No cover for this one yet, but I’ll be sure to share it when it comes around.

UrbanOccult lowrez 218x3001 Dreaming Of Djinn and Urban OccultThe other publication I can reveal today is Urban Occult from Anachron Press, edited by Colin F Barnes. As you can see, this one does have a cover, with artwork by Sarah Anne-Langton.

The blurb for this one says:

Urban Occult is a horror/weird anthology due for release around February 2013. The exact date will be announced closer to the time. It will contain fifteen stories of the weird and the strange events set within urban environments. We have a rich collection of authors spanning the globe.”

My story in this one has strange amulets, time-bending and lost love.

The ToC for this one is:

Gary McMahon – “Just Another Job”
Gary Fry – “On the Horizon”
K.T Davies – “Wonderland”
Jennifer Williams – “Spider Daughter Spider”
Alan Baxter – “A Time for Redemption”
Saran Anne-Langton – “The Strange Case of Mrs West and the Dead”
Chris Barnhem – “The Other Woman”
Adam Millard – “Elevator”
Julie Travis – “Pieces”
Jason Andrew – “A Simple Job”
A.A. Garrison – “A Kind of Love”
James Brogden – “Remover of Obstacles”
Nerine Dorman – “Probatio Diabolica”
Mystery Writer 1 – TBA soon
Mystery Writer 2 – TBA soon

Mystery writers! Exciting stuff.

So keep an eye out for these. I’ll blog again when they’re available.

.

Bloodstones anthology is out, featuring me!

By
0
November 2, 2012

blood stones web 200x300 Bloodstones anthology is out, featuring me!The Bloodstones anthology from Ticonderoga Publications, edited by the amazing Amanda Pillar, is now out. It’s ” loaded with stories of dark urban fantasy imbued with mythology; seventeen fantastic tales of monsters, gods, magic and so much more.” Alphabetically, here’s what’s in it:

  • Joanne Anderton, “Sanaa’s Army”
  • Alan Baxter, “Cephalopoda Obsessia”
  • Jenny Blackford, “A Moveable Feast”
  • Vivian Caethe, “Skin”
  • MD Curelas, “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”
  • Thoraiya Dyer, “Surviving Film”
  • Dirk Flinthart, “The Bull in Winter”
  • Stephanie Gunn, “The Skin of the World”
  • Richard Harland, “A Mother’s Love”
  • Pete Kempshall, “Dead Inside”
  • Penny Love, “A Small Bad Thing”
  • Karen Maric, “Embracing the Invisible”
  • Christine Morgan, “Ferreau’s Curse”
  • Nicole Murphy, “Euryale”
  • Kat Otis, “And the Dead Shall be Raised Incorruptible”
  • Dan Rabarts, “The Bone Plate”
  • Erin Underwood, “The Foam Born”

You can buy it here now in trade paperback. Or you can get a shiny hardcover here. It’ll be available on Amazon any day now. Go get some!

.

Welcome

The website of author Alan Baxter

Alan Baxter, Author

Author of horror, dark fantasy & sci-fi. Kung Fu instructor. Personal Trainer. Motorcyclist. Dog lover. Gamer. Heavy metal fan. Britstralian. Misanthrope. Learn more about me and my work by clicking About Alan just below the header.

Subscribe to my Mailing List: For occasional news, special offers and more. When you click the Subscribe button you will be sent to a confirmation page.

------------------------------

Contact

Contact Me


Our world is built on language and storytelling. Without stories, we are nothing.

------------------------------

TOP POSTS OF OLD

An archive page of some of the most popular blog posts can be found by clicking here. Enjoy.

Stalk Me

Find me on various social networks. Hover over the icon for a description:

@AlanBaxter on Twitter Like me on Facebook Friend me on Goodreads

My Amazon author page My Tumblr of miscellany My Pinterest boards



feedburner

Listen to my podcast

Australian Dark Fiction News & Reviews



National Archive

This website is archived by the National Library of Australia's Web Archive

Pandora