Blurring the Lines

There is a certain bias in the occult community concerning fantasy. I
understand it, for I have it, too. When someone speaks to me of an idea or
concept, no matter how potentially valid, if it turns out that their source
of inspiration was a novel, a movie, a game — then I am less inclined to
listen to anything else they have to say.

And yet, as my career has taken me deeper into the publishing industry,
I’ve learned a few things. These things were revelatory at first, although
I suppose they really shouldn’t have surprised me. But then, our culture
as a whole has another ingrained bias, and that is to view someone who has
done something such as write a book or a movie or put out a CD as someone

They lose their existence as people like you and me, and instead become
this Concept. We subsequently tend to perceive them as being above us or
less flawed than us, more educated, more credible — they are suddenly a
Name, an Important Person — they must live in big houses, do great things,
and they are somehow exempt from the same hopes and worries and needs and
fears that we go through day by day.

But I’ve met writers now and artists, musicians, even movie-makers. And
they’re just like you and me. They have hopes and fears and dreams — and
subsequently, they have beliefs.

They’re people whose art imitates their life, who can’t help but sneak in
little inside jokes that only their circle of friends might perceive, who
write characters and stories only thinly disguised from the things in their
lives that inspired them.

Their creative efforts are inevitably influenced by their religious,
political, and personal beliefs. And almost always, they draw their
inspiration from what they live, what they know, spinning it into something
everyone else will dare believe.

The revelation for me was that many of these people — especially the ones
who create in the genres that we crave — are just like us — they share
our convictions and our beliefs. This is of course to a greater and lesser
extent for each, and some of them are open about their influence from
magick and the occult (consider Tori Amos and the spirits and faeries she
communes with for inspiration with her songs), while others are using a
creative medium to express ideas that they might not be able to publish in
a non-fiction work (do you have any idea how many 30 and 40-something
fiction writers in the SF/Fantasy genres are Pagans or occultists and
simply cannot be open about this fact because of publicity & marketing
concerns?). But to think that their work does not often seek to express
some truth they hold dear is to be deceived.

I forget who said it exactly, but some pundit declared that all novelists
write stories to proclaim through the veil of fiction those beliefs they
are afraid to proclaim publicly. And it’s quite true. And that’s to say
nothing of those who write both fiction and non-fiction, and simply use
their fiction as an entertaining vehicle to pass on beliefs.

Not that long ago, mention was made of Crowley’s “Moon Child”. This was a
novel, but he also wrote it with the intention of expressing the laws and
theories behind something in which he believed. Dion Fortune, similarly,
wrote novels with the intention of demonstrating her lifestyle, practices,
and beliefs through a fictional medium.

My point in this rambling is that there are many vehicles for truth to be
carried in, and stories are often more accessible to beginners than heavy,
jargon-laden treatises. I would not go so far as to suggest that someone
should take everything written about in fantasy as thinly veiled fact, or
live a game as if it were reality — but I am saying that, if you look in
the right places, you’ll be surprised by the very valid insights you might
see. Stories offer more than diversion — and I don’t think it’s wrong to
admit that and explore what they have to teach.

Reflect on the fiction that you read, the movies
that you watch, even the games that you play (computer and video games
included!). Think of the stories they tell you and what they teach.