As our series on MYTHIC HEROINES continues here at HOOKED on HEROINES, I’d like to tell you a little about the goddess HECATE, and why I chose to include her in my cast.
In HALLOWED CIRCLE I wanted to bring a deity into the storyline, to show a goddess and Her interaction with the main character Persephone in an undeniable way. According to some tellings of the Persephone abduction story, Hecate helped Persephone escape from Hades; according to other tellings it was Demeter who helped. In addition to that, Hecate is associated with magic, witches, crossroads, and has an affinity for big black dogs. Since my main character has a black Great Dane puppy, and a boyfriend who turns into a big black werewolf…it seemed obvious that there was no other goddess but Hecate who could fit the bill for my fiction.
Still, I kept digging. I read a variety of sources. There were all kinds of facets to explore and, though the sources are too many to list here, and despite Wikipedia being considered a questionable informant for some, allow me to cite here two sentences from the well-known internet encyclopedia:
“Regarding the nature of [Hecate’s] cult, it has been remarked, "she is more at home on the fringes than in the center of Greek polytheism. Intrinsically ambivalent and polymorphous, she straddles conventional boundaries and eludes definition." ”
What better deity to play with? That last sentence seals it, doesn’t it? If she “eludes definition” then I have room to play. And I like having a lot of room to play. You can consider me a claustrophobic plotter. I don’t want narrow elevator confines to write from. I want a football field of options.
And yet, how does one take a goddess who “eludes definition” and then tie Her to a single description and a character for readers to recognize as She appears throughout the series? How to describe a goddess, really, without taking away Her deism?
I described Her according to how Persephone’s senses discern Her:
SIGHT of HER: “A figure of darkness stood before me. Not dark-clothed. She was darkness alive. Everything else around us was like over-exposed film, as if all color and tone had seeped into creating Her as a living statue of ebony. … These were eyes that had stared, unafraid, into the sun for eons. These were the eyes of the moon.”
SOUND of HER: “My call has been heard by many,” a voice said. It was the voice of every Elder, of the Eldrenne, the voice of Time Eternal, the voice of the Depths of Nothing and Everything. It licked my bones through and tasted my soul, my essence, and my stain. It swallowed my fear and my hope and left me standing there naked and exposed in its sight, a vessel as open and empty as when I lay sobbing in the row of the cornfield as a child.”
SMELL of HER: “…I could smell raisin and currant cakes…”
TOUCH of HER: “…she grabbed my arm, and I hit my meditative sub-alpha like it was a swimming pool I’d just belly flopped into. Not only was the wind knocked from me, but I felt different… cold and wet as if my clothes were soaked and clinging, yet I was dry.”
After their first encounter in HALLOWED CIRCLE, Persephone performs a ritual. Now, I know that in many urban fantasy novels, witches are witches because they have power or knowledge that gives them power. In my novels, that’s not untrue, but it’s more than that too. Persephone’s not a witch simply because she can cast spells. She’s a pagan. Magic is part of her religion. Equate it to that famous line from Spiderman: With great power comes great responsibility. She’s been chosen; she has a destiny. She’s a witch because of what deities she connects to, and showing the readers how her worship actually occurs was important. One, because outside of the story, there are many misconceptions about paganism out there in the general public, so inside the fiction it felt necessary that I qualify Persephone, and show her worshipping. And two, this character takes her religion seriously, and she’s just had that face-to-face awesome religious experience! Of course, the next time she performs a ritual it’s all going to be filled with a renewed sense of purpose.
So what about you? Is it important to you to see characters taking part in some kind of religion? How does that affect the well-roundedness of a character? Necessary or not?
---Linda Robertson; author of VICIOUS CIRCLE and HALLOWED CIRCLE
FATAL CIRCLE available July 2010
ARCANE CIRCLE available January 2011