Why I Include
In my Fantasy
Last week, I mentioned that I’m a pastor’s wife. I honestly don’t really like the label “pastor’s wife.” When talking with others, I am more apt to use the wordier phrase “my husband is a pastor.” Being a “pastor’s wife” doesn’t give me any sort of special insight into spiritual things any more than being a mechanic’s daughter makes me an expert in automotive repair. The reason I mentioned that my husband is a pastor is because there is an unspoken idea of what sort of books a pastor’s wife is supposed to write and magical fantasy fiction is not one of them.
So why do I as a Christian include magic in my fantasy? I mentioned that I express three types of magic in my book, Hidden Knight: A Novel of a Bear. The first is supernatural “magic.” Just like there are supernatural powers at work in our world, there are supernatural forces in play in my fantasy world of Altremon. There is an all-powerful Creator God, and there are devils. There are angels of course as well, but I found no opportunity to represent them in my fantasy. The supernatural powers are not the focus of my fantasy, but they are certainly behind the scenes.
An extension of supernatural powers is what most people usually think of when we talk about magic—spells, enchantments, curses and the like. Witchcraft, not the cutesy Disney sort of witches, but real witchcraft along with its enchantments and charms has its roots in demonic idolatrous worship. It is for this reason many Christians avoid anything with magic altogether. But there is nothing original with the devil; he is only a poor imitator. God created man in His own image. In idolatry man made gods after their image. God sacrificed His own Son for the world. Idolatry demanded the sacrifice of its worshipers’ children. God is the Creator of nature. Idolatry worshipped nature.
That brings me to the second type of “magic” that is found in my stories. Sin corrupted and twisted nature as spoken of in Romans 8:22, “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” Yet, there is still much of the beauty and majesty God originally created left in nature. They are a testimony to their Creator, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork” (Psalm 19:1). The natural was created by the Supernatural, and there is much that is miraculous about nature. People may even describe a natural wonder as “magical.”
Even with modern science, there are still things about nature we can’t fully explain. Science is constantly “correcting” itself as we make more discoveries. Nature is a testimony to God’s power. One of my favorite passages is Job chapter 38-41, where God appears to Job and uses nature to show Job how limited is the knowledge and power of man. God says to Job, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding” (Job 38:9). And again, “Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, that abundance of waters may cover thee?” (Job 38:34). Humanity has no control over nature to either make it rain or prevent it, but God declares: “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22).
As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.—Ecclesiastes 11:5
One of the ways I express magic in my book, Hidden Knight: A Novel of a Bear, is through nature. Zhi seeks to destroy that which the Ancient of Days created for good.
Jabal smiled. “The natural and miraculous are not opposing forces as some might think, but on Earth, magic is rarely seen anymore.”
“There is magic on Earth?”
“If there wasn’t, our two worlds could not be connected. Only, it has mostly been consumed by evil. Altremon is a younger world. That is what drew Zhi to it—to consume the magic of this world until he destroys it and us.”
The wolves of Altremon are creatures that live in harmony with nature and are endowed with nature magic. One might wonder, why wolves? Fairy tales and fantasy haven’t been kind to wolves. In the Bible wolves are used as a metaphor for evil, but that doesn’t make them evil. The same could be said for snakes, but I’m not particularly fond of snakes, so they get to be evil. Wolves, however, have always fascinated me. Besides being beautiful with haunting howls, they have a similar family structure to humans. It’s why dogs naturally integrate with humans. As the Leader of the People of the Pack explains:
Yet, it seems strange to me that men so distrust wolves when they consider dogs to be man’s best friend.
Kelem was surprised. “Dogs are not wolves.”
Dogs were once wolves. One of our people nearly lost his life saving the King, and the King took him under his protection. So it came to pass that some wolves never returned to the forest.
If you’re wondering why the italics, it’s because the wolves only speak in thoughts. Wolves have the ability to control the winds with their howls, heal using their life force, and become invisible when motionless. I live in a desert. Here we have rather bold coyotes that wander sometimes even into the city. I’ve seen large coyotes lope across the street only to seemingly vanish into the low brush. Try as you might, you won’t see them again. I realize their fur naturally blends into their habitat, but I liked the idea of giving the wolves of Altremon real invisibility.
Nature magic is something that is instinctual, like the instincts of a bird to build a nest or a spider a web. It’s not really something that can easily be learned, though not impossible.
“He didn’t see us,” Chloe said even as she knew it was impossible that the bear could have missed them. They had been in plain sight.
“A little trick I learned from the wolves,” the man said.
Nature magic also has limitations. Invisibility can only be maintained while motionless and if conscious. The wolves’ ability to heal drains their own life force, weakening them and could potentially kill them. I liked this ability for the wolves because dogs seem to have a natural instinct for when we aren’t feeling well. My dad’s dog, for instance, will alert him to when his blood sugar is low. The wolves’ most powerful ability is to control the wind, but this too is limited by Zhi, who is draining magic and corrupting nature.
Nature magic represents the inherent goodness of creation, and Zhi is the destroyer of it. The snakekind’s lands were once beautiful marshes before they gave themselves over to Zhi for the promise of power.
Making it to high ground, they were clear of the bog. Now instead of treading through water and tall grass, they had to trail blaze their way through thorny shrubs and weeping trees heavy with grey-brown moss. At least the flies and mosquitos were not so numerous, but a large patch of impenetrable brambles forced them to trek the long way around.
“And they say these lands were once beautiful?” Eirwen snorted.
“And so they were before they were corrupted,” said [Spoiler].
“Hard to believe,” Eirwen said. “This place makes the Forest of Ankor look like a paradise.”
The wolves have a couple of other ancient abilities as well, though the modern wolves of Altremon lost these abilities. The wolves once had the gift of foreknowledge. This aligns with nature magic as animals often seem to sense danger ahead of time. It was the wolves’ prophecy that foresaw the first King and Knight; and it was their prophecy that foretold of the Knight, who would unite Altremon to defeat the Azhimen. The wolves lost this ability after the Great War, during which many sided with Zhi.
This was a dark period in the wolves’ history, in which, some were deceived by Zhi. The wolves trusted their inner senses and did not perceive his deception. They believed the lies of the snakekind, who had become the Azhimen. It was also during this time that the wolves placed a curse upon a human fortress that had been established in their territory. While the wolves anger against the trespassers was understandable, this dark magic was an unlawful use of nature magic that twisted the senses of any who entered the fortress, turning it into an impossible labyrinth.
Dak whined again as a man stepped toward him.
“To find your way when you’re lost
Lose your pride, trust each other.”
“Jabal,” Kelem said in surprise. He hadn’t seen the wizard since the day Chloe had been sent back to Earth.
“Dak is trying to warn you,” Jabal said. “Dogs have a sense for danger.”
“And you have a way of showing up at critical moments, only to impart senseless riddles.”
“Beware of the Fortress of Itzal. A dark magic lies upon it.”
Kelem crossed his arms. How does the wizard know we are headed toward the fortress?
If you want to read the rest of the curse that fortunately had a fourth stanza added to it, you can read it in the first point of “Five Things I Never Knew I Needed to Know About My Main Character.”
Also, if you’re curious about Jabal, the wizard, then stayed tuned. Next week, I will talk about the third magic found in my novel.