Fiction as a Window to Witchcraft: Insights from Chapters and Charms

I have some really exciting news: my twin sister just launched her own blog! Carly has been one of the biggest supporters of The Gothic Library since the beginning, frequently suggesting topics, correcting typos, and offering moral support over the years. Now it’s time for me to return the favor. Her new website, Chapters and Charms, combines her love of books with her passion for Wicca and witchcraft. As I figured these topics might be of interest to readers of The Gothic Library, I asked Carly to come do a guest post. Read on to learn about how gothic fiction influenced Carly’s path to Wicca:

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Many things in my life were introduced to me first through books. Witchcraft/modern paganism was no exception. The genres birthed by the Gothic tradition—paranormal romance, monster fiction, mystery, horror—are rife with references to mythology, magic ritual, and even specific pagan practices like Wicca. Although these depictions may take great creative license, conflating fantasy and fact, they nonetheless piqued my interest and set me on the right track to begin my own research into the subject.

Just as monsters like vampires and werewolves began to figure as protagonists of their own stories instead as the villains (thanks largely to authors like Anne Rice), witches, too, were cast in a more relatable and humanized light around the turn of the millennium. I remember reading YA fiction like The Secret Circle by L.J. Smith (author of the popular Vampire Diaries series) and the Twitches novels by H. B. Gilmour and Randi Reisfeld (later adapted to film with Tia and Tamera Mowry playing the twin witches) that depict folk magic and rituals in detail. To this day, whenever I see the herb marjoram, I think of the scene from Twitches where the twins use it as a substitution for another herb in a spell and end up talking to the dead instead of time-traveling (or vice versa, my memory is fuzzy). While the magic depicted in these fantasy stories is usually way more dramatic and flashy than what real life practitioners mean when we say “witchcraft,” there is an element of precision, creativity, accessibility, and taking control of your own fate that is shared, which drew me to learn more about it.

These books taught me words like coven and grimoire, but it was actually a Scooby Doo movie that introduced me to the word Wicca and set the stage for my dedication to that religion years later. In Scooby Doo! And the Witch’s Ghost, the gang go to New England to solve a mystery for a horror writer, and in the process, meet a young Wiccan woman named Thorn, who falls under suspicion for her witchy ways. Though the film propagates some misinformation (such as retroactively calling women burned at the stake for witchcraft Wiccans, when Wicca is actually a religion founded in the 1950s), it introduced the concept to mainstream children’s entertainment. Scooby Doo may seem a little far removed from gothic lit, but it is inspired by the whodunit genre popularized by gothic authors like Edgar Allen Poe and draws from the ghost stories and spooky settings common in the genre.

So, you can see why fiction (especially gothic-rooted fiction) and witchcraft have always been closely related for me. They both bring magic into my life: fiction through escapism and the chance to explore new worlds and experiences, witchcraft through little rituals that bring my spirituality into my everyday life and which help me manifest my dreams into reality. That is why I started my blog, Chapters and Charms. Book blog meets witch blog as I alternate between reviews/author profiles and witchy tips or spells. Sometimes I even write about witchy books. If any of this sounds up your alley, you can check it out at chaptersandcharms.com. I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

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Carly is the author of Chapters and Charms. She has been practicing solitary wicca since 2009, infusing her practice with her Jewish heritage, imagination, and intuition. She has also been a book blogger since 2014, and launched her solo blog, Chapters and Charms, earlier this month.

Strength Comes in Many Varieties: Leanna Renee Hieber and Strangely Beautiful

Last week, I posted a review of the new edition of Strangely Beautiful. Today, the author Leanna Renee Hieber has a guest post for us about the different ways in which characters can be strong. Read on to find out what Leanna has to say about the hidden strength of Miss Percy Parker…

Strangely Beautiful cover 2

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As my beloved and most well-known series, the Strangely Beautiful saga, is about to re-issue in a revised edition with new scenes and content from Tor Books, I’ve been doing a great deal of reflection and discussion about the oft beleaguered Gothic novel and my heroine Miss Percy Parker.

I believe in fiction that represents all people, types, perspectives, physiologies, tropes, gender identities, races, faiths, backgrounds, statuses; the whole beautiful complicated intricacy of humanity. There should be fiction featuring the vast lot, and in any genre it pleases. Continue reading Strength Comes in Many Varieties: Leanna Renee Hieber and Strangely Beautiful