Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dead and Gone-Impressions

So, I have read the latest offering from Charlaine Harris, Dead and Gone. First of all I would like to say that Harris is not a strong writer. What I do like are the characters and the scenarios and world she has created, but in my estimation, I think she could do better as a writer.

Having said that, I will tell you something about the new book.

The new book takes place during the faery wars. Sookie's great grandfather, the faery prince Niall, is in a family feud with Dermott, his grandson, who is Sookie's great uncle.

At the same time, she is being pulled ever closer to Eric, the Sheriff of Area Five and the owner of the Vampire Bar Fangtasia. After much time has elapsed with the take over of the territory which once belonged to Sophie Anne, now definitely deceased, Eric has sent for Sookie and asked her to present a mysterious gift to him in front of the King of Nevada's representative. And Sookie doesn't even take the time to look at it, she simply appears at Fangtasia and with some cerimony, hands Eric the gift. He then unwraps it and reveals it is a cerimonial knife used in Vampire wedding cerimonies (between Vampires, that is, humans and Vampires are still restricted legally in what they can do.). He takes the knife in his hands and kisses it and the representative makes a statement of Eric and Sookie's vow to one another. Aparently they are now bonded together in a love match and that is a bond that cannot be broken by the King. And apparently, Quinn the were-tiger and Sookie's one time (and I mean that literally) lover has been banned from entering Eric's domain.

Sookie resents this high handed act by the Viking Vampire and lets him know about it. But she has bigger fish to fry. Sam and the other shifters have made the great reveal. Figuring that they have the advantage of being human with a quirk, as opposed to being dead bloodsuckers, the shifters have revealed themselves to the world. As a result, Sam's step dad shot his mom when she changed into her animal self and he has been called away and Sookie is put in charge of the bar. Under her watch, Jason's faithless wife has been found crucified behind Merlotte's and the FBI are sniffing around in connection with her work at the Pyramid in Rhodes with Barry Bellboy.

But the FBI and the Crystal story are just side stories that Harris resolves rather abruptly. The meat of the story is the faery war. Everyone is warning her about the impending battle. Dermott is ruthless and very anti human. He knows that Niall loves his great granddaughter and he figures that if he kills Sookie, this will lure Niall into an all out war. Claudine and Claude, Sookie's faery cousins visit with her and tell her to be careful of a man who looks like Jason but isn't.

Meanwhile, Sookie, being burdened by the stresses of the murder of Crystal and the other things in her life, she goes to Fangtasia just for the consolation of Eric's company. She forgoes the opportunity to give Eric a real reaming out for his use of her in the love match thing in favor of listening to Eric's back story.

Eric was the son of a chieftain and he married his dead brother's wife, Aude. Aude was older than he and I think he was very fond of her, even loved her. Eric had six children with Aude and she died with a post-parum infection, she and the baby. One night as he was returning from his courtship of another woman he was waylaid by a man who turned out to be a Vampire. He was made Vampire by a Roman soldier and he was subservient to his maker's whims, which included sex with the endlessly virile Viking Vampire. He explained that he eventually accustomed himself to that aspect as he learned how to be a Vampire. This is very intimate for the Vampire Eric to tell Sookie about how he was made and I think on some levels he was telling her the story to show her that he has some little commonality with her as he himslef was forced into a sexual subservience much like she was when she was being mad handled by her uncle Bartlett.

Sookie comes home with lots to think about but like Scarlett, she always puts it off. Things seem to simmer down for a while until she has to kill a faery in her garden who was sent to kill her. She contacts her Great Grandfather who comes with Sookie's great uncle to clean up the faerie remains.

That evening, Sookie is visted by none other than Quinn, the weretiger. Bill shows up and gets into a physical altercation with Sookie ending up in the middle of it. Knocked briefly unconscious, she awakes to Eric mopping off her face with a very wet wash rag, her mouth full of Eric's blood and no clothes on. Eric figures there is no time like the present to restake(heh, heh) his claim on Sookie. Whatever it is that Sookie has, it makes Eric shout something positively exclamatory in foreign language.

Friday, May 08, 2009

I don't know how to love him

I was speaking with my sister witch today on IM and I could tell that she seemed troubled, so I asked her what was wrong. She said that she had written a post on her own blog and she suggested I take a look at it.

In it she wrote of the Sacred Male, the God, and how she felt his robust and passionate energy. She likened him Wolverine in the X-Men movies and she expressed a longing for the sexual and passionate and sometimes violent masculinity of the God.

Now, I am not a Pagan, I have only one notion of God, but I respect the images of him conjured up by all people and creeds and trads. But I do see God in a way that is different from most all Christians. And I will try to explain here how I see him.

Early Christian thinkers were very interested in how to mold God's personal image so we could create an unique and special bond with him. They could not see God as the randy, lusty gods of the Romans and Greeks, nor could they see him as the other Pagans saw the sacred Male. So they did the unconscienable, they neutered God. Terrible thing to do.

And when folks go searching for some sprirtual other and they encounter Wicca, every third word is goddess. And I understand that. After being force fed this male centered religious dogma designed to strangle women from the rights to their own bodies and their sexual identities and from their material goods, any religion that praises the sacred feminine is a welcome change.

Unfortunately an imbalance occurs and when thoughts and hearts and yes, desires turn to the notion of the sacred masculine, there is a confusion and maybe even a sense of shame or embarrassment when desire and passion and need come to the surface and burn the body and the mind with that desire.

This is confusing especially to the Christian witch. God was always some one who was beyond our reach, who we could not understand as a sexual being. But, think about the Song of Solomon:

Song of Solomon

The song of songs, which is Solomon's.
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.
Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee.
Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee.
I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.
Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother's children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.
Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?
If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds' tents.
I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh's chariots.
Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold.
We will make thee borders of gold with studs of silver.
While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.
A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts.
My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi.
Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes.
Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant: also our bed is green.
The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fir.

Chapter 2

I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.
As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.
As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.
Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love.
His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me.
I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please.
The voice of my beloved! behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.
My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, shewing himself through the lattice.
My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.
For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;
The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.
O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.
Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.
My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies.
Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether.

Chapter 3

By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.
I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.
The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?
It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me.
I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please.
Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant?
Behold his bed, which is Solomon's; threescore valiant men are about it, of the valiant of Israel.
They all hold swords, being expert in war: every man hath his sword upon his thigh because of fear in the night.
King Solomon made himself a chariot of the wood of Lebanon.
He made the pillars thereof of silver, the bottom thereof of gold, the covering of it of purple, the midst thereof being paved with love, for the daughters of Jerusalem.
Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold king Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart.

Chapter 4

Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes within thy locks: thy hair is as a flock of goats, that appear from mount Gilead.
Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which came up from the washing; whereof every one bear twins, and none is barren among them.
Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely: thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks.
Thy neck is like the tower of David builded for an armoury, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men.
Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies.
Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense.
Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.
Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions' dens, from the mountains of the leopards.
Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck.
How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices!
Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon.
A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.
Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard,
Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices:
A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.
Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.

Chapter 5

I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.
I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night.
I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?
My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him.
I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock.
I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer.
The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.
I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love.
What is thy beloved more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women? what is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us?
My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand.
His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven.
His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set.
His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh.
His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl: his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires.
His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold: his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars.
His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.

Chapter 6

Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou fairest among women? whither is thy beloved turned aside? that we may seek him with thee.
My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies.
I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine: he feedeth among the lilies.
Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners.
Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me: thy hair is as a flock of goats that appear from Gilead.
Thy teeth are as a flock of sheep which go up from the washing, whereof every one beareth twins, and there is not one barren among them.
As a piece of a pomegranate are thy temples within thy locks.
There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number.
My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her. The daughters saw her, and blessed her; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her.
Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?
I went down into the garden of nuts to see the fruits of the valley, and to see whether the vine flourished and the pomegranates budded.
Or ever I was aware, my soul made me like the chariots of Amminadib.
Return, return, O Shulamite; return, return, that we may look upon thee. What will ye see in the Shulamite? As it were the company of two armies.

Chapter 7

How beautiful are thy feet with shoes, O prince's daughter! the joints of thy thighs are like jewels, the work of the hands of a cunning workman.
Thy navel is like a round goblet, which wanteth not liquor: thy belly is like an heap of wheat set about with lilies.
Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins.
Thy neck is as a tower of ivory; thine eyes like the fishpools in Heshbon, by the gate of Bathrabbim: thy nose is as the tower of Lebanon which looketh toward Damascus.
Thine head upon thee is like Carmel, and the hair of thine head like purple; the king is held in the galleries.
How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights!
This thy stature is like to a palm tree, and thy breasts to clusters of grapes.
I said, I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of the boughs thereof: now also thy breasts shall be as clusters of the vine, and the smell of thy nose like apples;
And the roof of thy mouth like the best wine for my beloved, that goeth down sweetly, causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak.
I am my beloved's, and his desire is toward me.
Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field; let us lodge in the villages.
Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine flourish, whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranates bud forth: there will I give thee my loves.
The mandrakes give a smell, and at our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old, which I have laid up for thee, O my beloved.

Chapter 8

O that thou wert as my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother! when I should find thee without, I would kiss thee; yea, I should not be despised.
I would lead thee, and bring thee into my mother's house, who would instruct me: I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate.
His left hand should be under my head, and his right hand should embrace me.
I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, until he please.
Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? I raised thee up under the apple tree: there thy mother brought thee forth: there she brought thee forth that bare thee.
Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.
Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.
We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts: what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for?
If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver: and if she be a door, we will inclose her with boards of cedar.
I am a wall, and my breasts like towers: then was I in his eyes as one that found favour.
Solomon had a vineyard at Baalhamon; he let out the vineyard unto keepers; every one for the fruit thereof was to bring a thousand pieces of silver.
My vineyard, which is mine, is before me: thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred.
Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken to thy voice: cause me to hear it.
Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.

Did you see all those sacred sexual images. While we know the writer is praising an earthly lover, couldn't this also be an indication of God's sexuality? His romatic and passionate view as a Male God for the women who follow and trust in him. Think about the visitation to Mary. The Angel makes its announcement and God overshadows Mary and I believe, in his own metaphysical way he made love to her while he was putting Jesus in her belly.

So sexual love and desire is part of the God, whether he is the God of the Pagans or he is the God of the Cross, the Christian God, and deny that part of ourselves, the part that desires God and the intimacy he designed for us to share with our lovers and with him, it to deny the act of God's love for us.

Love ye one another

And Brightest Blessing Be


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Dead and Gone

So I lay here, all curled up, reading Dead and Gone and feeling a mixture of pleasure and pain for my poor beleagured Bill. I won't get into it yet, not until there are a few more days between the intital readings and rereadings of the book.

Let's just say there is nothing really settled for my favorite Vampire. :'(

Monday, May 04, 2009

Why I love the True Blood/ Charlaine Harris Stories

I wrote this post for the True Blood forum I belong to in response to a thread entitled: Why do we love Vampire stories?

I have only fallen in love twice in my life. The first was a man who I loved but could not love me back. The second was my husband and he died of NonHodgkin's Lymphoma about 13 years ago.

I have always loved the story of the Vampire, the scary/ sexy creature who desires you more than any other creature on earth. But I never really understood the character of Vampires like Dracula and Louie and Lestat until I read those stories after the death of my husband.

I always knew that my husband was going to die of his cancer, he'd been living with it for 2 or 3 years when we met. I suppose he reminds me something of Bill. He doesn't look at all like Bill, though they are about the same height and build and they have that same deliberate way of speaking. And my husband was very courtly, like Bill, even though he was an old hippy.

I remember, after he died, that I reread Dracula for a Victorian Literature course and I had of course read it before. But I cried like a baby over the Count. He was so sad and lonley in his Vampiric existance. And then of course the film by Francis Ford Coppola, I was miserable for Gary Oldman and the way he played the Count.

I think the thing that I really related to with the Dracula character were the passages you mentioned, crossing seas of time and love that never dies and the way Mina Murray says "take me away from all this dead," when Dracula blood bonds with her.

My husband and I did not want to get involved with each other. He was a dead man walking, twenty years my senior and I was a young woman barely 21. A lot of what happens between Sookie and Bill is the way mine and Jimmy's life began: an older man, a veteran (Vietnam) and a young girl with a lot of social stigma on us because of our age difference, and a sort of doomed romance thing going on that made it appealing (Believe me, the doomed romance thing was not appealing at the time). We worked together as Bill and Sookie do in the second book and Jimmy's illness and the fact that he was dealing with his war time memories, like poor Terry Bellefleur, (and Bill).

I hadn't really realized just how much alike this whole experience of loving a "dead" man is like the books.

I have to go away for a bit and think about this.

Whew ???

And he was very needy, like Bill. Even for blood. No, he didn't bite me, but when he needed blood for surgery, since I'm O-, the universal blood type, I donated blood to him when he had surgery so, we had something like a blood bond.

It's funny how you read something and the story seems one way to you and then as you have experiences your point of view changes when you read it again, because of the experiences in your life. I'm glad I put this post up and you responded to it. It makes perfect sense to me now why I am so hyped up over Bill and Sookie's romance. It's the true love that will never die.

Friday, May 01, 2009

What I have Learned from Cancer

What I have learned from cancer is pretty simple. The human touch is necessary. Not just the touch of nurses and doctors and chemo techs and radiation techs. But the touch of people who are not there to do a proceedure on you, who are not there to perform a chore or provide a service or any of the things associated with the disease.

My doctor, the one who sort of sounds like Stephen Moyer when I close my eyes, is a very proper Brit. I like him, though he is a funny doctor, and ordinarily,I am impatient with funny doctors, but today when he visited my room, he seemed down. I haven't any of my magikal energies back to any sort of level, but his aura was static-like and troubling.

He's had a "spot of bad news" as he said, in his very proper Queen's English. Apparently his brother was involved in a very serious car accident and will likely be paralyzed from the waist down. He is my doctor's twin brother. And my doctor is making the trip home soon to see him. I reached out and touched his hand. He has slender, delicate hands, the hands of a surgeon. They were very warm to me and though I think he felt uncomfortable with me touching him (I think this had more to do with his Britishness than with my being sick), he seemed to relax as I squeezed the hand that opened me up and birthed my little stranger. That seems so intimate, but I tell you, there was nothing more intimate than that moment, touching his hand.

And when he left, I thought how amazing it felt to hold another person's hand. How much energy I felt in the warmth and pressure of his hand. Then I thought about all the times that I was alone and afraid and I wished there was someone there to hold my hand. My mom did it for a while, and after a while she just couldn't bear to touch me anymore. And my dad was the same, though he chickened out sooner. And then there was my sister, who touched me like a nurse, perfunctory, like a professional.

Jaime and I used to hold hands when we were at club chemo. He had leukemia and he had even more pain than I did and sometimes I think he held my hand because he was in pain and he felt braver because he didn't want be scared in front of me. I was holding his hand when he died.

But to have a living person hold your hand, a healthy, well nourished, warm skinned person hold your hand is like lying in a warm bath, feeling the support and gentle pressure of the water holding you securely and holding you up at the same time. It is that cone of peace and normality that says there are still living creatures out there who will not shrink from your touch.

So, if you find yourslef in a situation where you are with the sick and you can't find anything to say, simply hold their hand, stroke their fingers and let them feel your living heat. It will be the touch of life for them.