Disclaimer: This was originally posted on my old website 1/07/2019.
I’ll be writing today about my inspirations for The Lady of Zion because due to the Christian, Judaic and Pagan themes, I fear it might be a little controversial.
Let me preface this by saying: the series is not meant to be a criticism of any religion or it’s practitioners.
I feel like it’s important to say that upfront because in The Lady of Zion, Yahweh (or the Judeo-Christian God) is the bad guy. Or at least, from the main characters points of view.
This story was originally a project for my Masters thesis. The driving question behind the story is “What if Western Judeo-Christian religions are wrong. What if “God” is the bad guy?”
Naturally in the Urban Fantasy sub-genre of Angel Literature God/Heavenly forces are usually the “good” guys and Lucifer and the Demons are the “bad guys”. The stories usually follow Judeo-Christian mythology as their basis for the underlying world building and mythic structure. My story turns that on its head.
Historically speaking this story is allegorical of the path Christianity took as it evolved over time. Christianity started as a minority movement growing out of Judaism that other religions, especially Judaism, tried to squash. Over time Christianity grew popular and eventually became the dominant religion. As it grew bigger it did it’s best in turn to squash the smaller religions, especially the polytheistic religions. This is a historical fact. It was one of the first things I learnt at University where I was studying History at the time. I wish I still had access to my old texts regarding the matter, but I’ll put some links you can check out below. (See further reading 1,2, 3 and 4)
In a lot of esoteric writings you’ll hear the phrase “as above so below”. So, what if the wars waged by Christianity against minority religions were reflected in the Heavens? What if Yahweh, a warrior God, decided that he wanted to be the head of the pantheon? What if he waged war on the other gods and took the Kingship of Heaven? That doesn’t necessarily mean he is the “bad guy” as such, but wouldn’t he be the bad guy from the point of view of the gods he over-threw?
There is quite a lot of evidence in the Bible (depending on which version(s) you’re using) to indicate that the Judeo-Christian God is not the only god.
- “Who among the gods is like you, Lord?” (Exodus 15:11)
- “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Deuteronomy 5:7)
- “Do not worship any other gods or bow down to them” (2 Kings 17:35)
There are others, but you get the point. (See further reading 9, 10, 11)
Christians generally interpret these passages as indicative of deceiving spirits and demons, rather than other divine beings, because that fits better with their mythology. However other indications within the Bible include references to the “Elohim” which in its original context was a Hebrew word for “gods” but has now, through the lens of monotheism, become interpreted as a reference to the Heavenly host (angels). (See further reading 16).
There is also a lot of academic evidence that at one point a Goddess was worshiped alongside Yahweh, both within the Bible and in texts found at Kuntillet Ajrud. In fact, some scholars have stated that Asherah is mentioned in the bible at least 40 times (See further reading 17). While studying this at university I kept seeing Asherah referred to as the “lost goddess” (due to her suppression in Christianity as monotheism gained popularity) and I thought her story, would make a great story. (See further reading 18, 20 and 21)
The story of Asherah in religious and archaeological evidence is patchy at best. Which is great for me as a writer, it means I can take quite a lot of artistic license with her story. And Asherah’s story is a large part of the story that I’m telling in The Lady of Zion.
What little we do know of Asherah doesn’t come from Judeo-Christian texts, it comes from the discovery of tablets in Ras Shamra regarding the Ugarit Gods. The Ugarit Gods were the gods worshiped by the ancient Canaanites before Christianity took its hold. (See further reading 23 and 24). According to these texts Asherah is the mother goddess; wife of El (King of the Gods). Little else is said of her, except that she intercedes on Baal’s (the equivalent Storm god) behalf on at least one occasion.
The Lady of Zion uses multiple Middle Eastern mythologies as inspiration to create the world within it. Notably Greek, Egyptian, and of course Ugarit. It is an Urban Fantasy, so it is primarily set in our world, and as Judeo-Christianity absorbed culture and mythology from its conquered neighbours so too has The Lady of Zion used the mythologies of the Middle East.
In the first book of the series, The Lady of Zion, twenty something Grace Haskiel, nursing student and Nephilim, gets swept into the War between Heaven and Hell. The appearance of Fallen Angel Nikili sets off a chain reaction of events that leads Grace to a meeting with Lucifer, King of Hell, and a quest to find the missing Goddess Asherah. Her quest takes her on a journey through the Australian Outback, the Middle East, Egypt and beyond, only to discover a truth even more shocking than the one which Nikili had brought to her.
Closer to the series release date (which I’m hoping will begin January 2020 or earlier) I’ll re-release the previous blog posts I wrote about the Angel Lit genre. Both because I feel it’s a relevant time to share the articles and part of my mission to pull my old blog posts across to the website for consolidation. The current plan for The Lady of Zion is a five book series, with several novelette/novellas accompanying it.
In the meantime, you may be interested to check out some of the texts I’ve used in researching this series:
- Fox, R. L. (1988). Pagans and Christians: In the Mediterranean World from the Second Century AD to the Conversion of Constantine. London, England: Penguin Group
- Penchansky, D. (2005). Twilight of the Gods: Polytheism in the Hebrew Bible. Louiseville: Westminster, John Knox Press
- Olyan, S.M. (1988). Asherah and the Cult of Yahweh in Isreal. Atlanta: Scholars Press
- Urrutia, B. (1973). “About El, Asherah, Yahweh and Anath”. American Anthropologist. 75(4). 1180-1181
- Burnett, J.S. (1999). A reassessment of biblical Elohim. (Doctorial Dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global. (Order No: 9927030)
- Yamashita, T. (1964). The Goddess Asherah. (Doctoral Dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global. (Order No: 8103904)
- Dever, W. (2005). Did God have a Wife?. United States of America: Wm.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co
- Brenner, A. The Hebrew God and His Female Complements.
- Coogan, M. D., & Smith, M. S. Stories from Ancient Canaan
- Day, J. (2002). Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan