♦Welcome to another edition of the Open Book Blog Hop!♦
Do pets (or other animals) play an important part in your books?
Tell us about them.
Welcome back to another Open Book Blog Hop! The authors included in this ongoing series wish to thank you for your reads. We appreciate, even more so, when you share our writings with your friends. If you’re new to the series, welcome aboard. The authors engage and impress weekly. Prepare to become a regular reader.
Animals are very much part of our world, so it only makes sense that they would part of any of the worlds that I explore in my writing. They could be pets or they could be legitimate characters in their own right. I can’t imagine a world where they don’t have a hand in it, no matter what role they fill. One might think you’d end up with a quite flat character, but animals are far more sentient than humans have traditionally given them credit. But, when you’ve lived with animals your whole life (or most of your life), you already know that. Glad to see science catching up to what us animal folks already knew!
In many cultural traditions, animals hold sacred space. The bond between animals and humans is a special one. For instance, consider humans and horses. They’re like giant, sharp-footed doggies. Horses have allowed humans to evolve into heavily industrialized peoples. They have been present in war, farming, and entertainment, too. We all know that they provided transportation for humans and their goods, while also suffering the perils of battle as mammalian tanks of a sort. In my book, Blue Honor, the story centers around the Federal Cavalry units of the Army of the Potomac. Without horses, there would have been no story. Horses brought Evan and Joseph together, and thus brought Joseph to Emily. They’re not pets. But they’re massively important to the movement of humans and their stories.
This doesn’t even consider the cows. As backdrop figures, the cows are what bond Emily and Joseph. Her dairy farm plays a pivotal role in establishing their unlikely relationship. At the center is a baby bull. Shakes isn’t a pet, and Emily knows his value better than most. He is not just an asset to the farm, but holds an emotional value for Emily, which is related via his dam as well. Those things are indefinable sometimes, weighing more on ethereal ideas than concrete numbers–a personhood.
In The Trailokya Trilogy, the animals take on a deeply sentient presence. These souls aren’t pets. This race of beings encompasses all non-duta and non-danava beings that populate Zion, making use of Samsara for their particular evolutions. Duta and danava are opposite sides of another divine coin. They’re higher resonance beings, which we, in this world, call angels and demons. They share a common root, but diverged eons ago in a great conflict. That conflict has not truly ended, keeping these factions in opposition of each other’s existence since. For danava, souls are at the root of that issue. It is them that own all the blame for their separation from Zion.
As stated above, souls aren’t just human. There are many races among them that are of higher evolution than others, yet not divine per sé. These major races include humans. But, one should not mistake that some souls rather enjoy being other than one of these major races, and aren’t less evolved. They’re divergent. For instance, Maiel’s unit of wolf legionae (soldiers). They’re members of the great Legions of Zion. They fight by the duta to keep Zion and Samsara safe from the dark forces seeking to undo the dharma of all who exist, so that they can make claim to the realm of Zion and redefine existence in their own esteem.
This threat seeks to upend all that we know. That includes a system that has been carefully put in place to assure ascendance to Nirvana. For danava, harshly regulating who can and cannot evolve is of the highest importance. This means gatekeeping and denying nearly all souls any evolution. They see them as flawed, condemned, and worthless atman (beings). They see them as food and or a pet. Thus, they don’t see their value as anything more than energy and entertainment. They truly believe that these lower resonance atman, which they define as weak and broken, are created as they should remain. Their attainment of nirvana is an offense.
Wolves, though, aren’t the only animals that show up in the books. For instance, Primus Gediel trains a number of canids for the Legion. However, not all canids are military. Plus, there are avian species being trained in the cloisters as watchers. Not all birds will become watchers. In the second book, a human has a pet cat, but there’s something odd about that cat. Is it a watcher, too? Regardless, you won’t find these animals destined for pet life.
In the context of the books, many of the animals fulfill jobs and positions one would traditionally attribute to humans (or similar species). Yet, the landscape of Zion is loaded with various souls all living out an existence in unique ways. Pay attention in Shadow Soul, and you’ll get to see a pair of Phoenix. They’re out there living their best lives without the interference of humans (or similar species), evolving their own lives toward Nirvana as they best see fit. And, they’re assisted by duta in this process. They won’t evolve into humans or the like either. Every single species has their own highest form. Just as humans evolve into something unique to them, so would a wolf or owl.
It’s all very complicated, isn’t it! But, the point is, these non-pet species litter the series. It only makes sense. Animals exist in our reality that are not pets, living their best lives apart from humanity. They’re not less valuable than us. Each one’s life is just as sacred. Therefore, when used by humans, think of the context of Blue Honor, it holds a tragic aspect not just a magical one. The bond between human and animal is a sacred intersection.
Such sacred intersections weren’t possible in the midst of my WWII Thriller. That story was far too concerned with the human perils of war–specifically women in war. Therefore, I never even thought to include an animal, as either pet or compatriot. It is a purely human conflict tale.
Still, the majority of my work concerns itself with the sacred intersection of human and animal. To be fully honest, I can’t imagine the stories working out well without them. The characterizations were necessary. You can get the sense of that from the fact that they have names: Manny, Shakes, Argus, Shee, Chiron, Pallus, and so on.
An important component of the characterization is the respect the other characters display toward the animals. They don’t condescend to them. They’re viewed as equals. This distinction matters in a few ways. It displays the necessity of cooperation between human and animal for the evolution of all. It also helps to show the depth of certain character’s compassion. For instance, you’d find it difficult to imagine Aunt Magiel interacting with animals because of her precarious belief in humanity. However, you can feel the strength of Maiel’s commitment to her duty as a guardian in her respect for others of all species. Maiel wouldn’t make a great guardian if she harbored prejudice.
Prejudice is an overarching question laced into the narrative. It doesn’t stop an atman from evolving or resonating at various levels. Aunt Magiel is a svarg (equivalent of a arch angel). As we know, Lucifer got cast out for this same sentiment, but he refused to even work with souls. Why is Magiel different? She is aware of this feeling as a problem, but also believes that she has good reason.
For example, she feels that her sense of Dominic as a drain on her niece is proven right by the events of the story that unfolds in Shadow Soul. Some souls, in her esteem, are capable, but it’s not surprising to her when they fail. She sees them more as a pet! It’s such a patriarchal perspective and frighteningly toes the line. The difference between Magiel and Lucifer is she is in service to evolve those who will evolve and takes that duty quite seriously.
Still, Magiel needs to address her inner fears. This is a toxic attitude. While Magiel continues to oversee soul evolutions, she could be a threat to them. At her resonance, she is not perfect. Her sentiments likely keep her from rising to a higher stage. It also shows why she is in her position: to learn better and face her prejudice. You might ask, why would you risk souls to this attitude? Magiel, although she suspects souls will largely fail, follows the rules and regulations of her position to the letter. She spots what is going wrong and puts the souls through their paces. She does not and would not purposely trip them up.
Magiel’s greatest lesson is to allow herself to fully feel the compassion she puts in practice, instead of carefully applying it where she feels most safe. The likely answer: Magiel is depressed by the losses suffered, and exhibits care giver burn out along with a fear of loss. She keeps souls at a distance (like a pet) to protect a broken and fearful heart.
Regardless of Magiel’s reasons, regarldess of right or wrong, the souls play an important role in the lives of the characters of the books beyond a status of pet. They’re pivotal in allowing the narrative to unfold. Without them, the events wouldn’t come to pass, and the stories would not exist. In the end, they’re pretty important. Essentially, they fulfill an ecosystem, as they do in reality. Remove a species and everything tumbles apart.
I can’t even imagine Maiel without Argus. Subsequently, there would be no wolf leader without his wolves. Joseph wouldn’t be a cavalryman without his charger. Emily wouldn’t be the gallant healer. The animals drive the story in important but subtle ways beyond the limited status of pet.
Now that you’ve heard a bit about my animals, let’s head on over to the answers other authors give on this week’s hop. Click their tabs below…