A Morphing Character

She teaches us about magic, about life, about nature

One of the characters born in my imagination has been at one time or another, a tiny orphaned girl, a mage from a family of mages, a shaman by birthright, an advisor, a councillor, a noblewoman and more recently, an elite ak’la guard and a wizard.

Nature bird

But I realized this morning what’s wrong with my understanding of who she is, what she’s trying to tell me. Until her last incarnate, I’ve boxed her into a ‘good-girl’ convention; variously a helpless victim, a ‘work-with-the-system’ type of gal, a lady, a thoroughly modern girl/woman by definition.

But she is not; she’s a warrior and a wizard. She has always been thus, but I wasn’t listening. She defies convention, modern expectations, stereotypes as she escapes my confines to become what she was meant to be; natural, free-spirited, wild, a thing of nature.

Okay, now I’m listening.

By her standards, what is a warrior?

A feminist, to be sure. A ‘why-notster’. Unconventional. Anti-stereotype, drawing back to a time when women were not envied, punished, restricted, enslaved for and by their wombs. Their vaginas[1] were hanging out there with as much sass and how-d’ya-do as their male counterparts are today. They (the women, the vaginas) were worshipped — no, revered is the more accurate word, as part of fertility, survival, the circle of birth-life-death and nature.

There is a passage in one of Steven Erikson’s series[2], that describes a time when there was no separation between magic and the people. ‘…All Eres were bonecasters …’ [3] All was magic. Substitute the word nature for magic, and wham, we’re back in the real world.

In Erikson’s stories, the ‘fall’ does not happen through a pin-pointable event, an ejection from paradise, but has happened nevertheless. Magic has become a scarcity, a commodity to be pushed and prodded, become an us-against-them used for good and evil, for god/desses and wo/men.

Just so today, we’ve built to exquisite detail, brick and mortar, convention, social infrastructure, laws, morality, hierarchy, poverty — all means to delude us into thinking we are not a part of nature, not natural.

Does this make us insane? Or merely tragic?

And how does that relate back to my morphing character?

She has morphed from childhood to strict convention to wild wisdom. She is part of the magic; magic is her definition as much as she defines magic. She is never separated from her womb, her life-giver — womb-mage-warrior / birth-life-death — both her wisdom and her wildness.

Her journey in my imagination is allegory for my journey, for our journey through the real world, through time and history. My character becomes all of us, struggling to become who she is/we are, unbounded in either case, to discover the magic, to return to the wild things, to nature.

As I learn to listen to my character, as she morphs and grows not just in my imagination, but before my eyes, she teaches me that we are all products of the goddess, the wild things, of nature. As the Eres in Erikson’s story are all bonecasters, we are all one of nature, no matter where our journey as human beings takes us.

Nature is magical. Why do we wish to remove ourselves from it? My character has been asking me this for a long time.

  1. Their balls tucked neatly away, invisible but to their owners, to be called upon as needed when the hunt was on, the danger threatening, the mystery frightening and inexplicable.  ↩
  2. House of Chains: A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen, Steven Erikson, Toronto, Bantam Books, 2003.  ↩
  3. Ibid. The passage I’m referring to begins on page 886 in Chapter 23. It is a conversation between Trull Sengar and Onrack the Broken, discussing an ancient people long extinct, but who, in their earliest self-awareness, discovered the sacred places where they could bury their dead to live forever as part of the magic. We have forgotten those places.  ↩