My latest book Dark Matter is now out with readers. That is my process: very little research ahead of time, then more research as I write, but no one sees anything until I am finished, and finally I test the waters by sending it out to a few people whose opinion I trust.
Veil Of Time, the first in the series, was published two years ago and is still selling steadily - every so often I take a deep breath and go through Simon and Schuster's author portal (for which I have a key!) to find out how many print books and how many e-books have sold in any given week. I try not to do this too often, though, or I would make myself crazy. Crazier.
This week I have been visiting another blog, that of Bart Ehrman, well-published professor of early Christianity at Chapel Hill. In an upcoming book (title: The Triumph of Christianity) Ehrman is asking the question of what civilisation lost when it took on Christianity, which is exciting for me, because this is the very question my series of books is asking, too.
Bart Ehrman wrote an entire book refuting Dan Brown's claims in The Da Vinci Code about early Christianity. But, really, he and Brown occupy the same no-man's land between the scholar and the ordinary reader. Both are opening church windows and allowing a little oxygen in. For this we must put our agnosticism aside and thank god. Any god.
I am hoping he is going to do the pagans justice.
Historians tend to give paganism short shrift and see it as a kind of embarrassment that the Enlightenment eventually took care of. Hip historians take the notion of the pagan more seriously, but they still look at it through an Enlightenment lens, before sticking it back in its dark box.
But paganism isn't something to be passed over. It wasn't dark and didn't belong to the Dark Ages. It may turn out those backward pagans had a better way of looking at things.
So, what happened when Christianity took over?
This moved in: Mother Mary meek and mild.
And this is what moved out.
The sacred feminine. And if the above image (in Gaelic known as Sheela-na-gig) offends thee, then take your Victorian spectacles off. It was the Victorians that promoted the notion of the corrupt Dark Ages to start with. To appreciate why the above image represents a female archetype and the Virgin Mary does not, you have to come at this from an entirely different place. The Christian one won't do.