This month’s topic from Rhobin Courtright is:
Do you believe in angels, spirits, ghosts, demons or other ethereal beings or locations? What do you think when they appear in stories? Have you used them in your own stories?
Image from tofugu.com, worth reading about Shintoism.
I have three separate answers to the three questions.
1. I don’t believe anything, being handicapped by a scientific upbringing. Unsupported belief is such a fuzzy tool for creating reality!
Since my teenage years, I’ve been constructing a model of the universe, based on the evidence I had at any given time. As new evidence came in, I tested my current model against it. If necessary, I revised the model, even rejected key aspects. This then gave me a new, but still tentative model.
As a result, I was forced to admit that there is life before birth and after death. I’ve studied and accepted the evidence for reincarnation, and through personal past-life recalls, and other, less subjective evidence, accept that the purpose of life is for us to grow spiritually, life after life, until we reach the level of a Jesus, a Buddha. After this, we’ve graduated, and don’t need to be born again, although some advanced souls choose to return, in order to be of service to the rest of us. The same evidence indicates that there are Superior Beings who guide us. My guess is, they are people who are spiritually mature, and choose to mentor us younger souls.
People who report angels may have encountered a person who no longer needs a material existence.
Ghosts? The normal process after death appears to be a conversation with a Superior Being, who guides the just-dead person through a re-experiencing of life. For some reason, this proceeds from death to birth. Instead of reliving personal experiences, souls feel the consequences of their actions for others. If I’ve insulted someone today, I’ll relive how my victim felt because of my action. Same if I’ve made someone feel good.
I can conceive the possibility that some people don’t enter this process, but hang on, staying as disembodied people who are preoccupied with some earthly concern. That would be a ghost. If they exist, the way to deal with them is the way to deal with any confused person on the wrong path: with compassion, respect, empathy. They need to be encouraged to let go and move on.
2. Demons, evil spirits, vampires, werewolves and the like don’t work for me. If, life after life, we sometimes go forward, sometimes back, but advance on the average, then there is a mechanism for generating benevolent spirits. But where would evil spirits come from?
So, I find it hard to get into the constructed reality that contains such inventions. If a werewolf ever bites my bum, I’ll change my mind.
Besides, horror as a genre repels me. Reality, out there, has so much horror I’d like to eliminate that I don’t need the artificial thrill of horror in fiction. Cruelty repels me in real life, and it repels me in my reading.
3. From all this, you can deduce the kinds of “supernatural” beings I have in my own writing. In Ascending Spiral, there is a Superior Person who guides my protagonist after each death, helping in the planning of the next life. In Sleeper, Awake, there are no supernatural beings at all, but two computer programs who are sufficiently intelligent and powerful that they might as well be gods.
I have an unpublished novel I am currently hawking around to publishers, Hit and Run, which several of my beta readers have said is my best to date. Reincarnation occurs there, but no superhuman beings, good or naughty.
In my current work, The Doom Healer, there is a source of evil. This wasn’t in my original plan. My young hero Bill was merely to battle the idiocy of humans who are driving us, and in fact all complex life, to extinction. However, the alien who came to our aid pointed out that there is something unique about humanity. It had helped millions of other species within the galaxy, but had never encountered things like nuclear bombs, childhood sexual abuse, wars of genocide, and the limitless accumulation of wealth. So, it deduced that there may be some active source of evil on earth. It’s not my doing, but such a person, a source of evil, did come into being within the story. This person in fact invented myths like Satan and other nasties. It wrote the Apocrypha, with the battle between Christ and Antichrist, to serve his own ends of destroying us.
In this case, my beliefs are irrelevant. I just write down what I am told to.
Other participants in Rhobin’s round robin: