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How Fantasy Can Become a Vehicle for Parable | Christian Witchcraft with Sara

Because if there's anything that can make magic, it's the Holy Book.

Christian Witch, Witchcraft, Mysticism, Magic, Crystals, Bible, Incense, Folklore, Sara Raztresen, God, Spirituality, Tarot, Occult, Evangelical, Demonic, Sin, Danger, Bible, Spellwork, Spells That Work, Rituals, Fantasy Writing, Jesus, Parable, Harry Potter

As you all may know from my work and my past blogs, fantasy is something pretty important to me. It's escapist, it's imaginative, it's beautiful, and it's incredibly telling of the inner mind of the person that wrote it, in my opinion—but more than that, it's also incredibly useful for teaching. All fiction is, not just fantasy, and to further my point to any readers who grew up (or still are) Christian, maybe you've heard such a story that goes like this:

"A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown."

It's a fictional story, of course; our main character is a farmer, and his quest involves sowing some seeds to grow food for the winter. At face value, there's nothing remarkable about it. But anyone who recognizes it—and the hidden meaning beneath it—knows that this is the parable Jesus gave in Matthew 13. And of course, Jesus ended it with what I would honestly call a catchphrase, after all is said and done:

Whoever has ears, let them hear.

This is the parable that inspires His Apostles to finally ask what exactly the reason is that He speaks in parables. His response? Because those who have will gain more, and those who don't have will lose what little they already have when it comes to the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven—or, more plainly, because:

“Though seeing, they do not see;

though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:

“‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;

you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.

For this people’s heart has become calloused;

they hardly hear with their ears,

and they have closed their eyes.

Otherwise they might see with their eyes,

hear with their ears,

understand with their hearts

and turn, and I would heal them.’

I've been thinking a lot about Jesus and His parables, and to be reminded again of this extension of that parable, and the words He said after He spoke to the Apostles, is striking. Oftentimes, I see people quote Scripture with complete disregard for the Spirit of the words, taking them at face value or far too literally, ignoring the bigger picture. It baffles me every time because I thought everyone could understand that the Bible's words don't necessarily have only one meaning. Yet for all I ever get told to "read with the Holy Spirit," and to not trust outside scholarship and instead just read the Bible directly, it seems the people giving that advice still have a ways to go on their own, too—because they hear without understanding and see without perceiving, all while often espousing some really toxic, hard-hearted rhetoric.

Alongside that dilemma, though, I've also been thinking about fantasy, and my work in it. After all, my true goal since I was young was to be a fantasy author. I never would've dreamed of becoming a spiritual leader or any kind of political activist—in fact, I was very much disinterested in being an activist as a younger person because that would mean having to go outside in my mind, and I hate doing that—but here I am, doing all kinds of things that have nothing to do with actually writing fantasy. Even the two books I'm working on have very little to do with what I truly love, which is fantasy writing. They're writing, but not fantasy writing.

I'm starting to miss it, you know? And recently, I was wondering what role it even played in all this that I do now. Though it was as I was doing some laundry that a thought popped into my head that I knew right away wasn't my own:

"What is fantasy, if not a three hundred page parable?"

I talked a little bit about how witchcraft can benefit from a look at fantasy books, but this idea was as sharp and clear as someone snapping their fingers in my face. And of course! How could I have not thought about that? Especially since I'd suddenly felt a different statement lodge itself in my head, the kind of statement that I've only ever said to myself when making a decision I knew would come to fruition. It's funny, really—how much can get done when we just decide that it's going to get done. Not when we do it, not when we plan it, but when we decide it.

Anyway, I won't go into that statement now. (Later!) What I do want to do right now, though, is talk to you about how fantasy can operate as a vehicle for parable.

The Witchcraft of Metaphor, Simile, and Allegory

The main thing that even makes a parable a parable is, of course, the techniques used within it: namely metaphor, simile, and allegory. Metaphors are comparisons between two things that are unrelated, especially comparing things to abstract concepts. "Love is a shining diamond," or some such. Similes are more comparative, in which you might say "love is like a shining diamond." And an allegory is a long form explanation of such a thing, like Plato's Allegory of the Cave, in which he draws a detailed picture of a situation that serves to explain people's disdain for new and uncomfortable things, even if those things are ultimately to their benefit.

I suppose parables would best fall under the category of an allegory, but in fantasy, all of these things combine together to create a message that people might not otherwise accept if it were presented to them plainly. If I told you that authoritarianism was bad, you'd probably agree and think nothing more of it, because duh, obviously authoritarianism is bad. But if I painted you a vivid picture of the direct consequences of such a world where this was the standard mode of governing, and those who dared oppose it were having an awfully hard time, you'd likely think about it a little longer than you would that simple statement. So causes books like those in the dystopian genre to spawn, like 1984, Brave New World, The Hunger Games, Harmony, and more. (And yes, I'm aware that these aren't fantasy, but some of them, like Brave New World and Harmony, cross into more science fiction, which is one of the three fantastic genres, at least).

Nonetheless, these devices help people dress up the otherwise obvious statements they're trying to make. It makes them more visceral, and easier to safely encounter and engage with. No one wants to think about the evil and bad things in the world that already exists, but help them wrestle with those ideas in a fictional, and therefore easily distanced way, and they can come to understand those ideas better—as well as draw parallels to them—without hitting the psychological breaks, as a lot of people tend to do when confronted with the ugliness of the real world. After all, people can watch the political mess that is Game of Thrones all day, yet they'll want nothing to do with the real, historical, and true power struggles and situations that inspired such a tangled tale. When it's real, it's possible, and when it's possible, it's terrifying.

Fantasy helps us get the courage to grapple with things in the "unreal," so that we might better fight them in the "real." It's downright magical in that way.

Remote Distance of the Unreal

Speaking of the "unreal," one of the greatest boons of fantasy is obviously just that: it's not real. You can tell the stories we're all familiar with, like even the story of Jesus, through fantasy, and it's already been done before—just see the character Aslan in C.S. Lewis's famous The Chronicles of Narnia. I mean, come on—a god-like guardian character that dies at the hands of an evil conqueror, only to come back to life and save the day?

Classic Messiah character.

By giving a reader space to understand what we would do, what we could do, all within these magical lands and new contexts, it allows us to explore more of our own character along with all the things going on in the world. Some of the most interactive fantasy, like Harry Potter, has that self insert quality that allows us to not only enjoy the characters themselves, but also gives us a way to include ourselves in them. What's your Hogwarts house? What wand would you use? What magic would you be best at? These questions seem silly and innocent (or, for the extremely conservative types, like some kind of trap that's going to eat the children and make them into minions of Satan or whatever they're worried about), but in reality, it allows you to get closer to the "unreal" in a safe way, thus also allowing you to explore these dangerous, scary concepts (like the abuse of power that comes with authority figures like Umbridge) without careening into the darkness that comes with real life situations like these.

It gives you space to act out your frustrations, your triumphs over them. It gives you ideas of solutions based on how the story itself turned out. Most importantly, though, it gives you a sense of catharsis seeing it be resolved at all, even if only in fantasy.

The "Messiah Character" and Other Archetypes Explaining the Moral of the Story

Though, as you may guess, a lot of people don't exactly understand the stories they're reading from a more metaphorical or allegorical point of view. I mean, damn—if people didn't understand the simple parables Jesus was rattling off as He spoke to people, how are they reasonably expected to unravel the main idea of a massive fantasy epic?

The answer lies in easily identifiable archetypes. (Note that I said archetypes, not stereotypes.)

Any writer might have heard the idea that there are no original stories, and I believe that. There are thousands and thousands of books, but not that many kinds of actual base storylines to work with, which, in my opinion, speaks to the creativity of humanity that we have, as do the character types we choose to work within those storylines. The Messiah Character is one of those archetypes: the sacrificial character that needs to die in order to progress the plot and resolve it in a positive way (and can come back afterwards through some explained revival, be it that they never actually died in the first place or that magic brought them back).

There are other interesting archetypes, too: the Scientist, the Damsel in Distress, so on and so forth. We've read enough books that when we encounter these archetypes, we can guess their function in a story, and it helps us not have to have every single thing re-explained as these characters work to act out and demonstrate the morals and themes to us. In fantasy, especially, there's already so much time spent on worldbuilding that the less you need to explain, the better, and these character archetypes make for a perfect way to set up metaphors within themselves. After all, the Witch and the King are two archetypes, or metaphors for groups of people and ideas (Witch representing the peasantry, women, or people on the fringe, King representing hierarchy, power, societal rules and regulations) that can operate no matter what the worldbuilding surrounding them has to say or how unique it is.

Thus, they become part of the parable, like dolls on a literary stage, that can help people appreciate the wonder and magic of a fantasy book while still anchoring themselves to something familiar to help them understand the many parables and ideas and thoughts represented in a fantasy story. Inventive and remote enough to enjoy as a fictional story, relatable and understandable enough to apply those ideas to modern day.

Where I'm Going With My Fantasy Journey

Honestly, realizing this, I'll tell you that thought I had now, that decision:

I'm going to write Scripture in my life.

That sounds absolutely bonkers to say, I know, but it's true. It's not just a decision anymore; it's a fact, and one I feel in my bones, because I know what stories I have in me (and one of them is, indeed, a Messiah story). I never believed that Scripture ever stopped being written. The New Testament ended with Revelation, but are we really to believe that this was the last of anything ever worth being considered inspired by God? (Even though the whole Qu'ran came some centuries after that?) I think things like St. Hildegard von Bingen's writings could absolutely be considered scriptural, as well as writings of activists and thinkers like Howard Thurmann. And I think even stories like The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings have some notes to them, too, some parables tucked in them that could be considered inspired by at least the wish to see good prevail.

Granted, people without eyes to see and without ears to hear still will probably not get it. But for those who do get it, it's going to be work that hits, and I can only hope it hits the right way.


This Week's Focus: Where the Gods Left Off

Christian Witch, Witchcraft, Mysticism, Magic, Crystals, Bible, Incense, Folklore, Sara Raztresen, God, Spirituality, Tarot, Occult, Evangelical, Demonic, Sin, Danger, Bible, Spellwork, Spells That Work, Rituals, Use the Bible In Spellwork

I actually did manage to get a good 3,500 words written of Discovering Christian Witchcraft this week, but given the deadline on Where the Gods Left Off is so much more urgent, I am going to be spending the rest of the time writing, formatting, and perfecting this bad boy so it's ready to go for September.

Last week, we finished Loki's interview (and reflections), which was a lot harder than I thought it'd be! Granted, I didn't have any of it written, so I had to dredge it all up from scratch, so maybe the forty-six I do have written won't be so bad. But I still have to drag up memories of my interviews with Kresnik, Brigid, and Hades, so that's what we're focusing on next, starting with Kresnik—a Slovene god of sun, storms, & summer married to springtime goddess Vesna.

This is a project I'm so excited to release, so if you haven't had a chance to check it out yet, definitely consider pre-ordering it on my website's store or on Amazon. It's one hell of a ride.


Christian Witch, Witchcraft, Mysticism, Magic, Crystals, Bible, Incense, Folklore, Sara Raztresen, God, Spirituality, Tarot, Occult, Evangelical, Demonic, Sin, Danger, Bible, Spellwork, Spells That Work, Rituals, Fantasy Writing, Jesus, Parable, Harry Potter

Sara Raztresen is a Slovene-American writer, screenwriter, and Christian witch. Her fantasy works draw heavily on the wisdom she gathers from her own personal and spiritual experience, and her spiritual practice borrows much of the whimsy and wonder that modern society has relegated to fairy-and-folktale. Her goal is to help people regain their spiritual footing and discover God through a new (yet old) lens of mysticism.

Follow Sara on Tiktok, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube, and explore her fiction writing here.

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