top of page

Should Christians Read Fantasy Books? | A Christian Witch Talks Magic and Mysticism

Sometimes I still can't believe this is a thing people complain about.


Christian Witch, Witchcraft, Mysticism, Magic, Crystals, Bible, Incense, Folklore, Sara Raztresen, God, Spirituality, Tarot, Occult, Evangelical, Demons, Sin, Danger, Possession, Idolatry, Discernment, Church, Solomonic Magic, Occult, Left Hand Path, Demonolatry, Demonology, Corinthians, Paul

"Hey Dad, did you know some people think Christians shouldn't read fantasy?"


It was another Sunday afternoon that I found myself sitting in my parents' kitchen, making good use of their washer and dryer machine (because my apartment has no in-unit laundry, and laundromats don't come with the added perks of coffee, snacks, a cat and two parakeets, and most importantly, my parents' company). As I was writing out some topics I wanted to talk about, I remembered an old but gold one: the fact that some folks think things like Harry Potter or Pokemon are demonic.


(Even though Pope John Paul II allegedly blessed all Pokemon and Pokemon trainers back in 2000.)


But after telling my dad this, he gave me the most quizzical look, then sighed and said, "People who think that earn the Golden Shovel Award." Then mimicked taking said Golden Shovel and giving all recipients a less-than-gentle whack with it. Yes, this is the type of humor I grew up with—and so no one can really be surprised of how I turned out the way I am now.


All jokes aside, though, let's take this argument seriously for a second. Can, or should, Christians read fantasy books? After all, most mainstream Christians especially the American Protestant types, will tell you that anything that has to do with magic and witchcraft should be swiftly and thoroughly removed from all Christian households, including seemingly innocuous works of fiction. (My Slovenian Catholic mom, on the other hand, looked at me with sharply narrowed eyes and remarked, with a good deal of derision, "it's fiction. It's not real. The hell you mean, 'Christians can't watch Harry Potter?' Stupid. These people don't have enough work to do if they have time to say stupid things like that.")


So at least now you know how my parents feel about it. But let me tell you how I feel about it.


Christians Have Been Writing Fantasy For a Long Time

And no, I don't mean this in a "teehee, the Bible's fiction!" way. I mean this literally: some of our most beloved works of fiction were written by Christians.


Take, for example, the cornerstones of the genre: Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (a well known Christian apologist) and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. Both of these Christian men made these stories to weave all kinds of allegory, theme, and morals into their stories in a way that children would be more interested in. Or did people not realize that The Hobbit started off as little more than a bedtime tale for Tolkien to tell his kids, based heavily in the many fairy tales and folklore that has sustained so many cultures and their people for centuries? If you think Christians shouldn't read fantasy, well—that's like saying kids shouldn't read classic tales like Snow White or Cinderella. (In fact: there's an evil witch in the former and a good "fairy godmother" in the latter, and yet I don't see many Christian parents objecting to showing their kids cultural German classics like these two stories. Especially when the sanitized Disney versions came out.)


But the fact of the matter is that sometimes, to capture the mind of a child and keep their attention, dragging a kid off to church and droning on and on about God and Jesus and what-have-you isn't the way to do it. I know it wasn't for me. I was bored to tears in church every single week. I couldn't understand, and therefore couldn't care, about whatever the hell the priest was saying. I only remember paying attention to the verse numbers on the boar and realizing they weren't really changing, which only made me more bored, because I was sure I was hearing the same song and dance every week.


Boring.


However, fantasy books? Deltora Quest and The Last Apprentice and Harry Potter? Oh, yeah. You couldn't get me to put those things down. Stories of brave heroes and powerful magicians facing down dangerous ghosts and monsters and bandits and whatnot? Amazing. And knowing Christians have been writing fantasy—hell, knowing they basically invented the genre in its modern concept, what with elves and orcs and whatever else—it's easy to see how you can just... graft Christian ideas onto fantasy elements. (There's a reason people call Aslan from The Chronicles of Narnia "furry Jesus." Aslan's story is just a fantasy lion version of Jesus's.)


Speaking of Jesus, this brings me to my next point.


Fantasy is Parable (It Gives You More Ways to Dress Up Metaphor)



Someone did not like that my book had "Witch" on it.

I mean, hello: Christians follow a Man that gave His most important lessons in parables, AKA metaphors. He told so many stories: about kings and their sons, about good servants and prodigal sons, of sowers throwing seeds all over. He made so many fantastical comparisons to the Kingdom of Heaven. He spoke in ways that made things easier for people to understand.


And why? Because parable—storytelling—has been a key piece of how humans explain things forever. There's an interesting Yiddish folktale about parable, in fact, that made the point that Truth, when naked, is ugly; no one wants it. But dress it up with Parable, and suddenly, everyone loves it. Makes sense, no? After all, no one likes to be lectured, but everyone loves a good story. With fantasy, we not only get to tell those stories, but also create our own containers for the metaphors and comparisons. In folktales, after all, like the story of St. George and the Dragon, it's believed that Dragon is a symbol of paganism in the area, and how St. George was a part of bringing Christianity to the region ("slaying the Dragon"). Granted, in Slovenia, that dragon is still thought to be sleeping under Ljubljana castle, but hey.


The point still stands: fantasy is incredible as a vehicle of parable. In my own work, The Glass Witch, the main character is a walking symbol for my own experience of being born with one foot in two cultures. Her weird appearance and the way she makes everyone feel ill at ease with her bare presence is an outward and obvious metaphor for the way growing up in two cultures made me feel when I expressed attitudes that other strictly American people didn't understand. The icy, cold bodies of the Winter people and the way they take communion of the living kin of their own god for magical power is a pretty (and hopefully obvious) metaphor for the countenance and Christian imperialism of many European cultures in the Middle Ages (especially ones like the Frankish kingdom, or what is now present day Germany with the Teutonic Knights). All the fiction is metaphor, all the magic based on reality.


But of course, maybe some astute people noticed a thing or two in the title of this article—like the fact that I, myself, am a Christian Witch. I suppose this next, and last, reason is just for my folks, now, because some of the pearl clutching American Christian parents do isn't without merit: my huge imagination was sustained on fantasy, and my wish for a world less boring than this one was made all the more raw on it, too. So let me tell my Christian Witches why we should read fantasy, too: because it creates a link with the world of Jesus and the world of our most star-speckled dreams.


Life Imitates Art: Fantasy and Reality are Never So Far Apart

What was once boring as hell to me as a kid (the Gospels) is now just as fascinating to me as any of the fantasy books I've ever read—precisely because this is a story that tells me that magic is, in fact, real. We watch Jesus do it in the Gospels, especially in Mark (which gives more details as to exactly how Jesus did His miracles and lets us compare them to other magicians' spells and works at the time, notably those from the Greek Magical Papyrae).


Do you know what it's like for a previously imaginative kid, now a no less imaginative adult, to realize that so many things we have in this world are the things that inspire some of our greatest stories? More than just fairytales, which we're always told aren't real and are just stories, this is the Bible we're talking about now—a document people still view literally so many thousands of years after its compilation. Faith, belief, tells us that yes, all these bits of magic Jesus did (as magic and miracle were synonymous in His day) are in fact real, and so too are the life lessons and morals and other things Jesus put down in parable considered truth. So for Christians, but especially Christian Witches, fantasy books are another fantastic way to get some great lessons wrapped in metaphor and some ideas into how to conceptualize and work one's magic.


I've written about that more specifically in a previous blog post, but the point is that the magic systems writers and artists create are more often than not based on things they saw somewhere else. Whether that's another fantasy book, or whether that's Real Life Esoteric Stuff™ like alchemy, kabbalah, or any of the other things that stories like Fullmetal Alchemist typically draw on, the fact is that our magic is only limited by our imagination, and so the more ideas and concepts and methods of magic we encounter in the world or in books, the more we can extend ourselves and our reach. The more we can work with God to make the impossible, possible. And if just enjoying a good story isn't enough of a reason to read fantasy books for you, then I hope as a witch, that this reason is good enough.


So don't let goofy individuals who are afraid of their own shadow tell you that you can't enjoy what you enjoy. Find your next favorite fantasy book and enjoy it on another one of these cold winter days, cup of tea (or magically infused potion) in hand.

 

Christian Witch, Witchcraft, Mysticism, Magic, Crystals, Bible, Incense, Folklore, Sara Raztresen, God, Spirituality, Tarot, Occult, Evangelical, Demons, Sin, Danger, Possession, Idolatry

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 s


piritual 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.


142 views0 comments

Comentarios


bottom of page