Woman Warriors and Mythology
I’ve always loved fierce woman and that’s reflected in my characters. In my latest work I set out to create powerful woman warriors, so I naturally turned to the rich mythologies of India and Greece to provide my templates. My main character, Jovanna, is crafted after the Indian Goddess Devi and one of her most notorious and powerful secondary forms, Kali, the Black One. The split reflects the war in her own mind as she struggles with revenge and peace. And of course it wouldn’t be a good action-space opera if her choices didn’t have powerful ramifications for the rest of the universe, much as the great Indian epic stories showed the whole world in peril as the Gods shook the skies in war.
Better than any other mythology the Indians reflect the idea of many as one. Each God and Goddess is simultaneously several conflicting forms. Devi represents only one aspect of the Goddess. Durga, Saraswati, Lakshmi, and Kali are all separate aspects of the same goddess. While Western traditions have a similar idea in the holy trinity, it’s not something that’s often stressed, even in Biblical study, as something essential or elemental that mirrors the fundamental nature of the universe. It’s always seemed to me that the Western religions are classical physics and the Eastern religions are Quantum, able to hold shifting and changeable natural orders as unified and by design.
I’ve always thought of the split personalities of the Hindu Gods as the perfect metaphor for the conflicting aspects of our own personalities. We can be simultaneously kind and cruel, hateful and loving, gracious and selfish. Our lives are an ever surging tide. It’s likely that the Indian Gods were created by people who saw this dualistic nature of man and projected it into their stories and ideas of infinite regression.
One of my favorite variations on the Kali story comes from a small book I discovered when Border’s was going out of business, called The Essential Visual History of World Mythology, a steal at only a few dollars. It’s the type of book that still doesn’t look good on a black and white Kindle. The story goes that Kali was created by the Gods when they couldn’t defeat the terrible demon Raktabija, who’s name means “blood seed.” Every drop of blood that spilled from the hideous demon spawned another copy of him. The more the Gods attacked him, the more he proliferated, becoming a one man army. The God’s birthed Kali and gave her all their weapons. She attacked and swallowed all of the copies of the demon whole, careful not to spill a drop of his blood. She then sliced off his head and drank him dry, so that none of his blood would ever touch the Earth again. Such a brutal and beautiful story.
While the Greek mythologies of the Amazons have been mine repeatedly, Indian mythology remains largely untapped, despite a few notable exceptions. As India rises to world power status over the next century, I suspect this will change. Some forward thinking entrepreneurs, like the Indian spiritual author Deepak Chopra and Western mogul Richard Branson have already seen the light. As I was researching this article I came across a series of beautiful comics from Branson’s comic imprint Liquid Comics. Many of the images that line the article are from the Liquid Comic re-imaginings of the Indian myths, such as Devi and Ramayan. While I looked to the myths as inspiration for the spiritual and personality aspects of my characters, Liquid Comics has taken a different and very compelling tract of doing outright retellings of the original stories, which a hint of sci-fi.