Discovering Mythology in One’s Own Religion
by Nicole Hadaway
I’ve always loved tales of mythology. As a ten, twelve-year-old kid, I pored over the myths of Zeus, Hera, and the rest of the Greek gods, who got up to some pretty crazy shenanigans. Then I moved onto Osiris and Isis (those of you belonging to a certain age group will remember that awesome tv show featuring the Egyptian goddess ;-) Norse mythology, with the devious Loki and noble Brunhilde--even generic tales of unicorns, female warriors, mermaids, and dragons -- captivated me.
Having grown up in a Catholic household, I learned that all of these tales were just myths which weren’t true -- they were just old religions that people believed in to explain how the world worked before Christianity spread throughout the world. It wasn’t until college that I discovered something a bit shocking -- Christianity has myths, too.
I was working on this paper for my favorite class at the time, Art In Italian Renaissance, called “The Faces of Eve In Renaissance Art.” You might ask, how many faces could there be, right? After all, the Bible only has one description of Eve and the Fall of Man, so how could I churn out a 45-page paper on that?
The first thing my instructor explained in the class, during the start of the semester, was that many of the Renaissance paintings (which largely featured religious themes), were not based upon the Bible, but on two popular books at the time: Meditations In the Life of Christ, and The Golden Legend by Jacobus de Voragine. Consequently, there are many tales not featured in the Bible, or that differ slightly from the Bible.
Modern-day catchechists have boiled down the Fall of Man to a pretty straightforward story -- Adam, Eve, apple, serpent. This is a far take from medieval and Renaissance times, when artists drew snakes with women’s heads (Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo) or even footed salamanders as the serpent (Eden by Hugo Van Der Goes); the fruit changed from apples to figs to pomegranates; and the setting might have even been in the good ole USA (see Adam and Eve by Albrecht Durer -- the parrot is a symbol of the Americas)!
It was through this research that I learned Eve was not Adam’s first wife. Gasp! No, you see, Jewish scholars interpreted the line in Genesis 1:27, “male and female He created them” to mean that man and woman were created at the same time. Of course, this contradicts Genesis 2:21 describing the creation of Eve. So what happened in between a simultaneous creation, and being formed from Adam’s rib?
Well, Adam’s first wife, his equal, was Lilith. And when it came time to consummate their relationship, Lilith wanted an equal position, not the bottom one. Adam was upset by this, so Lilith left him and ran away to the Red Sea. God sent three angels to chase her down and bring her back, but she wanted no part of being Adam’s wife. So God damned her to a life of bearing demon-children.
It’s amazing to see how many writers have picked up on Lilith’s tale and given her a life of her own -- sometimes as Satan’s equal, or wife, or superior -- in some series, she even takes over Hell. In other books, she’s a more sympathetic character, a victim of circumstances. In most, though, she’s the mother of demons, most often of vampires.
In my own novel, Release, Lilith makes an appearance. She’s the mother of the vampire race in my mythology and, well -- you’ll have to see for yourself what she does ;-)
ABOUT THE BOOK: “Forever.” That’s the response Ben Gongliewski receives when he asks Miranda Dandridge how long she’s been a vampire. He doesn’t expect the word “forever” in her reply, but then again, Ben never imagined meeting vampires, let alone demons and werewolves, during his time in the Polish Resistance during World War II. Far from being horrified, Ben discovers that Miranda and her friends have very useful talents … especially when it comes to saving children from concentration camps. After all, in these desperate times, while the line between good and evil is clear, the one between heroes and monsters is very, very blurred.
The last thing Miranda wants at this point in her immortal life is a human lover, but as she and Ben perform rescue after daring rescue, she can’t help but be drawn to his passion to save his fellow Jews. As the War draws to a close Miranda must choose her love for Ben or her duty to her race. Ben is blindsided by a betrayal that no one sees coming, which leads to a danger where all hell is about to break loose … literally.