#IWSG Post: Making Magic on the Page

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Insecure Writers Support Group BadgeI love being a fantasy writer. No matter how many stories I write, there’s always new terrain to explore. As a practicing Pagan, I also have the opportunity to weave threads of real magic into worlds of the fantastic.

One of the ways I do this is by incorporating the magic and symbolism of gemstones and plants into my stories. In Spellfire’s Kiss, for example, my characters cast a spell that uses five gemstones, four associated with each of the four elements (earth, water, fire, and air) and a fifth to symbolize spirit. In my Cabot Sisters series, the characters have a chalcedony pendant that symbolizes the water magic that runs in their family. In The Faerie Key, Lily uses black tourmaline, a crystal that’s said to have powerful protective qualities, in casting a protection spell.

Plants, including herbs and trees, also have elemental associations and magical or healing properties. Sage is dried and bundled and used for cleansing people’s auras and living spaces and for smudging magical tools such as athames and wands. Lavender has calming properties, and it’s an herb that I reference frequently in my stories. Willow trees are associated with poetry, oaks with royalty, and an ash tree is said to be Yggdrasil, the tree that connects the nine worlds in Norse mythology.

When it comes to magic, the possibilities are endless, and that’s why I know I’ll never get bored writing fantasy. There are always ways to incorporate the magic of the natural world into a fantasy story. By far the most interesting research I get to do for my stories involves magical symbolism. I research goddesses and gods, types of faeries and other magical creatures, symbolism of plants and stones, and so much more.

Being a fantasy writer allows me to draw from nature, my greatest inspiration, and to incorporate my Pagan faith into my work. A raven, messenger of Odin or the Morrighan. The songs of birds heralding the arrival of spring. The legend of a redcap or kelpie. The power of the goddess Brigid. Or simply the verdant green of summer leaves. This is the magic of my path—and the magic that can make a fantasy story shine.

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What about you? What’s the most interesting thing you get to research for your work?

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17 thoughts on “#IWSG Post: Making Magic on the Page

  1. I love the bits of information on the trees. Willows and poetry is the perfect match. I wish I had a willow in my yard, but will have to make do with a weeping cherry tree instead.

  2. Aside from prompts, I don’t research a lot. But it’s something I need to reconsider. In order to make a setting as realistic as possible, I need to gather intel on certain aspects. For characters, creating profiles help, but searching models and actors/actresses on the Internet will give me a sense of what I’m looking for in my characters.

    • Where do you get most of your prompts? I find Pinterest has a lot, although I often find inspiration from a bit of song or poetry. I’ll be listening to some fantasy-inspired music and think, “What if this happened?”

      I find research works best if it taps into something we’re passionate about. For me, symbolism of plants, gemstones, etc., is part of my life, so it comes naturally. I’ve had critique partners comment that they like learning about different kinds of flowers, herbs, etc., from my work, so I guess that means I’m communicating that info I’ve researched well.

      Good luck with your own research!

      • Most of the prompts come from Pinterest. And I bookmarked a post from a writing blog with some good prompts. On Pinterest, I’ll do a search on random stuff like jackets or roses or diners, and use them to brainstorm ideas for stories. This is especially useful when I can’t find prompts in my genre of choice.

      • I have a Story Inspiration board on Pinterest. It’s not really writing prompts so much as lovely photos and such that I find inspiring. Pinterest is a great source of story fodder for us writerly folks.

  3. I like how your faith is incorporated into your writing, and I imagine your writing does a lot to reinforce your faith. I write science fiction, so I get to research a lot of cool things about space and other planets. One of the things that sort of research has made me realize is just how rare and special our Earth really is.

    • Yes, writing and creativity are very closely linked to my spiritual self, so writing tends to be spiritually fulfilling, and spirituality inspires my creative works. It feels very natural for me.

      I’d love to hear more about your work. I don’t write sci-fi, but I find it fascinating. You have so many opportunities to explore various aspects of the human condition–gender, class, race, etc.–through the lens of science fiction. And you’re right. The more we learn about the universe, the more we realize how unique this planet is.

  4. Pingback: Changing Directions – Denise D. Young

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