This issue, we sit down for an interview with Wolfen Moondaughter. Heavily involved with real world and online fanfic communities — especially Pagan-friendly fandoms such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Harry Potter — Moondaughter has also just published an original novella collection, The Drosselmeier Chronicles. Here, she discusses her Gaian spiritual path, shapeshifting and Otherkin, and place of Tricksters in our literature and mythology.
Eternal Haunted Summer: If you could correct one common misconception about Paganism (ancient or modern), what would it be?
Wolfen Moondaughter: Hmm. It’d be less about correcting a misconception about paganism so much as misconceptions about Christianity: namely that much of their folklore is actually derived from pagan predecessors, like Easter eggs and Christmas trees. If any of them want to villify paganism, then they need to stop borrowing from pagan traditions and claiming to be the originators of these traditions while villifying those they borrowed from. Or, you know, at least admit the hypocrisy.
EHS: How would you describe your own spiritual path?
WM: Gaian — hence the name Gaiankind for my series. Pagan, agnostic, and Secular Humanist all work to varying degrees as well.
Speaking less label-y, I believe we are all gods, and that when we pray we are really praying to one another. Therefore, we all make decisions, to some extent, about what should and shouldn’t happen in this great tapestry of life we are all weaving togther. But I also believe that some people become focal points that we imbue with power — celebrities are our modern gods, and politicians. And I also believe that we create thoughtform-gods together, that modern literature and pop culture are really our modern mythology. They give us a common denominator with which to communicate and create standards to live by that suit our current needs. And then there are souls that are simply older, wiser, and/or more powerful than others. I believe some beings, incarnate or otherwise, devour the souls of others — but that they must have that person worship them first, can’t integrate without consent, and without worship they lose power.
I have patron/personal deities — whether they are simply archetypes that I have anthropomorphosised, as others have before me, or they are truly separate entities and/or divine beings doesn’t actually even matter. What matters is how focusing on them and what they stand for affects me. I have considered the moon, in various incarnations, to be one of my patron deities since early childhood, and in Her name I try to serve Gaia and all Mother Earth’s children, my siblings. Along the way from childhood to here, I have become enamoured of various Trickster figures, and I have an … interesting relationship with Sekhmet.
I also have four muses: one for writing, one for 2-dimensional art, one for crafting, and one very quiet one for poetry and music. There is some overlap, of course.
I have been obsessed with the concept of shapeshifting, the idea of mental bonds between animals and humans, and with wolves, from a very early age; as a child, I frequently dreamt of changing form, especially into a wolf. I have always been drawn to stories of shapeshifters, and of humans bonded to animal companions. Call it therionthropy, Furry, Otherkin, having an animal totem, what have you. I just know that I love wolves and for many, many years hated “being human”, wishing I could become a wolf instead. As I kid, I would play “Timber” from GI Joe, and run around on the playground on all fours. I still often think in terms of wolf language, using concepts like “packmates”, yelping when in pain, or growling when angry. Thankfully, I’ve come to terms somewhat with my humantity over the years, heh.
While I haven’t stopped loving wolves or thinking of myself as one in my head, I have had rabbit familiars on and off for years, and am very drawn to them — not in the sense of being one, but rather that I have a connection to them. I have beem similarly drawn to the idea of phoenixes in recent years — they keep popping up in my art. To a lesser extent, I have connections with lions (probably due to my being a Leo, yet I don’t really love them), dapple-grey Percherons (I dream about them every now and then), unicorns (yeah, cliched — so what?), and African Wild Dogs (had a dream about one before I even knew what one was — I still have the drawing I did just after the dream).
EHS: Why did you decide to create an online Temple of the Trickster?
WM: As I said, I’ve always been very fond of Trickster characters, so of course I was very drawn to Loki in the live-action Thor movie — and, to a lesser extent, his portrayer, Tom Hiddleston. I’ve also become quite fond of “Kid Loki” in the comics. Adding in all the Trickster characters I’ve loved in the past (especially considering that pretty much everyone has a little bit of a Trickster in them now and then), and it really seemed long overdue for me to create a site dedicated to the concept (as I tend to create websites for many of my interests).
I also use the blog to share news about actors who play Trickster characters and other works they’re involved with. For the moment, the blog is heavily focused on Loki/Tom Hiddleston/Kid Loki, but I’ve managed to re-blog a fair bit of Doctor Who stuff, Sherlock Holmes/ Benedict Cumberbatch/ Robert Downey Jr/ Iron Man-related stuff, and Harry Potter stuff, as well, plus a few other things here and there. I reckon I will have a lot more RDJ/Sherlock Holmes-related stuff to re-blog this winter, when the next film comes out — by then, I imagine the Loki craze will die down a bit more, at least until The Avengers is released. But I really hope to get more posts in about mythology, critical analysis of Trickster characters, etc — more reference material.
It all comes down to redemption: Tricksters are often portrayed as villains, devils, etc, but there is a Light side to them. For example, what is an undercover cop but a Trickster who uses their power of deceit to save lives? Even when Tricksters do bad things, if we can believe they can oversome their flaws and do good (or do good in spite of their flaws), then there’s hope for humanity as a whole and ourselves as individuals. And let’s face it, a character with varying shades of grey is so much more interesting and relateable than a squeaky-clean good guy or an inky-black bad one!
EHS: You are heavily involved in fan communities centered around Stargate, Harry Potter, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and other fictional universes. How does your spirituality intersect with these fictional universes? How do they influence one another?
WM: My fanfics are often focused on redemption (and hurt-comfort, which in turn can be a nice, angsty tool for redeeming characters). I want to see dark characters get sympathy and understanding, me being very much a happy-endings kind of gal. I believe that if we start telling more positive stories, if enough people tell them and read them, then we will be more positive people in general and make the world a more positive place. Suffering is necessary for a good story, sure, but that just makes the victory, the happy finish, all the sweeter. If nothing else, if I’m wrong about happy endings changing the world, well, at least I’ll have given any of my more depressed readers a reprieve, an escape.
Lately, this desire to spread joy has shifted focus a bit, as anti-bullying causes have become very important to me. In particular, I have lost all patience with fandom-bashing. Don’t like? Don’t look. Go elsewhere and talk about what you love instead — so long as someone’s interest doesn’t involve bringing harm to others, leave them in peace. And remember that whenever you bash something on Facebook, Twitter, etc, that you may have friends who are fans of it and are seeing your hate-filled messages. Do you want to hurt the feelings of any of your friends? If the answer is no, think twice and consider keeping your negative opinions to yourself. I have defriended a few people because I was horrified to discover how endlessly and consistently vicious and mocking of some fandoms they could be. (I supposed they did me a favour, showing their true colours ….)
Anyway, getting back to fanfics, I also, admittedly, tend to end up introducing werewolves and/or animal companions and/or witches/pagans into my fanfics sooner or later. I gave Spike, of Buffy fame, a vampire dog, and turned Eduardo, of Extreme Ghostbusters, into a werewolf, for example.
EHS: You recently self-published The Drosselmeier Chronicles through Lulu.com. Firstly, why did you go the self-publishing route? And would you recommend Lulu.com to other authors?
WM: I’m a control freak. Even if I could find a place that would publish a decidedly pagan-slanted series like Gaiankind, or one that spans so many eras and plotlines, I don’t ever want someone telling me I need to change this or write in such-and-such a style. I’m not saying Gaiankind is perfect, but at the end of the day, I know it’s all me, my choices, and I’ll never be pressured to do something I don’t want to with it, or not be allowed to do something.
I haven’t worked with Lulu long enough yet to tell whether it’s recommendable or not. I did work with Booksurge, and I had to pay some set-up fees; when I first heard about Lulu way back when, I’d been attracted by the fact that one could print a book without preliminary fees (except for an ISBN). I also like that you can handle changing the files yourself, and there’s no fee for each change. I think Booksurge — or rather, CreateSpace — may be that way now, too, but at the moment Lulu has more print options, so I figured I’d give them a try.
EHS: The Drosselmeier Chronicles is part your larger Gaiankind storyverse. What was the inspiration behind Gaiankind? How does The Drosselmeier Chronicles fit into the larger story?
WM: Gaiankind has been through soooo many incarnations, it’s hard to pinpoint its inspiration, other than to say that from the beginning (and for long after), the idea of bigoted humans versus “other” was at the heart of it. That theme has been softened somewhat, in that I have added more “good” human characters and more “bad” magical characters — I hope by now it’s a more balanced mix. While ther are still many anti-magic humans in the story, the focus now is more on individuals trying to find their place in the world, dealing with the differences between themselves and others while trying to empower themselves, whether they are considered one of the Gaiankind or not. In fact, the word Gaiankind technically refers to anyone born on Gaia, and even ordinary folk have some small potential for magic; they just tend to shy away from it. In the terms of the story, though, the “more” magical beings have claimed Gaiankind as a word referring to they who have been given augmentation by Elemental beings or Celestials (planetary beings).
The Drosselmeier Chronicles follows the life of a shapeshifting elf and those he calls family, through the 1800s into the early 1900s. The series begins in The Solstice Tales with a retelling of The Nutcracker, thereby explaining a bit of who Drosselmeier and his family are. The second story in the volume is a retelling of A Christmas Carol as the love story of Jacob Marley and Ebenezer Scrooge, from the point of view of Marley, and features some meddling from Drosselmeier and company. Basically, the series takes classic literature and reworks them to fit into the world of Gaiankind; I currently have retellings of the Alice books and Pinocchio in the works.
EHS: Where can curious readers find more Gaiankind stories?
WM: At the moment, The Drosselmeier Chronicles: The Solstice Tales is all that’s available, but I anticipate releasing more stories in the coming year. Anything new I put out will be available for purchase through the Gaiankind site.
The first New Avalon novel was “done” years ago, but I’m rewriting it now; that series follows the lives of a pack of Gaiankind living on a manufactured island in Lake Michigan, off the shore of Chicago.
The first Hunt for the Shadowmakers novella, an erotic tale about a thief and his puca partner in crime circa the late 1100s and beyond, is finished; I want to write a few more stories about them, so I can do another collected volume.
I have some half-written re-told faerietales for The Grimm Age, the Medieval-to-Renaissance era of Gaiankind. I also have some ideas about Demigods of the Gaiankind, which tells of the “true” (in terms of the series) lives of Egyptian, Greco-Roman, and Norse gods. Very recently, my writing muse started pinning down a series set in the WWII era; I knew there would be stories set then, as backstory for some characters in New Avalon.
EHS: What is The Celestial Solidarity?
WM: A sci-fi/fantasy erotica about an assortment of aliens studying at a University. The story features beings with animalistic features, like wings, fur, pointed ears, scales, tails, etc.
Rather than being a romance about one couple, it features an ensemble cast; I never understood why romance novels nearly always focus on one couple, or at best one small grouping. I prefer tales with multiple plots — and polyamourous situations.
One plotline follows the struggles of a pack of aliens from a very sexually repressed society; one of those characters has to deal with her aversion to being touched, while the other three work out a complex relationship with each other. Another plot follows the heated love-hate relationship between two rivals, one of whom on the surface seems just a shallow, arrogant royal, and who has a dangerous secret. There’s an alien who lacks control over his body teperature, literally burning others with his desire. There’s a comedic rivalry between two omnisexual student teachers who loath one another but must share duties teaching a sex-ed class. There’s a robotic teacher who hates all the rampant sex happening all over the school, and particulalry hates the aforementioned sex-ed teachers. And a number of the students end up studying magic together. A lot of the story is just about college life, really: taking classes, signing up for sports, dealing with classmates, experimenting, and learning who you are.
I have a short story set in the same universe, one that was finished and published, about an archaic sporting event on another world, but I wasn’t really happy with the publication, so I plan on expanding that story and republishing it myself.
I may also do a short story that will work as a prologue to the larger novel, or I may just work it into the novel.
EHS: What other projects are you working on?
WM: Aside from all those, I’m sure I’ll write more fanfics as the mood strikes me. I’m also tentatively working on a pop-culture encyclopaedia of sorts, which I pitched to a publisher, but it’s too early to say anything about that. When I can find more free time, I’ll be working on lanterns for use with electric tea lights. And then there’s Sequential Tart, of course, and any art commissions I can find.
EHS: Which conventions, book fairs or other events will you be attending in the foreseeable future?
WM: I try to make Dragon*Con every year, and hope to make it to this year’s MegaCon, but I won’t be having a table at either of them — unless I sell enough books ahead of time to afford one! I might be attending a Harry Potter convention in Orlando called Aspire, but it’s too soon to tell.