Miranda Moondawn, author of Mooniana and the Secret of the Lost Chronicles of Sophia

When and why did you begin writing?

I first began writing in my late teens. I had read a lot of fantasy and adventure books as a child, but my first major impetus for writing came from a most unexpected source – from pop and rock bands and artists like the Beatles, Neil Young, Kate Bush and Led Zeppelin. Not that many people realize it, but the songs that these artists wrote were quite mystical and otherworldly – Stairway to Heaven for example is all about Mother Earth, the May Queen, the Lady we all know and the Piper in the song is the God of otherworldly poetic inspiration – Pan, Orpheus or Dionysos.. And I remember Kate Bush’s first song Wuthering Heights – based on Emily Bronte’s classic novel. I was totally amazed when I first heard it.

So songs like these acted as a catalyst for me – not only in finding the source of my own creativity in music, poetry etc. but also to explore the roots of the Pagan and esoteric traditions which are alluded to in the music.. After that, I began to read the works of occult writers like Dion Fortune and Romantic poets and mythmakers like George Macdonald and William Blake. These guys added lots of thoughts and ideas and philosophy to the music. But it was the music that got me started and you can see evidence of that in the book. It is very poetic and musical in parts which is pretty fitting because the main protagonists in the book are the Muses, six of whom have been sent to the earth for a special purpose known only to the Mother of the Muses, the Mnemosyne and their Grandmother Gaia, the Earth herself. It is a big surprise for them when they find out what their mission actually is!.

What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about your subject/genre that isn’t so?

Although the main plot of my novel is about six of the nine celestial Muses taking birth on the Earth for a special mission – there are several main sub plots and themes which run parallel to the main storyline. One of these main themes is the Hindu practice of Tantra – most people in the West are totally ignorant of the deep esoteric practices and disciplines in the Tantric arts and think that Tantra is all about amazing erotic practises and wild sexual orgies. Nothing is further from the truth. True Tantra is a profound spiritual discipline and philosophical practice that is thousands of years old and althouth sacred sex and eroticism is part of the art, the main focus of Tantra is to awaken the kundalini energy coiled at the base of the spine and helping it rise up through the various chakras until it reaches the thousand petalled lotus at the top of the crown chakra – when it does that, the yogi or initiate becomes one with Shiva and Shakti and merges his or her consciousness into the universal polarities of male and female, Yin and Yang and God and Goddess.

Another subject which is in the book and people don’t know much about is the path of the occult and Gnosis. My first introduction to this was through Dion Fortune’s Qabalistic novel Moon Magic. That book was the beginning of a long journey into the esoteric path of Magic and Wisdom. Most Christians that I have met since then are under the ridiculous apprehension that Witches and occultists worship the devil. In fact, most of them are either Gnostics, Hermeticists or Pagans. All three worship the embodiment of the Goddess in various forms – the Gnostics for example worship Sophia, the Goddess of Wisdom and it is through her that Gnosis or Knowledge of the true self is revealed. Witches and Pagans generally worship the Great Mother Goddess, the embodiment of all life and power along with her consort the Horned God or Pan, who represents the aspect of masculine vitality and power. None of this has anything to do with the Judeo-Christian roots of our religion and the patriarchal institutions of our society. Indeed, Wicca is the Way of the Wise or the Old Ways, and it predates Christianity and montheism by hundreds and even thousnads of years, having its roots in primordial times.

What are some day jobs you have held?

I have had a job as a PhD researcher at Copenhagen University – although many people don’t regard PhD work as a job, it is! I have also worked as a kindergarten assistant, a job which I find very inspiring because children are amazing in the sense that they are totally open, spontaneous and honest and know very little about all the masks of hypocrisy and mendacity which we grown ups have to hide behind every day. Writing is also amazing in that sense – because when I write I can be totally honest and freely explore all the dark and light sides in myself and live out stuff with my characters that I often could not do in real life.

Do you work to an outline or plot sketch, or do you prefer to let a general idea guide your writing?

I do both. I work with a skeleton idea and let the inspiration of my characters direct the plot and the writing. There are many writers who follow the Hollywood script format when they plot their novels and characters – but I don’t do that. I utlilise the Mythopoeic or Magic Realist genre for my books, because what I am writing takes place between two very real and very different worlds which I call the worlds of force and form. The world of form is fixed and solid and is understood with the physical senses and the rational analytical mind. We all know about that world! The world of force is fluid and non-linear – it is a world which the old Celts called the world of Shape Shifters and fairies and occultists call the astral world. It is a world of pure energy in constant flux and as such it can ONLY be accessed through the non-rational elements of the mind – our feelings, dreams, visions and the imagination. This is the world I find fascinating because so very few people know about it or even want to know about it.

While writing Mooniana and the Secret of the Lost Chronicles of Sophia I juxtaposed that inner world of dreams, visions etc with my outer experiences in the outer world – my experiences and practices with Ritual theatre groups and Tantra practice, my studies of Philosophy and English literature at University, I did a PhD on Hindu culture, philosophy and of all things Bollywood film. My book was also influenced through my travels to amazing places in Europe and India. Heaps of these places, Verona in Italy, Gothenborg in Sweden, the Rhine in Germany and Goa, Rajasthan and Mumbai in India are described in the book through the eyes of the six main female protagonists, the sister Muses. It was pretty amazing to relive those places and experiences again through the eyes of the main characters.

Can you share with readers a little bit about your latest book?

Well, first of all my book is a long one – 347 pages, approximately 153,000 words and is divided into three books (representing the three fates Klothos, Lachesis and Atropos) and 52 individual chapters. The novel is written in the genre of Magic Realism – dealing with literary images and themes such as Romanticism, Fairy-tales, Shape-Shifting, Gothic and the Paranormal. The novel also lies in the Feminist genre as along with its main theme of a Cosmic struggle between the matriarchal order of Mother Gaia and the patriarchal order of Zeus, the six main protagonists in the novel are young women and teenage girls, and their Rite of Passage takes place in matriarchal space through alternative spiritual and creative practises such as Gnosticism, Tantra and Ritual Theatre as a process of transformation and psycho-spiritual alchemy.

The novel is set in Denmark, Scandinavia and Northern Europe, and the action of the book takes place in the turbulent ten year period from 1991 to 2001. Many of the political and social issues prevailing at this time, such as the Ratification of the Treaty of Maastricht, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the expansion of EU and NATO and the first Gulf War in Iraq are all uncompromisingly explored and discussed in the book .

I think all of these extra details is what makes Mooniana so unique and interesting. It is not just a very original and innovative reworking of the Greek myth of the Muses – it also explores, in some depth, many of the elements of Hindu, Greek and Nordic myth and lore – including Nordic Runes and Yggdrasil, the Rasa Lila tradition of Bhakti along with Hindu Tantra, as well as discussions on Greek Philosophy, Gnosticism and the Wisdom schools of Shakti-Sophia. The novel is set between the Fall of the Soviet Union and the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre. And it deals with the social, political and artistic climate of the period in Scandinavia and Europe, including the influence of Radical Socialism and Feminism on avante garde religious and artistic movements such as Gnosticism and Ritual Theatre..

Who is your favorite character in your book and why?

My favourite character of course is the main heroine of the novel Mooniana. I love her character the most which is why I named the book after her. She is the poetess of the story, a White Witch who uses all her Magic and insights for the good of the sisters and those she loves. For me, Mooniana is the embodiment of Sophia the Goddess of Wisdom in her most wise, loving and benevolent form. Wish I could be more like her – sigh! But the other five sisters in the novel are also very interesting. They are Muses after all and each of them like Mooniana is an artist, Mooniana is the poet of the book, her little sister Fuchsia is a painter, Loreley is the singer, Afranella is the harpist, Kastanja is the actress and Ondine is the dancer of the story. The sisters are all totally dedicated and passionate about their art. But what makes them different from most artisitic and creative people is that they are spiritual seekers as well with a passion for the mystical and the esoteric. Each of them in their own way seeks to find the Kore or source of their creative Genius at the same time as they are trying to lift the veil which divides this world of form from the otherworld of invisible astral beings – faries, angels and spirits. So as an essential part of their Rite of Passage from women into Muses, they learn and practise various occult techniques – Gnosticism, Rune Lore, Kundalini Yoga and Tantra, shamanism and so on. In a way their spiritual and creative journey reflects the philosophy of my own life – that the spiritual path and the artisitic path are both inseparable and neither can exist without the other..

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I think I enjoyed just about everything about writing Mooniana. In my expereince there are two ways of writing – one way is through inspiration, when you are overshadowed by a power or consciousness which is higher than your ordinary day to day awareness of things around you. That happened heaps of times to me during the writing process of Mooniana. The other way that you can write is through assimilating the information from your personal life experiences and the world around you and then churning it inside yourself to make it into literature or art.

Everyone knows about this latter process and recognizes its psychological validity in writing a novel or painting a picture. Most however don’t recognize the former process of higher inspiration. But interestingly, in previous ages the latter process was definitely acknowledged as a legitimate one. William Blake for example said that it was not him who wrote his poems – he was just the secretary, the REAL AUTHORS were in ETERNITY. The concept of the Muse or Daimon inspiring the poet and artist was a very real phenomenon not just for the artists themselves but also those who patronised and admired their works. But I wouldn’t go as far as Blake and say that I was just a Secretary for the Eternals I am also their editor after all – and when I not totally satisfied with what they have said or done in the plot I tell them that it is necessary for me to rewrite bits of the dialogue and the scene!

The most disappointing thing about my type of writing is that most people only understand the psychological method of writing – and they get put off very easily when you tell them that your fairies, angels and daimons helped you write your book! They either think you are a liar or even worse that you are totally deluded and need mental help. They don’t relaize that most of the great writers like Dante, Milton, Blake and so on wrote not just from their experiences and insights of the socio-political world around them but also from their sources of otherworldly and spiritual inspiration.

Who is your favorite fictional character and why?

I loved the character of Lona in George Macdonald’s book “Lilith.” She was the sweet natured teenage queen of a tribe of little ones in an idyllic Eden created out of Macdonald’s romantic imagination. The thing I loved about Macdonald’s books was the amazing blend of romanticism and fairytles. I even wrote a song about Lona at one point, I was so fascinated by her. I also felt irresistibly drawn to the heroine in Dion Fortune’s book “Moon Magic”. Her name was Lilith le Fey and she was a Priestess of the Goddess Isis and an initiate of ceremonial Magic. The magical Qabalistic world which Dion Fortune created in that book through Lilith Le Fey totally blew me away and I never forgot it. I was pretty young when I read both these authors and they made a huge impression on me, along with William Blake of course. I loved Blake because his political radicalism and religious Gnosticism struck a chord in me and expressed many of the things I was trying to get out in my own writing – most notably the inseparable link between the artistic process and the spiritual one.

What one person from history would you like to meet and why?

Too many to mention. Would love to have met Blake and Macdonald and Dion Fortune. So I could swap ideas with them about their literature and mine and whether or not I had come up with anything new in my book Mooniana!.

How can readers discover more about you and your work?

They can read my book Mooniana and the Secret of the Lost Chronicles of Sophia or look at some of the articles and notes on my FB page. I don’t have a blog yet, but there is heaps of stuff to read on my FB pages and my Goodreads page. Hope you get time to read some of it.

Miranda Moondawn

Learn more about Miranda…

Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon Author Page

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