Author Mitchell Stokely – Book Notes 2

I would like to share with my readers a few secrets from my book, Phantammeron Book One. There is a lot of hidden things I have placed in the book for readers to ponder, many of which lead into events revealed in later books. And its these secrets that make the books so much fun for me to write.

Towards the end of Book One of the Phantammeron the Shade returns to her dying father, the Eternal Night. You might remember the Eternal Night is a metaphor for darkness in the books.When I created the “Primordial Ones” I had intended to write my own “Creation Myth”….a Biblical and yet Mythological idea which I had hoped connected my books back to Tolkien’s Christian-Pagan concept of a personal creation story as found in his Silmarillion (1977).

Too many young people today have failed to grasp the importance and power of Christianity in all of Western writing and thought, and so have missed completely the pathos in Tolkien’s medium. That was one of my purposes in writing my Phantammeron with its clear cut morality plays, yet with the contradictions and irrational thought of the Celtic mind mixed in. For mythology, like with Tolkiem, would play a strong part in my stories, too.

As I’ve discussed in my youtube lectures on Mythopoeia, the purpose of breaking away from traditional modern fantasy is to use deeper spiritual paradigms and archetypes to empower meaning behind your writing. And to do that requires both an investment in one’s religious beliefs but also an investigation of the mind and its many mysteries.

And so I came up with the overarching idea of “themes” in my writing that both played off traditional Western religious and fairy tale ideas, but which explored symbols and metaphors found in ancient thought. For these derived from the common archetypes of Man.

One set of spiritual symbols I found had been quite common in stories and books up until the past 30 years. That was the concept of the night or darkness in the world as a form of Evil in the mind, yet also of a non-Evil form found only in Nature, the nighttime sky. This formed one of my Primordial Ones I called the Endless Night. This being would give birth to two children, the Shadow and the Shade with very different purposes.

At the end of the first book the daughter of the Night – the Shade – returns to her dying father. He then reveals to her that her brother the Shadow had not taken the true Wings of Night. For he had hidden them in his thrown. The Shade then obeys her father’s wishes and finds the Wings of Night and flies up into the sky to become one with the arch of heaven. She then becomes the “night-time sky” over the forest of Phantaia. And so the metaphor was that the Night birthed the Shade, who became the sky that shadows the earth from the Heavens.

And so this was a mini-Creation Myth of how the sky was made. That was the hidden creation story I wanted to conceive in that sub-plot in the book. And this type of thing you will see throughout my books, patterning stories our ancestors told their children about the mysteries of the world.

In another example, you will see the Immortal Clay – also a “Primordial One” – lost all his children but two in the great wars at the beginning of time: His son became the “rocks of the earth” and lord over the flesh of the living (the Rock Eternal), and his daughter became the source of the spring of the rocks (Secret Spring), the “well of the world”, its watery source of life. Again these are creation stories designed to explain the making of my world through dramatic anthropomorphic characterization. But they are also Metaphors for larger themes in the novel.

If you trace through the book carefully there are five mini-Creation Myths that both explain the meaning and purpose of the elements of the world but also their hidden connections between themselves and the characters whose lives they also represent. That is the basic theme of the elemental earth and its making…a common theme portrayed by our Western ancestors in many forms. These ideas have been repeated for thousands of years. And modern readers love to repeat them today in fantasy.

But I wanted to take such ideas further…into the realm of Christian goodness, or spiritualism, and into the realm of natural human bonds.

In the case of the Eternal Night, he loved the light and spirit of the Secret Spring but was rejected by her. So his tears formed the black roses in the gardens of Phantaia called the Murgala. And here I combine rejected or dejected love with black dead roses that poison and entrance their victims. Something left unfinished in the heart, or damaged, becomes a part of the landscape. Yet this idea of rejection is a very common emotion for all of us at some point in our lives.

But the story of the making of the Black Roses is a common fairy tale in Indo-European myth, too, and is a form of creation story. But this time it based on spiritualism and humanism, not purely factual explanations for the making of some aspect of my shallow world building. The metaphor is of darkness and shadow, poisoned love, and dark desires but also revenge and yet some irrational and of “fairy”. And yet, its origin is of the Human condition that is then unleashed upon the landscape as a grand metaphor for the Landscape of Love itself which is always treacherous!

One last thing I want to share, and that is the old fashioned idea of parental love in my books. For love and care of a child is the oldest and most profound form of love ever known. Sadly, most writers today forget about such things.

When the Shade at the end of the book met her dying father, there were some hidden things he told his child. I loved writing this scene as so much was redeemed emotionally in me in writing this scene. It showed the Night was not motivated by evil, or greed, or hate but had in fact traveled a fallen path which ended with his own child destined to fulfill a promise he had made to the Creator, his own father in the first chapter….to use the Wings of Night to make the night-time sky over sleepy Phantaia. But it also showed the Night’s older tragedy was the desire to find his missing children. For his gift to his child was not his main motivation, though a powerful ending to my book. But finding his children, though doomed as they were, was a form of redemption for him and a release.

Yet, my books and their themes transcend all loves and hates, life and death, and all character development. Most modern writers focus on character development. I do not. For my stories are an attempt to go beyond character development and to show the readers deeper mysteries in the books and their larger meaning. And so I shared a strange conversation at the end between the Night and Shade to stoke that idea.

Before his death, the Night asks his daughter about the events that had transpired. And so he smiled when his daughter told him the forest was not destroyed but remade into a new forest made of Twilight. Yet that was something he had known would be. And so this suggests the Night new the world would end this way and he and his children be but tools in its making. That is one secret I am sharing to you, in case you missed that part.

This idea translates to Determinism…the idea that everything has a cause and effect, and so is destined to be. This conflicts with the Christian view of Freewill. And yet I brace that idea as well in the books. But I wanted to hint to the reader that many of the plots were chosen by my characters. And yet they all fell into strange patterns and Human dramas of their own making that ended up making the world. For this very idea patterns our own fates and lives…are we not all tools to a larger design, working for our owm kids futures, working to build a better society for others before we die? We are all very much like tragic Eternal Night. And that was one of the secrets within a secret of this part of my first book, the Phantammeron I wanted you to see, or at least sense.

In the end of the book the Eternal Night tells his daughter to find a secret treasure he has hidden for her. The Shade then goes to find the Wings of Night trapped in the dark crystal of her father’s thrown.

I loved writing this piece as most people today write about power, wealth, youth, and strength….yet often the weakest or ugliest or little known among us are the most powerful! Modern writers miss that grand idea in Western thought today. So I wanted to rebirth this older idea in my book and say something about Christian humility in this way.

The Shade goes and finds that the large black wings her brother stripped from her father were not the TRUE wings but fake ones. She then gets the “Wings of Night” from the throne to find they are not the large dark wings he had worn and used in the main conflict earlier…but tiny silver ones her father had hidden from the world and kept for her. And so a father’s gift to his daughter is the powerful Human theme again echoing across the mythology.

Again, this idea represents the deep irony of life and what we think we know about what the world is or should be. It is the irony that we work our whole lives for riches when what was important was a fathers last love, a smile, a child, a loved one we once hugged, a poem, a sunset, or just helping a stranger in need. Those memories last a lifetime. Life’s real beauty and quest is the small things in life we fail to treasure until we see in the end they were everything! That was my other message.

Truth is transcendent in Life. It lives long after we die. And so surprising us at the end of it, too late, we discover life was designed to be that way. And so the Shade pulling out those tiny silver wings that held so such power shows the power of the moment of that discovery for her. And such wonders lift her up into the skies where she becomes one with the heavens and forms the nighttime sky as her father revealed that time would be.

Such powerful, emotional events make us monumental human beings at some point in our life when we see the Truth. For we then spiritually transform and become something higher…through wisdom and experience and old age we find what matters. But all these stories of mine reveal just my intentions as a writer, which were always to stir in my reader these same truths and wonders I have felt in my own life.

But maybe being a bad writer I cannot convey them fully as some. It is not for me to decide if I achieved what I set out to do. But at least I revealed a few of my intentions as a writer, some new ideas for you to ponder. Trust me, there are many more…and even more planned in future books.

Peace and Love to you.

– the Author

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