Guest Post by James L. Wilbur, author of
My Babylon: Complete (The Eschaton Cycle) (Volume 1)
I have a difficult time describing My Babylon to prospective readers, especially ones well-versed in the genres of Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Fantasy, and Magical Realism. I find myself describing the book by what it isn’t. One way it’s unlike Urban/Paranormal Fantasy is that it doesn’t stop to spell out its cosmology. It seems to me sometimes that writers in those genres only write in order to tell you about their cool take on some critter from popular fiction. “These are my vampires, my werewolves, my ghosts, my penanggalan,” or whatever monster they come up with, and in the midst of showing you how cool they are, they miss the story.
You might call My Babylon Magical Realism, but it has more overt fantastic elements than you’ll ever find in that genre.
I won’t lie to you, My Babylon started with the cosmology. Although, unlike most others, the cosmology is based loosely on an actual religion called Thelema*. I know most of you have never heard of it and I’ve spilled enough ink in other places explaining Thelema. So go ahead and Wikipedia it, or check out my blog, scrollofthoth.com. You can even sign up for my mailing list at jameslwilber.com and get the book of commentary on My Babylon, which does some explaining as well.
But since My Babylon never stops to describe the world in which it exists, I thought I’d indulge myself. Here’s a list of the major players in the story.
Gods: The gods that show up in My Babylon are the pagan gods most of us are familiar with. The god Thoth has a presence in the background, but the only god that actually shows up is Isis. The gods are powerful beings that exemplify Jungian archetypes, such as: the trickster, the healer, and the wise old man. They can be called upon, supplicated, but seldom controlled. They are eternal and, for the most part, live outside of the struggle between the Demiurge and the rebellious angels. As Isis says in Book Five, “No matter how much you change. No matter if the tower falls. The river (Nile) keeps flowing. We remain.”
The Host: As in the Host of Angels, the servants of the Demiurge. They are creatures created to obey. More often than not, the Demiurge uses them to lay waste to his enemies. They represent order and the status quo. They can be summoned and controlled. Angels are also manifestations of the often lauded human characteristics, such as strength, honor, trust, and humility. In a Freudian sense, they are the super-ego.
The Demiurge: Referred to as God with the capital G, the Demiurge is the creator being, the center of the Abrahamic religions – Christianity, Judaism, and Islam–but can be found in other faiths as well. Some see him as a benevolent and forgiving lord who wants to look after his creation. Others see him as a tyrant who represents all the bad characteristics of patriarchy and blind devotion to “the way things are.” It is the Old Testament deity, more concerned with the success and obedience of his tribe than spiritual growth.
Michael: AKA The General, the commander of the Host, responsible for holding back the forces of Lucifer and the Beast. Michael has a human representative on Earth. At times it seems this person is Michael’s direct manifestation. At others, just his eyes and ears on the material plane.
Demons: The Fallen, the angels that rebelled along with Lucifer. They are creatures who fight for individuality and change. They do not so much as follow Lucifer as share in his ideology. Their goal is to upset order and overthrow authority wherever they see it. Demons can be summoned and controlled. Demons are also manifestations of the darker aspects of human nature, such as lust, hubris, anger, and impulsiveness. In a Jungian sense, they are the shadow.
Lucifer: The first fallen angel, thrown out of the Host for questioning the Demiurge. Lucifer strikes against Michael whenever he can. No direct manifestation of Lucifer has made itself present in My Babylon. His will is carried out by the Beast and Babalon.
Spirits: A cornucopia of lesser beings that follow their own rules and have their own abilities. The fire salamander Mike summons in Book Five is simply a spirit entity.
The Beast: A creature unleashed by Lucifer to act as a catalyst to the Apocalypse and a protector of Babalon. The Beast has a human representation on Earth. Just like Michael’s representative, the person “carrying” the Beast is sometimes a direct manifestation. At other times, it seems the Beast simply guides his actions. It would be a mistake to believe that the Beast serves Lucifer, as that would be antithetical to Lucifer’s belief in total individualism.
Babylon or Babalon: The star of the show and a somewhat unique being. At times it seems she serves Lucifer. At other times, she wants to reconcile with the forces of the Demiurge. She is balance, seeing the beauty of both sides. Like any good whore, “she accepts all and denies none.” Babalon is the personification of universal love, especially erotic love, and sees it as the power to open all people to possibility. She is the standard bearer of the Eschaton, and spreads chaos in her wake.
Are you confused, excited, intrigued? You may notice that also unlike most Urban/Paranormal Fantasy, there are no clear-cut good guys and bad guys, only forces trying to spread a certain ideology. If you’re looking for something different, you wouldn’t go wrong by giving My Babylon a try.
*I said, loosely. Please note this is my own personal view on Thelema. It is by no means comprehensive or pure. In fact, I don’t really consider myself a Thelemite.
James L. Wilber describes himself as Anne Rice and Chuck Palahniuk’s bastard love child. He’s a pretentious prick who claims to pen, “literary genre fiction.” Which means he writes smarmy stories about wizards and vampires doing a poor job at hiding his symbolism and metaphor. He’s turned to self-publishing on the correct assumption his stories are just too weird for mass consumption.
My Babylon, a novel about the paranormal and dark desires, is the story of a cursed young man who has an intimate view of the Apocalypse. My Babylon weaves elements of urban fantasy, erotic horror, and real-world occult practices to form a unique personal tale that thrills, terrifies, and even enlightens.