Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Leviathan Pt. 2: The Mythology of Supernatural, Update #1

Hey Folks,

Sorry for not putting this little tidbit in the original post on Leviathan. I knew that there was a mention of Leviathan and Behemoth in the Book of Enoch ... but it took me another day or two to find it. As I have explained in my book, The Mythology of Supernatural, the Enoch text predates all Judeo-Christian writings and was heavily influential in the development of Judaism.

So, without further ado:
“And on that day two monsters shall be parted – one monster, a female named Leviathan in order to dwell in the abyss of the ocean over the fountains of water; and [the second], a male called Behemoth which holds his chest in an invisible desert whose name is Dundayin, east of the garden of Eden." -1 Enoch 60:7-8

You may remember that, in my original blog post about Leviathan, I mentioned how Leviathan and Behemoth were once considered two creatures which joined to create a terrifying monster. Later on the myth was changed when Lilith entered the tradition, and explained how Lilith was mated to Samael after her expulsion from Eden ... and that the joining of these two came to be known as Leviathan (however, I am not sure that the writers of Supernatural are going to follow this part). Notice also that Enoch refers to Leviathan as "female" ... this certainly differs from the traditinal Judaic demonology/lore. However, this may just be an earlier version of the idea that these titanic monsters of old, made by YHVH/God before Humans, some say on the 5th day of Creation, encompassing both destruction & creation (since without destruction there is no creation), existed as a joining of male & female entities. This is in line with early Judaic concepts of the divine male and female, such as Shekinah (which is, more or less, the feminine nature of God ... believed to have been viewed as God's "Wife" at one point in early Semitic traditions).

As for Behemoth, there is lore which claims this titanic monster became drawn to the land, joining his physical form to an "invisible desert" called Dudayin, a place "east of Eden" where no human may dwell.

Well ... that is all for now. If anyone has questions, feel free to post them in the comments.

FYI - Sometime tomorrow, I will be posting links/details on an auction that will be held for a signed copy of The Mythology of Supernatural and a personally handmade Mojo Bag (they will be auctioned together as a set).

Monday, September 26, 2011

Leviathan: The Mythology of Supernatural, Update #1

Okay, Supernatural writers … so … you brought out the LEVIATHAN, eh?

My hat is off to you, Supernatural writers. You guys (or girls?) certainly kicked off Season 7 with some seriously “old school” baddies of Judeo-Christian lore.

Let me start by putting at least one thing straight … I have noticed that a lot of people are referring to Leviathan as an “old demon.” However, this would technically only be “half-correct.” Leviathan (a.k.a. “The Slant Serpent”) is definitely old, VERY OLD. Leviathan is so old, in fact, that this gargantuan chunk of beasty was a part of Semitic folklore long before (possibly a couple thousand years before) the concept of demons had even entered into the later Judaic tradition.

The name Leviathan, simply put, refers to one of the original bad boys who occupied the dark side of the cosmic balance in the very first days of the Creation.

Remember this early line from Genesis? (no, not the band … the BOOK): "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Well … you might say that Leviathan was one of the VERY nasty things that were among “the deep,” a creature of “the void,” a titanic occupant of “the waters” … more or less referring to the primordial waters of creation. And, as any woman who has ever birthed a child could attest … creation can be a violent and frightening occurrence. And we aren’t talking about the birth of just a single human being, here … this was the birth of a pretty big chunk of the cosmos (if not the whole thing). There are a large number of references to Leviathan in demonology. However, the creature’s mentions in biblical texts can be pretty limited or vague by comparison.

So … let’s have a look then, shall we?

First of all, it is important to note that (in Supernatural 07.01) Leviathan entered Castiel out of PURGATORY, not Hell. Since, in the Supernatural mythos, demons are kept in Hell and the souls of monsters are held in Purgatory … this makes sense. Leviathan is not a demon, as I have already stated, but something far older and more along the lines of what Judeo-Christian texts often refer to as the “Serpent of Old.”

So, by this rationale, the use of “sea monster” would definitely seem a fitting description. Leviathan certainly is said to have, at least at one time, dwelled freely in the dark realm of “the deep” and “the waters.”

And remember that whole “Jonah in the Belly of the Whale” story in II Kings (or the Book of Jonah in Judaic texts)? Well … that was no “whale.” Jonah was swallowed by the Leviathan (at God’s/YHVH’s bidding), because he refused to deliver a divine message from the God of the Israelites to the people of Nineveh and had fled his duty as a prophet (at the time, the Israelites were not on very good terms with the people of Nineveh, a powerful Assyrian city in which the Israelites were held captive for a time, around roughly 720 BCE). However, there are some Jewish midrash texts (midrash texts are sort of like commentaries) which claim Jonah was actually swallowed by a giant fish … which was then almost swallowed by Leviathan. These versions of the tale usually state that Jonah avoided being devoured by Leviathan (more or less, avoided being in the belly of a big fish that was itself in the belly of a sea monster) by brandishing the “Seal of Abraham” (which is, more or less, an 8-pointed star). Needless to say, there are some holes in this version of the story ... but that's not really the point.

But why would YHVH send such a frightening and uber-powerful monstrosity to threaten (or swallow, depending on which version you go with) the wayward Jonah? Well … Judeo-Christian tradition states that Leviathan is, after all, but one of the many creations of God/YHVH. In fact, Psalm 104 even gives thanks to YHVH for all of creation, including Leviathan: “O Lord, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all; the earth is full of thy riches. So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts. There go the ships; there is that Leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein. These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season.”

And here we have a reference to a later prophecy, with the whole "in due season" part, which is discussed in Isaiah 27:1: “In that day the Lord with His sore and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the slant serpent, and Leviathan the tortuous serpent; and He will slay the dragon that is in the sea.

Notice that the above excerpt seems to mention Leviathan as if there is more than one? Well, this is because Leviathan itself is not one entity, but a combination of all the embodiments of the ancient forces of creation & destruction. Depending on the source, Leviathan is said to be a monstrous beast that combines (but is not limited to) such ancient baddies as Samael, Ashmodai, one version of Lilith (see the below excerpt from the book), and Behemoth. Later on in the tradition, however, it must be mentioned that Behemoth and Leviathan came to be viewed as two separate entities. Think of it like this: Behemoth is thought of as a Leviathan, but not as the Leviathan. This is likely due to the fact that the word Leviathan eventually came to be used as a general term for any large sea creature (including whales … hence all the confusion in the Jonah story).

Lastly, the above quote from Isaiah is believed by some religious/myth scholars to have found a place in the apocalyptic Book of Revelation 12:7-12: “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon along with his own angels fought them, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in Heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Below is an excerpt from The Mythology of Supernatural, which I have noticed that some people are already quoting on the internet forums … so I figure it is not too big a deal if I post it here. This excerpt discusses Leviathan’s relation to Lilith and his combined nature (FYI – this was written halfway through Season 6 … so I find it interesting that the writers of Supernatural ended up using the concept of Leviathan):
Judaic demonology and folklore states that it was in the depths of the sea that Lilith became the wife of one of the Four Demon Princes of Hell, Samael, in his form as the ‘Slant Serpent’ Leviathan, to which Lilith became the female version counterpart. The coupling of these two figures came to be called Leviathan, the name by which this creature is now known. During the end times, as written in the Old Testament book of Isaiah 27:1, ‘In that day God, with his mighty sword, shall punish Leviathan the piercing serpent, even Leviathan that Slant Serpent; and He shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.’

Okay, I am going to end this post here. However, if anyone has further questions regarding Leviathan, the mythology of the new season, and/or The Mythology of Supernatural, feel free to post them in the comments here on the blog, send them to me on my Twitter page (NatRBrown), or in the “Discussions” section of my Amazon page:

I will keep posting updates each week (and responding to reader questions) for as long as there are updates to post and/or questions to answer.

As always, thanks to you all for your support! Looking forward to seeing where Season 7 takes us!

Nathan R. Brown

Thursday, September 22, 2011

New Update to Appearance Schedule (as of 9/22/11)

Hey Folks,

Had a new appearance confirmation come through the other day, so I figured I should update the schedule. As of today, my current appearance schedule (for the next month or so, at least) is as follows:

Monday, September 26, 2011, 11:30 PM: Radio Interview on WCUM, 91.3 FM, in Worcester, MA. Interview will be taped at 11:30PM Central Time ... not sure when it will actually be on the air ... will post actual air time/date when it becomes available.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011, 6:30 PM: Will be doing a Q&A, as well as participating in some other activities, at the CostumeCon event at the Richardson Public Library. This is basically an evening of anime/manga, costumes/cosplay, and other assorted uber-awesome stuff. So come join us if you are in the area. Address for the event is 900 Civic Center Drive, Richardson, TX 75080

Saturday, October 22, 2011, 2:00 PM: Will be giving a presentation on The Mythology of Supernatural, followed by a book signing, at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Amarillo, TX. Address for the event is 2415 Soncy Road, Amarillo, TX 79124

Thursday, October 27, 2011, 7:30 PM: Will be giving a presentation on The Mythology of Supernatural, followed by book sales & signing, at the Richardson Public Library. Address for the event is 900 Civic Center Drive, Richardson, TX 75080

And remember folks, if you would like to have me come speak and/or hold a book signing at a library, bookstore (FYI - Barnes & Noble makes these very easy), or some other event/venue in your area, please let me know in the comments and I will do my best to arrange something. However, please keep in mind that October is often a crazy month for me when it comes to promo events (as one might imagine, since most of what I write about is related to the paranormal) ... so the sooner you get in touch with me, the sooner I can get the date reserved.

Unfortunately, it is looking as if I may not be able to post a reader response this week. I will definitely try, but I just can't make any promises. I have recently had some unexpected personal issues come up that I need to deal with right now. Nothing to worry about, though ... and I should be back to my semi-normal self by next week.

As always, thanks to all of you for your support!

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Mythology of Supernatural: Reader Question Response #3

This week's response comes from an anonymous, would-be reader from a forum post:
"In the Hammer of the Gods episode they joke about Ragnarok, but one of the signs of it is Loki getting out of his prison, and Odin totally thought Gabriel was Loki, so...what's up with that? Did you even cover that in the book."

Simply put ... yes.

As I was writing the book, I quickly relaized that Gabriel was going to have to be covered in two different sections that would have to be located in two separate chapters. I discuss the angelology of Gabriel in the Angels chapter of the book. Then, later, I explain his role as Loki in a chapter that is devoted entirely to pre/non-Judeo-Christian concepts of Apocalypse ... a chapter which also pays very special attention to the characters portrayed in the "Hammer of the Gods" Supernatural episode.

I don't want to go into uber-spoiler detail here by summarizing everything in the book, but I can at least let you know what I do cover in the book when it comes to this subject.

The book goes into detail on the whole Ragnarok thing, and explains the mythology of Loki (as well as a little speculation on how/why the writers may have tried to match him up as Gabriel's alias). It also explains the mythological "who & what" of all the gods that were involved in the "Hammer of the Gods" episode: Odin, Baldur, Mercury, Kali, Baron Samedi, Zao Shen, etc. I also discuss the apocalyptic myth/lore (if present) that is associated with each of these gods.

Well, I think that's about all the detail I can give, without taking stuff right out of the book. And I am pretty sure the publisher would kill me for that, ;-P

Please keep the questions coming, folks. Only a few reader response questions are left in my queue. I will only post these responses for as long as there are questions for me to answer.

All my best!


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Typo of the Day (sort of) 9/13/11

Okay, so this one is not exactly a "typo" ... in fact, it does not even come from a written source. HOWEVER, I think this is WAY funnier than what I'd originally planned to post today. So, as is my wont (finally! I found an opportunity to use the word "wont" in a sentence!), we're going with this.

Below is a conversation that took place between two younger gents (both whom shall be henceforth referred to as "Dude #1" & "Dude #2"), and which I could not help but overhear while I was standing in line behind them at a convenience store earlier today:

Dude #1: “I want to ask her out, but you know how bad I suck at talking to girls.”
Dude #2: “I shall go to her at your behead, my friend.”
Dude #1: “What?”
Dude #2: “I shall go to her at your behead.”
Dude #1: “Dude … I think the word you are looking for is vehemently.”

Ummmmm … what?

I don't even know where to begin.

Dude #1: The word you were looking for was behest

Dude #2: You are NOT helping! Seriously, Dude #2 ... vehemently? How could that word ever work within the framework of what Dude #1 originally said? I mean, did you even take a few seconds to listen in your head to how that sentence would sound before you gave Dude #1 this absolutely dreadful vocabulary suggestion?! Stop sniffing the glue!

However, perhaps I am being too quick to judge Dude #2's suggestion ... Hm ... Okay, let's give it a try:
"I shall go to her at your vehemently."

Nope. Still makes no sense. I swear, sometimes I am not sure whether i want to laugh or cry at stuff like this.

Well, that's my post for today. Later this week I will have another Reader Response Question for The Mythology of Supernatural.

WAIT! I forgot something!

FYI - I had an appearance recently that did not quite go as planned. Long story short, this means that I actually have a TON of paranormal/Supernatural merch still on hand. So, later this month, I will be putting some of my handmade and signed Slayer Kits, Mojo bags, and stakes on auction via ebay. Will post the details, links, etc. on these auctions once they beocme available.

Until then ... try not to vehemently behead any girls that you want to ask out. Because that's probably not going to end well for anyone.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Mythology of Supernatural: Reader Question Response #2

Okay folks,

So the reader response for this week does not come from any one particular person or reader, because several people have asked the same general thing in a variety of different ways. More or less, their questions came down to the length of the book.

Some people have asked (or complained) about the book being "too short."

Some people have asked (or complained) about the book being "a bit long."

And still other people have asked about the method(s) I used to make the length of the book "just right."

I swear ... I feel like I'm in some weird writer's version of 'Goldilocks and the Three Bears'.

Anyway ... instead of answering any specific one of the above three questions, I figured I should just explain how I went about deciding the length of the book in general.

First of all, obviously there are certain constraints set down by the publisher as to how long a book should be. They don't want it to be too short/brief ... but they don't want it to feel as though it drags on needlessly. I more or less hit right in the middle of the set word count/page range given to me by the publisher.

I realize that some people want a book like this to go into uber-serious detail, while others just want the basics. I can tell you that I went into this project knowing that I was not going to be able to please either group. If I got too wordy or unnecessarily detailed, hitting the max allowed word/page count, then I felt as though I was going to lose a good chunk of my mainstream readers. If I made it too brief/short, at the lower end of the minimum word/page count, then I knew that people were going to feel (for lack of a better description) "ripped off."

So ... what was my genius strategy for hitting the middle ground? Simple, I would first write a section/chapter ... then come back and read it a few days later (as well as let some colleagues and my editor read it). If I (or a rough majority of my test readers) got bored before reaching the end of a particular section/chapter, I did not go any further with it. If, however, I (or, again, any of my test readers) reached the end of a chapter or section with that sensation of "Aw, man ... is it over, already?" ... then I would continue researching and writing until that feeling went away.

Okay ... so this is not exactly "genius" ... but it was the best method I could think up. To be honest, I think that sometimes people put too much emphasis on length. For example, I'd rather learn everything I want/need to know from 100 well written pages than to be bored to tears by covering the same amount of information in 300 unecessarily wordy/detailed pages. And, in my experience, I have found that most readers feel the same way.

And besides ... I know very well, as most writers do (or, at least, should) that no book I ever write or publish is going to please everyone. In the words of Chuck Shurley (which, by the way, are also quoted in the book):
"You try to tie up every loose end, but you never can. The fans are always gonna bitch. There are always gonna be holes."

And you know what? I am cool with that. It's just part of the job.

So, long story short ... if you felt that The Mythology of Supernatural was too short, I am sorry for that ... if you felt that The Mythology of Supernatural was too long, I am sorry for that ... if you felt that it was just right ... um ... thanks?

Okay, now that I am back from the trip I will continue posting one response a week for as long as I keep receiving questions.

FYI - I got the intial sales numbers from the publisher today. They were VERY good. As always, my most sincere thanks to everyone in the Supernatural fandom-family for all the support!