Thursday, July 21, 2011

Angel's Fury Blog Tour: Religious Myths + Reincarnation by Byrony Pearce

Hi everyone! If you’ve read my review of Angel’s Fury, you’d know that I loved it. I loved the concepts that Byrony used in the novel. Guess what? Today, she’s here at Fragments of Life to talk about the different mythologies/literature-related stuff about reincarnation. For those interested in myths, don’t pass up this chance.

Religious myths and reincarnation in Angel’s Fury

I’ve been living with Cassiopeia Farrier for some time; I always knew she suffered from nightmares, but not why. 

When I learned more about reincarnation I had my reason – she had lived before.  The idea of reincarnation is that the soul is immortal, while the body is subject to birth and death; reincarnation is believed to occur when the soul comes back to life in a new form.  This is a central idea of Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism and even some Christian sects.

In some philosophies (particularly Buddhism), reincarnation is linked to karma (a very basic explanation is that if you are a terrible person you’ll be reincarnated as a dung beetle). It is said in Tibetan Buddhism that it is very rare for a person to be reborn in the immediate next life as a human.

The vision of reincarnation that I based Angel’s Fury around is the Hindu one.
According to a Hindu sage, to be trapped in the cycle of birth and death is a result of ignorance of the true nature of our existence.  It is ignorance of one’s true self that leads to a perpetual chain of reincarnation (I linked this central idea back to the Shemhazai myth to create the full story of Angel’s Fury – more on that later). 
In Hinduism when one realises that the true self is the immortal soul rather than the body, all desires for the pleasures of the world will cease and the person will not be born again. 

So the ultimate goal of reincarnation is to learn enough lessons from Earth lives that reincarnation is no longer necessary.

While I was researching the idea of reincarnation I uncovered stories that seem incredible, one particular one is available on the Internet – that of James Huston Jr, whose tragic death during World War II is remembered in detail by James Leininger ( Many of James’ experiences mirror Cassie’s, for example the nightmares, which began when he was two and his  knowledge of technical things he hadn’t been taught (in his case planes).

Psychiatrist Ian Stevenson from the University of Virginia, is probably the most prominent researcher in this area.  Over 40 years, he conducted over 2500 case studies.  He documented each child’s statements, identified the deceased person the child identified with and verified the facts of the deceased person’s life that matched the child’s memory.  He also matched birthmarks and defects to wounds and scars on the deceased.  Most of the cases he investigated involved people who had met some sort of violent or untimely death (and in the book Seth speculates that the lives they remember most clearly are either the most recent or most violent).  The children Stevenson investigated also often behaved in ways he felt suggested a link to the previous life, for example displaying phobias associated with the manner of their death (in the Manor the children’s severe phobias are all linked to their past demise and are clues to who they once were).

Once I knew that Cassie had been reincarnated and that she was coming back as a human each time, I had to understand why she was reincarnating in order to have my full story.  This is where the legend of Shemhazai and Azael entered the picture.

I was researching the idea of fallen angels (my original idea was focused in on Lucifer / Satan) when I stumbled across the legend of these two particular angels, which almost perfectly fit my needs.  There are a number of versions of the myth, one can be read in full here:

Generally Shemhazai and Azael are held to be the angelic parents of the nephilim (half angel, half human abominations who were destroyed in the flood).  I took the liberty of amending the myth, blending the versions I had found and adjusting the end – but I won’t tell you any more about that, as it would be way too spoilerish!

I was nervous, I’ll admit, about using religion in this manner, making changes to an old testament story and writing a book that melded Hindu and Christian religions, but so far friends from my church (I’m Catholic incidentally) have really enjoyed it and in some way I actually think it speaks to more people.  

So many of us ‘kind of’ believe in reincarnation and seek a way to marry our belief in things we can’t rationally explain with our Christian ideals (22% of Western Europeans believe in some form of reincarnation); this book, for the duration of reading at least, legitimises that association and it feels somehow right.  
Thank you, Byrony, for dropping by! Wow. This is officially my favourite guest post ever.

To convince you to read Angel’s Fury, here’s a bit of my review:

Angel’s Fury is a breath of fresh air, an original and intriguing take on angels and nephilim. Compelling, haunting and heart-pounding, Angel’s Fury will satisfy readers with its smooth plot, strong heroine, psychological touch and its tale of cycles, hope, and redemption. I highly recommend this to readers of paranormal and angel enthusiasts!

But I assure you, it’s worth it!

Thank you for reading everyone! :)


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