Saxon’s Bane starts out well. The anthropology is done well, and the Saxon history is spot on. Some of the history of the Old Ways is well done: The Old Way teaches us that all living things are sacred, that there is a life force in everything and connecting everything. Gudgion speaks of the Christian church, and how they took over, folding the myths and religion into the church to pull the locals into changing to the new religion of Christianity. How so many of the Christian tenants, such as Easter, as timed and based upon the Old Ways in order to fold what they called “pagans” into the New Religion.
I was well pleased to read the first part of what the book covered, and settled in, thinking I would enjoy the book. Then, Gudgion got completely off track, and totally ruined the book for me. From being solid and well versed in both the Old Ways and the New, he suddenly turned to stealing the sacred from the Old Ways, turning to the old saw of Wicca being “evil” and “devil worshiping.” This based upon the Horned God of the Old Way being turned into the “Devil” by the New Religion. Since the church said that the Horned God was the Devil, well then, it must be so, right? OH, how ignorant and how very nauseating.
Gudgion uses superstition and hated to turn the story into simply another ignorant rant against the Old Ways, having a sweet and caring follower of the Old Way say of Esbat: It’s used for a ritual curse” and going downhill from there. His knowledge of the Old Ways is patently ignorant and false, especially as even the most careless of searches clearly delineate the definition of Esbat as being 180 degrees from what the author tries to make it out to be. The word Esbat is of French origin, from s’esbattre, which loosely translates to “frolic joyfully.” In addition to frolicking, this is a time to commune with the gods, give thanks, and enjoy the Cake and Ale Ceremony. In no way is it designed to “devil worship” or perform “ritual curses.” Wiccan is not about that.
Christianity defined Wicca and witchcraft as “evil devil worshiping” as a way to override the Old Ways and place Christianity in it’s stead. Those burned at the stake and otherwise murdered were mostly healers, herbalists and other practitioners of the Old Way, caring for their families, villages and animals. Real Wicca was, and is, all about celebration, healing, honouring the seasons and positive influences. Only those who wish to defy and insult Christianity conduct Black ritual, and those people are NOT true Wiccan – they are basing their whole ritual in the Catholic church and it’s teachings, not in Wicca. Were there ritual sacrifices in the old days? Most assuredly. They were carried out by every religion, from Mayans to Egyptians, Saxons to Christians. What else is the hanging of Jesus on the cross if not a sacrifice?
I can’t decide whether Gudgion had a split in his psychology halfway through the novel, or if he intended to draw in the reader and then pounce with his superstitious nonsense. Or if someone else picked up the book half-way through and finished it themselves – someone with no knowledge and less intellect. Gudgion is “superstitious” in that he indulges in a total lack of research and/or knowledge in his statements, pushing belief of an unfounded psudoreligious doctrine as truth. One character, a sick and twisted individual, turns what should be a time of beauty and thanksgiving into something deviant. That is a sick human, not a sick religion. Any religion may be twisted – see The Spanish Inquisition for example, or the Mayan cutting out of the hearts of slaves.
Overall, I was deeply, deeply disappointed. I truly wanted the book to continue to be wonderful. Instead, I was left with a foul taste in my mouth and a heavy heart.
Goddess of the moon, queen of the night,
keeper of women’s mysteries, mistress of the tides,
you who are ever changing and yet always constant,
I ask that you guide me with your wisdom,
help me grow with your knowledge,
and hold me in your arms.
The moon is the symbol of the mother,
and she watches over us day and night.
She brings the changing tide, the shifting night,
the flow that changes women’s bodies,
and the passion of lovers to their beloved.
Her wisdom is great and all-knowing,
and we honor her tonight.
Keep your watchful eyes upon us, great mother,
until the cycle returns once more,
and bring us to the next full moon,
in your love and light.
– Drawing Down The Moon