Tessa Gratton’s guest post is about none other than magic! Since this is the theme that runs through her books, I wanted her to tell us a little bit about how she got the inspiration for these amazing stories. This post talks about how magic has hit her at different points at her life and what it meant for her, bringing her to the now.
Take it away Tessa!
“Magic Inspiring Magic”
When I was a kid, I was desperate to learn how to use magic. I wanted to apprentice to a great wizard and spend years studying alchemy and geometry and runes, culminating in a masterwork that allowed me to become a great wizard myself.
In my quest, I read everything I could find about magic all over the world. Fiction, yes, but mostly history and anthropology. I focused on western European medieval magic at first because it was the most easily accessible, but as I got older and more capable of intensive research in the bowels of a university library, I branched out into African tribal magic, Japanese magic, and American Indian magic. I realized that frequently western researchers conflated religious rituals with magic when they were looking at non-western traditions, and that led me to examine Catholicism with an eye for its magical rituals, which in turn led me to modern America.
Not only have I spent time with plenty of pagans – who practice magic as a form of prayer directly, are very ritualistically oriented, and attached to the idea of the natural connectedness of all things – but I’ve read a lot of modern books about the resurgence of western magic since the 1950s in Europe and America.
I believe I was searching for a sort of truth that I’d lost when I stopped going to church with my family as a teenager. I wanted a universal understanding of humankind’s fascination with the idea of magic – of energy and ritualized prayer, of how we can affect the world with our emotions and willpower.
It wasn’t until I “discovered” Pennsylvania Dutch magic that I hit on something I was ready to write about. At the time I thought it was wonderful because it’s a system of magic that harkens back to medieval European practices, but is also still apparent when you drive along I-80 in Pennsylvania today. Hexes painted on the sides of barns, or for sale in road-side shops, point to the rich magical heritage of the area. The magic itself is based on the home and family: painting hexes and runes, tying knots in rope, candles and cooking and other things that make it not only very practical, but hold it in the realm of “women’s magic.” It was passed down through families and tied to the community and women whereas old European high magic like alchemy was considered secretive, quasi-scientific, and dominated by men.
That’s what I chose to embrace the most when I created my magical system for The Blood Journals: the personal nature of American folkloric magic, the family relations and communal nature, the practical side, the connection to the natural world. And the fact that it’s very uniquely American in how it’s a transplanted magic (mostly from Germany) that took pieces from the new land, the new cultures around it. To that I added the blood being the key to power – which in itself comes from so many cultures and magical systems around the world I couldn’t list them all.
One of the reasons I wrote Mab from The Blood Keeper the way I did was because I wanted to revel in the joy, beauty, and natural strength of this magic. Silla and Nick were both traumatized by the magic, desperate for it, and fighting it frequently. To Mab, I wanted it to be a source of love and power.
The two books compliment each other that way: Blood Magic is the nighttime to The Blood Keeper’s daylight.
Want more Tessa? You can find her on twitter (@tessagratton) and at www.tessagratton.com.