I’m a big fan of LH’s Anita Blake series. I first started reading her books because I wanted a different perspective to supernatural characters then what you usually find in urban fantasy. In many libraries LH’s novels are classified as horror. There’s definitely a lot of blood, sex and violence around Anita Blake. Yet, how else can you describes the life and tribulations of a maturing Necromancer / Marshal living with a household of were animals and vampires?
I just finished reading Laurell K. Hamilton’s last book, Affliction, from the Anita Blake series. I’m sure there is others out there who are fans of this author and will appreciate me mentioning her in this blog entry. I found it amazingly synchronic because one of the major themes running through her latest story was about love and marriage. It seems my summer has literally been focused on this topic, peaking with my 25th wedding anniversary this month (Aug).
It seems everyone I’ve been talking to this summer has been struggling with relationships. A repetitive question has been: “Do we need to meet our spouse’s every need and desire?”
In the Western World monogamy is almost like monotheism; which implies believing in “one God.” It’s as if at some point or another it was decided that a wife or husband had to be his or her spouse’s absolute. Truthfully, it’s unreasonable expectations; which are often behind most break ups, and it’s a lack of compromise that usually brings about a divorce. A successful marriage starts with two individuals who are willing to work together; and who are not threatened by outside help.
It’s kind of ironic that in order to be open to others one has to be secure within his or herself. I was telling EM just last week that part of the mistake she makes while in a relationship is to forget how to “breath on her own.” Too many people wait for their partners to tell them what to do as if it’s courteous to give them that kind of power while in a relationship: A gift of sorts… The fact of the matter is in many struggling relationships one partner will admit feeling burdened for having to shoulder the responsibility of someone else’s survival. The stereotypical attitudes towards marriage often describe these two separate attitudes: A self-sacrificing perception usually adopted by women and a complete loss of freedom more often felt by men.
In the Anita Blake series, LH brings in the topic of “polyamory” which is about “consensual, ethical and responsible non-monogamy.” There are 22 books to this series giving each new story a new angle to the subject. I personally enjoyed the way LH explored jealousy, social programs, religious belief, and even practical thinking leading to the latest story; which explored commitment, love and marriage. As described in Anita’s story, polyamory is about having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved. Where intimacy has increasingly become more and more about sexuality it still remains a delicate balance between growth, trust and love (the three southern elements of the Medicine Wheel).
What is special about this particular story for someone like me is that it actually touches unconsciously a few “shamanic or sacred circle perspectives.” In so many ways, Anita Blake, the Necromancer (supernatural character) shows the beauty and potential of polyamorous relationships. When you are empowered to be all that you can be, you are more inclined to to share yourself with all others empowered to be all the they can be as well: A Shamanic Vision no doubt. Obviously LH’s perspective of polyamory through her Anita Blake series is close to impossible for people who are conditioned by religion and society to be monogamous. She certainly shows through her stories how difficult it can be to overcome programs and expectations.
In the last decade there have been several articles written on polyamory stating that it may well be the way of the future. An English journalist stated that a few factors may encourage this shift in relationships. Life is becoming more and more expensive pushing people to live more collectively; and divorces as well as a broader acceptance of sexual preferences (homosexuality, bisexuality and heterosexuality) is redefining people / family and society. Cultural and religious beliefs are shifting and people are searching to live a simpler existence with more profound connections. Polyamory may just surprise the generations of tomorrow – quite naturally.
All of LH’s characters whether vampires, were-animals or human are monsters of sorts who can show the best and worst of themselves in every breath. Honestly, even though the Anita Blake series is pure fantasy, you’ll find that it brings up real, contemporary issues dealing with relationships, love and marriage. After 22 books, Anita and her entourage have literally explored every anxiety, insecurity or fear relating to intimacy, love and commitment.
In this last story, entitled Affliction Jean-Claude finally pops the question: “Will you marry me?”
Anita answers: “Yes!”
Within a Western context a wedding can be incredibly challenging for a couple, it will definitely be interesting to read the next book in LH’s Anita Blake series to see how she untangles Western programming from the Mystery of Marriage.
For those of us who live life according to the Way of the Wheel marriage is one of 16 mysteries (the 15th to be exact) and connects to the concept of consciousness. Marriage allows us to understand that each of us has a responsibility towards the other and we no doubt impact the life of everyone we come in touch with. It’s by staying present to others and giving meaning to relationships that we begin to truly see our path and purpose in this World.
Too many people are seeking out “soul mates” as if it’s the ultimate, phenomenal or magical relationship, when in truth there are countless relationships in life, which can surpass our programmed social expectations. I recently met a woman who shared an amazing story about how her and her husband found a kidney donor for their daughter. It was quite touching to hear how each member of their family literally fell in love, and developed an intimate and profound relationship with this young man. I’ve come to understand that there are so many relationships that can’t even be explained or named in our society; and there are also relationships that many of us will never experience.
Polyamory for me it implies opening our selves up to collective experiences without hiding or censoring ourselves from others. It takes courage, strength and self-confidence to be able to walk into the lives of others and remain aware of the impact we have on their story, as well as present to the impact they will have on our story.
“Don’t be afraid to mean something to someone,” I often tell my children, “and don’t shy away from experiencing love, affection, and intimacy (depth, passion, connection).”
Relationships are meant to leave an impression and enrich our lives. It takes being open to possibilities, conscious of the stories we play out, and ultimately committed to others. In Shamanism the Mystery of Marriage isn’t only about legally binding vows, it’s about every commitment we make to our selves, the World around us, and others.
Anita says at the end of the book, Afflictions: “I’d always thought that the wedding stuff was just an outward confirmation of inner truths, but maybe not. Love is not a one-size-fits-all emotion; there are as many different kinds of love as there are people.”
Why not adopt a new perspective?