Sunday, May 1, 2011

Cedric Speaks-Kali and Vampires

Cedric speaks:

Shadows of the horrifying goddess’ multiple arms swayed over the candle-washed wall, as if she was dancing.  Faint with blood loss, I reckoned I’d lost my grip on reality.  I hovered between elation and despair, consciousness and unconsciousness.  Then Raj unbuttoned his sleeve and slashed open his wrist with a knife.  “Drink if you don’t want to die.”

In the coming weeks, I'll be running this weekly feature with quotes from Cedric MacKinnon, the hero of My Fearful Symmetry, and tidbits about the lore surrounding the court of the chief elder of the Immortyls and the adepts of the ancient arts.  This will be the sexiest one so far, but Cedric wouldn't have it any other way.

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Today, I have a blurb from the book and a bit about Kali. 

My Fearful Symmetry
Book Three of The Immortyl Revolution

A boy becomes a vampire and fights to become a man.

Only the most gifted and beautiful Immortyls are chosen to serve Mother Kali as adepts of the ancient arts…

For nineteen-year-old Cedric MacKinnon, the promise of eternal youth and celebrity sounds like a dream come true. It becomes a nightmare when a master vampire plucks the boy from the London streets and spirits him away to India. In the fabled ashram of the adepts of the ancient arts, Cedric undergoes the grueling process of training as a temple dancer and courtesan. With the threat of revolution hanging over court, the chief elder employs the boy he names Shardul in dangerous games of seduction and intrigue. Hated by the chief’s mistress and abused by those he entertains, Cedric struggles with visions of a violent destiny that seem to come from Kali herself. The stakes are heightened when the rebel leader, Loki, is brought to India for trial and Cedric is forced to choose between the protection and patronage of a powerful elder and his love for a beautiful female adept.

Kali and Vampires

Although most vampire myths were spawned in Eastern Europe, a lot of evidence points to the legends first arising out of India. When I was developing my series, I became fascinated with Indian religions, mythology, and folklore. Indian myths and folklore give us many examples of vampire-like spirits and deities. In the various regions are found a plethora of demons that inhabit cremation and burial grounds. These bear a striking resemblance to the vamps of Eastern Europe. Many of these are said to be the spirits of those who died an unnatural death, or a woman who died in childbirth. Others are succubus-like creatures that drain men of energy, yet leave them with a feeling of euphoria. It is likely that traders along the Great Silk Road and the gypsies carried these stories west. In Greece, the tales gave inspiration to the Lamiae, or female vampire-like spirits.

One deity sometimes associated with vampirism is Kali, a fierce form of the mother goddess (Shakti). Like her husband Shiva she both creates and destroys. She’s often shown standing on his body, symbolizing that in the scheme of the cosmos the male principle is subordinate to that of the female. Kali is usually depicted with dark blue or black skin and a third eye. She wears body parts as jewelry and has a tongue that sticks out in defiance. Her favorite places are battlefields and burial grounds.

Kali is often misunderstood in the West. She is the goddess of time, not death as many think. She slays only evil demons. Symbolically, she annihilates the selfish impulses and ego that bind us to our material bodies. Her aspect is fearsome, but she is called Kali Maa (Mother Kali) and is revered in many parts of India. Kolkutt (Calcutta) is sacred to her and named for the goddess.

Tantric cults often focus on Kali. Tantrism is an older religious tradition than Hinduism, dating back to the time before the Aryan tribes migrated into India. These groups center on Shakti worship and sometimes use sex and even blood in their rituals. The idea behind this is to gain control over the body to capture divine energy and gain blessings. The adepts of the ancient arts in my novels practice a form of tantra.

In my reading, I’ve come across only one group associated with Kali that was violent. They were known as the Thugees. This is the root of our word thug. These devotees would waylay travelers and use them as blood sacrifices to the goddess. The Thugees inspired the Kali worshipers in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. They are by no means representative of the vast majority of her devotees.

My first Immortyl Revolution novel Cara Mia and my current release Twilight of the Gods don’t deal much with the roots of the India-centered vampire culture that I’ve imagined. However, the third My Fearful Symmetry is told from the POV of Cedric MacKinnon an adept of the ancient arts or temple dancer in service to Kali. He’s a member of the chief elder’s household in India, a place where life goes on much as it has for three thousand years. Cedric is nineteen when his master Raj plucks him from the London streets. This extraordinarily beautiful boy is exploited as a courtesan and becomes a pawn in intrigues within the Immortyl ruling class. However, he finds beauty and purpose in the teachings of his female mentor Sandhya. His story had been originally planned for book four, but it made so much more sense to have an observer of Mia and Kurt’s revolution that moves within the inner sanctum of Immortyl power. Cedric will become a major player throughout the series.


Darcía Helle said...

Fascinating premise for book, Denise. I've long been intrigued by mythology and I love that you mixed that with a vampire tale.

Nora Weston said...

Super interesting info on your books. My Fearful Symmetry sounds fantastic! Just reading the blurb makes me wonder what Cedric will do...

Denise Verrico said...

I love mythology as well. I wanted to create a multi-layered culture and history for my vampires. In my research, I started finding so many interesting tidbits pointing to vampire myths coming out of India that it seemed the logical place to center the Immortyl culture.