The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. –Mahatma Gandhi
The first stories ever told were about animals and the places they went when they died. The experience of the numinous is often described through the power of animals and the stories we tell about them.
One of the attractions of speculative fiction is its ability to address speciesism—the assignment of worth and rights based on species alone. Through the animal characters in Quantum Enchantment and Quantum Encryption series, I am free to investigate human verses non-human thought and examine consciousness from a different (less subjective) perspective. I’m not the only one!
From Achilles’ horse to Black Beauty, from Aesop’s Mr. Fox to Jack London’s The Call of the Wild, animals provide guidance, social commentary, moral authority and sympathy in fiction, often giving voice to the silenced and oppressed. In the late 17th – 18th centuries, moral allegories turned to social satire and animal no longer represented the gods but portrayed human foibles and political corruption.
By the 19th century spreading industrialization exploited both humans and animals and concern for animal welfare became a major social issue. Tales of animal abuse arose, in which animals were seen as the victims of human greed, ignorance, and industrialization.
In the twentieth century many writers turned to old animal stories and genres to produce new works dealing with themes of paranoia, alienation, and futility. And then we see, full circle, animals again as messengers of the divine.
Some Native American traditions teach that each soul can find its personal pathway through the medicine of animals. Medicine is anything that supports our connection to the life, mind, body, spirit, personal power, awareness and consciousness. We can learn to call on the medicine of an animal when in need of specific talents and attributes. Focusing our thoughts on an animal (as ancients did when in a state of reverence and awe) brings us into alignment with what that animal represents.
But what about the animals themselves? We talk much about the power of animals to guide and heal us, to entertain us in stories and keep us company, guard or protect, but what are we doing for them? Millions of creatures without a voice can use our support. It begins with one small step that we all can take. Notes from my Animals as Healers here.
In the Quantum Enchantment series, Drayco the temple cat and Quillian the Were-fey is up there with my favourite animal characters alongside Hazel in Watership Down, Buck in The Call of the Wild, Anne McCaffrey’s Ruth and of course Anna Sewell’s Beauty.
What are your favourite animals in literature? I’d love to hear about them!
Kim Falconer’s latest book, Journey by Night is out September 1! It is the third in the Quantum Encryption Series. As well as her author website, she runs an astrology and law of attraction forum, trains with a sword and is completing a Masters degree. Her novel writing is done early every morning. Currently she’s working on a whole new series.
Filed under: Author guest blog, Kim Falconer, on writing | Tagged: animals in literature, Black Beauty, call of the wild, Kim Falconer, Quantum Enchantment, quantum encryption, watership down, writers on writing |