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July 2012

"What Is Life? Part 1:The Body-Soul Nexus"


Jacqueline Lichtenberg



 To send books for review in this column email Jacqueline Lichtenberg,  for snailing instructions or send an attached RTF file.  
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Interview With A Jewish Vampire by Erica Manfred, self, 2012

Moon Dance Vampire for Hire Book 1, by J. R. Rain, self, 2011

The Werewolf’s Wife by Michelle Hauf, Harlequin Nocturne, 2012

Almost Everything “A Vampire Princess” novel by Tate Hallaway, New American Library pb, Feb 2012

When Blood Calls by J. K. Beck, Bantam pb, Sept. 2010

Fair Game by Patricia Briggs, Ace HC, March 2012

Dead Waters by Anton Strout, Ace Fantasy pb, March 2011

License To Ensorcell by Katharine Kerr, DAW pb, Feb 2011

Last month we finished a series of columns with novels on Justice, all about our culture’s notions of Justice.  Some writers are able to dig into the occult roots of Justice because the market is allowing writers to create long series of novels about a set of characters living through cycles of Saturn, the impact of Pluto over the Natal Sun, etc.

So this month let’s focus on the 4 of Pentacles as one manifestation of Jupiter.  I wrote extensively about this Tarot card in a blog post (which will be in a book series on Tarot) at

What has the 4 of Pentacles to do with Justice?  You might think “Miser” when you see the image, but don’t stop thinking!  Here’s a short quote from my post on this card.

“Words get redefined continuously -- that's the nature of a "living" language, and it's a good thing. But it sometimes makes it hard to communicate across generations.

“The slippery word to grapple with under 4 Pentacles is probably "conservative."

“Politics and religion have ladled layers of non-meaning on top of the core concept there. It may take some thinking to strip away the negative semantic loading (the emotional content of the word) and begin thinking within the 4 Pentacles domain of definition.

“Remember the 4's are all associated with the astrological meaning of the planet Jupiter which rules Sagittarius (ever so much about truth and honesty, painful blurt-it-out honesty).

“Jupiter is about growth, expansion, reaching out to include (Saturn being about exclusion), and thus the Law (or legal courts system, 9th House), social order and organization.

“Jupiter is about how things go your way when you "go with the flow" -- and thus about "luck," which is the result of being in the right place at the right time.

“So what's Luck to do with "conservative?"

“Ah, well it's hard to grow if everything you add gets thrown away before you add the next thing.”

"Conservative" means to preserve, or keep. It doesn't mean to not-change or undo change, go backwards. It means to BUILD, GROW, systematically improve toward a goal by adding to what has been built, to include as Jupiter symbolizes.

One of the defining features of living things is growth, and that’s done by eating, consuming, by including. 

Jupiter is about the life function of including.  The result of inclusion (4 Pentacles, Jupiter) is change and Justice, not miserliness or selfishness as traditionally taught.  What you include, changes you.  You may save it as fat or expend it as muscular energy to move and thus to change your environment.  Conserving changes you which changes the world. 

One type of veil around occult secrets is founded on misdirection and obfuscation as we discussed in Feb. 2012, The False Hobson’s Choice.  The biggest such secret, especially in Kabbalah, is the meaning of Life.  What’s the point of living?  What’s the objective?

The answers can be divided into two categories both founded on visions of what a perfect human civilization would look like. 

One vision is rooted in the idea that a human being is just an animal.  To discover the ideal human society’s shape, and the full potential of any civilization formed of such societies, you must study the social structure of Great Apes and other mammals.  See how the animals behave?  That’s the “natural” human condition, and everything we’ve done to ourselves to alter that behavior is a violation of the essential truth of what it is to be human.  Such violation is Evil.  “Human Rights” means to eliminate such violations. 

The other set of answers is rooted in the occult vision of the human being as an animal vehicle carrying a human soul into the world through the dimension of Time.  See my columns of early 2007 titled The Soul-Time Hypothesis.

And the discussion is extended in 2008:

In the “just an animal” vision, we thrive and grow best when herded by an alpha leader who eliminates defective members or those who compete for leadership, and who decides where the group will graze, and when to breed.  The entire purpose of all the furious activity of this group is to survive as a group, to propagate life.  Life itself is the end objective, the purpose. 

In the “vehicle of the Soul” vision, we thrive and grow best when unique individuals make their quirky life-choices, doing their own thing, following this leader a while, then leading others here and there, learning, questioning, acquiring and conserving knowledge, skills, lore.  Star Trek embodied this into the Vulcan philosophy of I.D.I.C. (Infinite Diversity In Infinite Combinations.) 

The purpose of all this striving for independence of other humans is to drive spiritual lessons deep into the Soul where they will be conserved after death. 

The Soul grows and then chooses a new life. 

Different cultures which acknowledge the Soul have found different reasons for the cycle of births the Soul rides.  In Kabbalah, the purpose is to create, transform, and change this world into a dwelling place for the Creator of All.

In short, the purpose of the Animal is to survive and propagate, while the purpose of the Soul is to change the structure of reality to incorporate the Divine (Wands, Fire) into the Material (Pentacles, Earth). 

One can make the case that the Soul or Higher Consciousness, Conservation, Justice and Truth are identical because they are all “9th House” or Jupiter manifestations.

Now, what has all this to do with Vampire novels?  The modern Vampire novel arises from a changing, growing (living) body of lore about Love, Good vs. Evil, Right vs. Wrong, and now about incorporation of Werewolves, Vampires and the Supernatural into ordinary reality.  Could, Would or Should we “give” Human rights to Werewolves or Vampires?  Are “Human Rights” ours to “Give?”  To answer that, answer, “Are Vampires etc. Alive?”  Can you be alive and immortal?  Is the supernatural really just an ordinary part of our lives and we just didn’t know it? 

Here are 7 examples of novels, many in series, that turn these questions around, upside down, inside out, and spin them into endlessly fascinating fabrics of knotty questions.  Taken as a group, these novels shake your certainties about your Identity and your Reality. 

First a self-published ebook with a dynamite concept, Interview With A Jewish Vampire by Erica Manfred.  When I read it, it needed another copyediting, but it delivers a laugh a minute while addressing infinite issues.  

Moon Dance by J. R. Rain is a self-published ebook I picked up free on Amazon, but it’s worth a few dollars. J. R. Rain is self-publishing after a career as a Private Investigator and experience writing screenplays in Hollywood.  Moon Dance is about a suburban housewife/mother who has been turned into a Vampire, and reinvents herself as a private eye.

Michelle Hauf, one of my favorite writers, has a Harlequin Nocturne, The Werewolf’s Wife, werewolves and vampires complicated by a drunken Las Vegas Wedding.

Almost Everything is “A Vampire Princess” novel by acclaimed author Tate Hallaway, about a teen girl, half-witch and half-vampire in a world (almost a cliché now) where witches and vampires are enemies, and witches use vampires to extend their lives.

When Blood Calls by J. K. Beck, is actually copyright Julie Kenner, and is a Paranormal Romance about an attorney who is assigned to prosecute Vampires, Werewolves and other “creatures of the night.”  I got this one from the Amazon Vine reviewer’s program.

Don’t miss Patricia Briggs’ ongoing werewolf Alpha and Omega series, Fair Game being a recent entry.

And Anton Strout’s Simon Canderous series now including Dead Waters, is terrific Urban Fantasy with supernatural incorporated into the legal system.

For another take on Werewolves and the Urban Fantasy vision of our normal world infused with supernatural creatures, try Katharine Kerr’s DAW fantasy series about Nola O’Grady.  Here’s License to Ensorcell.  Told in Nola’s   sassy first-person voice, this one plays on the ridiculous humor of the situation as Interview With A Jewish Vampire also does.  License to Ensorcell opens when Nola gets out of the shower and sees an Angel – scratching his butt!  And she wonders if Angels can itch.  What is really there?  Kerr draws us into her supernatural world with a trail of such delicious questions that tickle a part of the mind you didn’t know you had. 

To send books for review in this column email Jacqueline Lichtenberg, for snailing instructions or send an attached RTF file.  



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