Lately I’ve been thinking about the overlaps between historical fiction (my main genre), fantasy, Visionary Fiction, and metaphysical. There is a new term emerging in publishing that describes such overlaps as cross-genre writing or genre-blending. All three of the genres I mentioned are present in the stories I write about ancient Mayas, whose culture blended spirituality with everyday life. Their world-view was a cosmic one, in which movements of planets and stars, sun and moon, deeply influenced lives of humans. The Mayas conceptualized the world in three dimensions—Underworld, Middleworld, Upperworld—connected by a world tree giving shamans access to all. Shaman-rulers journeyed between these dimensions to seek guidance from deities and ancestors, create or break spells, and foresee the future. Underworld Death Lords and Upperworld Star Ancestors interacted with humans; frequently depicted in Mayan art. Mayas invoked potent celestial events, such as Venus rising, to empower them in conflicts. Solar and lunar eclipses were predicted and used to augment the powers of elites and priests.
Maya mural of underworld beings, feathered serpent, and demon deities
When writing fiction about indigenous cultures, where is the line between history, fantasy, paranormal, Visionary Fiction, and metaphysical? Ancient belief systems beheld inter-relations between dimensions of reality. Those properly trained could journey to other realms and interact with denizens of other worlds. From a scientific-materialistic view, such happenings are considered hallucinations or an overactive imagination. Indigenous peoples traditionally use mind-altering substances and practices to expand their consciousness, deliberately entering altered states for spiritual purposes. Were their experiences simply over-excited brain neurochemicals, or actual movements into another reality?
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