I’ve always liked stories with battles of good versus evil. I’m a sucker for Harry Potter. That has to tell you something. But what if the battle is good versus an old friend who turned not-so-good–who did bad things? And the good guy wants to go home–to Heaven, but his friend feels right at home here on Earth. That’s how my novel Fallen Angels niggled its way into my head.
When I was growing up, my mom switched churches every few years. We were Lutherans for a while, did a brief stint as Jehovah Witnesses until they told Mom she had to give up her pierced earrings and cigarettes, and then went liberal when she joined a Presbyterian church. I didn’t go to see it, but I listened to her tell about getting dunked when she became a Seventh Day Adventist. I could see the good in each and every one of Mom’s choices, what appealed to her–she had a real fondness for ministers who preached about the proximity of the Last Days–but my dad was an atheist, and Mom’s devotion was somewhat fickle, even though her faith was constant, so I didn’t get too attached to one church over another. But one of them had an idea that really appealed to me. It was their idea of Heaven.
This church taught that there were seven layers to Heaven. Only a very few people made it to the very top. That was reserved for those souls who chose to tune in completely to their spiritual side. They were happy and fulfilled just contemplating Goodness and what was holy and had no need for earthly pleasures. Me, I’m not that girl. When I think of heaven, I think of gourmet meals with no calories and wine that won’t make me slap-happy stupid. I think of perfect weather (mid-70’s, of course), and maybe a lush garden overflowing with flowers and veggies, a vineyard, and endless orchards. My friend calls me a nature girl, and I might be, but I’d like a great nightclub too, with dancing and laughing. And I want something to do. I get fidgety sitting around, twiddling my thumbs.
Mom swore that there was a level for people like me–people who love this Earth–if it were perfected. She wasn’t quite sure if I’d end up on ladder rung five or six, but I didn’t care. I was just glad there was a spot for me, a place where I could frolic in the meadow where the lion lies down with the lamb.
I’ve thought about those seven layers every now and then. I know who’d go on the bottom level–people with few redeeming qualities who’ve hurt their fellow man, people with a lot to learn about spiritual growth before they climb to level two. I know who’s at the top, and I’m not jealous of their exalted position. And the middle–well, it’s just like plotting my novels–it’s muddled until I have to deal with it. But the thing is, thinking about Heaven has made me realize what I think Nirvana is. Mine is closer to the perfect Earth than angels playing harps. And I don’t seem to be the only one who likes my home planet.
I just read the story of Lillith, Adam’s first wife before she swapped him out for the archangel Samael. She left the Garden of Eden to be with him and later became the first succubus, one of the original queens of the demons. I’m not sure where Lillith eventually called home, but I’m thinking it’s not Heaven. And she seems to be able to visit Earth whenever she needs to suck out a life force or two, so I’m guessing she likes it enough here. This view of demons is one of the things I really enjoy in Sharon Ashwood’s the Dark Forgotten series. There are good demons, sort of good demons, and really nasty ones. They’re portrayed sort of the way angels are. There are good angels, fallen angels, and ones who’ve turned really, really bad.
In the Bible, in Genesis, angels leave Heaven to come to Earth when they see the first women. Nothing good comes of that. Monsters are born, and it took a flood to dispose of them, but Lucifer was dissatisfied with Heaven too. Of course, Lucifer is nothing but trouble. I won’t even go there, but there are plenty of stories of fallen angels. Some are shown as tragic, heroic figures. Others, instigators of no good. But all of them struggle with their own inner demons. Some succumb. Some don’t. And that’s what gave birth to Fallen Angels. Enoch likes Heaven. Caleb likes Earth. And they each feel loyal to the other, in their own ways. That makes them feel torn. Part of the human condition. And maybe the heavenly one too.