Review:  Blood of the Goddess

by William Schindler

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Aelred's Sin by Lawrence Scott

Fruit Basket by Payam Ghassemlou

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Princes & Pumpkins by David Hatfield Sparks

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Kali as Vampire

Yes by Brad Boney
Blood of the Goddess

By William Schindler

Xlibris, January 10, 2001
pages, Trade paperback, $22.99

Available new from Xlibris: Blood of the Goddess

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Blood of the Goddess

Also in digital format for Kindle

5 stars

Blood of the Goddessis a remarkable novel: a work of mystical writing, an introduction to Tantric Hindu mysticism and myth, a series of various ecstatic raptures, a lush travelogue of India, a meditation on death and dying and the existence of the soul and the accesses to higher consciousness—and all wrapped into a vampire novel. It's Christopher Isherwood's Sri Ramakrishna meets Anne Rice's Vampire Lestat—or the other way around. Seriously, though, this is a beautifully written, if somewhat unsettling, horror novel that places the whole horror genre into its place in the history of religions.

William Schindler is an Indianologist and practitioner and teacher of Tantric Hinduism. He runs an ashram in Los Angeles. He has done numerous posts and videos on the Internet about Tantra. This is not the sexy pop fad Tantra to teach people how to use yoga to improve their sex lives. Schindler's Tantra is serious theology coming out of a millennium-old ascetical and monastic tradition.

Here's a link to Schindler on YouTube:

Hindu gods and goddesses traditionally have both a beneficent and a wrathful appearance, often also both male and female consort of manifestation. The wrathful, female side of Shiva is the goddess Kali. Shiva is the creator, Kali the destroyer. Kali is the Blissful Mother Goddess who cradles and suckles her children, leading them ultimately to liberation. But she is also often shown wearing garlands of human heads with blood dropping from her mouth. For Kali is the mythical manifestation of "nature, red in tooth and claw" and of the simple reality of time. Kali is the Great Mother who by giving birth in human flesh dooms her children to physical decay and death. Death is part of life. Our
words "thugs" and "assassins" come from the history of death and murder cults in India who in one way or another explained their violence as manifestation or worship of the Goddess Kali.

William Schindler has worked the Eastern European myth of the blood-sucking, undead vampire into this historical tradition. His first-person character is a gay man who falls in love with a strikingly handsome but mysterious character he meets in the year 1612 in India where his job as a merchant marine has taken him.  This stranger reveals to the merchant marine that he is an immortal being and that they were lovers in a previous incarnation. He leads him then into the Himalayas where he himself then becomes an immortal, a "vampire" through a mystical, bloodletting experience with the Goddess herself that takes the initiate beyond space and time. Some 300 years pass and our newly-inducted immortal comes out of the cave, leaves India and moves to New York. There's much more to the story, but it is the mythical/mystical philosophy that stands out. Our protagonist "vampire" learns that his role as taker of lives is an almost "angelic" function; it is to bring the gift of death to those who are karmically ready to go or stuck in an incarnation they need out of. He's more like the wolves who improve the life of the herd by taking the sick and dying than serial murderer—though there is a glorification of death and anonymous random murder in this novel that is unsettling, even if it is recognizably religious.

Coincidentally/synchronistically, I have been reading Jeffrey J Kripal's Roads of Excess, Palaces of Wisdom at the same time as Blood of the Goddess. Kripal's major argument is that writing—and reading—about mysticism is itself a kind of mystical practice. William Schindler's book really demonstrates this point. There isn't a lot of plot in this novel, but there is a lot of mystical experience and shared insight into the nature of consciousness. When Schindler's blood-drinking immortal takes a life, it is to incorporate that life into his own immortality and his own experience of oneness with the Goddess. He brings rapture and completion and relief to his "victims" and, in their experience of passing over, experiences the mystical oneness himself.

There's nothing really gory in this book, just as there is nothing particularly sexual, even though sex and gore surround the story. It's a beautiful expression of visionary experience. Fans of traditional vampire horror novels might find it slow, too talky and woo-woo. But fans of Ramakrishna's might likely find it rapturous and inspiring. And certainly fans of Jeffrey Kripal's will find it solid evidence of Kripal's comparative religion and modern gnosticism.

Reviewed by Toby Johnson, author of
Secret Matter, Getting Life in Perspective and other novels and books

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Toby Johnson, PhD is author of eight books: three non-fiction books that apply the wisdom of his teacher and "wise old man," Joseph Campbell to modern-day social and religious problems, three gay genre novels that dramatize spiritual issues at the heart of gay identity, and two books on gay men's spiritualities and the mystical experience of homosexuality. In addition to the novels featured elsewhere in this web site, Johnson is author of IN SEARCH OF GOD IN THE SEXUAL UNDERWORLD and THE MYTH OF THE GREAT SECRET (Revised edition): AN APPRECIATION OF JOSEPH CAMPBELL.

Johnson's Lammy Award winning book GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness was published in 2000. His Lammy-nominated book  GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe was published by Alyson in 2003. Both books are available now from Lethe Press.

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