RobertJRGraham.com Interviews Gwendolyn Taunton, author of Kratos: The Hellenic Tradition
Can you tell us about yourself, and why you’re fascinated with ancient mythology?
I’ve actually been fascinated with ancient history and mythology for as long as I can remember. The first books I hired from the library as a child were on Ancient Greece and Egypt. In regards to mythology it’s like a fascinating excursion back through both literature and psychology; all of the greatest stories and most important pieces of wisdom have already been told. Some people may find it strange that I reference psychology here, but the vast majority of myths (including modern religious texts) contain material that is meant to convey worldly wisdom to the reader. It’s much like imparting training for what we call ‘emotional intelligence’ or the EQ today. Perversely, as humanity becomes more technologically advanced, people seem to become more detached from the arts and social sciences; as we advance in one area we seem to take massive steps backward in another.
You’ve written several books, 8 that I’m aware of. What inspires you?
I’m inspired by literally everything – films, music, books, art, nature – sometimes even really simple things like colours or flowers. It’s very sudden and random, much like the idea of the epiphany. Everything has a different story it has to tell, and in a bizarre way, they all fit together perfectly. I’ve always thought that the real artist could appreciate the uniqueness in every individual organism and recognise it, so I guess my inspiration comes from partly from aesthetics and perception.
What is Kratos: The Hellenic Tradition about?
Kratos: The Hellenic Tradition is about a number of different topics which share a common heritage in Greek culture and Tradition. The book deals with a number of topics, such as archaeology, mythology, Homer, magic & divination in Greek Tradition, Friedrich Nietzsche’s use of Apollo & Dionysus, Eleusinian Mysteries , Goddesses such as Aphrodite, Persephone & Hecate, and articles relating to Hellenismos to name but a few subjects.
Do you consider it a textbook, guidebook, or story?
It’s probably closest to being a textbook, though I like to think of it more as a ‘journal’. A lot of the work is academic/tertiary level but I’ve tried to keep it from becoming too ‘dry’. Though it is academic in essence, I try to arrange the content so that it has wider appeal than just a purely university based market. Essentially I like to try to bridge the gap between the academic and the educated home reader.
You are the proud recipient of the Ashton Wylie Award for Literary Excellence. How does that feel, and has it helped your writing career?
Well, that was very useful to say the least. Once you have an award people start to treat you very differently in the literary world. It’s not the same as being a best-selling author either…a person can sell a lot of books and still be a bad writer, because these days it’s all in the marketing. An award is different because it means you have been officially recognised as having talent. One is commercial value; the other is recognition of intellectual and/or artistic merit. Once you have an award, it’s an official recognition of value from professionals in the industry.
You’ve done work with fiction: the H. P. Lovecraft Collection and the Poetry/Prose Anthology Melpomene. What does that work focus on?
Those works both focus on fiction, in particular the ‘darker’ side – one via horror, the other though the school of the ‘Damned Poets’ and others who wrote poetry in a similar style such as William Blake and Edgar Allan Poe. In the case of Mythos it is a collection of Lovecraft’s best works along with new contributions from other talented authors. Melpomene is another anthology, with an emphasis on the Decadent/Fin de siècle style of poetry. I’d like to return to fiction again soon. Next time however, it won’t be an anthology but shall be purely an idea of my own, which is perhaps a synthesis of both – a bit of Lovecraft, and a bit of the Fin de siècle with some other elements thrown in.
Your writing is rather prolific, touching on topics such as mythology, spirituality and religion: Mimir & Primordial Traditions. After all of this writing and research, what have you learned about humanity?
The most important thing I’ve learned is that humanity doesn’t understand itself very well, and that almost all problems arise not from actions of ‘moral evil’ but from errors of judgement. Most acts of ‘evil’ do not have a moral judgement as their primary cause, but rather a faulty perception where they are ignorant of the consequences of their own actions. Evil is rare, but ignorance is common. When humans do something bad, it’s usually due to ignorance. Most people are actually good underneath it all. They just genuinely don’t understand how their actions generate problems for others – if anything, ignorance is humanities original ‘sin’.
Gwendolyn Taunton also has a forthcoming book titled: The Tantrik Tradition. Watch for it.