I don’t know how often I have been reading a book or watching a show and something has just clicked. Sometimes, fiction can play a huge part in my beliefs and understanding.
For example, Avatar: The Last Airbender taught me a lot about the elements and taking care of the spiritual self. I really want to do the meditation that the guru teaches Aang for clearing out the chakras.
Another example is the Elemental Masters series by Mercedes Lackey. I learned a lot about shielding, protecting, and working with Elementals from this wonderful lady. Not to mention that I just love this woman (and she suggests that amateur writers should write fan fiction, which is amazing).
T*Witches, while being very fantasy-like, has a lot of good information and the ninth book (at least my copy of it) even has a sort of encyclopedia of basic Craft/Wicca knowledge in the back. There are also levels of initiation and a well grounded community. It makes me think that the authors really know their stuff.
Poison Study and the rest of the trilogy by Maria V. Snyder is also really good. I learned about working with energy and pulling from the “blanket” of energy working across the Universe. It has helped to shape my understanding of Magic and Symbols a lot.
The Sweep series by Cate Tiernan (and her other series that I don’t remember the name of) are about very coven based magic and it’s a really great introductory to the religion. They’re definitely written for Middle Grade, so it’s a really easy and quick read, but the books are pretty accurate (to a point, I mean it needed something to give it that umph). You can also see a lot about ritual, tools, and the community in them.
The Magic Circle and the Circle Opens quartets were also some really great element/energy working books. They all do a very hedge witch like type of magic, which perhaps has helped to shape my magic preferences. Briar is all about earth and growing things, Daja uses smithcraft, and Sandry uses fibre arts. Trisana is a “weather witch” and her magic is very grounded in finding her center and relaxing. There are some really great meditations used int he series which have helped me get in touch with my own magic.
Lastly, and my least favorite of these is The House of Night series by P.C. and Kristen Cast. The writing and plot really goes downhill after the fourth one (I’m pretty sure P.C. just passed the novel off to her daughter and said “go for it”) but there’s a lot of ritual magic, lore, and god/goddess worship. P.C. definitely knows her stuff and makes it pretty down to earth (even if it’s steeped in horrible teen angst and love triangles with her teacher… blech). P.C. Cast’s earlier series, which begins with Divine by Blood, is much better writing and might help you see your inner god/goddess and help you connect more clearly with them (especially if you don’t mind her trysts with a centaur).
What about you? Does Fiction affect/help/hinder your understanding of Paganism?