Sunday, June 7, 2009

Magical Deryni Priest

Katherine Kurtz' books are full of priests. Not just your ordinary Sunday morning Father, but magical, mystical, anointed, glowing priests. Sacramental priesthood (there are no Protestants in Katherine's books) has a mystique which wafts us through high ritual, complete with elaborate vestments, drifting incense, golden chalices, carved altars, and glittering jewels. And not only that, some of these priests are secretly Deryni, and have psychic-magical powers on top of sacramental magical powers. In the Deryni's world, though, Deryni are barred from the priesthood, so those who do manage to get ordained have to hide it, or else they meet an unfortunate and messy fate. 

Katherine Kurtz' fans are full of priests, too. Some of them are mainstream Episcopalians, but most of them belong to the myriad mini-congregations of "independent Catholicism," which allows women and openly gay men to be priests. Many, perhaps most of these independent groups are esoterically inclined, so the magical mystique of priesthood continues outside the fantasy fiction. This has been going on long before Katherine K wrote her fiction. You can see a sample of this in the early twentieth-century Theosophical classic, "The Science of the Sacraments," in which the Catholic Mass takes on a psychedelic shimmer. 

This drawing of a Deryni priest emitting a halo of magical light was done in June 1992 and was displayed and bought at a convention where Katherine Kurtz was the author guest of honor. My art catalog records say that the piece is owned by Kurtz, given to her by a fan. It's colored pencil and gouache accents on brown paper, 7" x 10". 


Mary said...

Ooh, this one is very striking. The metallic highlights seem like the kind of too-bright reflections you want to look away from in real life. And the figure, as a sort of dark presence in all that light, seems mysterious and a little spooky. This is great.

Tristan Alexander said...

Was this done after I "taught" you to work on colored paper? It is a very striking picture.

Pyracantha said...

Mary: The metallic highlights may have been over-charged by the transcription process, which tends to add too much contrast. Or perhaps it was me adding too much contrast, trying to bring out the figure and face. My old slide wasn't very good. I may try to find the original at my friend Katherine's house. She may have lost it by now in her move from Ireland to the USA.
Tristan, this was done around the time when you showed me how nice drawings on colored paper could look, so, basically, yes, you helped me a lot here and thanks.