Epoch’s Spring Issue 05: Unholy to be released 1 March, 2022

From the 1st of September we’ll be accepting creative nonfiction submissions surrounding concepts of ‘Unholy’!

Before submitting your creative nonfiction writing, artwork or music, please be sure to check out What We Publish and visit our Submissions page for details about our guidelines. 

Contributor Payment

Epoch Press is committed to paying contributors. At present, we offer authors and artists of accepted contributions their choice of:

A. £15 per accepted piece


B. £5 plus a contributor copy (and international shipping) per accepted piece.

We’re artists and writers ourselves; we know your work has value and exposure doesn’t pay the bills. Epoch Press is a brand new, independent publishing press with low funds but big goals. Paying contributors well is a crucial tenet of our long-term plan, and the amount we offer for accepted submissions will increase with our budget.

Featured Author

In addition to the standard payment for each contributing author, we will select one piece of writing in every issue and this author will be awarded an additional £25 prize. This selection will be our ‘Feature’ for that issue, and made available to the public on our website (as well as published in the journal).

We offer this featured story so that potential readers or subscribers have an opportunity to connect with and evaluate a piece that we believe represents that issue.

Cover Art

All Art submissions will also be considered as the Cover Art for that issue. While the standard payment for contributing artists is £15, our cover artist will be awarded £25. 

Please visit our Submissions page for more details.

What does Unholy mean?

‘Unholy’ (adj.): Not holy; impious, profane, wicked.

In order to define what it is not, we must look first to what ‘holy’ is: Holy is to be consecrated, dedicated and sacred. Holy is to be held is veneration and reverence. In terms of Christian use, Holy is to be free from all contamination of sin and evil; to be morally and spiritually perfect and unsullied. Holy is to be a person esteemed for their virtues. Holy persons are saints. Holy places are sanctuaries; such as the inner part of any temple, or an innermost shrine.

We asked our staff what unholy meant to them, and hopefully their responses will inspire all you creatives for the upcoming issue.

“I want to read stories that destroy our innermost shrines, that delve into the dualities of its characters. I want to hear music that speaks to the evils of this world. I want to see artwork that is blasphemous, impious, and irreverent.”

“I’m excited for the stories that explore faith in all its many forms; the stories that flesh out our falls from grace; the stories that bring to light our paths back to grace, both inside and outside religion. I want to read about your rituals, your spells and hexes, your darkest manifestations. Bring us your music of redemption and freedom, your art that evokes the complexity of your sacred experience; send us your poetry that digs deep into your well of sin.”

“For me, ‘unholy’ isn’t necessarily a religious idea – I see it more as anathema, as something that runs contrary to the natural order. ‘Unholy’ is capitalism scorching the earth. It’s the end of nature. It’s parasitism. It’s human misery.”

“When I hear the word “unholy”, I think of cultural and societal upbringings. And with that, the expectations that are thrust upon many of us; wholly subjective opinions that are so often posed as objective truths.I’d love to read stories and poems that explore the things you have learned and aim to unlearn. The guilt, shame, realization, pride, and liberation you may feel when pushing back against certain values that you were taught were the “right” or “only” way. I’d love to see art or hear music that explores the theme’s dichotomy, like how being unholy in the eyes of some can actually be the holiest way to live your truth, or how “sinful” acts can, in fact, feel like a holy experience.”

“For me it prompts ideas of societal norms and rules and fighting back against them, finding freedom but also risking becoming an outcast in the processes in the way witchcraft has often prompted tales of female empowerment.”
-Ellie D.

“When I first heard ‘Unholy’, I did think of the religious element, but after thinking about it for a little longer, I saw it more as ‘conflict of identity’. As Cara noted further up in the chat, ‘unholy’ can be described as ‘wicked’, compared to ‘holy’ which is ‘spiritually perfect’ and ‘free from all contamination of sin’ – these words remind me of historically negative associations about identity, specifically sexuality.‘Unholy’ could be a great way for people to explore all aspects of their identity, that has historically been demonised, offering a way of self expression and reflection.”

“As in Outrageous, an unholy hour, an unholy racket. Exaggeration of annoyance and inconvenience. Interesting, particularly as we live in a world of convenience. As in Immoral, this expands out of the religious connotations. There is the clear connection to religious morality. But there’s plenty of structures for morality to explore, most individuals have values and principles. That’s a gateway to true immorality, without values and principles, groups of people/organisations/companies. You’ve then got individualism versus collectivism. Right vs wrong. As in not pure. This is the most versatile I think. There’s religious impurity. Sexual impurity, and what that even is and how it effects etc. A pure tone or pitch in music, versus impure. The idea of tainted versus untainted. Uncontaminated, thought, water, air. And my personal favourite, pure vs impure dog breeds. Righteous vs unrighteous. By what are we measuring righteousness? The question of what is sacred.”

“My immediate response to the ‘Unholy’ is to think of the Unheimlich, the uncanny (although it’s a difficult word to translate): something which is familiar and old-established in the mind and which has become alienated from it only through the process of repression. Alienation is something I’m obsessed with, and it’s a concept that could be taken into so many different directions; there is so many ways in which art can force us to reconsider that which we had taken for granted as the norm by approaching it as an alien concept. This could be eerie and unsettling, but it doesn’t need to be. I’m really excited to see what everyone comes up with.”

“The term ‘unholy’ always strikes me as one of those words that people use to end an argument or force a point. With ‘unholy’ specifically it’s that word people use to forcibly invalidate a right to do or exist. You could (for a long time) not argue for something that is deemed ‘unholy’ because being holy was of penultimate cosmic and philosophical importance. Ever since the modernist period, though, this idea of holy and unholy being black and white and all important has been questioned. Now, well, now we see the unholy celebrated as much as we see it demonised. I stumbled across a book the other day, that I have not read, titled How to be a bad Christian…and a Better Human Being (by Dave Tomlinson, a vicar). Even within some religious communities the idea of being the holiest you can be is being set aside to focus on humanity. Holy is to some what evil is to others.”

“The theme ‘Unholy’ extends a soft palm, welcoming explorations of identity when measured against expectation, jurisdiction, and resolve. For me, as others have also noted, the word is suggestive of impurity and thus provides ample opportunity to share stories, poems, artwork and music that capture the essence of baptism that comes with purifying or indeed, contaminating oneself. Somewhat similar to the previous issue’s ‘Transition’, we’re going to be looking for pieces that are suggestive of a journey; whether that be in respect to sexuality, religion, society or that which is held sacred in the eye of the beholder.”

“As someone who identified as religious until recently, the theme “Unholy” sounds like freedom to me. It looks like wicked smiles, tastes like delicious secrets. It’s getting to be everything I was told not to be, and  knowing who I am through my own sovereignty. I’m hoping to read and see work that is indulgent, irreverent, and which explores the joy and humor of choosing unholiness.”

“‘Unholy’ is a visceral word. When I utter it to myself it conjures the sting of salt, an orange fire burning in a wood, a movement caught out the corner of an eye, a storm in a desert. It is the undoing of something, a reversal of a state or a state of belief, it’s the exhale after a long inwards breath, something felt in the mind and body. Unholy is something liminal, something unseen or unheard that happens when the rest of the world is dark, sleeping. It is dark, lustrous, alluring, the feeling of doing something you shouldn’t and the desire to know how bad it can really be if you do. Unholy to me is the return to a natural state of being after a period of restriction/doctrine or strict set of beliefs, it is closer to the self, to nature, to instinct itself.”