Monday, June 10, 2019

Fairies of the Oneirean

Before there was the earth, before there was reality and before the concept of reality was even a twitch in the sleeping face of Azatho- er, metaphysics, before there were elements and molecules and matter and tissue, there was dream.

It was dream, which was the prelude for existence, which may seem paradoxical but that's simply how things go. The bones of physics were still embryonic cartilage fibers floating towards each other. Chemistry was a protoplasmic blubber that had maybe decided on an element or two. Time was a diffuse and undifferentiated mass of stem-hours. However, no matter how protean, it could do that one thing that remains to us when we die, and thus is privy to us before we are born as well. In that sleep, these Dreams may come. No premonitions, but rather irrational, romantic and rather absurd musings on soon-to-be existence. Imagine that you read excerpts from history books and fables alike to a child, whilst you fed it paintings by Spanish surrealists and played The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult through Pink Floyd's Ummagumma album in reverse. While it's true that you have probably ruined a perfectly edible child, if you were to make highly skillful paintings of whatever the child says when you ask it to recount those histories you've told it, you'd have a good impression of the Oneirean, the Dream Before Time.

As may be expected, in this curious time there were dream-humans as well. Those were elves, who got a lot less interesting once they had the Red Queen to answer to. However, there were also dream-more-than-humans. Whether they were kings, (demi)gods, wizards, wasn't very clear because those are the same kind of thing. Powerful creatures. Fantastical, eccentric and larger-than-life things.


Art by Akiya Kageichi

Faries are still around, now, after the world was born, along with other relicts of the Oneirean, and while they're not strictly speaking the most powerful beings to exist in the higher and lower spheres, they are certainly the oldest, and they are the ones that make the least sense. That's a sort of power, since it could be argued that the fewer rules apply to you, the more powerful you are. They don't tend to cater to the world's logic, in the same away that the memories of a bizarre dream may confuse the mind when it is awake. They don't have clear goals or wants most of the time either, and when they do the logic behind them is nihil. It's obvious that fairies see something else than the world as it is when they look around. This leads some to think that they are pre- or omniscient, and other to think they are absolutely fucking insane. In truth they are a little of both.

Their appearance is surreal. They'll always have a humanoid face, but more often than not it is a painted one or otherwise merely for display purposes. Anything they touch vibrates to produce a tinkling song. The more emotive, romantic and mysterious the airs, the more coherently they'll form. They borrow shapes. Fabrics, auroras, ocean waves, but also less abstract things like shoes, hands, clothing. Whatever they are, they always have an acute sense of aesthetics. They are known to mimic this in each other too, and they are known to never take the forms of humans that they have not taken as payment. But they can look very, very human. Looks are, as always, deceiving.

Art by Remedios Varo
A fairie will never address you by your actual name. It will not address you by any name that makes or will make sense either. When remarking something about you it will never describe qualities you actually have. It will sometimes ignore you entirely at random intervals, but sometimes to will pay attention to you so closely the feeling of its eyes lingers on you for days. It may speak to someone you cannot see. It will not recognise any status, it will not be impressed by any display of power.

It will however, listen to drama. Theatrics and high emotion seem to be the only language that can bridge the gap between everything mortal and everything fairie. In fact, such things catch the attention of fairies whether the participants seek it or not. Troubadours and travelling players are often accompanied by fairies, and they have learned to somewhat coexist with them by mostly ignoring them and never, ever asking them for anything.

Art by Remedios Varo
Fairies will never respond to bargains, or strike deals, or negotiate. If you ask for something or state a demand to them, they will start acting a scene or a play with you, one that isn't written down or in any way communicated with you. Or they'll mimic you, but things will change in their mimicry. Or they'll monologue about something you don't see the relevance of. In the process of this they may give you something you want, something you find strange, or something awfully outlandish. They'll do something. At some point, the fairie's gift will make a change. For better or worse. 

What they want will only ever become clear in the very instance that you are able to give it to them, and before that happens they'll simply show up in your vicinity, your dreams, or not at all. There is one human gesture that they understand, they they seem to have divined from centuries of existing tangentially to the history of man: the open, imploring hand. "Gimmie." Fairies never ask for material riches, they seem to have a knack for demanding things that have emotional value. Your memory. Your love. Your sadness. Your hope. Your despair. Your daughter or your son, be they only just born, eight, or eightteen. Your childhood friend. Your one true love. Your awful ex. They might want the traumatic scar on your heart, or the one thing that keeps you going, the fear you ran from all your life, or the thing you worked all your life to achieve. When they ask, they'll overthrow your life. They'll change you. They'll make you or they'll break you when you see that open hand.

The things they'll take, they'll take to the few remaining fragments of the Dream, scattered throughout spacetime. They have their own rituals to do, to reminisce of the old times, trapped in an ever deepening sad nostaligia. They'll hold tea parties with humans - many of them children - that were given up to them, or have them fight wars against each other, or do whatever else they used to do in the Dream.

The people given to them will never die. Even when they return.

Art by Leonora Carrington