The Dreaming, Revisited

Someone complained that the post I made about The Dreaming was difficult to understand. Sorry about that! I hope this post is more helpful.ctd

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m preparing a post on Arcadia in the the world of Changeling. It has been about 15 years since I last played Changeling, and I have forgotten a lot of the details of the world. (A few friends and I are restarting this new year, though, some of us for the first time. Let’s see how that goes!) Because I have forgotten much, I’m rereading some of the Changeling books (which I’ve always held on to), and I found this description of The Dreaming that is probably a better introduction. What follows is from the Introduction of the book Dreams and Nightmares (published in 1997), pages 6 to 8.  Hopefully this clarifies things! How the world of Arcadia fits into this I will write about in my next post.

The Dreaming

When we were children, the Dreaming was always near. We knew, with complete and utter conviction, that there were monsters hiding under the bed and lurking in our closets. We knew that Santa Claus was coming to bring us gifts, even when we weren’t quite as good as we should have been. We knew that Halloween would bring us candy and scares, and that, somewhere out there, the real monsters were moving through the night, waiting to catch us alone in the chill of an Autumn evening.

As we grow older, the Dreaming becomes less real. The beastie hiding in the closet is only the floorboards settling. Santa is a lovely fantasy, but he brings gifts only to children. Halloween is a fabulous excuse for a party, a chance to throw eggs at doors or toilet-paper the home of the old biddy down the street who always scowls when she sees you…and maybe a chance to steal a kiss while pretending to be someone you forgot you were going to be when you grew up. Paychecks, taxes, bills and the remnants of half-forgotten wishes litter the road ahead of us and behind. Somewhere along the way, we forget the best parts, except when we’re feeling sentimental over a lukewarm beer. The Easter Bunny isn’t quite as exciting as a first kiss, and the feel of a lover’s caress takes the place of a chill brought on by strange noises in the darkness.

We forget.

But the Dreaming still remembers.

Every imaginary friend a lonely child ever had wanders lost in the Dreaming and wonders just what went wrong. All of them long for a reunion with those special someones who gave their existence meaning. The personification of endless millions of fantasies are there as well: The Girl Next Door every boy pined for is in the Dreaming, perhaps keeping company with the Handsome Prince who was supposed to take some girl away from a world that no longer held the promise it had in the “the good old days” of her youth.

Every childhood fear is there. The clown doll you had when you were seven is waiting with knowing eyes and a grin that promises secret terrors. The dog that bit you when you were five is lurking in the confectionery grasses, and he’s several times bigger than you remember. The bully who took your lunch money is still waiting to collect a few debts. The faceless thing that slithered between your floorboards and scratched at your window late at night is also in the Dreaming. Then there’s the shadowy form from the closet, still watching you when no one else is around.

The Dreaming remembers, and it waits with bated breath. Just what is the Dreaming? The Dreaming is an entity created by the minds of people everywhere. The Dreaming is a realm where every wish is a reality and every fear is a certainty. It’s a place that shouldn’t exist but manages to be real just the same: a place powered by the minds of every living being, a world of its own, where legends still walk and demons are real. The Dreaming is the chaotic landscape of the collective unconscious, haunted by wishes for pleasure and vengeance, peopled by the stuff of myth and outlawed by the beliefs of the masses.

Mortals visit the Twilight Realm when they sleep, adding to the rich textures that exist in this irreality. But even when awake, humans can add to the power of the Dreaming. While mortals can’t consciously visit the Dreaming, their hopes, desires, dreads, and doubts all fuel the power of the Mythic Realm. Even a mortal’s daydreams affect the Dreaming, though their impact is far less substantial. Mortal dreams created the Dreaming in the first place. From the first fears of lightning that our distant ancestors suffered, to the hopes that, one day, humanity may expand beyond the Earth and visit the stars, every mortal longing and fretful doubt adds to the potency of the Dreaming.

The Dreaming is a place where no human can physically set foot without assistance, despite the powerful influence human minds have upon the landscape. Much of the Dreaming changes constantly, a rough sea of turbulent, chaotic transformation without end. Here, chimera are born, often dying within seconds. The fortunate ones escape from these great Spawning Fields and move to more stable areas of the Dreaming. Some even flee into the mortal world. Although changelings have studied the Spawning Fields, they have no real concept of exactly why these areas exist.

There was a time, long ago, when the Dreaming was a part of the world and, simply by existing, it made the Earth a better place. Human rationality changed all that. There were some among the first humans who feared the unknown and sought to define what they could not explain. The world was reconfigured by written words and laws. The dragons and faeries were forced into the Dreaming. The world separated into Realms of Myth and Flesh. Changelings and mortals dwell in the world of Flesh — the mundane world, where fact is fact and fantasy is a “waste of time.” The Dreaming is the world of Myth, where dreams are reality, and reality is a passing whimsy. The two worlds are asunder now, divided by beliefs and structured lives, by the conviction that dreams are only for children. This cataclysmic event was so powerful that the Dreaming itself actually shattered into smaller fragments, known to most as the Dream Realms.

But the Dreaming is hardly without power. When we sleep, we dream. And when we dream, we touch the Dreaming. There is no escape. The Dreaming is inevitable, and when in its grasp, mortals are truly powerless. For the changelings, the Dreaming is a place of wonders remembered and revisited. The Mythic Realm is a place of power. Changelings carry a piece of the Dreaming within their very souls and are connected to this realm of fantasy in ways that mere humans can never comprehend.

The Kithain walk with one foot in the Realm of Flesh and one in the Realm of Myth. For changelings, the Dreaming is always available. They dress in clothes made of the stuff of dreams and are empowered by the Dreaming’s essence. Changelings call this dream essence Glamour, and it is what sets them apart from the humans among whom they dwell. Glamour is the very energy of dreams. It is as real as the changelings want it to be, and it is their tool to use. With Glamour, Kithain can create anything, provided they understand how to use the Dreamstuff.

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