The Butterfly House: Chrysalis

HortusButterflies1In my favourite role-playing background, Changeling: The Dreaming, a Chrysalis is the point where the fae soul that has been lying dormant in a human is awakened. There are glimpses of the hidden world, the veil blown aside a bit by the winds that change ever so often, bits of glamour revealed.

HortusButterflies4After these sneak peeks into the world behind the world, the one that only the enchanted can see, there follows the dream dance, a swirling, manic, intense experience. It’s frightening to go through this alone and many refuse the call to their truest self, go crazy, get lost in the maelstrom of wonder, monsters, feelings. But those who don’t, those who either get found in time, rescued, those who somehow make it by themselves, those who embrace who they really are, enter a whole new world-behind-worlds where (almost) everything makes sense, all of a sudden.

HortusButterflies8When a larva grows it sheds its skin, more than once. We, too, try on skins in the shape of subcultures, styles, personality traits. Once the caterpillar encases itself and turns into a pupa, it turns liquid. Whether that pupa is in a soft cocoon or in a hard, shiny chrysalis doesn’t matter, the progress is the same. Self-digestion might not be an option for humanoids – it sounds incredibly unhealthy – let’s see it as a metaphor, an analysis of oneself, a quiet retreat inside our own mind.

HortusButterflies5Just like it’s the case with the larva that turns liquid we still keep some parts of ourself. I call these parts our essence, the very thing that makes you you and that makes me me. The very parts that are still there after you discover the world-behind-worlds, that are still you even when you made it through the Dream Dance.

HortusButterflies9I’m entirely fascinated by the progress, the one of the butterfly metamorphosis as well as the Chrysalis of a Changeling. I know that the journey of finding myself will never end but I think having a liquid state – a time where I just decide to dissolve and keep only the most essential parts of myself, maybe in meditation, maybe getting lost in something else – a creative process, swimming, dancing, music – might be exactly what I need. What all of us that are weird and sometimes strangers in our human forms that seem* to live in a world cold and devoid of magic, always searching for something – others like us, our true selves, our true meaning – need from time to time.

HortusButterflies11* because I know that there is magic, it’s just not always easy to spot!

HortusButterflies2So I make a cocoon for myself, or a chrysalis, and I turn into a hedge-goo, a pool of energy and essence, and you can decide for yourself if that’s just in my mind or if I actually dissolve into a slime on my bed.
My cocoon is my bedroom, a spot that is mine alone, soft and good for falling asleep to wake up with another bit of the veil behind me, on my way to waking up to myself, all my memories, all my skills and things.
A Changeling rarely has all of the memories of their former incarnations, and I see regaining them as a mini-metamorphosis of its own.

HortusButterflies7I’m sorry if this post strangely and randomly switched between casual biology, RPC nerdery, storytelling and esoteric, witchy self-care. What can I say, it’s how the mind works (at least this one).

HortusButterflies6All these pictures were taken in De Hortus‘ butterfly greenhouse, a magical place where you can watch the pupae of the species that live there real close, marvelling at the beautiful textures.

HortusButterflies10My most magical experience at the botanical garden though I kept for the end: I was blessed enough to see this beauty wiggle itself part of the way out of its pupa and into its imago stage. I don’t think I have ever seen something so strange and magical at the same time and I hope it will never fade from my memory.

HortusButterflies3Have a lovely start into the week!

Liked this? Read my other posts about De Hortus in Amsterdam! Part 1 | Part 2

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10 Things I ♥ in July

10 Things I love in July | Hedgefairy

  1. The beautiful Moss Embroidery by Emma Mattson. If you take a look at her portfolio
  2. Journey. I wanted to play this game ever since I first heard the calm and meditative soundtrack and now I finally did (thanks to Rus and his PS). It’s so beautiful and etheral. You can’t really lose, you can’t really win and co-operating with the other person you might meet during each level by chance and without verbal communication is encouraged but not necessary. I love the world thatgamecompany created there, full of floating strips of fabric and symbols and wonderous flights through ancient, sand-covered ruins. And dune surfing, because I love dune surfing.
  3. Erin Greenough’s Stickers on Etsy. While some of her her beautifully crafted drawings are slightly disturbing I really love this scissors print and these “Bag of Bones” stickers. You’ll aways get me with stickers (especially ones I can slap onto my various technical devices).
  4. Don’t ask me why but I can’t get Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights out of my head anymore. She’s so otherworldly, so completely out of the ordinary.
  5. This Apartment Tour of a small flat right under the roof. I couldn’t live so minimalistically but I sure admire it when people do. Look here for even more pictures!
  6. The Costume Designs of Dustin J. Panzino. They are so very froudian and fae!
  7. The Resin Masks created by Aisha Voya. Aren’t they amazing? I think I’m particularly in love with the owl skull mask because of those goggle-like bone structures around the eyes and the short beak.
  8. Lost Lust Supply‘s Enamel Pins. Yet another Etsy shop with wonderful little things, Lost Lust Supply mainly deals in enamel pins – a mainstream trend that I could actually get into. It’s really hard to play favourites here but while this slingshot is ingenious (I would never have thought of the chain part, that’s so clever!) it has to be between the Nightfall Fawn and the Whale Boat. Aren’t they delightful? I also had to think of Polly when I saw this mushroom lover’s pin.
  9. GLOW on Netflix. Glorious Ladies Of Wrestling is a show set in the 80s at their worst – big hair, aerobics classes, sleazy old guys with pornstaches. It starrs Allison Brie (of Mad Men and, much more important, Community fame) as an aspiring actress, and wow, I could never have imagined finding anyone played by this woman so very unpleasant and annoying. Why do I love the series anyway, you ask? Because the cast of secondary characters is amazing and fun, because the topic is feminist and weird enough to draw me in and because I feel inexplicably drawn to the 80s aesthetics lately (and I kind of crave Sheila’s strange wolf Goth outfits). If you happen to have a netflix account near you, go and give it a try!
  10. Writing and drawing with Gold on Dark. Gel pens had lost their lustre for me for the last ten years or so but the magic of shimmering colours on dark paper has come back lately. It might be a small thing, but it makes me happy.

A short Changeling PSA

Remember the Wunderkammer Chronicles I wrote about here?
It’s alive. And kicking. And sprinkling fairy dust. Badass fairy dust.

What I want it to become is a lifestyle community for like-minded individuals, not only roleplayers.
You identify with the whole Changeling concept, feeling like half of you belongs to this world and the other half to another? Come join us.
You like faeries, fairy tales, urban fantasy or dressing like a storybook character (Dolly, Strega, Lolita, Neo-Victorian, Punk, Steampunk, all alternatives are welcome! You’re also welcome if you don’t dress weirdly.)? Come join us.
You love making do, crafting, reviving traditions, witchcraft and a picturesque, mori-ish lifestyle? Come join us.
You’re into pastels, magical girls, over-sugared cupcakes and glitter? Come join us.
You want to play Changeling: The Dreaming in a forum with others who enjoy it? Come f*cking join us.

I want this to be a place for us who are always in another world with at least one foot, I want this to be a place where we can be ourselves and play pretend. I want this to be a balefire that keeps banality at bay.

Come join us. We’re there, and we’re waiting for you.
Bring your friends.

The Wunderkammer Chronicles.

OOTD: Mischievous Spirit

100_0241This is what I wore when Verdinium visited. It’s pretty much my go-to Autumn and Winter concept, leggings, something chunky around the feet, short skirt, big scarf.
100_0242And I really like this picture, I look like a mischievous changeling trickster there.

Outfit Rundown:
– jacket: H&M
– skirt: selfmade
– leggings: H&M
– hat: H&M
– boots: hand-me-down from Verdinium
– Hufflepuff scarf: selfmade

Thanks to Verdinium for the awesome pictures!

The Wunderkammer Chronicles

WUNDERKAMMERlogo

*doorbell ringing* Hey, can [insert your name] come out to play?

When I asked you if you were up for a game of Changeling in my last post I meant it. I feel myself yearning to get all the stories and adventure hooks for fae-born-human out of my head and though, what time better than now, and what crowd better than my lovely readers? I feel like I’ve built a tribe here over time, small but precious, of people who are like me, drawn to the realms beyond our realm, fascinated by fairy tales and myth and folklore.

Well, the problem is that some of you live on other continents, and the solution for that is the internet. Verdinium gave me the idea for a play-by-post forum, a place for us – if you want to join me – to play and pretend. I realise that this might seem a strange proposition but I’d rather try and invite you to play and risk that you might say “no” than spend my time wondering what would have been, had I not asked you at all.

So without further ado and before I change my mind I give you The Wunderkammer Chronicles.

The Wunderkammer Chronicles is a forum intended for roleplay, although it has sections for the Changeling lifestyle, too. It’s supposed to be for play-by-post gaming, a form of pen & paper RPG where you – instead of sitting at a table talking about what your character does – post your speech and actions into a gameplay thread. I myself will be the storyteller (that would be a game master by another name) so far over there but you are invited to host a chronicle or one-short or adventure there as well if you’d like to!

The forum is still somewhat under construction and I’m open for ideas and opinions, but mostly I hope for you to come out and play with me. Make an account, maybe tell me here (or don’t), maybe tell your friends (if you think they could like it), join the adventure or even become a storyteller if you have a grasp of the Word of Darkness and Changeling: The Dreaming already.

So I ask again, this time with a context to make it happen for real (though in our imaginations and on virtual ground): Anyone up for a game?

Changeling: The Dreaming

Disclaimer: This post deals with fantasy, RPGs and mental illness. If you don’t want to read about these things, please skip the post. And while I usually have no problems with critical comments I’d ask you not to post any this time. If you smirk at the thought of somebody thinking of magic and fairies as real in any way this might simply not be the post for you. If you find traces of yourself in this post you’re more than welcome to tell me in the comments, though!
(And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s my glossary)

My first run-in with Changeling: The Dreaming was during my third-or-so semester. Jule, the elfin one, started a chronicle that we sadly never finished due to the usual problem – everybody having different time-tables – but I was hooked nevertheless. I played a punk Boggan named Lilo who had a swearing winged rat familiar.
We tried again later, same problems, same fate, but the fascination stayed (I played an Eshu ethnologist with family ties to the Caribbean this time).

Ever since then this has been my favourite RPG background. Let me break it down for you why.

Changeling: The Dreaming is part of the World of Darkness, a number of storyteller settings that are set in a slightly gothier, darker version (also dubbed GothicPunk) of our word where vampires (Vampire: The Masquerade), werewolves (Werewolf: The Apocalypse), mummies (Mummy: The Resurrection), mages (Mage: The Ascension), ghosts (Wraith: The Oblivion) and a whole lot of other fantasy and horror creatures actually exist and battle each other over dominion in cities like Boston or Dublin or simply for their lives.

If that wasn’t cool enough as a setting, one of the many supernatural things are Changelings. Capital “C” because it’s important to me. To explain the whole Changeling thing I’ll have to go a bit further back in history, to the 12th century, to be precise. Oh, no, wait. Further. *tape rewinding noises*

Back in times long gone by, fae lived among mortals, created by those mortals’ dreams. They had sprung from dreams of perfection, nightmares of hunger, the idea of the thing that goes bump in the night, all sorts, really. Now, abandon the thought that fae are fairies. They are not. Not exactly.
There are many kinds of fae, also known as kithain. There are kith like the Sidhe – the shining host, the fae nobility, those who sprang from the dreams of perfection and beauty mentioned above – just imagine Tolkien elves, or the ones who kidnapped Tam Lin. There are Boggans, helpful household spirits, short and round and good, and Redcaps, the things that rose from the battlefields to dye their hats in the blood of the fallen, Mermaids, Trolls and many, many more. Every culture has its own set of “the good neighbors”, “the fair folk”, “the wee people” (even though they might be taller than your average human), and those are what we call fae in this case.
But back to the story.
When man discovered iron, though, cold iron, no less, something broke. It became easier to tame the world, and with the taming of the world the dreams and the believing in the fae faded. At some point (and here we are in the 12th century again) there was just not enough glamour, not enough dreamstuff left to sustain all fae and even the pathways into the Dreaming and to Arcadia, the fae lands of myth and legend, began to crumble.
The fae nobility managed to escape the dawning catastrophe, most of them, anyway, but the commoners were left to their own devices. They adapted, and what became of that was the Changeling Way.
Their fae souls – immortal as they were – were born again in human bodies into human families, sheltered from the growing banality of the world within two sets of armour against it: the mortal coil and a human soul around the fae one. If they were lucky their fae soul would awaken at some point of the human life, showing them a world much deeper and more fantastic than they could have imagined. The fae soul would have merged with the human soul and it would have been their lot to balance these two souls to neither slip into bedlam nor banality.
If not, they were simply born into another human body after the first one had lived its life, into another chance for their fae soul to re-emerge.
Now, about 800 years passed since this Shattering. Then, in 1969, humanity reached a goal so lofty, so filled with dreams, so eagerly watched by so many, that a wave of glamour swept over the globe: The Moon landing. The gates to the Dreaming burst open once again and the fae nobility, the Shining Host, returned in all its glory.
And all was fine and well again.

Except it wasn’t. Banality was still a thing. The struggle to maintain the balance between fae and mortal soul was still a thing and getting harder and harder every century. Which brings us up to now: The nobility has adapted as well, the gates to Arcadia, the fae utopia, are closed once more, Changelings all over the world are nurturing dreams and inspiration, and the fight for the survival of faekind is still going on. No wonder, if you look at the world around us.

That’s a nice story, you might say now, but why is it so important to you? It’s just another RPG background.

Because Changeling gave me sort of an explanation. For the first time in a long time I felt like I had found something that resonated deeply within me and made things clearer. It might be a metaphor, but I’m a Changeling. I walk the fine line between banality and bedlam and most of the time I don’t feel fully human. I rarely basically never talk about my mental illnesses here on the blog but Changeling offered me a way to accept myself more than before, to see that, if I define myself as a Changeling, a fae soul inside a mortal body, a lot of things made more sense all of a sudden. Why my emotions seemed too big for my body so often, why the state of the world made me so terrified and sad that I fell into catatonic states now and then, why I have seemed weird and strange to others my entire life, and why I sometimes am really baffled and confused by norms of human society.

I don’t say that you have to be mentally ill to understand the appeal of Changeling: The Dreaming, and I don’t say that every mentally ill person is actually a fae soul in a human body (there are vampires and mages and so forth as well! Joking, folks, joking). I just try to explain why this background means so much to me and how it helped me to cope (in a therapist-approved way, even) with some of my problems.

There’s also the balance between the Seelie and the Unseelie side that every Changeling has to find that makes a lot of sense to me. Seelie is not necessarily good and Unseelie not necessarily evil (many people try to simplify it like that, one of my biggest pet peeves), it’s far more difficult to explain. It isn’t even lawful and chaotic, more like dutiful and passionate, both which are good and important but can turn nasty in a heartbeat.

I think what I want to say is that I love how the game actually manages to do exactly what its goal is in-game: Bringing glamour and magic into a grey, drab world, inspiring to look further than our own shoe tips. How it changes the perspective of how we view places and people, how it concentrates on the beauty of the soul and the idea instead of only the physical appearance but still encourages to create beauty in our everyday life, lest our fae souls wither.

I love this background because it tugs on my very heartstrings, because it makes me want to gather my fellow changelings for adventure, because it makes me want to share my ideas with the world and hope that they might inspire someone to create something themselves, producing glamour, or fairy dust, or simply put: the rawest form of magic.

I’m a Changeling, here to save the world from banality or burn out into bedlam trying.
Anyone up for a game?