A Vade Mecum

Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer, Silence

The Book of Onei is an antinomian dream grimoire, providing deceptive yet true information about the art of Oneiromancy or dream magic in the form of poetry, fantasy, and intentionally ambiguous instructions.

1- Seek out darkness and silence.

2- Drift on the river of sleep and daydream.

3- Hear what the voices tell you; see what you see.

4- Record all glimpses of Onei, in daydream or nightdream.

5- Answer all riddles; complete all quests.

 

As hard at it can be to enter Onei intentionally, it is always possible to walk the Borderlands – the place in your mind between sleep and waking, between Earth and Onei. Spirits, dreams and messages from Onei will find you there.

 

I’ve lived here on the borders of the night,

Where dark divides from light.

I’ve walked the marches made of fire and snow.

 

Each night I lock the doors and close my eyes

To watch the rivers rise.

I’ve tasted all those memories- I know.

 

Though there are things that I can never mend,

If I could choose again

I’d take the path I took so long ago.

 

– from The Book of Onei, Part 1: The Art of Night Wandering

 

Image by Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer

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Seven Levels of Dreaming

by Chevigie {ca.1939}

The Book of Onei is an antinomian dream grimoire, providing deceptive yet true information about the art of Oneiromancy or dream magic in the form of poetry, fantasy, and intentionally ambiguous instructions.

 

1- the mundane

2- the curious

3- the mythic

4- the mysterium

5- a vision

6- an epiphany

7- annihilation

 

Mundane dreams are those that come in through the Gates of Ivory; they contain no magic.

 

Curious dreams are intermingled with hints and glimpses of magic.

 

Mythic dreams come in through the Gates of Horn; they are dreams of true and sacred things presented in the form of myth.

 

Dreams of the mysterium involve magic power, a drunken electric ecstatic presence.

 

Visions display the vividness and intensity of the Phantasia Catalyptica.

 

Epiphanies answer great riddles and questions.

 

Annihilation destroys the dream. That which waits here is the same as that which waits beyond death.

 

– from The Book of Onei, Part 1: The Art of Night Wandering

 

Image by Chevigie

An Antinomian Dream Grimoire

Resistance, the Black Idol' by Frantisek Kupka {c.1903}

This book is an antinomian dream grimoire.

 

Oneiromancy, night wandering, mythic dreaming – by any name, dream magic is the art of traveling to the world of myth and wonder in dreams or half-dreams.

 

The things you do there, the quests you experience there, and the riddles you answer there are up to you. Your dreams are your own dreams, although some dreams are shared.

 

Nothing in this book should be taken literally. Nothing should be taken as a metaphor either.

 

Miracles and magic happen every single day, but dream magic offers something much more wonderful than power – a secret that waits beyond dream and death.

 

I step outside. It’s true, perhaps- the years

Have folded me, transmuted me, and made

A different man. The mix of light and shade

 

With which I started is, no doubt, the same

And yet the shape is altered. I have come

So far, this time, from where I started from

 

It feels like transmigration. And my self

Can’t quite recall the self it used to be.

I look up, feeling old and lost, and see

 

A sky of midnight blue. The clouds roll past.

The dead leaves whisper. In the rising wind

Are hints of what I thought I’d left behind.

 

I used to know a way out. That’s a truth,

Though not a fact, exactly. There’s a feat-

You don’t ignore the facts. You merely cheat.

 

And still they call me – shadows from the fire

That burns behind the door. The dark, red wine

Of knowing how to walk the borderline.

 

I turn, and go inside. Tonight I’ll dream

And slip through boundaries, past seas of glass

And mountains hot as blood and dead as ash.

 

Prometheus and I, we share a knack

For abstract theft. And though it’s been too long,

Still, “Whom the gods destroy.” You know the song.

 

– from The Book of Onei, Part 1: The Art of Night Wandering

Image by Frantisek Kupka

The Spider’s Song

oceanide.jpg!PinterestLargeJanToorop

The Book of Onei is an antinomian dream grimoire, providing deceptive yet true information about the art of Oneiromancy or dream magic in the form of poetry, fantasy, and intentionally ambiguous instructions.

In the city of Sophia in the land of Onei, only wisdom was valued and the foolish were outcasts. The wise used them only for pulling carts or breaking stones, but those whose foolishness was too offensive to the wise were driven away, forced out into the rocky wasteland on the borders of the Plains of Day and Night. Sometimes the lights from their campfires could be seen in the distance, but this sight made the wise uneasy and so they often chose to leave their shutters drawn. All over the splendid city made of colored glass and hammered bronze, onion-domed towers and lofty pinnacles, the night was dark, but in the rocky wasteland outside the city there were lights like distant stars. It was almost as if the wise were frightened of those campfires, which grew more numerous every year.

 

Such a fate was Aphron’s, son of the philosopher Qaran the Luminous. He had always been foolish, a drinker of strong wines and a sleeper at noon, but his father’s reputation for wisdom was so pronounced, even in a city as wise as this one, that he had managed to reach his nineteenth year before anyone dared to speak against him. When the outcry to banish Aphron came at last, his father Qaran took him aside and sought to prepare him for what lay ahead.

 

“My son,” he said, “you are not wise, but there is no need for you to become one of those who cluster around the campfires at the edge of the city. For there are two paths to wisdom, and one is close at hand. If you go out past the rocky wasteland and into the Plains of Day and Night, you will come to the Starry River. Cross that river, and seek the priests in the Plain of Day. They will teach you the wisdom of faith and service, and you may return here as a priest.”

 

So Aphron set off, and his path took him out through the rocky wasteland and past the ashes of the discarded cooking fires. None of the foolish were to be seen by day, and rumor had it that they shunned the daylight, seeking to hide their shame by burrowing and digging, living in caves like furtive animals. It took Aphron three days to cross the rocky wasteland, but he never saw any fools there, only their campfires after sunset. When he made an effort to approach a campfire, it would wink out like a closing eye, leaving the night in a more total darkness. So Aphron concluded that the fools had rejected him, knowing him somehow to be a seeker of wisdom. He pressed on into the Plain of Night.

 

The Plain of Night

 

The Plain of Night was a terrible place, where the sun never rose and the moon never shone, like the moonless nights preferred by thieves and reivers. No path showed the way through that dark, flat plain, but for as long as Aphron walked upon it he heard noises in the nearer distance. Stealthy footsteps crept slowly up on him, seeming to be preparing an ambush, but no predator ever struck. Sinister whispers seemed to breathe conspiracies, but he could never make out the words they were speaking. The fear of walking through constant danger was far worse for Aphron than an actual attack, for as a frequenter of taverns and wine houses he was no stranger to sudden violence, and he carried a long, flame-bladed rapier at his side. He clutched the hilt and prepared himself, but no attack ever came.

 

Without any sign of sun or moon, he had no idea how long he walked, but at last he came to a shining river, faintly silver with the light of all the constellations that seemed to glow from beneath the waters. Aphron could not decide if there were stars in the water, the night sky of some other world perhaps, or if it was only a reflection. When he compared the constellations in the Starry River to those in the sky above him, they did not seem quite the same, but he was at a loss to say exactly how. Remembering that he was a fool after all, he gave up wondering, and looked for a place to cross the river.

 

There was a ferry-man on the riverside in the silvery darkness, sitting and playing dice with no one and drinking dust from an old clay cup. When he looked up at Aphron and spread his hand for the fare, his smile looked as evil as a death’s head grinning, and his skin was stretched so tight over his bones he might as well have been a skeleton. But after Aphron had paid the fare, and the two of them had gone halfway across the river, his flesh filled out. His malicious grin became a somber frown, he grew a long white beard, and his eyes became bright and blue, though they stared blindly ahead of him. A moment later, they passed into daylight. Before the ferry-boat had crossed the Starry River, both sides of the bank had been the same black landscape. Now both of them were all but drowned in sunlight, and the Plains were a wonderland of grass and flowers, while the air was so fresh it tasted like honey. The ferry-boat landed on the Plain of Day, and Aphron walked in search of the priests who live there.

 

The City of the Gods

 

The City of the Gods in the Plain of Day was home to many temples, and the creed they taught was one of love and service – love for the gods, and service to humanity. The priests of the Plain of Day were not corrupt, but genuine servants who strove only to stand as interpreters between the earth and heaven, and who trained the priests of the many cities of Onei in the subtle intricacies of the celestial language. Aphron the Fool sought out the temple of Wisdom, for the goddess of Wisdom was the goddess of his city, and no man who had learned her mysteries would ever be accounted a fool.

 

“The highest wisdom,” the priest told him, “Is the wisdom of discernment, which will allow you to serve both god and man. And the key to discernment is to learn the flavor – the taste and the texture of wrong and right. First I will feed you the wrong.”

 

The priest gave him something that looked much like chocolate, the richest and darkest of chocolates, but its taste was sour. It was the taste of his mouth on a long and hateful morning after too much wine the night before, the sweat of an anonymous lover’s unloved flesh, the iron-like stench of blood on his blade after a misspent word.

 

“I know this taste,” he said. “And it is poisonous. Because of these flavors I was sent into exile.”

 

“Then consider that your first taste of wisdom. Now I will feed you the right.”

 

What the priest fed him now was like an amber-colored honey, the taste of goodness and piety, the taste of loving kindness. For many days he feasted upon it, because the taste was new to him, and at first it seemed to Aphron to be the greatest joy he had ever known. For one month and then three months and for one year and then three years, Aphron fed only on the honey of righteousness. But then in time it began to pall. The taste it left in his mouth was so sweet as to be nauseating, and he longed for something more solid to feast upon.

 

“Honey is sweet,” he said. “But it is not satisfying.”

 

The high priest sighed, and opened a door that led out of the temple. “In that direction is the Blue Desert. If you can cross its sand dunes and survive its dangers, you will come in time to the Cliffs of the Sages. They teach the other path to wisdom.”

 

And the high priest would not look at him, but would only point ahead at the Blue Desert with his face averted, as if Aphron had disappointed him or possibly shamed him somehow. So Aphron set out on the road again, two times an exile.

 

The Plain of Day was filled with temples, and Wisdom was only one of them. There were temples to all of the gods on the Plain of Day, from the lordly and wrathful Thunder Wolf to the Huntress with her bow and arrows. He stopped at none of them, though a man could learn wisdom by studying at any of them. The path of the priests was not for him.

 

The Blue Desert

 

On the third day after he left the Temple of Wisdom, Aphron reached the end of the Plain of Day. Blue sands of a darkly luminous color stretched out to the edge of the horizon and beyond, like an ocean without a drop of water in it. Aphron walked on into the Blue Desert without giving the City of the Gods another thought.

 

The Blue Desert was a dangerous place. The sands in the Blue Desert had a mysterious color, that deep yet still luminous color of the last minutes of twilight. This color is usually seen only in the twenty minutes or so before true nightfall, when the sun has gone down completely but the sky has not yet forgotten what the daylight used to be. It is the color of melancholy, the type of melancholy that is aesthetically pleasing, an emotion as hypnotic and fatal as the eyes of a cobra.

 

As he crossed the Blue Desert on foot, Aphron succumbed to that melancholy, suddenly swept by a terrible longing that yet seemed indescribably beautiful to him. He was thinking about a former lover from the City of Wisdom, a great beauty whose eyes had shined with much the same color (or so it seemed to him now). He suddenly decided he must have been in love. He couldn’t know this, of course, but they had already driven his former lover out, to join the other fools whose campfires dotted the rocky wasteland. This twilight-eyed beauty was far from tortured by thoughts of Aphron (being rather more concerned with immediate survival), but Aphron was suddenly tortured by thoughts of them.

 

If torture is really the right word for it, that is – because it had much to savor in it, this emotion of yearning and loss and poignant memory. He thought about their blue eyes, the same blue as the sands, and the soft waves of their long wheat-colored hair. He thought about the way they smiled at him when he came into the tavern, and the way they sang for him when the two of them were alone. These thoughts were painful – among the worst pain he had ever experienced – but he would sooner have given an arm than give them up, and that is never true of anything we do not crave. Aphron craved his own suffering, and for as long as he craved his suffering, he wandered aimlessly through the desert.

 

No one can say how long he wandered there, but Aphron was a fool – and no fool ever kept the face of one lover before his eyes for very long. He savored the beauty of his own suffering for a time that felt terrible, and he could have sworn that it was a hundred years – and then another old infatuation crossed his mind, a red-headed fruit seller he had met for just as long as it took him to buy some peaches. As soon as he thought of this fact, he laughed, and as soon as he laughed at his own foolishness, the blue sands lost their power. The Cliffs of Saint and Sage were right there in front of him, a walk of no more than a few hours.

 

The Cliffs of Saint and Sage

 

When he arrived at the cliffs, their height was terrifying, but he could see that there were people who lived on them in caves like birds. There were piles of bones below the cliffs, as of people who fell, but he couldn’t tell if they were the saints and the sages or merely would-be visitors who had tried to climb up to them. There was no way to reach the caves except to climb the cliffs, so Aphron disregarded the risk and began to climb.

 

Three times he almost fell and joined the bleached bones at the bottom, but each time he caught a hold and continued to climb. He reached a cave before nightfall, and the old hermit who lived in the cave was clearly a sage. He looked on Aphron with eyes that burned, and gestured for him to crawl into the cave.

 

“I have long awaited you,” he said. “Twice-exiled Aphron the Fool. You rejected the path of the priests, because the priests know nothing except right and wrong. Wrong and right are merely opposites, and the path of the sage is to transcend such opposites. By rejecting the path of the priest, you have begun the journey. To complete it, you must wear this hair-shirt, and live in this cage on the side of the cliff. When you no longer know of hot and cold, like or dislike, good or bad, you will have become a sage.”

 

So Aphron lived in the cage on the side of the cliff, praying and meditating and starving and itching. He understood the purpose of it – which made him wonder whether he was really such a fool as he had always been told – but the hair shirt scratched him and burned him, and the cold winds that swept the side of the cliff made him shiver, and the occasional bird’s egg the hermit fed him was less than nourishing. He felt his mind changing as the days wore on, but not in the way the hermit intended. He wasn’t piercing the veil between right and wrong. He wasn’t transcending his preferences. He was only becoming strange, sinking down into a deeper foolishness in which he thought he could begin to understand the language of the spiders, the music that sunlight makes, and the logic of the clouds.

 

The hermit pulled his cage in one day for the purpose of feeding him, saw the crazed look in his eyes, and began to beat him with an old bone. Aphron chose not to resist this violence, but it did make him wonder. How was it that a sage could become so angry?

 

What the Spider Said

 

As he lay in the bottom of the cage on the side of the cliff, a black widow spider crawled up to him. The spider said this: “Soon to be thrice-exiled, you are one of my kind, a follower of the third path. For there are priests and there are sages, but there are also magicians. The priest serves the community through prayer and sacrifice, through articulating its deepest values, and by mediating between god and man. The sage, on the other hand, makes men into gods, by teaching them the wisdom to stand as high as heaven. The magician does neither.”

 

“Then what does the magician do?” asked Aphron. And the spider sang:

 

In the ruined walls of Carthage

There’s a man who sits alone.

He can tell you what your dream is

From the cracks along a bone.

 

In the Empty Quarter, keening,

There’s a woman, old and blind,

And her milky eyes are staring

Through Saharas of the mind.

 

They will show you how to do things-

How to rule the wind and storm.

But you’ll find yourself a stranger

In the place where you were born.

 

As the spider completed this mysterious song, the hermit heard him, and came rushing forward with a little knife. “You’ve been listening to the spiders,” he said, “Just like the others!” And the hermit cut the rope, sending Aphron the Fool to his death far below.

 

Or such was his intention. For while most of those who heard the spider’s song had gained too much wisdom, leading them to contemplate their own deaths with a fatal dispassion, Aphron had only become more strange. He had achieved the foolishness of poetry and of the wandering stranger, and the laws of the world held no weight with him. He changed into a crow with a flick of his thoughts, flew out between the bars of the cage, and disappeared into the open sky.

 

“Where are you going?” yelled the hermit, waving his knife at the departing bird. “Where are you going, you fool?”

 

“I fly for Carthage,” croaked the bird.

 

Image by Jan Toorop

Magic Harp-Strings

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The Book of Onei is an antinomian dream grimoire, providing deceptive yet true information about the art of Oneiromancy or dream magic in the form of poetry, fantasy, and intentionally ambiguous instructions.

 

Clouds roll across a purple sky.

The witch pours out a cup.

The orange coals of incense burn.

She knows the goblins, how they yearn

To come and eat us up.

The wind cries out as if it’s drunk.

The gods will soon be here.

The witch prepares a plate of meat.

The spirits come, and as they eat

She turns away in fear.

The Presence takes her, and her eyes

Roll up into her head.

Like passing clouds the spirits trace

Their shapes across her dreaming face,

The scriptures of the dead.

The gods are here, they’re always here,

Although they are not seen.

They walk across the purple skies

Or in a witch’s staring eyes

Or somewhere in between.

 

– From The Book of Onei, Part I: The Art of Night Wandering

Image by Franz Von Stuck

Journey to Onei

cf2cd319e7eded769ab4d7e04728e88d--fairy-queen-art-students

The Book of Onei is an antinomian dream grimoire, providing deceptive yet true information about the art of Oneiromancy or dream magic in the form of poetry, fantasy, and intentionally ambiguous instructions.

 

Notes found in the handwritten original of the Book of Onei

 

I was nearly forty years old when it first came over me, the strange feeling that I no longer knew myself. I was sitting in my own house at three in the morning, thinking back on the life I had lived. You start off with so many choices and then you start to pick between them, and every time you choose one path instead of another all your options start to narrow in. You become who you are, and it’s easy to forget you could have been a lot of other things. You could have been once, but you no longer can. Now you are whatever you decided to be, and there are no more open vistas.

 

The whole house was asleep. You can only have thoughts like that in the first place when everyone else is asleep, because that’s the only time when your mind is free enough. It’s the only time when no one needs you.

 

I looked up at the fan blades as they turned and turned, and their long shadows flew across the ceiling like angelic messengers moving rapidly before the sun. My wife and my little daughter lay asleep in their beds, but I hadn’t slept in at least three days.

 

What I was thinking as I was lying there is that yearning is everything. The whole structure of the universe is based on it. The craving for fulfillment is in every seed, reaching up for the untouchable sun. It’s not an anomaly; it’s right there in the blueprint. So when a little girl yearns for her mother, or a man for his lover, or a mystic for the god she serves, it’s not some pathos to be cured. That suffering and that yearning and that loss is the fire of creation.

 

“Maybe we should take a trip to the mountains,” my wife had said that morning, lying with her head up in the crook of my shoulder. She was trying to comfort me, trying to give me something to look forward to. But I wasn’t sad, exactly.

 

“We are what we are,” I answered her. “And we can’t pretend. The dead come easily to us and the angels don’t. How often do you see the shining ones? How often do you see the dead? You know what we are as well as I do. We are darkseers, not lightseers. I’ve been thinking a lot about the basement lately.”

 

“I don’t like it when you talk about the basement,” she said, and pulled back to look at me. The basement is where the door is.

 

So there I was, sitting up awake and alone at three in the morning, not at all certain how it got this way, how I ended up who I am. I watched the fan blades as they turned and turned, and a strange memory came over me. A strange hunger began to grow inside me, not completely unfamiliar and yet almost forgotten. I stood up silently and slipped my shoes on and went downstairs, moving quietly so as not to wake my wife up. Not only was the door down there (though it had long gone unused) but the book was too – The Book of Onei, my father’s crime.

 

The steps creaked as I walked on them, and the dead things whispered. The basement was where he had kept them bound, and they wouldn’t like my interference. But what else can you do with the dead? After all, you can’t kill them.

 

I took a match out and I lit the lamp, and rummaged around in boxes until I found the book. The door in the corner shuddered angrily, but I took the book out anyway.

 

The ancient chaos, the primal darkness. That was the answer to it all. My father had stolen this book from the Great Library of Onei, and the weight of that shadow had hung over us like an evil cloud. But I wasn’t convinced that what he did was wrong. Who are the Great Ones to withhold this knowledge?

 

The dead responded a few nights later. I had brought The Book of Onei up from the basement where it had slept for years. I had read aloud from its forbidden pages. I had begun to compose a few poems of my own about the dreams and the darkness, loose tributes to demonic geniuses such as Li Ho and Meng Chiao. I had even added a few of them to the Book of Onei.

 

In reading from the book and in composing those poems I had upset a fragile peace. The things in the basement slipped their bonds, which were only ever made of a certain mindset – a mindset I had not maintained. They came floating up after me late one night while I lay there staring at the ceiling in the lonely hours, believing myself to be wide awake.

 

My daughter stirred in her sleep and moaned. My wife opened her eyes. The whole house was permeated with a sickening dread, the presence that makes your skin crawl and the hair on the back of your neck stand up. The light in the kitchen blinked on and off. Deep in my stomach, nausea stirred.

 

“You’re going to do what your father did, aren’t you?” said my wife. “You’re going to go through the door.”

 

I nodded in the darkness of early dawn. “I’ve done it before,” I told her. “Before you and I were together. But I haven’t seen Onei in years.”

 

“You’re going over there to steal something.”

 

“Yes, of course. That’s what my father did, and it’s what I’ll do too. The things in the basement are getting restless, because they can sense the way I’ve been feeling lately. My father always said it was an evil book, that it had cursed him ever since he took it. But that’s not what I believe.”

 

“Why not?” she asked, a little harshly. “You’re endangering us all!”

 

“I think it scared him so much that he misunderstood it. He always told me that the dead things followed him over from Onei when he brought back the book, and that they were always warning him not to read it, not to use it, not to learn from it. But the primal darkness is the source of wisdom. He stole its secrets and then feared to read them, so he bound the dead up with spiderweb thoughts and left them down there to haunt his dreams. They made his last years one endless nightmare. I don’t want that to happen to me. I don’t want it to happen to my daughter either. She’ll inherit the book.”

 

“You could return the book,” she pointed out. “You could bring it back to the Great Library of Onei. Then the dead would leave us alone.”

 

“I’m not even sure that’s true. There is such a thing as retribution. And that would only make what he suffered completely meaningless. Prometheus didn’t give the fire back.”

 

“And look what happened to him! So what exactly are you going to do?”

 

“I’m going to learn how to use it. My father was never able to use the book, because he didn’t understand it, he didn’t know why it was so important to the dead. That is the knowledge I intend to steal.”

 

She was silent for a long time. The sun rose outside, and in the pale light my daughter stirred. She would soon be awake.

 

“How long will you be gone?” my wife asked. Her voice shook a little.

 

“Not long at all. I’ll be back before the sun finishes rising.”

 

“Or else you won’t be back. Not ever again.” I didn’t answer her that time. There’s no answer to the truth.

 

So I went down to the basement again and I heard the voices, whispering the things they always whisper, the threats and the warnings. I walked through the gauntlet of the voices as if they could not daunt me, although I was going into their place of strength. I had the book in my backpack. The door at the end of the basement jumped angrily as I approached it, rattled a few times, then settled in. I put my hand on the doorknob, said a prayer to the protecting powers, and paused for a moment in silent thought. Then I walked through into the land of Onei.

Image by Henry Fuseli