Announcing The Book of Onei: An Antinomian Dream Grimoire

Onei Cover

The complete Book of Onei is now available through LuLu in paperback and e-book format – including all the poems, spells, myths, and rituals excerpted here on this blog as well as many others. This book is the most personal work I have ever published and represents more than a decade of composition and revision and nearly two decades of active work in oneiromancy.

It reflects my love of visionary poets like William Blake and Li Ho, the influence of my father’s strange philosophy, and years of patient assistance and counsel from friends old and new. Without the extensive editorial assistance of Bob Giordano this book would not exist in its present form. Zoe Dantzinger also deserves special mention for reading over the final version of the book before its release. Finally, I’d like to thank Lorna Smithers, whose amazing review of The Book of Onei can be found here.

For readers of my Noctiviganti novels, this is a further and deeper exploration of night wandering and dream magic in a context that is not entirely fictional.

For readers familiar with Form is the Illusion: A Magical Philosophy, this is the application of the same concepts in magical practice.

Readers of my Gods and Radicals articles will recognize similar themes and images, as well as a few of the poems. This book, on the surface, is less political than my work for Gods and Radicals – but only on the surface.

More than anything else, this book is a record of my most personal work – the work I’ve been doing for many years now and expect to keep doing for the rest of my life. The poems, stories, and rituals in the Book of Onei are only a glimpse – Onei itself is limitless.


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Under the Bright Dark

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.

Czech postcard from the 1920's

Do not hold on to that which cannot be used to destroy the world.

-The Livik


I was under the dark when the wind came down,

And the stars were drunk, and the ocean cried.

I walked alone. Though I had known

In time, I hadn’t tried.


The world, disordered, spun as fast

As if it meant to break.

I liked it there, and didn’t care

To suffer for its sake.


I’ve lived for years just mesmerized

By lights, like falling stars.

Out here beyond the world, I’ve watched

The angels and their wars.


I said the words that seemed the best

And watched my temples fall.

Those other lives I could have lived

Just don’t exist at all.


– from the Book of Onei, Part II: The Lore of Onei

The Country of the King

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.

Dora Wheeler, Fairy in Irises, 1888

When your faith descends from heaven

When you find you cannot fly

When you lose the strength to bargain

With the powers of the sky,


When the things they keep demanding

Seem impossible and grand

You can come into the country

Of the powers of the land.


They have drunk from deeper waters

And their holiness is dark.

And to them the light is precious,

So they value every spark.


They are not inclined to question

What you’ve done or where you’ve been-

Though you’ve wandered far from wisdom

You can always come again.


There is gold beneath the mountain

There is treasure in the sea,

There’s a chalice and a fountain

Granting things that cannot be.


There are palaces and temples

In the cities on the plain

Made of bone as smooth as marble

Where the windows run like rain.


There’s a grove of golden peaches,

There are apples, green and red,

There’s a hierophant who teaches

From the gospels of the dead.


There are kings and queens, created

To be gods before the Fall-

Though you wandered there for ages

You could never see it all.


And your anguished hope of heaven,

Once a parched and withered thing,

Will be branches red with berries

In the country of the king.


– from the Book of Onei, Part II: The Lore of Onei


Image by Dora Wheeler

Darkness and 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.

John Bauer (1882–1918)2

If you want knowledge, seek out darkness and silence.


I glance behind me, but there’s no way home.

The waves are foaming like a rabid dog,

Like monsters, always watching. On my bones,

On every branch and rock and fallen log,

The ice lies thick. The silent heavens sleep-

Unreadable, malicious. Earth is still.

She won’t disclose the secrets that she keeps.

Night creeps a little closer. From the hill

I hear the howl of wolves. I feel the eyes

Of basilisks upon me. Lions roar.

Don’t question heaven. Do not leave your door.


Dream necromancy is dangerous, especially if the spirit discovers your secret name.


Animal masking allows you to contact the cthonic powers.


To honor the gods, fumigate small images of them by hand in a cloud of incense.


The gods crave meat; the meat craves fire.


There are two types of death in dream. The dead force is like a black hole – without consciousness, dead and soulless although capable of movement. The live force is the exact opposite.


The universe is like the desert: a vast empty space made up of tiny particles lit by a blazing light.


There is no final invitation to Onei. You must find your way each time.


The pattern will always assert its essential points. Only a certain level of play exists in reality, and that which is destined cannot be prevented.


Some genii loci will abandon their home if it is clear-cut or otherwise abused. It becomes a soulless place.


There are time travelers who visit different eras by possessing dreamers as they sleep. If they come upon you in a night wandering dream they will try to stop your throat so you cannot get the words out, but if you force the words out you should be able to say your protective charm.


The whole world is filled up with gnosis. It is people who must become free in order to fill up gnosis.


– from the Book of Onei, Part II: The Lore of Onei


Image by John Bauer

Lore of Onei

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.

Wilfred Gabriel de Glehn (1870-1951) , Night

The door to Sana Delayo is always open.


The Blue Pearl- a blue pearl of spiraling energy, capable of dissolving or transmuting any demonic power. Roll it in your hands to dissolve a nightmare.


The City- a magical city ruled by the Red Queen. The scene of many otherworld wars.


The Compass- an oracle owned by a king of Onei who was an ally of the Red Queen during the War of the Book. It is an old compass on a shipwreck mounted on a magnetic stone. It always predicts evil, and it makes sure that its own prophecies come to pass.


The Dark Tower- a gnostic prison where the Red Queen was once held prisoner. If you ever find it, you will discover that you have always been there. The bottom floor of the Dark Tower contains everything in mundane life, but merely spending time there causes you to forget where you really are. To escape the prison, do not run from wind or water. Allow the storm to destroy your dream.


Gnosis- true and sacred knowledge acquired from Onei.


The House- a vast, rambling house with countless rooms. Often attacked by malevolent forces. The attic is haunted.


The Kind- the fairies or elves. The folk of Onei.


The Naught- the other side of dream and death, a limitless soaring bliss or light. The Void. The divine darkness.


The Mysterium- magical power, a current of electricity or intoxication. It spins or spirals, either clockwise or counterclockwise. It can be dark or light. It can dissolve loops and knots and destroy nightmares. It can possess you, either in Onei or the waking world. It can destroy the world and break through to the other side. It can appear as rising floodwaters, tsunamis, tornadoes, waterspouts or in other symbolic and terrifying forms. The mysterium can destroy all structure, all order. When the true power of the mysterium is unleashed, it can annihilate anything and everything, revealing the Naught.


Night Wandering- oneiromancy, the art of mythic dreaming.


Onei- the dream realm. It sends its messages by chance, yet it can be courted in trance. If you want knowledge, seek out darkness and silence.


A Power- a significant entity in Onei, such as a god, saint, angel or demon.


The Prime- warriors of the Kind. A regiment in the Red Queen’s armies. The Prime has an initiation test consisting of strange riddles. If you answer perfectly, you pass. If your answers are almost correct, you fail. If your answers are completely incorrect, you have a second chance to pass by going on a quest.


Sana Delayo- another word for Onei.


The Secret Library- a library on the rim of the Valley of Shadow, containing books on any and every topic from multiple different realities. The keepers of the library were cruel men, torturers and slavers, but the slaves rebelled and killed them, then disposed of their bodies in a lake. Not all of the masters were killed in the battle, and the survivors later counterattacked. The fate of the Secret Library remains uncertain. Later glimpses suggest that at least some grim powers may still be present there.


The Valley of Shadow- an infinitely deep valley of total darkness into which the dead must walk, led by a faceless guide with the mannerisms of a carnival barker. Many are too terrified to step down into the darkness, so they wander along the rim of the valley, angry and confused. If you go down into the darkness you can break through to the other side. The Valley of Shadow is the womb of the Naught.


Dream Quest– A journey or quest that occurs within a dream or series of dreams, for the purpose of achieving some mythic task or acquiring gnosis.


Answer all riddles; complete all quests.


– from the Book of Onei, Part II: The Lore of Onei


Image by Wilfred Gabriel de Glehn

How Doubt Left the Empire

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.

Frederick Sandys (1829-1904), Harald Harfagr ~ Originally published in Once a Week, 1862

The Empire of the Adoration, also known as the Qalina, grew up out of the chaos left behind them by the Sons of the Crow. The Sons of the Crow destroyed the City of Wisdom and the City of the Gods, then disappeared into the Blue Desert for several years. They came out of the Blue Desert to destroy the City of the Sublime, where the worshipers of the Sublime had rebuilt their temples. They retreated for seven years into the Brokentooth Mountains, then came down again to burn several more cities.


The Flagbearer and his followers had stopped them, but the Flagbearer had been burned alive, because the priests of the Adoration did not trust his purity. Then the Temple of the Adoration became the ruler of the ruined lands, and imposed its teaching on every community. The Qalina was its High Priestess and its absolute ruler, and her followers believed in the legend of the Adoration: how it was he who brought the sun from the depths of outer space and installed it above the primal waters, how he pulled the ghosts of which people were made from out of the heart of a dying star in order to populate his new-made world, how he imprisoned the Chaos Worm beneath the same primeval ocean before calling up the islands and continents from beneath the waves, and how he saved his beloved people from being murdered by the vengeful stars, before imprisoning the stars in their cells in the firmament.


All believed, and no one questioned. But there was one who doubted, not the faith itself, but his own ability to live up to it. People called him the Doubtful, and they used to chase him through the streets and throw things at him. The priests would question him when he came to the temple, asking him why he doubted the faith. But he would deny that he doubted, saying only this:


Though he split the land from the water,

Though he put each star in its own true place

Though he spared us all from the slaughter

I fear his face.


“Fear and wisdom are closely connected,” said a kindly priestess, washing the offal from off of his face. “You have the makings of a priest.” But he shook his head, and the expression of fear on his face contained a tincture of a doubt, and so the priestess drove him out.


From the depths of his terrified heart, the Doubter bargained, holding his hands up to heaven in a pouring rain. He wanted to serve the Adoration, and he wanted to love him, but the possibility of the one seemed to render the other meaningless. No man can bargain with heaven, so his prayers were not answered. The priests of the Adoration demanded a goodness of which he knew he was not capable. This would not have hurt him, except that he knew his neighbors, and though all of them were pious, none of them were capable of true goodness either. This one was an adulterer and this other one a gossip, this one cheated at card games and still another was a drunk. And as for the Doubtful, he had killed a man, though it was a long time ago and in another city far away.


He knew his own crime was a heavy one, but the church demanded a facade of piety, and this was something of which he did not feel capable. And so he sank deeper into doubt and despair, wandering along the roads of the Qalina and sleeping wherever the night surprised him.


He awoke one morning on the side of the road, as the cold light of a white dawn drained the darkness from the sky. There was a black crow standing on top of him, perhaps considering if he was dead enough to make a meal.


“Don’t take my eyes,” he said. “I am not yet ready.”


The crow cawed once at him and flew away, but the Doubtful was disturbed by what he had seen in its eyes. For just a few seconds, before the crow flew away, weird images had flickered there like dim reflections: a blind old woman singing in a lifeless desert as vast as the world, a madman tracing the cracks in a human thighbone between the walls of a ruined city.


“What did I see?” he asked aloud, and he heard a laugh.


“You saw a bird,” said a man, “for there was nothing else to see.”


The man was walking along the roadway with a stick in his hand, and his eyes were bitter and mocking. “You are not a believer, I see,” the man said.


“I am not. But neither am I an unbeliever.” The Doubtful stood up, brushing the dust of the road off his clothes as well as he could.


“Allow me to guess,” said the man. “They cast you out, because you would not worship their ridiculous god.”


“I never found their god ridiculous,” said the Doubter. “I found him terrible beyond all hope. What god could be so ruthless as to demand goodness of men?”


The passerby laughed. “That is droll, I’ll admit. But this goodness they ask of you is as meaningless as their god. You need not cling to these shadows and dreams. Accept the reality of what is in front of you, and seek no other.”


“Yet I doubt that too. You ask me to trust my eyes and not their dreams. I know no cause for trusting either.”


“Then you are far more lost than I. One must know where to stop doubting.”


“I don’t think I believe that,” said the Doubter, and the other man shook his head and walked away.


“The trouble is not that you couldn’t see,” said another voice, “but that you couldn’t play with the things you saw. Don’t you have any dreams of your own?”


The Doubter looked in every direction, but all he saw was the crow, perching nearby on the branch of a silver birch tree.


“I must have dreams of my own,” he replied at last, “to be hearing you speak.”


Then the crow on the branch stepped out of his crow skin, and revealed himself as the magician called the Three Times Exiled. He grinned a grin from the branches of the tree, and the Doubter grinned back although he did not know why.


“Where are you from?” he asked. “For you are no mortal man.”


The magician bowed, and said these words:


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.


“I am only a visitor from the Country of the King, where no one believes anything but everything is real. You may join me there if you like.” And then he sang this song:


There are palaces and temples

In the cities on the plain

Made of bone as smooth as marble

Where the windows run like rain.


There’s a grove of golden peaches,

There are apples, green and red,

There’s a hierophant who teaches

From the gospels of the dead.


There are kings and queens, created

To be gods before the Fall-

Though you wandered there for ages

You could never see it all.


And your anguished hope of heaven,

Once a parched and withered thing,

Will be branches red with berries

In the country of the king.


“Why should I believe that?” asked the Doubter.


“You should not.”


The Three Times Exiled jumped down from the branch, and the ground where he landed sprouted bells on stems, waving like flowers in a summer breeze. The sound of music filled the air


“Neither believers nor unbelievers will ever find it. I don’t ask you to trust what others see or claim to have seen. I don’t even ask you to trust what you see yourself. I ask you only to play.”


The Three Times Exiled waved his hand, and a light burst forth from the Doubter’s forehead and swept the world like a cloth washing paint away. The landscape around them became a world of wonder. But it was not exactly as the magician had described. Instead of a city made of bone there was a plain of windows, scattered here and there for hundreds of miles. Some of them were set into the ground and some rose up straight out of it; some of them floated in the sky and some moved from place to place. And every window looked out upon a different world, some of them fiery places and some of them snowy, some of them mountains and forests, others temples and palaces. The possibilities were so amazing that the Doubter merely gaped, and did not even notice that the magician had gone.


“This is different than what you sang of…” he began, but then he saw he was alone. For only a moment, he stood dismayed. Then he walked off into the World of Windows and was seen no more.


Image by Frederick Sandys

The Book

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.

Sidney Sime ~ It (1911)

When the sun and the moon still gave no warmth, and maneating giants still roamed the earth.


There is a book in Onei that contains all knowledge, including the knowledge of first things. If you are given access to the Book it can be a blessing or a curse.


I opened up the Book to find the place

That spoke of ancient things. My hands were cold,

My lips were purple. And the lamp was old –


It guttered angrily and cast off smoke

That stained my fingers black. I found the page

And what it said was this – “There was an age


In which the sun and moon, though dimly white,

Gave off no heat. Like lifeless rocks they hung

Above a world where primal darkness clung


And in that darkness, there were moving things

Like giant, hungry shadows. In the deep

That ancient chaos still remains asleep.”


– from the Book of Onei, Part II: The Lore of Onei


Image by Sidney Sime


Sorrow of the Gorge

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.


A shock of light above the gorge,

One moment of the sun.

The cliffs are like a closing mouth

Of frozen rock, and north and south

The frigid waters run.


I pause and glance ahead. The path

Is vertical and thin.

An ancient, rusted chain is here,

I wrap it round my hand in fear.

It bites into my skin.


The roots and boulders, tangled thick

As fingers intertwined,

Jut out as sharp as broken bones.

I cross a heap of ancient stones

And pour out half my wine.


“Come out and taste the wine,” I call,

“Come out and drink your fill.”

The wind comes roaring through the trees

And something in me dimly sees

The spirits of the hill.


I light an incense-stick and bow.

“I know it’s cold up here.

The world has changed, and we have come

To hate the things we started from,

The magic and the fear.


“The face of death is hid behind

This horror we have made.

But fools prefer what’s clear and bright.

They turn their backs on every sight

Of mingled light and shade.


“Still, there are things we owe the ghosts.

And some do not forget.”

A mournful bird came floating by.

The mountain ghosts did not reply.

They haven’t answered yet.


– from the Book of Onei, Part II: The Lore of Onei


Image by Eugen Bracht

A Journey to Onei (3)

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.

Andreas Achenbach, Norwegian Coast by Moonlight, 1848

“The Book of Onei is not The Book,” my father once said. I remember him still, walking beside me on that sunless beach – but was it before he had died, or after? “The Book of Onei is only a guide, a book of riddles that don’t always lead to any answers, a book of truths within lies. I have been to Onei many times, but I have never been to any of the cities or nations mentioned in the Book of Onei, nor have I seen their ruins, nor met their citizens. As far as I can tell they do not exist, and most likely they never existed – not even in Onei.”


“Then what is the Book of Onei?” I asked him. “Is it just a fraud?”
“The Book of Onei is both a key and a lock,” he said. His face was haunted, as if he always listened and always waited – perhaps for a footfall. “Those stories mean something, but I do not know what. The Book of Onei hints at something, but I am afraid to ask.”


“Perhaps all this darkness is just a means,” I said, and yet he would not hear me and would not answer.


“So what is The Book, then?” I asked him.


“It contains all knowledge, all knowledge on any topic. It contains the secrets of the Primal Darkness! It is the gift of the Veiled One, the most ancient of all the Powers in Onei.”


“Did she give it to you?”


“And why would she have done that? I snuck in to the library, the Great Library of Onei, and I stole what I wanted. I walked out with the Book of Onei in my coat pocket! What power would give me any aid or comfort?”


“Maybe that isn’t something she would even care about. We know nothing about her. Perhaps the Book of Onei means nothing to her. Perhaps she wanted you to have it. Perhaps if you had ever made use of it, she would have shown you The Book.”


Still he did not answer, would never answer. He only looked at the ocean, at the light that flickered across the dark waters, and recited a poem:


“I’m Prometheus,” he told me,

“I’m the traitor and the thief.

But his eyes were still defiant

Through his horror and his grief.


Then the eagle stuck its beak in

For the hundred millionth time,

And I watched in guilty wonder.

Was I worthy of his crime?


Have I used the gift he gave me?

Have I kept the embers warm?

Have I fed the god inside me

Striving daily to be born?”


And now here I stood, deep beyond the Borders of Onei, among the gorges and mountains. How far would I travel, how many mountains would I have to cross, until I discovered the secret? Was there even a secret to be uncovered, or only lies within lies?


I dug into my bag and found the Book of Onei, opened it up to a random page and read a poem about these mountains.

– notes found in the handwritten original of the Book of Onei


Image by Andreas Achenbach

When the Sons of the Crow Came Down on Onei

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.

Dark star a postcard by Vasily Alexandrovich Kotarbinski {c.1900}

When the Sons of the Crow came down on Onei, the terror of their first appearance was like the rising of a blood-red star. Their eyes were feral and vengeful and they were clothed in rags, black tatters like the wings of crows. Their fury lit first upon the City of Wisdom, which they destroyed completely in seven days. Men said that the Sons of the Crow were the fools of the wasteland, driven out from the City of Wisdom and returned now to take their vengeance, but none could say for certain. The Sons were like howling furies when they went into battle, and the wise could do nothing but die before them.


The Sons of the Crow were led by a prophet, a man who wore a long black crow’s mask to hide his face. The name of the prophet was Eyes Like Flowers, and the heads of huge sunflowers spilled out from the eye-holes in his black mask, so that none could tell how he could see.


There was a story about Eyes Like Flowers, but none could say if it was true or not. According to the story, the prophet was originally a common criminal, arrested for inciting a riot in the streets of the city. When the wise men of the city declared his death sentence, he only laughed strangely at them but would say nothing. They tied him to a stake and prepared the bonfire, and the man who would soon lead the Sons of the Crow began to sing. His voice was like the harsh screech of a cawing crow.


When my eyeballs bloom like flowers

And my hands go forth to war,

When the bell that tolls the hours

Cracks and falls and rings no more…


According to the legend, Eyes like Flowers became a prophet as he sang the song. Gigantic sunflower heads burst out through his eye sockets, and his eyeballs fell out just like little glass marbles. His hands burst into flame even though the city Headsman had not yet lit the match, and the bonds with which they had tied his wrists burned black and snapped off.


The clock on the great brass tower in the center of the city, a beautifully complicated mechanism of gears and dials, had just been ringing the hour of noon. As Eyes Like Flowers sang the words of his song, the bell in the clock-tower suddenly cracked, falling to the ground in an explosion of bricks and splintered wood.


Across the length of Onei, on the Blue-Green Ocean, a hot wind began to blow. The sun blazed like a malignant eye, and the drought began that destroyed the Pearl States. By the end of that decade, large sections of the Blue Green Ocean had been boiled away to desert, gleaming whitely like a plain of salt.


As Eyes Like Flowers sang his song, the Wise – who had been watching his intended execution from a nearby balcony – had their crimes laid bare before the people of Sophia, appearing as flickering images on the passing clouds. Qaran the Luminous, the great philosopher, was exposed as an embezzler of the city funds. Tendress the High Priestess was shown taking bribes from the wealthy to preach whatever they wanted her to preach. Setnel the Astronomer had stolen another man’s greatest discovery, then had his rival denounced as a fool and driven out into the wasteland.


It went on and on, and the people of the city were enraged by what they saw. The rioting that followed lasted for three days and four nights. Eyes Like Flowers disappeared, only to return at the head of his black-clad horde some ten years later. But all of this was only a legend, because no one outside the Sons of the Crow could say for certain, and the Sons of the Crow did not answer questions.


What is known is this. The prophet who was known as Eyes Like Flowers wore a crow mask with a long black beak, and long tattered robes that looked like crow’s wings. In the eye-openings of his mask, there were giant sunflowers. When the Sons of the Crow came out from the wasteland, he got up in front of them and sang this song:


And are we not of the sons of the crow,

Who worship a hidden creed?

Or those who seek but do not know,

And hear, but do not heed?


When they heard these words, his followers howled, and the frenzy of their bloodlust blotted out all other sounds. Man and woman, young and old, the Sons of the Crow held their spears on high, while their commanding officers held curved white scimitars. The Wise of Sophia sent out their army, but the army was massacred before the gates of the city. Those gates were barred, but the Sons of the Crow laid siege to the walls. The people of the back streets rose in rebellion, slaughtered the guards that held the gates, and threw them open to the Sons. They say the light from the flames could be seen in Qotar, but Qotar is more than two hundred miles away from what are now the ruins of the City of Wisdom.


That too is mere legend, but this is not: when the Sons of the Crow came down on Onei, the terror of their first appearance was like the rising of a blood-red star. From city to city and from land to land, the Sons of the Crow brought blood and fire. No one knew what they wanted and none could say what they believed, for their Prophet spoke only in riddles and poetry. To the High Priest of the Adoration in the Plain of Day, Eyes Like Flowers sang these words:


I climbed a staircase to the land of birds

And told them what I’d learned.

They didn’t care.

To birds, the world is made of clouds and air.


And then he inexplicably spared the Temple of Adoration from destruction by his horde, though the Temple of Wisdom was torn brick from brick and its priests impaled before the ruined walls.


Believing that the worship of Adoration must be favored somehow by the Sons of the Crow, thousands and thousands of people converted to that creed, and the whole land between what was once Sophia and what would someday be the Qalina became a stronghold of that faith. The Sons of the Crow did not always march, but disappeared into the deserts and the mountains for years at a time, reappearing to burn and kill. Yet when they did so, they showed no favor to any, burning the cities of the Adoring just as readily and as ruthlessly as any other.


When the fear of the Sons of the Crow had become too great to endure, and the fact that they favored no faith had become too obvious to ignore, a prophet arose from among the ranks of the Adoring. He was known as the Flagbearer, and he carried a flag before him into battle instead of any kind of weapon. All his followers did the same. The followers of the Flagbearer refused to fight, but only carried their flags ahead of them and stood before the Sons of the Crow. They died in their thousands, surrendering their own lives willingly as a shame and a rebuke. When the Flagbearer stood before Eyes Like Flowers, the mad prophet broke down and wept, singing these words as he fell to his knees:


We come to you with broken beaks

And wings like crippled birds.

It’s better not to even speak

Than lose the weight of words.


Then all of the Sons of the Crow dropped down to their knees, and their spears and their scimitars fell out of their hands. Their eyes were wet with sorrow and remorse, and the terror of their own damnation. But the Flagbearer replied with kindness:


On bended knee I sought the source

Of all that moves above,

And only when I knew remorse

Decided it was love.


The awful kindness of the Flagbearer shamed the Sons of the Crow so that they took their own lives, unable to live with the horror that they had made. And so the Flagbearer saved the lands that would become the Qalina, the Empire of the Adoration. Yet he was not to be honored, for the priests of the Adoration could never trust him. He had no blood on his hands, but the shame he inspired, the example of a thrilling and terrible love, had destroyed an entire army. And so they had him burned alive, and his followers scattered to the corners of the earth.


There were those who disapproved, but one old man who witnessed the execution nodded solemnly as the flames rose high. As he turned away from the pile of ashes, he was heard to say this:


He told me he could teach the art

The world was built upon.

And yet, within my secret heart,

I smiled when he was gone.


Image by Vasily Alexandrovich Kotarbinski

The Powers of the First Darkness

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.

Nightmare image Valere Bernard {1680}

Alone at night, I hear the doorknob turn,

The hinges creak- and standing in the light

Are cold and silent men. I stand in fright,


And one by one they float in through the door.

Their suits are charcoal gray, their ties are thin.

On every mouth, a Mona Lisa grin.


Their eyes could just as well be balls of glass,

Their faces stuffed and mounted. Waves of dread

Pass over me and through me. Like the dead


There’s nothing there at all- an absent space

Just papered over by a face as clean

And free of comment as a pure machine.


“We’ve found him,” says the first one

And I turn, to try to get away. The power comes

And lifts me off my feet, completely numb


From crown to sole. Cold, drunken currents flow

And hold me in a field of fearful awe.

They know the truth. I disobeyed the Law


And now the consequence has found me out.

“You should have kept your mouth shut,” says a voice,

“Or joined the Legion while you had the choice,


“But chronicling our secrets…” As I scream,

Their faces start to glow. They circle in

Like feeding sharks. But, though I may have sinned


I still remain defiant. Down below,

In Death’s primeval waters, there is lore

Of hidden things that none have known before,


And I can steal it if I slip the trap.

The horror closes in. My fingers make

A sign of power, and I bolt awake.


My wife’s asleep beside me in our bed.

The kitchen light is flickering. Outside,

The city sleeps. And I am still alive.


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

Image by Valere Bernard

The Three Types of Dreamer

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.


Lightseers- night wanderers who most easily or frequently contact celestial and benevolent entities.


Earthseers- dreamers who dream true things, but of Earth and not of Onei.


Darkseers- night wanderers who most easily or frequently contact cthonic and horrifying entities.


It’s not that the blue-green mountains don’t appeal.

I can feel their majesty,

Their sense of distance.

It’s just that there’s also something else-

For instance,

The something wicked that this way comes

In the witching hour,

The drunken trembling of branch and stem

And the formless Power.

And if I should sometimes prefer

To attach myself

To some beautiful chaos-

I can pay what it costs.


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

Image by Albert Pinkham Ryder

Offering Prayer

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.


Burn the appropriate candle and recite this prayer when you leave an offering to the powers:


This hungry pit shall open wide

And gorge on meat and wine.

These flames will burn as night-clouds turn

To watch this work of mine.


This shaft will gape so none escapes

Its toothless maw tonight.

While blue-white stars look down in awe

To see the flames so bright.


Oh gods of endless space and sky,

Oh gods of underneath,

Oh gods who live and gods who die

And gods who wait beneath,


Accept these morsels from my hand,

Drink deep, and eat your fill.

I seek no benefits tonight

Unless you share my will.


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

Image by Henry Fuseli

A Journey to Onei (2)

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.


Crossing over into the borders of Onei, I saw a thick and shadowy forest. It’s always like that, by which I mean there is always a barrier – not that there is always a forest. And this forest was deep, as deep as the waters of a still, black lake without a wind to ruffle its surface. I heard no birds, felt nothing but a malevolent watchfulness. At the edge of the trees there stood a pair of pillars, guarded by two grinning and silent skulls. The dead stared back at me in blind resentment. I was alive and they were not, and that’s more than enough.


The guardian sat there dressed in red, its face obscured behind a cloud of smoke. It nodded solemnly as I approached, waiting to see if I knew the invocation. The heads in the pillars had failed to give it, which is ironic of course. You compose it yourself.


I opened my copy of the Book of Onei, turned to a blank page, and began to speak. The words of my invocation appeared on the page in red and black. I know I said that I could hear no birds, but as soon as I had finished speaking a great flock arose, flying in rapid and violent circles about the nimbus of the sun.


The guardian stood, its robes the color of a thick red wine. It made a gesture with its hands, an ancient symbol I had never seen before but which I recognized immediately. What it meant was “proceed,” and it obliged the heads to stop their silent laughter.


It had no such power over the forest, which continued to brood in malicious silence. I knew my own tendency toward a violent melancholy and didn’t take it personally.


In a clearing between the trees that night I dug a pit with my hands, a place for offerings to the underworld powers. The pit was like a gaping mouth, a waiting throat, opening wide in eager wetness to devour the world. I lit a fire in front of it, honoring the powers of the empty heavens. The celestial deities, the stars and planets, the vast, blue void with its howling winds – I made my offerings to all that beauty, all that horror and all that wonder.


And then I crouched in silence, waiting for the spirits to render their judgement. I remembered a dream. The night when the Host came was a terrible night, perhaps the night that had driven me here. There is no horror like that horror, unthinking and childlike, the knowledge that there is something beyond death – and that it knows who you are. They almost had me that time, but I turned out to not be as powerless as the Host believed me.


I had my knowledge, the lore my father had stolen from Onei. He gave that power to me, though he had never dared to use it himself. I made a sign with my fingers, I broke the glamour of the wrathful dead…


And that was my answer from the forest spirits:


“The darkseer needs no permission to journey on into Onei.”      


– notes found in the handwritten original of the Book of Onei

Image by Sidney Sime

The Spider’s Song


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


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