April 15th – The Festival of Somnolent Visions

According to a group of scientists known as the Tenebrian Order (so named after Tenebris, a semi-buried section of the City which has, in part, been taken over by the Order for the purposes of their experiments), today is the best day to experience lucid dreams, or as the Order terms them, ‘somnolent visions with a high factor of control and verisimilitude.’ Temporarily abandoning their subterranean existence in the old, built over streets where their lab is located, they travel out of the City to the pine forest by the Municipal Paper Mill, along with a number of volunteers. The group of twenty-or-so scientists and thirty-or-so volunteers will get off the ferry and traipse their way into the centre of the forest, where they will set up a number of hammocks under tarpaulin canopies.

Whilst the order is around thirty years old, is has only come into the public eye in the last five years. According to their listing with the Buentoilliçan Register of Businesses, the group conducts research into ‘dreams, dream states, visions and meditation,’ with a goal to advance scientific understanding and ‘develop products which will expand the human consciousness.’ Despite a good deal of media attention and questioning, the group has said little more than this publicly, except for the information they give out as part of today’s festival.

It seems that the group was having some kind of difficulty gathering participants for their experiments, so they reframed this particular one as a festival instead. According to the Order, today there is the highest concentration of ipsor-chryomines (a new substance discovered by the Order, which is apparently excreted into the air by pine trees via respiration) in the air of the forest. The scientists are extremely vague about what purpose for the tree this chemical performs, or why it is particularly prevalent at this time of year, but they are very clear that it has a potent effect on sleeping brains.

In their makeshift beds, swinging in the open air, the study’s participants are hooked up to a number of esoteric machines, all of which supposedly measure sleep and dream activity. The participants are also coached in lucid dreaming techniques, and are woken at a number of points and asked to describe the content of their dreams, the level of control they had, and the relative verisimilitude of the visions they experienced. In green tents, slightly away from the sleeping participants slung between the trees, members of the Order pore over complex displays and charts, occasionally discussing something quietly between themselves.

It is not clear exactly what the Order are testing for; if they are attempting to measure the effect of the ipsor-chryomines on dream states, then the methodology doesn’t fit at all; there are too many factors which could disrupt this, including the coaching that each participant receives. It seems more likely that there is some other hidden factor which they are testing for, one which necessarily hasn’t been revealed in the five years that the festival has occurred. A number of theories have been posed by a number of people and organisations, though none have been denied or confirmed by the Order; perhaps the most sensational (and therefore popular) of these theories was posed by a former participant, Keith Pitchmenner.

Pitchmenner’s claims came to light in the summer of 2014, when the Buentoilliçan Prophet ran a piece on the illusive Tenebrian Order, attempting to expose what they saw as ‘ulterior motives.’ The piece, of which it can charitably be said that fact-checking was a secondary consideration, culminated in the ‘eye-witness testimony’ of Pitchmenner, who accused the Order of attempting to direct the collective dream-power of the participants into breaching an entry to a ‘waurst road,’ a mythical space between two worlds where extremely long distances can take mere moments, if one knows how to travel them properly. The article pointed to Sumel Macynth the Wizard’s map of 1221 which illustrates the supposed location of these routes as evidence of this theory, yet the map clearly shows that the nearest waurst road lies twenty miles north of the location of today’s festival.

Needless to say, the Order refutes these accusations, and has stated its unequivocal commitment to scientific principles. Despite this, the lack of explanation on their part has led to a general sense of mistrust towards the scientists, which has had some impact on participant recruitment. Perhaps this year a few less hammocks will be slung in the woods, the glowing green tents an electronic lights that accompany them making an odd sight for any passing woodland creatures.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Festival of Grunge
  • The Festival of Bookshelf Organisation
  • I Waited For You All Winter, Now That it is Spring We Must Dance; A Festival of Romantic Movements