It must be insufferably hard, longing for your home, knowing you can never return. The wounds left in the wake of the Flood that took Catrosondia have not yet healed, and almost all the Catrosondians in Buentoille have lost nearly everyone they know. Yet the bonds, the shared identity which they have with their fellow diasporans has strengthened, and they try still to keep the traditions and ways of their homeland alive. Today’s festival, the Festival of Woven Dreams, is one such tradition.
One of the most obvious visual characteristics of a Catrosondian is their extremely long hair, which is the same in all genders. It is not unusual for a Catrosondian to have sections of hair which brush their toes, although other sections are invariably shorter, and they often wear their hair up in head wrappings or intricate knots to keep it out of their way and disguise the hodgepodge lengths. The sectioning of hair in this manner is called ‘coppicing,’ and is down to its use in today’s festival, once the central axis of Catrosondian civil society.
In the centre of Catrosondia was a large, freshwater pool of water that bubbled up out of the ground. For most of human history on that island, the pool was the primary source of fresh water on the island, and was given great religious significance. Near the centre of the pool was a very large tree, called the Dreamer. A large section of the tree’s trunk was hollow, a space almost perfectly sized to fit a single human. According to Catrosondian folklore, it was from this tree that the first woman was birthed, dreamed up by the Dreamer from some alternative realm where there are no trees, only naked humans standing stock still across the landscape as trees do.
It’s difficult to tell when the Dreamer was named as such, or when the day of this original ‘birthing’ was decided to be June the 14th, as there is very little textual evidence left about early Catrosondia, on account of the Flood, and as none of the survivors from that terrible cataclysm were expert historians. Regardless of the reasoning, today became the day to celebrate the creation of humanity, but also a day to take advantage of the power of dreams, thought by Catrosondians to have influence over the material world.
For Catrosondians today has always started with the cutting off of the longest section of hair available on their heads. This long strand is then woven into threads and then rope, along with the hair of every other Catrosondian in the City. At one time, this rope would have been hundreds of metres long, and require the labour of thousands of people to be completed before the end of the day, but nowadays it is more modest in length and required labour. When the rope was completed, a single member of the community, a girl 15 years of age, was chosen from a group of volunteers, then placed in the hollow of the Dreamer. As the sun set, the rope would be wound around the tree, sealing off the entrance (though leaving holes here and there so that the girl could breathe) for the entire night. The next morning the volunteer would be cut free.
Whilst the Dreamer is gone from this world, Catrosondians still practice this yearly ritual today, choosing another tree, an ancient oak some way into Luck’s End forest, with a similar hollow, a little smaller. They practice it now as more of a matter of cultural preservation than dream magic, as it once was viewed. As the girl inside the tree fell asleep and dreamed the powerful dreams of the Dreamer tree, those dreams of creation, the dreams would be transmitted to the other Catrosondians through the hair (once thought to grow directly from the brain) they left entwined around the trunk. The girl inside the tree would have some power over the direction of the dreams, just as a baby does over its mother’s, and she would try to funnel the dreams in a certain direction, into certain events which would have positive benefits for the community.
There is a certain sadness to the way the diaspora form their hair rope today, the way they choose their little dreamer, the way they place her in the tree; there is a resignation to it. No matter if the hair is cut at the right time, on the right day. No matter if the girl is the correct age, the rope bound anti-clockwise, the correct incantations said in the process. The tree is not, and never will be the Dreamer, and therefore it cannot work. No matter how skilled the girl is in dream-wrangling, there is nothing to wrangle with, no force to nudge and funnel in the correct direction. It does not matter how hard each and every Catrosondian wishes for the re-emergence of their island, their own city, it will never come to pass.
Other festivals happening today:
- The Festival of the Glitterball
- The Cup and Candle Birthday Party
- The Festival of Very Fiddly Electronics