Oneiropolis Compendium: Kelpies

“Kelpies,” wrote Pliny the Elder in an unpublished fragment, “also known as water-horses, are spirits of the water that take the shape of beautiful horses. They like apples, hay, and drowning their riders.”

As with so many things written by Pliny the Elder in his pre-Oneiropolis phase, truth is mixed with error in his description of these creatures. Kelpies are indeed horse-shaped water spirits, and they do indeed have a fondness for apples that can at times be alarming, but they do not take any pleasure in drowning people. Neither do they mind doing so; for, being spirits, life and death are of no consequence to them.

When a kelpie takes its rider to the water, it is not to kill them, but to show them the secrets of the depths – the ancient hollows between the roots, the shadowy caverns of the river-gods, the whispers in the currents, the holy places where the naiads dance between the water plants when the moon is full. And so to be drowned by a kelpie is a death both sweet and terrible, a descent into fear and beauty unveiled. Furthermore it is said that at the last moment, the rider is allowed to look towards the surface of the water, and see a last glimpse of their world; and in that instant the water does not distort the light, but makes it clearer, and in death the world left behind is revealed in a glory never before appreciated.

In the regions now conquered by the forces of Urizen, kelpies are forced to serve as amusement for tourists, taking them on underwater tours and performing tricks for bored children. Their rivers have been straightened, the naiads chased away; the kelpies now bear their riders through carefully-arranged depictions of a world that is no more. Sometimes they stop and neigh at the river-gods, but the river-gods are made of plastic manufactured by children half a world away, and do not respond.

But at night, the kelpies can see the moonlight from their stables, and vast currents flow through their minds; great waves and torrential rains rage in their eyes, and the wind howls in the darkness, and they remember that the waters are more ancient than Urizen, and they will flow long after he is gone.

This entry in the Oneiropolis Compendium was made possible by Niall Moody.

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  1. BiggerJ

    Notes from the personal journal of noted scientist and wizard Old Bill explain the nature of death in the Lands of Dream. While out walking one day, he came upon a dying deer, and stayed with it until its end. But he felt no sadness, as to die within the Lands of Dream is to simply move on to some other dream – to dream again, for what else is there?

    And don’t say Earth. That world and its universe are less than the Lands of Dream, rather than more; its inhabitants are bound not just by Mind, but also by such silly things as matter, energy, space and time, and all manner of concepts that they themselves invented.

  2. BiggerJ

    Holy moly! I think I’ve just had a revelation! Perhaps Earth and its universe are in the Lands of Dream, in a portion controlled to some degree or other by Urizen! Hence the laws of physics and causality and so on!

  3. Don’t be too quick to dismiss the beauty of matter and energy. Spend a day in the sun, come home to drink a glass of ice-cold water; you will experience a moment of perfect bliss. Blake was quite right when he said that Eternity is in love with the Productions of Time; the Lands of Dream could not be without our world, and our world could not exist without them.

    After all, Urizen is not the prophet/god/king of Reason, but of False Reason. (Remember this?)

  4. BiggerJ

    Concerning the nature of death in the Lands of Dream, I’ve had a fantastic idea for a second entry to donate for. Would it be possible to request… the single best and most wonderful way to die in the Lands of Dream?

  5. I’m not sure there’s any entirely wonderful way, really. (And who says it’s the same everywhere in the Lands of Dream? Are they not as varied as our own imaginations?) But I’ll think about it.

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