Detroit By Night(Mage)
Spirit-talkers, animal friends, brothers to wind and sisters to Earth – these mages walk the boundaries between our physical world and the realm of dreams, gathering wisdom and skill from the spirits that are native to the earth, the sky and the water. Dreamspeakers are often pigeonholed as shamans, and the name fits.They are the intermediaries between humanity and Spirit, communicating between the two worlds, maintaining balance and keeping the relationship between the inhabitants of both realms in their proper state of stasis or flux. Of all the Tradition, the Dreamspeakers have the most difficult role and the strongest centering, grounding influence.
In the beginning, there were people in all lands who knew the way to cross to the spirit lands and communicate with the totems of the land, tribal protectors and ancestor spirits. These people shared their wisdom with their tribes or their families, and they were magicians and medicine men among their own groups. They did not speak of the many other dream-walkers they encountered in the spirit realms, though, and they did not gather in groups often. When the Convocation came together to form the Traditions, the mages recognized that these people needed to be a part of the forming alliance, despite how primitive they seemed. The shamans who answered the call became the first Dreamskeakers.
Those Dreamskeakers who joined the Traditions found reason to regret it, though. From the first, the Eurocentric Traditions, led by the prejudices of the Order of Hermes, pressed all of the various spiritual groups into one cachet. The Europeans would not bother to understand the “primitive and inferior” ways of the many visitors and labeled them all as Dreamspeakers. For their part, the Dreamspeakers saw the Traditionalists as selfish, greedy and power-hungry, unconcerned with the sublime aspects of spiritualism and nearly as bad as the Order of Reason. Only the strong vision of the scientific annihilation of their cultures kept the Dreamspeakers involved with the Council – and even that was not enough. By the 1700s, the Dreamspeakers had so splintered in their relations with the racist Traditionalists tht fully half the delegation left to return to their native peoples. This schism resulted in the dmise of many Dreamspeakers and a rift between Tradition and Council that has not yet healed. By the modern age, the Dreamspeakrs have realized that they can survive only with the help of the Council, yet the Council has long turned a deaf ear to them. Prophecy tells that the Council will learn from its errors and finally come to accept the Dreamspeakers – but it may not be in time to save all that the dreamers hold dear.
Of all the Traditions, the Dreamspeakers have arguably undergone the least change. Most members of the group still revere the ancient spirits, old rites and sacred places. They remember the names of gods and faces of legends. The powerful oral history and vivid dream-craft of the Dreamspeakers lets them retain a great hereditary knowledge of their ways, and some factions see themselves as reincarnations of great shamans or even personifications of spirits in flesh. With drum and fire, chants and fetishes, the Dreamspeakers tap always into the same ancient Dream that has guided them for eternity.
The Dreamskeakers’ role has gotten much more difficult recently. The Gauntlet, the curtain dividing the physical world from the spiritual, has become much harder to cross. In the cities and places where disbelief is strong, it’s almost impossible to pass into the spiritual world. Even in sacred groves and deserts, stepping into the Dream requires more effort than it ever has before. The eldest Dreamspeakers are concerned about this change, and the younger mages see their spirit-council fires as they meet to discuss how best to deal with this new trouble.
Shamanism isn’t limited to Native Americans and African aborigines. Every culture on Earth has a few people who can communicate with spirits of the land, and they all do so in very different ways. Even so, Dreamspeakers all have a deep love for their home, whether they call the entire Earth home or just a corner of it. Many mages of this Tradition are active conservationists, seeking to preserve what’s left of the wilderness or even to reclaim some of the land that has been developed already. Their connection to the spirits generally shows itself when the mages are young, sometimes in the form of imaginary animal friends, or it begins to manifest when the mage hits puberty. Most young Dreamspeakers go out on a quest to find someone who can teach them how to understand their visions and make sense of their new lives.
Since the first Dreamspeakers came to the Council, the leadership hasn’t gotten much more formal. The Tradition has always been organized loosely at best, deferring leadership to its most respected members almost by unspoken accord. Meetings of the entire Tradition are rare. Before the Gauntlet was strengthened, these meetings would take place in the spirit world, with totems and ancestor spirits sitting in and lending their wisdom as well. Now, however, the Dreamspeakers gather in the physical plane, letting each other know of the time and place of the meeting through dreams and visions.
Dreamspeakers profess as many different factions as there are forms of spiritualism or shamanism.
There is infinitely more to this world than the things anyone can touch. Beyond the edges of vision are beings that have been with us for aeons, and they are bound up in the workings and the health of the world. The Dreamspeakers recognize this fact, and they honor the spirits. They are the gatekeepers between the two planes, serving as communicators and go-betweens. If either side of the Gauntlet is neglected, both will suffer, so the Dreamspeakers balance the two. The balance sometimes requires the mage to perform actions that seem irrational or trivial; other times the mage must make a sacrifice to keep the worlds in harmony. Too many people have forgotten the existence of the spirits of the land, and the Dreamspeakers must always remember for themselves and for everyone else.
Shamanism is a solitary profession almost by definition. There are no group tours into the spirit world. The Dreamspeakers suffer from this lack of cohesion. Because there isn’t really a group identity, there aren’t any group goals or unified movement toward a specific point. The potential power of the Tradition is diffused into many small vessels instead of poured into a larger, more effective channel. On the other hand, all Dreamspeakers are working on some level to counteract the strengthening of the Gauntlet, the other weakness that plagues this Tradition. With access to the spirit world so limited, the shaman-mages have lost access to much of their magical strength. The Dreamspeakers’ inability to even understand one another despite their unification as a single Tradition compounds this loss. They all revere and work for the greter balance of the world, yet their approaches are so varied and intuitive that they cannot work together effectively.
Theories and Practices
In their hearts, the Dreamspeakers all hear the voice of the world – its invisible pulse, the surge of spirits, the rhythm of nature and the slumbering power of the great Earth. Some answer to totems, others to capricious spirits of natural places. A few commune with the modern spirit of man, the symbols and lines that technology calls forth. In every case, though, magic comes from the Dream, whatever its given name. The Dreamspeakers draw out the images and archetypes known unconsciously by all humanity.
Primitive is not now and never has been a word that accurately or wholly describes these mages. They may use methods the pre-technological societies used to communicate with things other people can’t see, but their grasp of reality and the modern world is startlingly strong. In order to understand what is happening to the dream realms and to interpret the messages of the spirites, the Dreamspeakers have to be intimately familiear with the workings of the physical world. Besides, it doesn’t do anyone any good if a shaman in Alaska has a message for a Sleeper in Venezuela and can’t pick up a phone or send an email to get the message across.
Standing with one foot in this world and one foot across the Gauntlet, the Dreamspeakers have a unique understanding of the consequences of their actions. Not only do they see what happens among people and societies, they see the ripples caused in the spirit world, which almost always last much longer. This dual vision gives the Tradition a deep sense of duty – duty to Sleepers, Awakened and the spirits they deal with. With the fate of two worlds directly on their shoulders, the Dreamspeakers know that they must choose carefully and wisely when making decisions.