When the witch manifests a compass of the path, standing at Oudeira, and surrounded by Adraxen, ze manifests the present. The witch zerself becomes a focal point of zer current manifestation within space / time, the inflamed ‘now.’ The compass is therein seen as zer current cosmos; with the witch, spirits, and deities evoking, manifesting, and directing energies to determine both how that selfsame cosmos shall change (both now and in the time to come), and where the witch should trod next.
Beneath the witch, both figuratively and literally, lie the dead. To the Stardust Compass, the dead are the pasts: lives, decisions, and unpredictable events which occurred - since the dawn of space / time - to make the witch of the present moment stand in zer compass of now. The realm of the dead contain not merely a single set of events, but each possibility and choice that ever could have been made. While only one sequence of events has led to the witch of the present moment, numerous other choices lead to parallel compasses - alternate worlds spread out across space / time where a nearly identical witch practices zer art... and several where ze was never even born. The pasts contain an ever-expanding web of possibilities stretching back to long before the planet was forged.
As though a mirror to the lands below, when the witch gazes skyward ze finds the innumerable stars of the celestial realm - the futures. Within the Stardust Compass, each individual star is a potential future: a unique life to be lived, if the witch follows appropriate path upon Oudeira. From the compass, the stars can be interacted with to gain wisdom, receive omens, and navigated towards (or avoided) accordingly. Some feel that the stars glow for they are all future reflections of our spirit spread out above us; to others they are each future versions of the Earth, alight with the brilliance of all the spirits traveling upon zer; and to some they are each a spirit, a guardian and guide of that potential timeline. The darkness between the stars is often seen as void of potential futures - whether due to events which didn’t come to pass (e.g.: born in a different part of the world, focused on different subjects or hobbies, etc); futures where the witch (or the planet) ceases to be (or never was); or simply the dark primal void within which all creation once sprang.
Yet, just as a journey to the realm of the ancestors often reveals a relatable landscape unto the witch, so too does the celestial realm. Instead of appearing as the future worlds the witch might expect, ze will often find a beautiful and wild landscape when visiting the stars, a haunting land both strange yet familiar.
Within the Stardust Compass the night sky is seen as a landscape upon which a practitioner can trod - terrain akin to our own, solid and firm, but a world made entirely of pure night. Few structures dot this primal landscape, with it’s majestic, raw beauty taking center stage. Hanging above this midnight land is Moon, and the shimmering blue-green planet Earth.
While the landscape of the celestial realm may manifest as darkness, this is neither due to shadow, pigmentation, nor the lack of illumination - everything is simply made of night. Mountains, rivers, plants, animals, and more appear as pure black. Were the witch to light a candle its flame would burn with the selfsame darkness of the terrain which surrounds it.
This darkness does retreat, however, whenever a celestial is near. The vivid luminance of a celestial causes the landscape to erupt in all directions with the brilliance of a crisp spring dawn.
Within the celestial realm, the land itself is known to its denizens as the body of Braeh Azara. The night materia which makes up the trees, birds, stones and more is deified. The land which erupts into light from the presence of a celestial is the flesh, blood, and bone of the stellar manifestation of Ka’braeh Zet. Further, Braeh Azara is known to manifest to those who summon forth the Scarlet Beast amongst stars and darkness - at times appearing in a form made of shadow, nebulae, and stellar flame.
Within this midnight landscape, the celestials thrive. Beings which have been known to take on any shape (though often appearing in animal, vegetal, or humanoid forms), they radiate light from within - displaying a myriad of colors as they so choose. Yet, an Earthbound witch gazing at a star isn’t actually seeing a single celestial, they would be too faint to perceive. In truth, a star as seen from Earth is usually a large gatherings of celestials - be they in towns, festivals, or more. Frustratingly, many celestials have been known to refer to themselves and their kind as ‘stars’ - unsure why it causes Earthly visitors such confusion.
It is suggested that the witch interact with the celestials in a similar fashion to other denizens of the Otherworld. The use of caution, patience, wisdom, kindness, and prudence are all encouraged. Celestials are neither inherently benevolent nor inclined to interact cordially with the witch. Ze is encouraged to be gentle with zerself, as well as the celestials, during the initial engagements.
Celestials themselves are regularly known to retreat, hide, or otherwise obscure themselves long before a witch is able to interact with them. Celestials will occasionally even hood their light entirely, allowing them to move undetected within the celestial realm - causing neither themselves, nor the land around them, to glow. It should be noted, however, that amongst the celestials there appears to be a general distrust for celestials which perpetually obscure their radiance.
“Never trust an unlit star.”
— Celestial Saying
While it is true that a celestial casts their own radiance into the world, the landscape surrounding them will often glow as brilliantly as they do. This light is not due to the illumination that they cast, but rather erupts from within the terrain & life itself. Unhindered by natural or artificial barriers, everything from rock to rose will burst with vibrant light when a celestial is near; with the glow lasting long after they have retreated from the space.
Land which one or more celestials regularly inhabit will retain its vivid radiance nigh-indefinitely. Countryside surrounding the home of a celestial, as well as the domicile itself, will glow vibrantly from their continued presence. While a single celestial, viewed from Earth, might not be perceivable - the glowing land of their homestead most certainly would be.
Moon & Sun
Within this midnight land the Sun is never seen. To the celestials, it does not exist. The celestials only know if it’s existence from the tales they have heard over time.
The Moon appears overhead in the celestial realm, often with the self-same phase as the witch would see from zer Earthly vantage point. This placement often means the Moon is seen as existing “between” the celestial realm and the witch’s compass.
This location further emphasizes the Moon’s role as a gate through with stellar energies move during its open (new moon) state, or are muted during its closed (full moon) manifestation. The open gate (new moon) brings the stellar energies closer, increases their potency, and allows for swift travel; and the closed gate (full moon) will cause the celestial realm to become more distant, less potent, or entirely unreachable.
Historically the Ancient Wanderers were seven unique celestial bodies viewable from Earth with the naked eye. The eldritch trait which gave the Wanderers their name, of course, was the fact that they moved against the static backdrop of their luminous siblings. The two headliners were Sun and Moon: massive celestial forces which dominated the night sky both energetically and physically. The remaining five were the planets visible with the naked eye: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.
When a witch of the Wandering Coterie visits one of these ancient wanderers, they discover a gathering of countless celestials, all members of a radiant caravan, trekking across the midnight realm as one. Each caravan consist of endless wagons, carts, tiny houses, tents, sleds, huts with animal legs, and things much stranger; all spreading their unique offerings wherever they trod. Not only do the caravan’s domiciles glow with the radiance of their celestial owners, but the surrounding countryside becomes illuminated wherever the caravan roams.
No-one truly knows when the caravans began, nor what celestials were the first to wander the now well-worn path the wagons follow: the Midnight Road. Some celestials will visit a caravan in search of the specific aid being offered, others to marvel at the mystical wonders that travel within, and some will even undertake a great pilgrimage to join a caravan’s wandering ranks. Even today there are celestials who joined their caravan’s companie so long ago they have forgotten when, or why, they did.
The Five Caravans
The swiftest among them, Al’shez Ez’chet (Mercury), is the great traveling bazaar. Its resident stars thrive in commerce and trade, constantly buying and selling exquisite items from whatever stellar regions they pass through. Visitors to Al’shez Ez’chet speak of the endless selection of wares available, from the familiar to the exotic. Be wary, however, for a vendor might disappear the following night - or even if you turn your back! The center of the caravan’s ranks holds vendors selling exquisite items of exceptional rarity, typically with price-tags to bewildering to comprehend.
Na’chay Is’im (Venus) is a orgiastic carnival of lust, love, and indulgence. Ecstasy can be found within every wagon - from fine culinary delicacies, erotic delights of the flesh, or even tents serving the bliss of total solitude. Na’chay Is’im is a caravan focused on quenching one’s thirst, no matter what they long for. This caravan’s center typically manifests as a (consent required) orgy of all varieties. Poetry recitations happen betwixt sexual encounters and culinary delights. Naturally, overindulgence occurs in all caravans - even this one. While some of its pleasures can be deadly in excess, most will simply turn the spirit toxic until they are purged. This painful lesson is a hallmark of Na’chay Is’im - a wisdom that it’s residents have been teaching for aeons.
The banners of Im’sha Poo’el (Mars) offer numerous opportunities for combat. Battles of infinite variety can be found here - ranging from the physical, to mental, or even stranger. Engagements will happen both within the caravan’s ranks, as well as in the surrounding wilds. Travelers tell tales of occasionally stumbling upon dark celestials hiding in the wilds, steathfully hunting their opponents. Masters of every arte can be found here, alongside their eager seekers. Further into the caravan’s core the fighting intensifies, with the center often manifesting as an all out brawl to be ruler a bloodsoaked banner and crown.
The footfalls of Ja’kin Woo’ah (Jupiter) land with a precise, measured stride. Scholars, sages, and mystics alike will wander to this caravan; all students in the artes of order, laws, systems, and their expansion. The witch should understand that this expansion applies in all ways, but most notably that of the spirit and energy. Learning to improve upon what exists, then evolve it, is the binding exploration of this host. While this evolution can often manifest with exponential results, it can also be so explosive that it causes structures to grow outside of one’s control, or even blow up in their face. Deep within the caravan’s core lies a perpetual council editing, modifying, and changing the way the caravan (and potentially the cosmos itself) runs; attempting to perpetually grow and perfect it’s manifestation.
Just as Ja’kin Woo’ah is the caravan for expansion and evolution, Se’jin Za’een (Saturn) manifests limitation, boundaries, and the wisdom which comes from finding (and pushing against) the edges of the cosmos. This caravan moves slowest of all, wagons often barely shifting position as the days roll by. A regular visitor to the caravan’s nearby landscape might believe the space to be a permanent settlement, rather than a moving cluster. One signature method to gain wisdom from this caravan is to recognize, contemplate, and learn from the past. Some even say that if one looks up towards Earth from Se’jin Za’een they can see the pattern which flows from the stars, through the Gate, to the Earth, and beyond that - to the ancestors, their ancestors, all the way back to the creation of the planet itself... and beyond. This star’s core is somewhat of a mystery to those who seek it. Journeys within appear to be unique for each who trek betwixt the wagons; often involving powerful lessons in sacrifice and self-reflection.
Naturally, gnosis should guide the witch when meeting the caravans and their denizens. It is notable to remember that while each caravan has its focus, the individual celestials within are unique. Approaching a caravan as though zer population was ‘all the same’ would be a grievous error.
Further, the caravans have been known to manifest in radically different ways to other witches (including, but not limited to: roaming giants, mighty dragons, or something stranger). No matter how a caravan appears, proceed with care and compassion.
As with any Otherworld location, be wary of any entities in the celestial realm which offer you something too good to be true. While deep magic frequently comes at a steep price, tricksters abound - entities ready to scam any rube for a quick offering. These spirits might be a nuisance, but they also can be lessons in our own ignorance, hubris, greed, lust, etc. As with any spirits, the witch is encouraged to build trust with entities of the celestial realm, forging a relationship of trust over time.
House Through the Caravan
Most caravans move slowly through the celestial realm (save Al’shez Ez’chet, the swift of feet). While each day the caravan moves to a new location, it often hasn’t moved far in comparison to the previous evening. Further, the Midnight Road is both well worn and intimately known to both the caravan’s denizens and the celestials in the surrounding countryside. With this ceaseless march in mind, some intentionally construct dwellings directly in the path of an oncoming caravan. Slowly a caravan will come upon a dwelling, overtake it, then eventually leave it behind as they process towards the far horizon. Each domicile and owner - no matter the size - is always changed by this (with those in the middle of a caravan’s path often changing the most).
Some homes are destroyed by the passing masses; others metamorphosize so dramatically that they appear nothing like their former selves; and some stay precisely as they are, being treated as an eidolon of reflection for the numerous celestials who pass by. Some homes will remain occupied for the passing of a single caravan, either being abandoned or destroyed after its conclusion. Others will remain, standing strong as caravan after caravan make their way across the home’s threshold.
After a witch has spent time sufficient becoming deeply familiar with a caravan and zer denizens, creating an Otherworld dwelling for its passing can be a deeply enriching experience. Utilize gnosis when determining how far ahead of the caravan the home should be built - be it a short distance, or traveling until the caravan is a speck upon the horizon. Here, after asking permission from the spirits of the place, the witch should construct a structure which feels appropriate based on both the energies of the caravan, and the intention the witch holds for its passing.
Gnosis can be gained during each stage of this praxis, so the witch is encouraged to visit the structure regularly - be it during construction, before the caravan arrives, through its passing, and even after its departure. Take note of changes that occur, both to the self and one’s cosmos, throughout the experience.
Staying Within the Caravan
It should be noted that prolonged exposure to the energies of the caravans can be toxic to the witch (or other spirits) over time. A solitary celestial radiates powerful energies, with groups of them often emanating energies which can be punishingly intense. Short exposures are always recommended - for even “A House Through the Caravan” will change a practitioner. These changes can manifest throughout one’s life - be it body, mind, spirit, or more - with uncontrolled or overwhelming manifestations occurring if the witch is not regularly engaging in self-reflection.
If a witch is exposing themselves to celestial energies regularly, ze is encouraged to perform the Arte of Prime on a daily basis. Further, it is advised that the witch utilizes a journal to track and address any behavioral changes which may be occurring. As with all things, the witch’s body (physical and spiritual) will be the best gauge of ‘what is healthy’ - so regularly check in with it, and act accordingly.
The Future, Manifest
Within the Stardust Compass each point of light above the compass round represents a future, but within the celestial realm the light comes from celestials and the lands they inhabit. This approachable manifestation allows the witch to both experience insight, and gain wisdom, from a part of the cosmos that often feels outside one’s reach - the future. The celestial realm teaches the witch what could be, and whether or not ze really wants to wish upon a star.
Image: and we'll become silhouettes when our bodies finally go by Alonso Montero (CC: BY, NC, ND)