He was one not typically given to dreams. Wakefulness was his way, for to be awake was to be coherent and rational, completely aware of what is, was, and will be. Wakefulness was a gift of God, a means by which a human is able to share in the wisdom and truth given us by Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Dreams are foreign, illusory, when a human is weakest, fatigued, and one’s defenses are down, and anything, any foreign power, any outsider, even the Evil One himself, may enter into the hidden fantasies of the mind, exert control, and convince a person upon awaking of chimeras, charades, folly and falsehood. It is even unfortunate that a person must sleep, to let the guard down to the influence of dreams; ancient peoples such as the Greeks thought that humans were more apt to be influenced by the spirit, daemonic world during sleep. The Greek god Hypnos had a hypnotic effect on the sleeper. He was brother to Oneiros, dreams, and Thanatos, death, all three being sons of Night, when humans are most susceptible to the consequences of what has happened over the course of days, weeks, months, and years. Dreams are haunting specters that hover over the dreamer shaping what the coming day will be like: one of confidence or one of fear. Dreams herald the future, as it were, and just as dreams can change time and place, shape and being, at will, in the mind of the sleeper, so too is the conscience, the mind, the sense of self, shaped by the unforgiving presence of images in the night.
No, he was not typically given to dreams. But that was before he came to the islands, to a small group of rocky outposts in a cold sea. Islands are places given to dreams. The constant action of waves lapping the shore, hitting jutting rocks, splashing against cliffs, can lull the dreamer into sweet sleep or riotous nightmares. Writers go to islands to write, painters to paint, poets to rhyme, for they know that ideas and images, both real and fantastic, are birthed in a place of fantasy and myth. Everything mysterious can be found on an island: thick fog that crawls along like a monstrous Leviathan of the deep; ghosts of hapless souls who survived shipwreck—at least for a time; spirits of pirates or their victims guarding buried treasure, or engaged in an eternal search to find it; crashing waves, and the unexpected swell that inundates and sweeps everything in its path out to sea; and the relentless wind that sweeps over the island, allows flocks of birds to lazily float in the sky, soon to swoop, pounce on the innocent victim. Such is a dream to a newcomer, to a person innocent of the ways of the sea, of the hurricane and typhoon, of sharks and whales, cormorants and gulls, crabs and lobsters. And the relentless waves, the pounding of the sea, the daily grind of water on stone, eroding, chipping rock away by bits and pieces, like the wayward mind of the dream-world chipping away at the sturdy rock of reality.
Islanders know these ways, if the newcomer does not. They know the terrors of the night, the deep distant foghorns wrought by human hands or by the Creation itself: the sounds of rushing winds and pounding surf generating a mystical symphony played endlessly over time. They know the rumbling thunder and cataclysmic bolts of lightning one night, followed the next by gentle zephyrs streaming through a cloudless night sky of dazzling pinpoints of light. They know what the landlubber does not, that life can be lived fully, if briefly, on the isles, where danger is always afoot: the danger of the Creation, of the mysterious deep, under the surface of which nothing is seen, nothing can be known. Deep within the eons and eons of rolling waves lapping against time, scattering thither what has been, moving forward to what will be. Humans, being like the surface, seeing only the edge of what is, barely conscious of what lies below, what is hidden inside. It often takes the remarkable and extraordinary to peal open the surface experiences, to plunge within to the cold, dark depths, to find what is true, to find the self.
Such are the beginning words of my first work of fiction, The Curse of the Bronze Amulet.