The story begins several years ago. A drum was borne, and in that drum lay a spirit. The spirit was neither “good” nor “evil”, it just posed a challenge few were ready to handle. Much less the one that borne the drum. So it was bound, and hidden, awaiting the right person to take ownership of such a thing.
Then there I was, unaware of all that had happened, and it was quickly decided that this drum was *mine*, or at least *my problem now*. I took it, not really knowing what it was for, only hearing stories of those who had interacted with it.
I removed the layers upon layers of binding it had been given, this poor little spirit inside the drum. And it roared to life in my hands, with a single thrum. It was starving, it told me, so hungry, and it feeds on the drippings of madness. It told me it was like a vampire, sucking the madness from the deep within where we humans tend to bury it, pulling through the layers of fat and arteries and veins until it’s sticky sweetness comes oozing through their pores, into the air like a contagion, and the drum revels in it, soaks it in, makes it stronger.
To me, the spirit seemed like a bratty bottom. Not unlike a brazen sort who demand to be tied to a post and whipped, but only in the ways that it likes, and only to the strength it can take, and only with the toys made of materials that feel good. They call it “topping from the bottom”, and this spirit had it in droves.
Except it had not met me. I am a top who likes to put bratty bottoms in their place. Deep inside of their loud demeanors and urgent demands is a submissive, waiting to be cowed, but they want you to earn it. They don’t want to bow their neck to your title, or to your collection of toys, or to your swagger. They want you to wrest it from their hard-clenched fists, their balled-up hearts, begging for release so desperately underneath their shield of bravado. I have met many of them in my day, and this drum was no different.
I knew the drum was only one of two tools needed for the purpose. But I had the drum in my hands, so I focused upon it. I fed it its fill of my own madness, knowing how and when to let it come to the surface and let it wash over my otherwise collected mind. I am one of the rare ones, a madness shaman, and it is within this energy I am strongest. It showed me many things, this drum – the secrets of my depression, the scars of my abuse, the tears of others shed for my insanity, my rapist going on with life like nothing had happened, all the things that brought me to that climactic moment, the moment I gave way and gave Will and gave reigns to the Lord of Madness Himself.
The other tool, He told me, would be a quilt. I sighed very, very deeply, many times. Of all the handicraft my parents tried to instill in me, sewing was one my clumsy hands could never tame. I can barely sew a button on a shirt, much less a hem on pants, even so much less create a quilt out of madness. But I tried, four times, collecting scraps and drawing ideas and reading websites and nothing. I have too many scraps of material half-sewn to show for my efforts.
I went back to my Lord and begged of Him; may I have another do this thing for me, so that I can move forward? He showed me then, what the quilt was for. It was a map, He said, of the Land of Crazy. The Drum will bring their madness to their skin, draw it out from its hiding place, and that essence will manifest, read the map, find its way back to the shattered part left behind. If the journeyer had enough strength, enough willpower, and a steadfast heart, they can wrest that shard from the Land, take it back with them, and claim a more clear-headed life.
So I needed a map. I don’t know many, if any, who understand the borders of the land of crazy the way I do. But then I get a warning, a strong one: I cannot ask this of someone who will lose their way. To some, the Land of Crazy feels comforting and warm, like a quilt, and if they begin to wind it’s paths with their mind, they will get lost, never to return. It was hard for me, to turn down offers of very skilled hands, because secretly I knew they would fall down the rabbit hole and never emerge.
Then, one night, a crone-like woman tells me she has been called to make this quilt. I have but barest explained to her what it is, what it is for, and I can feel the fervor in her eyes. She is the one, I have no doubt. I worry, as I do not know her well, that she may get lost; I am assured by her loved ones that her feet are strongly planted.
I see a few pictures, as she begins to sew. My heart tingles. She is the one.
And then, silence. I am going through my own journey, too much to see and do and focus on, but in the back of my mind I knew it is being built. I get word, time and again, that work progresses. I survive my journey, come back to the land of the living, where many had predicted that my time dancing with Madness would cease. But I knew, oh I knew, that what waited for me upon my return was this masterpiece.
Today, a large package arrived at my house, accompanied with a smaller one. I knew what it was immediately; the waves of the land of my heart slid over it like a waterfall. I opened the small package first, and I’m confused. Tiles of various sizes, different materials. I keep hoping for an explanation, but then the box is empty and I do not know what is for. There is, in an envelope, some of the craftswoman’s cards, and a single key.
I know then that I will only understand the tiles when I open the larger package. I take a moment and breathe, thinking to myself, this is like when I met the drum for the first time only stronger. I take out my grounding tools, to have them close at hand, as I hack away at the brown paper and duct tape that holds the package together.
With one deep sniff I can smell the flowers of Madness. I can feel the power of this magical item pulse the air around me. I begin to lay it out, so I can take in all of it’s wonderousness, and it is so. It is exactly as I had described: a path, but not a clear one, that leads from one kind of madness to another. There are secret pockets and hidden treasures. And then I remember the tiles.
I had told her that this quilt needs to have tie points, markers that help me guide the journeyer through a land maybe foreign to them, but home to me. They also need reminders of the here and now, should the journey pull them under, or make them lost, or send them in circles without finding a thing. The tiles fit neatly upon the various squares of the quilt, different points for different people. For the Land of Crazy is never static, even in our attempts to map it. But at least this is something, a guide if nothing else.
I debated if I should send you an image, as it is as much an awesome piece of art as it is a tool. But after spending only a few minutes in its full presence, I found myself warping and winding and grasping for my ground. I do not know if this effect can be had by proxy, but I’d rather not tempt it.
Needless to say, I am more than pleased; pleased at the art of it, at it’s completion; even though the night the deal was struck turned into one of difficulty for me, I would suffer gladly a ten-time repeat of it if it meant I would get such powerful beauty as a reward.
I guess this means I’m really open for business.
I’ve wondered from time to time about the map. You and I had discussed once, quite a while ago, completing that journey, however the map was not yet around. I suppose you are, indeed, open for business. It sounds lovely. I hope one day I will get to see it.
A wonderful story, and a wonderful thing to have in hand at last!
I was ‘nudged’ into making a quilt-map for myself, about 6 months ago. I thought I was nuts, making stuff up and completely off the mark. At least now I know, if I am nuts, I have some good company 😉
I have to say, I was partially inspired by a friend, who had a cloak made with a map of the Nine Worlds on it; but I knew this would be a wholly different item. But yes, I thought I was nuts for quite some time, especially during the four tries of making a quilt on my own when I barely know how to do a straight stitch. (I can stitch a human better than I can a piece of material!)
But thanks to the well-worn hands and grounded feet of another, I have my quilt, and it is a beauty to behold.
The Land of Crazy is never static. I need to remember that as I navigate this Land in my life. It’s not, and I sometimes forget that.
I did an Ancestor Necklace at the behest of Anubis (who guided me through my brain injury coma and back out) and Hekate (who decided to possess me once). They decided that I needed to be a voice for these folk – human and non-human. Making the necklace was hard since it required two hands, and I only have the use of one hand (at a time). Using both together would cause seizures, which is what They wanted. I would into fugue state, and They would introduce me to the various Ancestors. Anyway, it serves as a map to the Worlds of the Ancestors, and helps me to go there to listen to them, and relay their voices back to ours.
So I guess we all strange and crazy in doing this stuff, but it seems that we are called to do this.