The Temple of PEGANA includes many peculiar faiths: worship of ever blooming Kib the giver of life, adoration of Mung the destroyer of the same, propitiation of Sish eater of hours, and evocation of Yoharneth-Lohai, god of small fancies. But most peculiar of all is the worship of the creator god MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI. In the Temple of Pegana, his priests maintain the ever burning censor, accompanying its soporific incense with soothing chants, a sacred, never-ending lullaby. For it is MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI's dreams that sustain reality.
Among the devotees of MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI, three metaphysical doctrines contend concerning the relation of the dreams of man to the great dream of the slumbering god.
The severe orthodox position is that the waking world is the original dream of MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI. Human dreams are only a reminder, a dim echo, of the great divine dream that sustains reality. It is thus hubris to attribute any creative potency or metaphysical significance to mortal dreams. In support of this doctrine, its adherents point to the incoherent and fragmentary nature of human dreams, with their sudden and absurd transitions and meaningless incongruities. These inconstant illusions come unbidden into our fancy as we sleep, only to slip through again into forgetfulness like water through a sieve. For this doctrine, the existence of Wishery has always proved a sticking point, for it is generally assumed that the dreamlands in some way grow from dreams of the inhabitants of the waking world. The orthodox have been led to either deny that Wishery exists, or, more subtly, to claim that is it merely another dimension, one of many worlds, all existing equally in the original dream of MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI.
|The First Dreamers|
The ascenionists hold that each level of reality contains conscious beings that dream in turn. The dreams of the slumberers at each level coalesce, flowing down to create the reality of the next level below, including its dreamers. The "waking world" is thus itself the dream of higher beings, as Wishery is the creation of the dreamers of our world. The potency of the dreamers becomes weaker and more diluted as the rungs descends away from the original dream of the Slumbering God. Conversely, as one ascends, the dreamers of each higher waking world are more subtle and potent and the worlds they inhabit more tremendous. The dreamers dreamt in MANA YOOD SUSHAI's original dream are alien beings of unimaginable powers; their fancies the creation and destruction of worlds of unfathomable splendor. The ascensionists liken these first dreamers to the gods of the gods of the "waking world".
The descenionists hold that reality travels in the opposite direction. The dream flow ever downwards, each level more concentrated than the dreams of the previous level, acquiring more hidden and condensed meanings and potent symbols as the levels are descended. The stuff of dreams accumulates until it flows into the great original dream of MANA YOOD SUSHAI, a dream of unspeakable and searing reality that contains the potent distillation of all that has come before. Here it is said that a single grain of sand contains within itself heavens that would shatter the human intellect to behold. This version of the creed is attractive to mystics, great dreamers, and persons of strong fancy, who hold that the waking world is a pale shadow of their dreams, and that their fanciful dalliances are holy expeditions, bringing them one step closer to the Godhead.
There are those among each of these strange creeds with the longing for unknown experiences, who hold that the pilgrimage to the original dream is a sacred and inescapable duty. The ascensionists believe that a way must be found to travel backwards through the successive waking worlds toward the waking world of the first dreamers dreamt by MANA YOOD SUSHAI. The descensionists hold that a way must be found to penetrate ever deeper, forward, through the levels of dreams until one arrives at last at the opal gates of the great dream. As both factions admit, such doctrines are perilous, since man was not meant to experience the higher realities, which must in their potency be inimical to the weaker stuff of which we are made. Yet these would-be pilgrims continue to try, the ascensionists cultivating through meditation ever more vigilant hyperconscious waking states, while the descensionists induce through the use of hashish and lotus powder ever more febrile and lurid hallucinations. Thus far, to no effect.
The orthodox frown on all these efforts equally as idle depravity, and perhaps foul heresy. But the spread of the faith and the increasing popularity among new converts of the heterodox positions has stayed the hand of priests who, in any case, are not given over to much action, bent as they always are, on supporting the soothing reverberations of the great drummer Skarl, lest all reality be destroyed in a moment by the awakening of MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI's terrible consciousness.