Assembling Terrania: Dreaming Up
a Sane and Delightful Civilization
Craig Chalquist, PHD
In all the wild imaginings of mythology, a fanciful spirit is playing on
the border-line between jest and earnest.
— Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens
The important thing is not to offer any specific hope of betterment but, by offering an imagined but persuasive alternative reality, to dislodge my mind, and so the reader’s mind, from the lazy, timorous habit of thinking that the way we live now is the only way people can live.
— Ursula K. Le Guin, “A War Without End”
The fictional and fanciful Assembling Terrania Cycle begins with the Big Bang and reaches forward into a time when human beings live in a just, diverse, nature-honoring, peaceful, equitable, and delightful world civilization grown from the ground up rather than imposed from the top down.
Some would call this utopian, but I don’t. If “utopia” refers to perfect harmony, it can never be for at least two reasons: 1. We’re human, and 2. The trickster quality of the universe is built in. There will always be discord. Covering it up makes it unmanageable.
Terrania is a society of managed discord, and of constant vigilance because of the weaknesses of human nature. As one of the vigilant, Alethia Jabari, puts it, “There are no impregnable utopias.” But we can do better than a melting, polluted planet dominated by super-wealthy elites. We can do better than redlining, cronyism, and white supremacy. We can grow up; some of us already have.
The philosophy behind the Cycle is that humans, one of many promising species, are engaged in a grand adventure in consciousness. How do we become fully ourselves? How do we assemble a society that affirms us instead of mutilates us? How do we come of age?
The Cosmos is called the Tetraverse because it contains four realms or levels: Spirit (“Source”), Potentiality (“Infrarealm”), Possibility (“Dreamvale”), and Actuality (“Coaguum”). Source gave birth to the archetypal Infrarealm of the Powers: sentient forces of nature that act like gods and who desire to be fully appreciated by mortals but no longer worshiped by them. The Dreamvale is a realm of imagination populated by semi-autonomous characters and entities. The Coaguum is our realm, the realm where the fruits of the imagination can ripen fully.
Although these realms interpenetrate, each has its own integrity. Splits between realms can cause damage across and within them.
One of the ways Humans undergo initiation into fuller humanness and maturity is by facing planetary crises. As the Power Radantia explains it, “Each global-historical upheaval will be a Nexus Crisis involving blocs of Powers in conflict, the living presences of particular places involved, the flavor of the moment, and historically key people facing a pivotal event. How they get through it will depend in part on how they recognize and reconcile the Powers behind it.”
Although the Powers cannot contravene natural law, humans have assistance from among themselves. One source of aid is a Transdaimonic League of visionaries always found among the living. Some tales deal with Leaguers in particular historical settings. Another help is groups of Guardians of Renewal: historically key individuals who gather like Arthur’s knights to usher in some new vision of how to unite for lasting change.
It has been fun to imagine more mundane details of the Terraniana: the images, dramas, and colors of this long journey toward the mythos of a lovingly inhabited Earth. A few examples:
Image of Terrania: Earth, with Africa, home of our species, in the center.
Motto of Terrania: “Many Voices, One Earth.”
A Terrania Charter to be expanded and signed within the Terrania Accords establishing worldwide governance.
Ethics: Fivefold Caring (of personhood, people, place, planet, possibility); also, an ethic of self-respecting do-no-harm as exemplified in the tale “Knight of Peace.”
3Rs of resiliency: reenchantment, repair, renewal. We can’t reach the future without these.
Enchantivism as one form of story-based activism.
I think of this kind of visioning as worldconjuring: dreaming up Terrania, an activity begun individually, with me, but better done collectively.
In fact, part of my motive for writing all these fables and archetales (storytelling that is not myth but aspires to a mythic punch) is to invite others to participate in dreaming into being the kind of ecocentric world culture that supports the maturation and enjoyment of all species, including human. What kind of world do you want to live in? Can you tell stories that seek to strengthen the human spirit on Earth’s behalf through inspiration, imagination, celebration, and hope?
The Assembling Terrania Cycle is a template of tales, places, times, and characters for creative play in this direction.
Here are a few suggestions for using the template:
Add to the Cycle with tales, art, video, performance, music, poetry, or whatever media inspire you.
Create games from the Cycle.
Put together a calendar of rites, initiations, and festivals for Terranians. Help them celebrate. (I offered a start on this: April 22nd is not only Earth Day, but Terrania Day because that is the day on which the Accords were signed.)
For those who like divination, what about a Terrania-based Tarot and other such devices? I’ve put together a Prime Mover Oracle and hope to publish it soon. (If I were creating a Tarot deck, I’d have to make the trickster Kluni its Devil.)
What do Terranians wear? Pins, rings, earrings, patches, garments?
To get to Terrania, humans have to endure the Resource Wars: a kind of slow-burning WW III in which the wealthy nations scramble for what fuels and minerals and metals remain. What kinds of resilience tools would you offer to help us get through such a tunnel?
We need to develop Reenchant.com and, with it, a Reenchantment Guild of worldconjurers and enchantivists sharing practices of collective dreaming and doing, including enchantivist projects.
Wouldn’t it be great to meet in VR, a realm perfect for worldconjuring and play? And how about a phone app?
In my archetales, readers come across many figures from the world’s mythologies. Various collections of characters, scenes, monsters, etc. of myth live on the Internet and elsewhere, but if we take the Finnish Kalevala for inspiration, what might a Kalevala for the planet be like: a Terranian epic or series of archetales that come to include all these mythic entities in one grand set of stories?
Wherever the Cycle rolls, my hope is that it grow into a kind of ministry of inspiration for finding magic in the disaster here, where we all live. Stories can help us connect in our depths with the sacred depths of the world.