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Dreamed 1989-1990 by Xanthe
1: Mare in the Amber Stream
I dreamed I saw a group of horses wading up the bed of a stream. The water was a luminous amber, and this color felt like a sign the stream was important, and I should follow it.
In a series of later dreams, I did, riding a wolf upstream, into a valley with a Greco-Roman temple and a sacred burial ground. I learned that when I saw an amber stream, I should pay attention: that dream mattered.
I met this creature twice in dreams. Both times, he was wading in the amber stream--though it was barely ankle-deep for him, since he was a good 20 feet tall [6 m]. The second time we met, he told me "My name is Slithy" [sounds like 'sly thee' not 'pithy'].
His skin was like a salamander's: subtly translucent, spotted, and almost the rich amber of the water. Drops of that water gleamed on his soft skin like stars, as if he were really a constellation, some fantastic creature of the Zodiac. Or perhaps he guarded the sky-paths just as three-headed Cerberus guards the path to the underworld, though I've never heard of a five-headed dog. Or salamander. Or horse. Or dragon.
Whatever he was, whatever he meant, he was lovely, and a being of great power.
- Slithy: Lewis Carroll coined the word "slithy" in his nonsense poem "Jabberwocky." He claims it's a blend of "slimy" and "lithe" (agile, wriggly, graceful), both of which certainly seem to fit Xanthe's friend. The creatures Carroll describes as slithy are toves. What are they? Humpty Dumpty explains to Alice in Through the Looking-Glass: "Well 'toves' are something like badgers--they're something like lizards--and they're something like corkscrews." Which is nothing like Xanthe's Slithy--except that they're a a chimera, a crazy mixture. So the name may suggest that that's the real essence of Slithy. What those five heads mean, I don't know--the five senses, the five fingers, the five healthy appetites--but I'd guess Slithy is something mixed; perhaps the strength of mixedness itself.
- The illustrations: Xanthe's original sketches burned in a house fire, but she'd sent me Xeroxes, which I scanned, shaded & tinted from her description.
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