The Dreamspeakers (renamed the Kha'vadi in the 20th Anniversary Edition) are a Tradition of mages consisting of individuals who practice shamanism, communing with spirits as part of their magic and existing as intermediaries between the Mortal World and the Spirit World.
It is one of the most diverse Traditions, with those representing the ancient cultures of African, Native American, Inuit, and Aboriginal Australian societies standing alongside practitioners of Shinto, independent spiritual savants, and descendants of other forgotten tribes and civilizations. Though originally shoehorned into a single group by the other, Eurocentric Traditions, the disparate cultures within the Dreamspeakers have found common ground in their respect for and dedication to the balance between physical and spiritual reality.
As the Gauntlet has grown thicker and the Spirit World more dangerous, the shamans' duties have become increasingly harder. But whereas other mages tend to overlook matters of spirit and Sleepers forget them altogether, the Dreamspeakers were born to walk the middle ground; to see and hear what others do not, and to fill roles still very much needed in the modern world.
That Creation is essentially animistic is central to Dreamspeaker philosophy and magic, and in fact, tends to reflects their daily lives. As shamans, they possess the ability to freely interact with the Spirit World to one degree or another, and are often called upon to resolve conflicts between spirits or seek solutions to problems that can be felt in material and spiritual reality. Dreamspeakers realize that each reflects the other, and that by acting upon the Spirit World they can perform feats that are considered magic in the Material World. This can take the form of direct communication with spirits capable of making the desired changes, but just as often makes use of the Dreamspeakers understanding of spirit behavior and rules to know what rituals and acts upon the Material World will invoke the appropriate response from the Spirit World.
Tools and Practices
The most important part of shamanic magic is placing oneself in the correct state of mind to be able to perceive and influence the boundary separating the Spirit and Material World. Just about anything that helps a mage reach this ecstatic state of consciousness can serve as a focus, including drugs, exercise, music and dance, or simple meditation. Some Dreamspeakers believe that external tools are a crutch to be avoided or that artificially manufactured drugs and technological devices are counterproductive, but this is a matter of personal preference. When it comes to invoking spirits, anything that grants the shaman connection and power over the spirit in question can help, such as a symbol or crafted representation, names and other words of power, or rituals sacred to the spirit. Dreamspeakers are also cognizant of the fact that every tool has a spirit of its own that can be called upon to aid their magic.
Dreams of the Beginning
Unlike some other Traditions, the Dreamspeakers do not have a common cosmology or explanation for their origin. They are descendants of numerous diverse societies from around the world who were forced together by outsiders who did not understand them. Each of these cultures have their own stories of the world's beginning, though they share tales of a time when reality was fluid and there was little distinction between the Material and Spirit World. Some speak of the Pure Ones, others of gods, or great totem spirits who tended the earth and guided the first humans. Regardless of which story is true (today, many Dreamspeakers would likely say they were all true), shamans served their communities even in those ancient times. They acted as intermediaries with spirits, learned of the world's cycles, and passed on their cultural knowledge as new ages dawned and set.
Out of Many, One
The Dream-Speakers were officially formed in 1466 at the Grand Convocation. Naioba, an African dream priestess, and Star-of-Eagles, a Powhatan medicine man, saw the Tradition as a brotherhood of shaman. The Europeans saw it as a dumping ground for tribal magi; Native Americans from North and South America, the tribes of Africa's jungles and savannas, Australian Aborigines, Lappish and Siberian shaman, and the kahuna of the Hawai'ians, Maori and Polynesians were all lumped together in a single Tradition. Many magi, such as the Ngoma, saw this as racism and left the Convocation in disgust. Though there was initially misunderstanding and antagonism between the different cultural groups, the dedication and love between Naioba and Star-of-Eagles served as an example of the Dreamspeakers' shared values. The two assumed joint leadership of the new Tradition until Naioba's assassination by Nephandi, but rather than break the Tradition's union the pain of her death only bound them together more tightly.
Exploiters and Exploited
The Dreamspeakers suffered greatly during the Age of Discovery and the subsequent centuries of colonialism and imperialism. The Spanish conquest decimated the Aztecs and Incas, and spread smallpox among the Mound Builders. Likewise, the Portuguese slave trade decimated much of West Africa. Missionaries, both Sleepers and from the Celestial Chorus, attempted to convert native peoples to European culture and religion. As the world was mapped and charted by explorers and scientists, lands connected to the Spirit World became fewer and more of reality became static. The Dreamspeakers called on the other Traditions for aid, but though they received expressions of support from the Cult of Ecstasy, Euthanatoi, and Verbena, the Council as a whole did nothing. Finally, in 1756 nearly half the Dreamspeakers in Horizon walked out, led by a delegation of Iroquois medicine men. Those who remained did so out of the belief that the cause was lost and the native people could only return if the Dreamspeakers survived as a Tradition long enough for the others to see their errors.
Though the Industrial Revolution and the rise of capitalism and communism further degraded humanity's connection to the spirits and damaged the Earth, the second half of the Twentieth Century has seen the tide turning for the shamans. Renewed interest in the philosophies and practices of non-Western societies has made the traditional garb, ceremonies, and beliefs of Dreamspeakers culturally acceptable. Meditation, spirit guides, and shamanic healing have become more trendy. Perhaps most importantly, the Dreamspeakers have increasingly recognized that the modern spirits of electricity, information, plastic, and cities are just as legitimate and needing of mediums as those of the natural world. Urban and techno-shamans are on the rise, fighting to find a place in the Tradition.
While many Dreamspeakers are solitary, they tend to view others within their Tradition as extended family. Thus, while they rarely organize and may have conflicting customs due to different upbringings, there is a common bond that keeps them together. The Tradition has also experienced many centuries of persecution from the world and their supposed allies in the Council of Nine, so its leaders have learned that they must present a unified front if they are to protect their interests. Once a year the majority of Dreamspeakers gather either physically or spiritually in the Nevada desert to share news and discuss positions for the Tradition to take as a whole. All members are allowed to speak, though elder shaman are given the greatest deference.
The Dreamspeakers maintain several Chantries where the old ways can be preserved in peace. Turtle Council House, the Dreamspeaker subrealm in Horizon, was one such place, combining a Native American, African, and Australian sub-Realm. Other prominent Dreamspeaker holdings include the Lodge of the Gray Squirrel (a Native American Chantry), Vali Shallar (a lost Mayan temple in the jungles of Peru, shared with the Akashic Brotherhood), Yambula'kitino (a lush jungle Realm used by the Baruti to teach African culture), Onikari (a Cherokee lodge near Asheville, North Carolina, watched over by Uktena Garou) and Njia Panda (a multicultural Realm created by the Keepers of the Sacred Flame to preserve their homelands).
Descendants of the shape-shifting warrior-priests of the Mayans, the Balamob continue to practice the bloody sacrifices of their ancestors. The Balamob practice totemic magic, often adopting the shape of jaguars, but they are also skilled at astrological divination and using hallucinogens and blood-letting to contact Xibalba (the spirit world). While some Balamob have immigrated to the United States, most remain in the jungles of Mexico and Guatemala to protect their people, even affiliating with Zapatista militants. They were only recently recruited by fellow Native Americans amongst the Dreamspeakers who had travelled to Mexico to study the lost magic of the Aztecs, Mayans and other Mesoamerican civilizations.
Originating in Africa, the Baruti are wandering storytellers and performers. They memorize, preserve and teach the (often mutually contradictory) oral traditions of hundreds of different cultures, including those believed lost to history. When two Baruti meet, they often exchange tales. The Baruti also maintain old ties with the Eshu Kith. In more modern times, some Baruti have also turned to writing science fiction, horror, fantasy, comic books and even ethnographies. Their magic revolves around storytelling; legends of heroes can inspire the masses, while myths of creation tap into primal sources of power or rouse the spirits of the elements themselves.
The Contraries began as societies of 'sacred clowns' amongst the Indians of the Great Plains and Southwest. Following Coyote, Raven and other trickster spirits, the Contrary way is much a lifestyle as it is a magical faction. Members do everything backwards, dress as members of the opposite sex, and speak the opposite of their intentions. By challenging expectations, they bring laughter into the world and teach others through their comical behavior. Other Dreamspeakers are divided in their opinion of the faction. Some admire the Contraries for their dedication, while just as many Dreamspeakers view them as misguided at best and outright lunatics at worse.
Members of the Four Winds Society spend most of their time exploring the Spirit World. They place little value on material possessions, instead trading secrets for secrets. Most eventually adopt spiritual landscapes that suit their personality and attune themselves, effectively becoming guardian spirits. Over time they even forget their mortal lives altogether. This was likely the fate of the entire faction after the appearance of the Avatar Storm.
Ghost Wheel Society
The Ghost Wheel Society are urban techno-shaman who commune with modern elementals of plastic, glass, metal, and electricity. Born out of the Ghost Dance movement, the Ghost Wheel Society believes that the old ways are dead and they must adapt to the modern world. Bohemians, entertainers, and even con artists, members often operate on the wrong side of the law. Their magic tends to involve negotiating with various urban spirits, trading favors, and creating high-tech Fetishes.
Independents are Dreamspeakers who Awakened, often traumatically, without being trained by another mage. Some were taught entirely by inhuman totems, while a few are guided by disreputable spirits that want to use them as pawns. Some degree of madness has long been common among Independents, but they tend to be far stabler than Marauders. Because they often come from cultures without a tradition of shamanism, they tend to improvise their magic haphazardly using pain, drugs, and music to enter trance states. What separates them from Orphans is that Independents eventually seek out other Dreamspeakers, either on their own or at the urging of their spirit mentor.
Keepers of the Sacred Fire
One of the most visible Dreamspeaker factions, the Keepers focus on preserving as much of their cultural traditions as they can, even when the battle against invaders and foreign influences has already been lost. They accept that societies change, but believe there is wisdom in a people's history and stories. Keeper magic is highly traditional and well-defined, with most spending many years learning from an elder practitioner.
The native mages of Hawaii, the Kopa Loei, once made up the largest and most organized faction in Polynesia. Their numbers included both kahuna and ali'i chieftains, as well as commoners skilled in navigation and travel magics. Their ties to the gods and sacred mana of their homeland was legendary, and some are said to maintain ties with the Rokea or Menehune. While they have fought for native sovereignty, by the late 20th century many Kopa Loei realized that the only way to preserve their magic was to join the shamans of the Dreamspeaker Tradition. They bring with them extensive knowledge of the spirits of the South Pacific.
Red Spear Society
The Red Spears are aggressive warriors who believe that the spirits are angered at the modern world. Eco-terrorists and indigenous rights activists, their raids seek to reclaim tribal lands, artifacts, and heritage. Unlike other Dreamspeakers, the Red Spears are highly organized with a strong hierarchy and single leader.
An all-female faction, the Sheikha serve as wise women to the nomadic Bedouin and Berber tribes of Arabia, Egypt, and North Africa. As soothsayers, healers and exorcists, their magic helps their tribes to survive the harsh desert environments of their homelands. A Muslim sect, the Sheikha are members of the Web of Faith and still maintain contact with the Ahl-i-Batin and other Middle Eastern groups. At one point a Sheikha delegation even invited the lost Hem-ka Sobk to join the Council of Nine. In recent years, the Sheikha have become concerned with the efforts of Saudi Arabia and other governments in the region to forcibly settle their tribes.
Solitaries are hermits and eschew many of the trappings of humanity, retreating into the wilderness to practice their magic in solitude. Here their magics tend to become slower but powerful, following the cycles of nature. Some transform their bodies so that they can survive in the depths of the deep seas. Others adopt animals as their new tribe, following the same Totems that guide wild beasts. Dreamspeakers of other factions respect Solitaries for their deep wisdom, but worry about their non-human outlooks.
From Väinämöinen and Ilmarinen in the Finnish Kalevala epic to modern techno-shaman, there has always been a mythical link between shamans and smiths. The Spirits Smiths exemplify this link, crafting some of the most powerful and exquisite fetishes known to the Dreamspeakers. Members of the faction are comfortable with high-tech devices and many work on commission. Spirit Smiths greatly admire well-crafted tools, and will go out of their way not to destroy them unless they are absolutely corrupt. Most instead prefer to "liberate" such items from unfit users and instead give them to someone they view as more responsible.
One of the largest Dreamspeaker factions in Africa, the Uzoma are the traditional priests and diviners of the Yoruba people. Each Uzoma follows a particular Orisha as their patron. As intermediaries between humans and the spirit world, the Uzoma serve their people as soothsayers, advisors and healers. They were invited to the Grand Convocation by Naioba, but returned to their homeland after her murder and avoided contact with non-African mages. Many forgot they were ever members. Only after the events of the Reckoning have they decided to return to the Traditions. In recent years, an increasing number of Uzoma have left Nigeria to live amongst immigrant communities in America and Europe.
|The Council of Nine Mystic Traditions (Mage: The Sorcerers Crusade)|
|Ahl-i-Batin · Akashic Brotherhood · Chakravanti · Chœur Céleste · Dreamspeakers · Order of Hermes · Seers of Chronos · Solificati · Verbenae|
|The Council of Nine Mystic Traditions|
|Akashic Brotherhood · Celestial Chorus · Cult of Ecstasy · Dreamspeakers · Euthanatoi · Order of Hermes · Sons of Ether · Verbena · Virtual Adepts · Hollow Ones|