As a “gap” project for my portfolio, I’ve decided to start on new character designs for my future holiday special, “The Golden Pinecone”.
Lodila Valley is nestled in the center of the Land of Lo, and is home to many creatures. Here are some profiles for some of them. Each of them have developed into much more complex characters as my writing continues, but here are the basics!
I am realizing that, while this blog is titled, “The Art of…”, I have yet to really share any. So, without further adieu, my first share is the Cybele. In this piece, this extraordinary creature is giving consul to a traveler from another realm. What’s a Cybele, you ask?
Cybele (si-bill-ee), named for an Anatolian goddess (also known as the Magna Mater, or “great mother”), is a genderless creature that dwells in Lake Chitali, at the outskirts of the Land of Lo. It is considered, like most Lodians, a hybrid of plant and animal, but cannot survive out of the water.
It has three stages of transformation – pod (much like larva, attached to the parent), juvenile (free-floating), and parent (rooted). Pods develop at each end of hundreds of tendrils protruding from the parent, and are released by the force of the next generation growing behind them.
This gestation process takes seven years. The small size of a released pod risks the fry being eaten by other water creatures, or other such demise. Surviving, free-floating, Cybele (juvenile) continue to float on a 70-year long expedition to gain insight and knowledge that extends beyond any other creature in the Land of Lo. This is possible because each generation of pods absorbs the knowledge of the parent, and it continues through life only to add more.
Mature Cybele end their journey after another 70 years, by swallowing a large golden pearl from the Claviger, Ko the Oyster Guardian of the Western Shores of Lake Chitali, then sinking to the bottom. Fortified by the pearl’s energy, they take root, and sprout the tendrils that will start bearing their own pods. Once it becomes a parent, it creates thousands of offspring in the remainder of its lifetime.
Pods possess a strong incandescent light glow that changes colors according to emotions being transferred telepathically. Pink means love, green means confidence, red means fear, and so on. It is because of these translatable lights that adult Cybele are considered oracles, of sorts, and they are often visited by travelers on a quest to find meaning or guidance in life. At this time, they begin channeling emotion to provoke thoughts of logic and new perspective in the seeker.
Seekers must find and swallow a golden pearl themselves in order to find the Cybele. The creature then absorbs the life experience of the seeker through a tendril that connects with the pearl in their body, and provides the “answer” they need, in exchange. Once the pearl’s energy has been fully absorbed, and the seeker has reached revelation and epiphany, they are then released to float back to the surface, equipped with the new insight.
For example, a seeker may have lived an empty life of loneliness, never having experienced true contentment of genuine love from another, and may be consulting the Cybele Oracle as a last hope for answers as to why this has happened to them. Upon approaching the Cybele, the large tendril will reach out to the seeker and touch its heart glow from the pearl they swallowed. The pods will then respond with pink glowing lights, and the seeker will experience pure and genuine love for the first time. That emotion will provide a realization that they have not encountered before – perhaps a dear friend whose affections were dismissed is shown to them – and they will be released to float back, knowing they must embrace the love being offered, in order to feel that emotion again.
Someone who has lived a life of complacency and servitude may be provoked to feel anger for the first time, and be inspired to change their situation for the better, and so on. Anyone may seek answers, as often as they wish, as long as they have swallowed a pearl. The experience is quite intense, so most Lodians only need one to set their lives on the right course.
Since my mother read me bedtime stories – tales of hobbits, centaurs, faeries, aliens, and witches – I have learned the rhythm of fantasy fiction. I speak the absurd, revel in the music of madness, and totally believe that we are not alone. As a child, my make-believe was dramatic and detailed. As an adult, it was conjured into reality, by way of reckless abandon and bottles labeled, “Drink Me”.
I read everything. From cereal boxes to Dante’s Inferno, I read whatever was available to me at any given moment. I did the same with music. I could predict lyrics based on the rhyme scheme, so people would wonder how I “could possibly already know the words to a brand new song?!” often. Not so with the titles of the songs, however. Therein lies my weakness.
‘What is the point?’ you ask. ‘Why does this matter?’ Well, add genetic and environmental training in visual art, some attention deficit diagnostics, and a couple/few/handful of trauma stories, and you’ve got an author and illustrator of an unfinished collection of short stories about a land where the shores are lined with pearls and creatures in the sky meditate everything into existence.