The Way Into the Hidden Garden

hidden-gardenSomeone said recently that the Herthelan community in Telluria is more closed now than it has been at any time in the past few decades. Is that really true?

And how would it be possible to enter this “charmed circle”?

We wouldn’t really say that was true. A semi-fictional book written about the then Herthelan community back in the mid-1990s had a final chapter addressed to girls who might want to join. It was entitled “To the One Girl in a Thousand”.

There has never been an intention to become a mass movement or to be “open to all”. And the girl who really is potentially “one of ours” will probably be relieved to hear that.

Chelouranya is a walled garden. It is not open to the rough winds of cynical Tellurian culture. It is not a Tellurian club or organization. It is essentially for those girls who feel they belong not to Telluria but to the Motherland, whether or not they feel that they actually “come from” the Motherland.

We are still open to those girls – in fact that is why we still have a public presence.

Sometimes the public presence can feel a little quiet – how does one get in touch?

There have been periods throughout our history when we have looked very quiet to the outside world. That has never been a gauge of how active our community actually is, and at times it has even been a kind of reverse-gauge.

There is a tendency for a successful and happy Herthelan community to enjoy its own private company and find it a bit of a chore to communicate for even small-scale public consumption.

The walled-garden effect is a two-edged sword, because we do want to be here for those who are our soul-sisters. That is our mission, after all.

So what should a new girl be doing?

First of all, learn a bit about our world. Find out if it is really something that attracts you. You will find it useful to read around Shining World, Notes from Chelouranya and the Encyclopaedia Chelouranya. You will find out a lot by browsing around.

Almost more importantly, read Herthelani fiction. Why is this important? The other sources will tell you a lot about our ideas and thoughts, but Chelouranya is an outpost of a whole world. By reading fiction you get an idea of what that world actually feels like – whether it is or isn’t your Motherland, or a Motherland you would seriously like to be adopted by.

Where to start? The Adventure of the Crystal Staff and The Dream Key are two long short stories that very well reflect different aspects of our Motherland. For longer fiction we would then recommend Goldenhead, which, while it is fantasy, gives some very good pictures of Motherland life and Novaryan ways. The Flight of the Silver Vixen is science fiction and features some quite unorthodox Motherland girls – but it is actually valuable even because of that. As you read the book you get a good idea of how what is common to all Herthelani, even the minority of “rebellious” ones.

Get in touch. Join Shining World. Post questions. We like questions! We really do! We are always happy to talk and engage. Don’t worry about being “the only one there” – we are actually around all the time. We just may not be talking “out loud” a great deal. We will be happy to talk with you.

The key to the shining door

This is the way you can make yourself known and we can get to know you.

We cannot overstress the importance of this because there is no way to “join” our ranks. You can join Shining World (our “outside” social network) and from there, by your contributions, you can bring yourself to our attention – show that you are seriously interested, that you think in the right way, that you have read and understood about the Motherland and are pursuing further information.

What about “negative” questions?

Absolutely feel free to ask them. You may have worries about Chelouranya. You may find some of our ideas difficult. You absolutely won’t lose “points” by being frank about this. Most intelligent girls have some worries at first. You are encountering a whole different way of thinking and seeing the universe. It would be strange if you didn‘t have some awkward questions.

We will answer very frankly. It is not in our interest or yours to deceive anyone. We are all trying to find out if Chelouranya is right for you, and if you are right for Chelouranya.

Most worries will be dispelled by discussion and deeper understanding – but we do think very differently from West Tellurians. If you are wanting us to fit in with some of the “imperatives” of modern West Telluria, you may well find that we don’t. Nor do we pretend to. This is all part of the process of discovering whether you are or aren’t a potential Chelouranyan, and finding the right answer is as important to you as it is to us.

Would such a girl need to speak Japanese?

No. Though it would certainly help if she knew some.

The reasons for our use of Japanese have been discussed at some length, and it is the second language of our Protectorate. Even saying that may make it sound less important than it is. A great deal of the private conversation of the Chelouranyan people takes place in Japanese.

We think most people in their twenties or younger who are likely to be interested in Chelouranya will probably already have had some inclination toward Japanese, simply because that is where most of the healthier and more innocent influences on current Tellurian culture come from.

So we would say – if you are really serious about becoming one of us, learning Japanese will be part of your journey. On the other hand, we don’t expect you to know it in advance, and we are happy for you to get to know us first, and even spend considerable time in the Secret Garden, without knowing our closer-to-home language; our “family language” as it were. Such things tend to take place at their own pace and we don’t try to force them

But if I already know Japanese, that will help?

It certainly will. Among other things it will probably help you to understand our perspective in general, since it is closer to Japanese than West Tellurian thinking (though it certainly isn’t either).

Which maybe brings us back to the first question. Aren’t things a little closed for the girl wanting to make those first steps?

Over the years, Herthelan groups in Telluria have tended to fluctuate in openness. There is obviously a balance between maintaining a safe, pure garden (the kind you are looking for, if you are one of us) and being open enough to let the few who really belong come in.

We realize that no one is a perfect Chelouranyan on Day One, and we realize some girls may have Tellurian connections that prevent them from becoming 100% Chelouranyan in practice. We are surprisingly tolerant of these things – if your heart (and mind) is really in the right place.

So, if you feel you are one of ours, please read lots, ask questions, make yourself known on Shining World. If you really are one of our dear lost sisters, we are longing to welcome you with open arms.