“There is a great deal of unmapped country within us.”
The story of the Aether Nomads grew until I realised that it was similar to a Character Type in a role-play game! Having noticed a few Neo-Bedouins and other arabesque looking characters on the Steampunk scene, I decided to offer the idea of a coherent fictitious tribe which, through their propensity to travel through dimensions and even time, would fit subtly or blatantly into any setting, whether leaning more to the historical or wildly fantastical extremes of Steampunk.
The crux of the concept of the Aether Nomad is the blending of art and science and the opportunity to share a visually and, dare I say it, spiritually interesting experience. The intention to share this idea to ignite inspiration and co-creation became The Aether Nomads Project and it was born out of the first Steampunk Hands event.
This idea attracted two wonderful people who have become administrators of the Aether Nomads Project. They also happen to be Steampunk and cosplay models. Introducing Al Kymaris and Catherine Moon:
Al Kymaris (of France) plays the Aether Nomad Alchemist ‘Al Khemeti’ (a character who existed before being brought into the project) who is featured in the first ‘Tales of The Navigatrix’.
“Catherine approached me on Skype and talked to me, she was speaking about the Steampunk Hands Around the World Project. She asked me to write a little paper about my Aether Nomads experience, and I was just like, I have to write only one page, because I will speak a lot about it but at the same time I was like traveling through time and the space and I came back to the day when Sally contacted me.
She was talking about tagelmust, LARP (Live-Action Role Playing games), and I was just left with a strange feeling, as if I’d dreamt all this before. At this time I was working on my French project of an oriental LARP tribe traveling through space and time (Asteria Karavan). And couldn’t beleive it! I had been thinking about the same thing for a while in France and Sally (in England) had come up with a similar idea.
It was like a powerful feeling of joy to realise that an idea can be shared miles away and also to be invited to a great inspiring idea of sharing it all over the world. I immediately said “YES!”. I knew that Sally was defending something very strong and something that I have been fighting for my whole life.
I’m born from eastern tribes, my mother was one of those Amazigh, people living between the Nile Valley to the Mauritany desert. Since my childhood when I was playing video games, I tried to make some Arabian merchant characters, even in table top RPG I was always exploring multiculturalism for interaction. In the end, when I came to Steampunk, I did a Neo-Bedouin Egyptian inspired outfit.
I was defending an oriental fantasy, because one I was bored of elves and dwarfs and I was having more fun with djinns and sand mirages but also because it was part of me. And that was my interest in the group. Promoting this culture, my culture, through the veil of fantasy (magic, steampunk).
First we wrote a part of The Navigatrix’s Journey, therefore I became the first Aether Nomad and in the story the oldest one. Since Sally-Ann founded the project, I joined her as an administrator and take it seriously. I want to make proper things for this project, so I’ve tried to work a lot recruiting new Nomads in France and to merge my own project of Karavan with the Aether Nomads Project.
I’m enjoying both of them and I have come to build up stories for my character, for the group but also for my work as a Photo model.
Finally, I was inspired by myself for go on a lonely path of oriental fantasy, at last I’ve found friends who shared the same passion for this side of Steampunk and I give my energy for making us at least known for our story. That’s how legends become true, no ?”
Catherine Moon (The Netherlands)
“I’ve been rolling around the fantasy scene since 2006 and I never really realized how much fun it would be to make your costumes from scratch. Normally I’d wander around shops until I found a piece that was fitting with the idea in my head, add some accessories and voila! Costume done. When I met Suna Dasi from Steampunk India at Castlefest in 2013, (thanks for introducing us Cpt. Bashford!) we immediately hit it off. We got talking and I was so inspired by her use of the Indian culture mixed with Steampunk. She introduced me to The Navigatrix (Sally-Ann) and it felt like it was meant to be.
There already was this multicultural Steampunk idea in my head for years but I started with playing it safe by making my Western-Native American inspired character. It was so much fun to do, that I dared take on the next challenge that Sally-Ann was offering me; join The Aether Nomads Project. Now I am a wandering spirit, as I have been all my life, so to call something home was a big thing for me personally. We talked more and more, and she also introduced me to Naós Al Kymaris. Unknowingly I already had one of his beginning Bedouin characters stored in a picture map with inspirational pictures. I was over the moon. Discussions of character designs, The Compessence, Vocations and the whereabouts of our tribe began. Because of our creative minds it really felt like a huge playground where we would show each other little bits of ideas that would spark somebody else’s mind into a full blown character, a new story or painting by one of our members. We even have some edibles nowadays! How amazing is that.
What I’ve learned so far is that there is no limit to one’s imagination, and by helping each other you are all growing together, as one big family tribe. I feel at home like I never have before. Learning about the Arabic culture has been fantastic, and the stories from Naós are amazing to hear. He helps us pronounce words and the names we use, which is of great help to us foreigners.
The character I came up with is the Mother of Rhuk. She makes the spiritual connection between the Rhuk (mythical gigantic birds, well known in Arabic culture) and the Gliders. When they are born, she connects the egg with the human and sees to it that they grow fit and strong. Once they are of age, they will help protect the Cloud Caravan. The only side note is that once Glider or Bird dies, the other dies as well. Thus making sure that the connection is never ending and always comes full circle.
My workshop is mostly in my head and I love finding people who can help me out with creating my ideas. I cannot wait to learn more and more, so I can make most of the things myself!
(Honestly, I’m having so much fun with it, I can’t really call it work) What I do for the AN is live entertainment by going to festivals or other events, I do photo-shoots and am the secretary of the group. Most of my ‘work’ consists of background stuff that is not visible for the public. I thoroughly enjoy it though!”