Tales of The Navigatrix, Part 2 ~ ‘How The Navigatrix came upon The Key to The Unpronounceable’

by Sally-Ann Livingston with Catherine Moon

{Catch up with Part One here}

Original image by Qsimple on Flickr, courtesy of Catherine Moon. Variation by TheNavigatrix

‘Mother of Rhuk’, Original image by Qsimple on Flickr, courtesy of Catherine Moon. Variation by TheNavigatrix

Together, Al Khemeti and myself travelled to a nearby village, huddled among the desert rocks. From there we parted with the rest of the guides. My newfound teacher led me round to the back of one of the huts, the wrinkled old woman there, wide eyed but smiling,nodding to him and he removed a dust-covered tarpaulin to reveal a small air dinghy.

Within a short time we arrived at a bustling bazaar. The small craft having been stowed away once more, Al Khemeti led me through narrow streets that were an overwhelming orchestra of sounds, scents, colours and textures.  As we rounded a corner I saw first a plume of brown and bright teal-blue feathers. The young woman that wore the headdress strode immediately toward Al Khemeti when she spied him and, solemn-faced, muttered some words that I did not understand. The formal greeting done, the two beamed familiar grins at one another and clasped arms.

Al Khemeti looked over to me. “Faddeya Illham Mahin, Mother of Rhuk, ” he pronounced, the solemnity returning. There was no countering introduction of myself, I noted, somewhat put out. ‘Manners are expressed variously in different cultures’ I reminded myself, quoting from an old Traveller’s Textbook and so I remained silent under the gaze of the young woman with the old eyes.

My teacher briefly explained that it was necessary to speak of the unpronounceable. The Mother turned to me and commented, “I know of this myth.”  No more need be said and the three of us untangled a path through the bazaar, toward a waiting air dinghy, slightly larger than the balloon that had brought us here.

I stole a glance at the sky. In the distance, black thunderclouds rolled over the mountains and I fervently hoped that we were headed in the opposite direction. Of course, that was not to be the case. The two nomads deftly boarded the modest craft, Al Khemeti lending me a strong arm to climb aboard after them in as dignified a fashion as the high side allowed.

Once in the air I saw how natural an environment this was for them both. Wind buffeted the basket as we headed directly toward a narrow passage between the peaks and directly into the heart of the roiling thundercloud. Passing through, an unexpected thing occurred. The angry cloud dissolved into a pale shadow of itself, through which one could see. This side, the weather was revealed to be, in reality, as fine as one could wish for.

A small fleet of colourful airships hung ahead, uniform in size but as brightly coloured and variously decorated as the bazaar we had left behind. Gracefully gliding around the perimeter of the Cloud Caravan, four giant birds, each hung with a tribesman beneath, suspended in complex metal harnesses. Much higher above circled a fifth mighty predator, judging by its proportions, distinctly larger than the other four.

We gently bumped into one of the airships, tied off and boarded. I didn’t realise it then but that ship was to be my home for the next three months, rarely touching down and even then, not quite to the ground, for the Aether Nomads have a peculiar custom of never landing once a dirigible is airborne. They float just above the ground and let down ropes and poles and sumptuous fabrics from their structure, forming the most gorgeously decorated tents that I have ever seen. Nights spent on the ground were few and far between…

wpid-4d7fc434d14a851c2383071886d15d3b.jpgThat first evening aboard the decorated dirigible, The Mother and Al Khemeti led me to a private cabin. My teacher settled himself quietly in the corner, a cup of steaming Lapsang to his lips, whilst The Mother laid out a few scrolls of incomplete technical engineering drawings and diagrams on the table. From a pouch at her chain-belt, she drew four obscure, symbolic items and placed these delicately on the table. She withdrew to the corner table, poured herself tea from a different pot and settled in silence next to Al Khemeti, the two of them gazing at me intently.

I looked at the table. None of this made any sense. What was expected of me? I studied each object without handling any and scrutinised the technical drawings. After a while, Al Khemeti pushed aside the scrolls and placed a blank, black compass-like item on the table in front of me. The Mother drew a chalk circle around it. Pointing to the four curiosities, she directed me, “Put the objects in the right order.”

Having no further clues, I trusted my gut; that inner compass that guides us if we will but listen. I gently picked up one object and placed it on a compass point. I looked back at my examiners but their faces showed only enjoyment of their brews. Turning back to my task, I placed the remaining objects on the available compass points, each in turn.

As I finished, the two nomads muttered something to each other and The Mother reached over, removing two of the objects from the North and West points. She handed me the chalk and said “Write the compass points.” Dutifully, I wrote clockwise N,E,S and W only to have her reach across and rub out each one with her fingers. In their place, she wrote V,A,S and M. I am a woman of efficiency and so I asked why she had bothered to erase the ‘S’. “Because of the difference in meaning behind the S,” she replied.

The Compessence by Sally-Ann Livingston

The Compessence by Sally-Ann Livingston

“Each member of our tribe looks within to find their soul-path. Guided by those who themselves were born to assist this process, each of our people find their place in the whole. Some have but one Vocation, others’ paths lead them to a balance of more. The Compessence is…our symbol. Each letter stands for a single Vocation:  ‘Symbologists’ you may term diviners and linguists, encryptors, and jewellers among them. ‘Metaphysicians’ are healers of body, mind and spirit but it is not only bodies of flesh that they work with but mechanism also. ‘Vibrancers’ are the custodians of our culture, our artists, musicians, storytellers, performers. ‘Aethermaticians’ are skilled pilots, navigators and numerologists. They guide us through the courses of our lives, in all their many complex dimensions.”

I had so many questions yet was made to wait for answers to most. I wandered over the giant birds. “Rhuk, they are named, mythic creatures in many parts. They are here for protection.” She went to the table and poured a fresh cup of steaming liquid that I had not noticed being brought in, handing it to me with a genuine smile, “Here, you have earned your tea” The Mother would say no more and I settled on a cushion with my honeyed Chai.

Over the course of the next few weeks, Al Khemeti would sit with me and discuss various topics over food, mainly in my areas of interest, jewellery and navigation. At times, he would withdraw as I was left to ponder new information by myself. I was taught a little of their complex craft of adornment, wrought with meaningful symbols, each differently shaped bead representing a concept, an emotion, a mathematical formula. My initial efforts were rather laughable but in time I was met with nods of approval.

On the control deck, my teacher widened my knowledge of navigatory skills and studying the finer points of multi-planar navigation. Once, I noticed a strange map with many markings, including a group of four symbols that I recognised from my initial discovery of the myth of the Gargantuan-class airship trapped in the Aether. Regrettably, any prying questions on this topic were met with sultry silence. I soon learned to be silent myself and trust that I was, indeed, furthering my way towards this goal.

After three months of the most unusual study, The Mother approached me. ” We have enough knowledge of you now. You will return when the time is right.” A young nomad appeared at my side and I was led to table. Al Khemeti  was quiet that evening after our rather indulgent meal.  The next morning, he told me abruptly, “For now, we are done. Return to England.” At my protestations, he simply told me “Your next lesson is there, awaiting you.” Politely but firmly I was ushered off the airship into the little dirigible, already packed with my belongings and an extra package of food (and tea!).

With no clue as to when or how I would cross paths with them once again and nothing save an inner assurance that, appearances aside, I had made a great leap forward in my quest, I set off on the long journey to Marrakech, from whence I could book an airship to London.


Author’s Note

The material for these tales has been inspired by conversations between the listed authors of each chapter (thank goodness for Skype making it possible between the UK, France and The Netherlands!) and by posts on the private Aether Nomads creatives group on Facebook. Thanks to Catherine Moon for her ideas and use of the image above.

If you would like to get involved in The Aether Nomads Project, leave a comment here or find us on Facebook!

Interview with Joshua Kinsey of J.W. Kinsey’s Artifice

Josh Kinsey

Josh Kinsey

How did your shop get its name and what was the main inspiration behind opening your shop?
The word Artifice has connotations of astuteness, artfulness, wiliness and craftiness; all good descriptors of my work as well as my personality. I am also an Artificer, a skilled craftsman and inventor. I opened an Etsy shop as a way to sell my work online, as well as the advertising and promotion that results from being part of a large shopping network.
One of the first pieces that The Navigatrix saw and admired!

One of the first pieces that The Navigatrix saw and admired! Handmade Steampunk Newtonian Reflecting Telescope in stained cherry.

Another of my favourites. This puts me in mind of an orrery and watching The Dark Crystal!

Another of my favourites., ‘The Perihelion Spindle’ (sculpture). This puts me in mind of an orrery and watching The Dark Crystal!

What do you create and do you have a signature product? If so how did it come to be?
I create unique, hand-crafted lighting fixtures, flat artwork, telescopes, Cryptex combination lockboxes and movie props, as well as large custom installations. As far as I am aware, I do not have a single signature product. I do however, have a signature style: all my work is entirely handmade with no repurposed parts- I don’t make Assemblage artwork.
The Cryptex Triple

The Cryptex Triple

Where do you find your inspiration and what makes you different from the other people that make what you make?
My inspiration comes from within, it is a constant companion. I am constantly designing personal projects: I have sketchbooks slowly filling with a lifetime of work. 
My work is unique within the Steampunk community as no one makes anything remotely similar to the objects that I design and fabricate. My pieces are incredibly complex (the Mystarium table lamp has some 370 parts, most of which are shop made) made with heirloom quality materials and surface finishes. Most everything is attached mechanically: my pieces can be entirely disassembled with a basic wrench set and a screwdriver. Also of note, everything within a piece functions and has purpose: my rotary knobs and gauges all work. My telescopes are fully functional, and are made of various metals and solid cherry wood. My Cryptex is a fully articulating secret lockbox machined out of black walnut burl wood, billet brass, and alternative ivory: it’s parts hold tolerances of +/- 0.003″. The combination rings require some 40 machining steps to fabricate apiece, and if I make a mistake on any one step, the part is scrapped. My drawings typically take upwards of 50 hours to render: the techniques I utilize are extremely laborious and unforgiving.
I don’t know of anyone creating within the Steampunk community that works to these standards or to my personal design aesthetic. I believe that these are a few factors that set my work apart.

The Sullen Automaton

The Sullen Automaton

What do you enjoy most about your craft?

I enjoy the challenge of striving for personal improvement, the learning and mastery of new skill sets. I enjoy the excitement and creative fervor of working with clients that are open to pushing past their own personal perceptions- the chance to truly create something never seen before. I cherish the satisfaction of knowing that this newly crafted object of wonder will outlast my lifetime.
Where can you be found online?
The Braxtonian Lantern

The Braxtonian Lantern

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 11.49.23raw-12What is it about Steampunk that you love and how did you become involved in it?

I enjoy the fashion sense and the attempt at a more refined social etiquette. I love the color palette, as well as the Victorian Industrial Age design motifs. I have been working within what I call a Vintage Industrial design aesthetic for the last twenty years. I was pulled into the Steampunk movement before I even knew what it was: an associate looked at a personal project I was working on and declared it was “Steampunk!” I had to google it to find out what he meant. Steampunk as a movement is not something I am actively involved with.
Cylindrium Table Lamp

Cylindrium Table Lamp

The Colchester Table Lamp: a handcrafted Dieselpunk accent light in Black and Nickel with Isinglass illumination

The Colchester Table Lamp: a handcrafted Dieselpunk accent light in Black and Nickel with Isinglass illumination

Background panels.

Background panels.

Thankyou kindly for sharing your thoughts and work with us, Mr. Kinsey!  Beautiful, admirable ‘works of the heart’, one might say!

Some of the images contain links back to the Etsy listings where some of the featured items are available for purchase. Alternately, J.W. Kinseys Artifice accepts custom orders. Do pop by and say hello!

~The Navigatrix

Telegram! Commissions now accepted!

Newsflash for you (and ramblings):

After much ‘umming and aarrring’, I have decided to enable the Request Custom Order button on my shop.

A peek at TheNavigatrix on Etsy

A peek at TheNavigatrix on Etsy

What kept me?

It takes time to find your way around selling on Etsy. I’m still finding my feet, really. I mean, I hadn’t even heard of WordPress or Twitter when I started and I had never sold online before (well, ebay, but not as a shop owner). So yes, the learning curve has been a steep one.

My daughter was three at the time so motherhood too was still relatively new. (They grow so fast, it is new almost every day!)

Almost a year later and I was diagnosed with FND…so I’ve had rather a lot on my plate.

New Adventures

With The Aether Nomads Project growing out of the convergence of a jewellery range idea and my involvement in Steampunk Hands Across the World, TheNavigatrix seems to be in rather uncharted territory (which is where she thrives best!) In order to make the most of the three types of Steampunk jewellery and accessories that my shop offers – English Steampunk, Steamgoth and Tribal Steampunk – offering custom items was the next logical step.



However…I asked myself how I was going to accomplish this with the challenges I face:

1) Limited time. I generally work when The Scamp is at school or when she is being entertained by her father. Though that can get rather noisy… 😉

2) Materials. Borne out of necessity, TheNavigatrix grew using materials found in charity shops which I ‘upcycle’. I became aware that this was actually a bonus. Nobody would be using the same items from which to craft jewellery and the fact that there were limited supplies meant that it was easier to choose to make one-off pieces or limited – but still individual – runs of similar themes.

Every item is unique. I will not, because I cannot, make exactly the same thing twice. This provides a personal touch to each piece and also keeps me creative.

3) Health. Chronic Fatigue makes no.1 all the more limited. Various subtle but annoying neurological things make handling tiny beads and simply thinking straight tricky some days. FND is a very variable condition but with a fair amount of help I am learning to manage it. This shop and the wonderful friends I have made through running it inspire me to keep going forth!



Customers, What You Need To Know

In a nutshell then**:

• If you ask for a custom order, it may take time but no more than 6-8 weeks. Faster, if at all possible, but I needed to give myself plenty of leeway, just in case.

• Communication is key. I can use Facebook messenger to chat with you real-time or Etsy convos to send messages and pictures. Together we’ll see what is possible and design your piece.

• I will only accept two commissions at a time. There will also be a waiting list.

• Lastly, a little kindness and consideration always make a difference. I appreciate being able to buy direct from a real craftsperson. It is why I love Etsy so much. I’ve bought a few custom creations myself and have been over the moon every time.

So, do spread the word and consider asking TheNavigatrix to create something to your specifications. Many thanks,



A separate interview featuring some fellow #SteampunkSpoonies will follow next month.

** Full guidelines can be found on my Policies Page

Winner of The Steampunk Chronicle’s 2015 Reader’s Choice Awards

Quite a few of the listed winners brought a congratulatory smile to my face. Well done, everyone!

Airship Ambassador

Reposted by permission of The Steampunk Chronicle.


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Interview – Matt of ArcaneArmoury on his trip to WWWCon, USA

It is always a pleasure to show you what my talented sibling has been up to. Recently, Matt received a rather splendid invitation…

This year is off to a good start for you Matt! Tell us how you got on at the Wild Wild West Con in the US? Did you go as yourself or did you take your alter ego, Weldon Rivet esq. along?

 Wild Wild West Con was superb, I was lucky enough to be invited by Kato to hang out with her and the Steam Girls. I’ve known Kate about 4 years now and we are firm friends. I don’t really do the ‘steam-sona’ thing so if you meet me , you’ll just be meeting me in steampunk gear 🙂

Left to right. Sean Walter, A .Nomaly, Tia, Luna, Matt, (Rin , at his feet) Genevieve, Lumi,Littlebit Lizbit and Bailey Group shot by Stephanie Rowe

Left to right. Sean Walter, A .Nomaly, Tia, Luna, Matt, (Rin , at his feet) Genevieve, Lumi,Littlebit Lizbit and Bailey
Group shot by Stephanie Rowe

Who did you meet there?  

  I met Kato, Abney Park, Brian Kesinger of Otto and Victoria fame, Thomas Williford, Amy Wilder…All the Steam Girls that went  A.Nomaly, Lumi, Genevieve, Rin, Bailey, Littlebit Lizbit, Tia and Luna. Sean Walter is Steamgirl’s security guy and he went above and beyond to ensure we were all cared for.  I also met a lot of fans and Steam Girl admirers. Everyone was really friendly and the atmosphere was so welcoming.

What was the music like?

 Really good! I only caught the gig Saturday, but that was Frenchy and the Punk and then the headliners Abney Park, they had the crowd eating out of their hands…it was just a blast finally hanging out and dancing with these people I’ve known for years through social media…and everyone of them was wonderful.

Hanging out with the Steamgirls. Image courtesy of Alternate History Photography

Matt is really good at making people smile 😉 Image courtesy of Alternate History Photography

What did you do at the convention?

 I was very lucky actually as I was with the Steam Girl group , it allowed me to go to all the panels and special events and I was lucky enough to assist on a couple of photo shoots with Genevieve, who also runs Alternate History Photography and shoots for Steamgirl.com. We had the wondrous setting of old Tucson as a backdrop so we took the chance to get some group shots etc.

Genevieve and Kato photo by ArcaneArmoury

Genevieve and Kato photo by ArcaneArmoury

Did going to a Steampunk convention in the US give you any ideas for future creations?

 The scene is huge over there, but sadly I am unable to ship my prop weapons to the US, which is a shame as I get a lot of enquiries. I expect I will be building more gadgets and head ware etc. I don’t tend to go looking at what others are doing as I don’t want it to influence my own designs. I have a few ideas for creations that aren’t weapons etc , but it’s true to say people love a big shiny steampunk gun!

 Will you be going back next year?

 I will do everything in my power to ensure I make it back to WWWcon next year, a chance to meet with my friends and have a wonderful time in such a great setting can’t be missed!

Matt of ArcaneArmoury, image by Alternate History Photography

Matt of ArcaneArmoury, image by Alternate History Photography


What is in the pipeline for ArcaneArmoury at the moment?

 I’m hoping to do some collaborative projects with people, but we shall see how all that pans out.

 If you could make anything in the realms of Steampunk, what would it be?

 That’s a huge question with far too many answers! I guess, high on my list would be some steampunk animatronic monsters  but such big plans require big budgets and I’m not in a position to go that route yet.

 Personally, I’d love to see what you could do if someone handed you a big budget and several skilled assistants!

Where can you be found online?

 You can find me at ArcaneArmoury on Facebook and view my shop at www.etsy.com/shop/ArcaneArmoury

I’m always happy to take on commissions too.

Thanks for taking the time to do the interview, Matt, I know you’re quite busy at the moment.

My gratitude also goes out to Kato and the SteamGirls (and Sean), Alternate History Photography and Stephanie Rowe for the wonderful images.

 If you would like to be interviewed for this blog and maybe even get involved in Steampunk Hands Around the World next February, do drop me a line at  thenavigatrix@yahoo.co.uk

 ~The Navigatrix

Review: Skal 1

By the illustrator who created the iconic image for The Aether Nomads Project, Skal is one of my favourite graphic novels…and the story has only just begun!

Travelling Man's Blog

Written and drawn by Jennie Gyllblad

Published by Jennie Gyllblad

http://www.skalsaga.com/-New pages of the story are put up here as Jennie finishes them

First collection available now for £11 including P&P

Mushirah has been sentenced to death and, to make sure she’s ‘safe’, had her mouth sewn shut. When she’s rescued, she thinks her destiny may not be what she always feared.

Voresh is a fast talking, fast running thief with mouths (And beaks) to feed. Her biggest problem is staying alive. Mushirah’s biggest problem is working out whether or not she wants to. Together in a bustling, dangerous city, they go looking for answers.

This book looks like nothing else on the market. Jennie is an extraordinary, one of a kind artist who shifts gear from watercolour to pencil and back with tremendous grace. Crucially, none of the detail is lost either and the world her characters inhabit…

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Steampunk is NOT Victorian Science Fiction

I admire the simple clarity of this post, along with the positive, welcoming attitude of the author. Inspirational!

Steampunk Journal

"One does not simply" meme Boromir

This article is one of several that are an attempt to address the problems within the steampunk community. These problems are not the doing of steampunks who enjoy the culture, but of those who wish to only make profit from it.

It’s a common misconception that steampunk is Victorian Science Fiction. I fully believed this misconception until I discovered what I believe to be the truth. I believe this because it makes a lot more logical sense. This description of steampunk has been hidden under a veil of deceit by clever people who simply want to further their own career. It’s done by convincing you that their opinion of steampunk is the correct opinion and removing any that disagree.

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