I had wanted to interview Lady Maerian Sidhevair for quite some time.
When I had first arrived in IW, and began wandering about, I had come across the Sidhevair lands and was really impressed. Magical and ambient. Reminded me of traversing through some of my favourite regions in Second Life. So now, Maerian and I were finally inworld @InWorldz at the same time and we sat down to have a long awaited chit chat 🙂 (and I added quite a few pictures at the end of the interview be sure to check them out)
We met in a very cozy home/meeting space in Estel Sidhevair region.
Birch Wind: Hi Maerian, thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me, I know I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, but RL gets so distracting. I am so glad to finally sit down and speak with you
Maerian Sidhevair: I am delighted to have the chance to yak about my passions here and honored Birch, thanks.
Birch Wind: I want to say that I came across your lands not too long after I arrived and I was very impressed. How long have you been in InWorldz for?
Maerian Sidhevair: hmmm good question….(/me looks at her own profile)…
Birch Wind grins
Maerian Sidhevair: Since 2010.Wow, that’s awhile!
Birch Wind: May I ask what brought you to InWorldz?
Birch Wind: * laughs * Yes! it is!
Maerian Sidhevair: If I was going to narrow it down to a few things, I would say that what first brought me to IW was that a couple of my friends told me of the prices here. lol. The Sidhevairs are the art project of an outworld nonprofit and we had 4 islands in another grid. We had just had our prices doubled and they had been high to begin with, we stood to lose a lot and I was pretty devastated. It was very hard to think of leaving friends – and inventory! hehehe. It was really a shock but we stood to lose all we’d worked on for several years there. I came to check things out.I was told that the Sidhevairs would be a pale echo of what they were in the old lands. I was fearful of the loss. And now we are so much more than we were.I forget how many islands we are now. *laughs*I think we are at 15. All that we wanted to do but struggled to find a way to do…has proven possible here.
Birch Wind: What was your first impression of InWorldz
Maerian Sidhevair: that it was a frontier world….it felt like moving from Chicago to Deadwood in the 1880s.
Birch Wind: * laughs*
Maerian Sidhevair: I thought it had possibility.
Birch Wind: That was four years ago of course also. I imagine things were a bit different back then.
Maerian Sidhevair: Several artists that I rely upon heavily were already here then and there was the promise of more moving here and frankly, doing without some things I had relied upon motivated me to be more creative myself. I think it brought out new possibilities. Since then people have come and gone, but the steady trend has been one of increase, and cooperation and inspiration. I have to say….I have rarely looked back.
Birch Wind: What did you find the most challenging when you brought The Sidhevairs here? Or is that something that you did after you had been here a bit?
Maerian Sidhevair: I think the challenge was in the fear of losing people who might be too unwilling to consider walking away from the larger number of people in the old grid. We moved the lands to IW within days of rezzing ourselves here.
Birch Wind: Could you tell me a bit about the Sidhevair Faelf? The inspiration for them?
Maerian Sidhevair: Yes. We are sort of the Fantasy version of that song from Donny and Marie (hehehe), ‘A Little Bit Country, a Little Bit Rock n’ Roll’ we are a little bit fae and a little bit elf.We are about combinations and in betweens….about diversity and a willingness to consider blends of culture…of religious ideas, of identities. We have a pretty wild back story. Someday I am going to have to tell the larger story.
We draw inspiration from some of the ideas and fiction and mythic underpinnings of J RR Tolkien, and we blend those with Mediterranean and Northern European pre-Christian religious ideas and folklore – which he did too – but we add to that. He wrote about what he called Mythopoeia. Our take on that is that mythopoeia is the use of storytelling or narrative ability to make myth take on a life of its own and in doing so become real. It’s made up myth that becomes…true.
Birch Wind: I noticed from the events and celebrations you put on that the stories, and poetry are a very focal point. It is quite lovely i might add.
Maerian Sidhevair: it’s that sort of idea that if we write it well enough…even if it isn’t “real” it becomes ‘real’.
I think that’s what the Sidhevair group is about and it inspires the builds and terraforming here, it’s a sort of field of dreams…mythopoeia in art form. If we build it…the Faelf will come. 🙂 And thank you! Poetry is part of the overall attempt to co-create, with words….with inspiration…with heart and cooperation. 🙂
Birch Wind: Did you start with one region when you came here? Or did you rebuild multi-regions right away?
Maerian Sidhevair:We brought over our original four right off (Estel, Ennyn, Minas and Caladannan Sidhevair, which translate as: Hope, Gateway, Fort, and Endless Light– all with the last name Sidhevair which is a fancy way of saying Faelf.). The freedom to build was amazing from the start. I used to labor over whether one more daffodil in an island devoted to Kore…meant I had to derezz a tree.
Birch Wind:* laughs * Yes, we have a good prim count in InWorldz
Maerian Sidhevair: I took copies for the four original islands…and I re-rezzed them here, we quickly grew into ideas that were an impossible twinkle in our origin grid.
Birch Wind: Was it scary? taking that plunge to come here? or were you quite sure that it was something you wanted to do?
Maerian Sidhevair: I felt I had to.
Maerian Sidhevair: I could have gone to any number of grids, but two members of the group were already here.Astoria and Bal…and I put out a message to the group and I told them that I could not afford the doubled cost of our home lands but that this was worth a try. the allowance of megaprims the huge prim count and the amazing price,along with the sense I got from the founders here that they were accessible and part of the community rather than a group of well, people that don’t get what this is really about.
Birch Wind: I understand that sentiment.
Maerian Sidhevair: : I do believe that folks like [Philip] Rosedale did get that but somehow the brilliant idea of a focus upon user created content became about something else. Ownership… profit took precedence over the importance of a business model that originally was built on the provision of a space to be wildly creative (and co-creative). I am not against good business.
in fact I respect and hope for it. I am just not willing to see art bow to venture capitalist ideas of making a more profitable “game”.
Birch Wind: How did that end up working out? Did many people come along with you from the other grid? And how is your group size and participation in relation to what it was in SL?
Maerian Sidhevair: We lost some very dear people. More of them have been coming over though. They seem to come in waves. We did bring almost all members of the group with us.
Birch Wind: People don’t like to travel alone 🙂
Maerian Sidhevair: Yes. And some stayed…some visit. While the Lands had to move here entirely I see no reason why people can’t live in as many grids as they want to. After all it’s a few clicks between grids.
Birch Wind: I quite agree. There doesn’t need to be an ‘either/or’
Maerian Sidhevair: it’s not like you have to drive from Europe to Hawaii.
Birch Wind: No, and people log into different websites all the time.
Maerian Sidhevair: Yes, to really dig in and work here though does require commitment.The Sidhevairs are here for the “long haul”. Size wise we are a bigger group here now than we were (I believe) we have some core folks that show up to almost all events, and that’s the same core basically as was in the old world.
Birch Wind: Some people and groups are talking about leaving SL, or at least making outposts in IW as a new world. Some people talk about going into the OpenSim grids , what do you think makes InWorldz a good choice for relocation from a place like Second Life?
Maerian Sidhevair: Hmmm…..I think community, price, and opportunity are a good reason to come here. There’s also the relative accessibility of the founders, a very reasonable response time if you have an issue. Since 2010 I have had to file only 3 support tix -all resolved within a day. 🙂 so not to worry about issues. I remember one was a weird thing where our terrain texture wasn’t sticking. I filed a ticket and ran into Elenia right after that and she just popped over to see the issue and gave me an easy fix right then and there. Another time I appeared dressed to myself but naked to the rest of the world. That resulted in some hilarious events. You know, there are always some borkish things that occur in any giant grid that relies upon ancient technology like computers for virtuality. I have learned that when something goes wrong it actually offers several opportunities: to learn more, to get a really good laugh, and to think outside of the box. That’s essential for virtual reality and is part of our larger goals. For folks like the Sidhevair Faelf, our experiment is based upon moving away from distinctions between the “real” and the “virtual”.
Birch Wind: *smiles and listens*
I would argue that both the physical outworld and the virtual worlds are real and the regions explore various ways in which virtuality can be expressed. That’s what we are up to with our various islands and their expressions of faelf identity. We are doing quite a lot at the same time. We are playing with identity, with philosophy, with art and with language, too.
Our islands are named with challenging (to learn) Elvish titles that refer to what they are about.
This is not an easy language to just pick up, and on top of that we are playing with a blended language – a Criole if you will. We are a riff on some of Tolkien’s linguistic experiments.
Birch Wind: Could you tell me a bit more about the Sidhevair lands?
Maerian Sidhevair: Sidhevair is pronounced Sheev Air basically and is a multi-lingual pun. Sidh means peace in Elvish. Sidhe refers to the faerie folk of Celtic hills. Evair refers to a sort of upstart rebellious elven folk that did not want to leave their lands. Our identity is part of our mythos and the islands reflect that.
We are sitting here in Estel (hope). It is the first of the islands and houses our community center. So there’s a heartland aspect to this island. We are loosely based on a sort of psuedo-European map and it’s also sort of Middle Earthish. Our mythos is that we are deeply between the worlds, and we are in a place that has not fully got four seasons. We span spring to fall but are close enough to a Mediterranean climate that we don’t have snow ever here.
Birch Wind: 🙂
Maerian Sidhevair: our winter is about rain (eventually when I deploy a good weather plan)
Birch Wind: much like pacific coast winters 🙂
Maerian Sidhevair: or Greek ones
Birch Wind: True
Maerian Sidhevair: if we have snow ever it will be due to altitude, which we don’t have high up enough yet. 🙂
so other islands – Backing up – there are no rentals in any of the lands. This was the case from the start for us, even before we moved to IW.
The way we approach this is that if folks want to live here they can offer to contribute what they can based on what they feel is their ability to pay towards tier, or they can offer to host events, offer support to the Faelf community, whatever they dream up.
Applicants to reside here simply get vetted. New folks get trusted unless they prove untrustworthy.
Birch Wind: That’s wonderful.
Maerian Sidhevair: If I get too many complaints about behavior that weirds the group out, (this has been very very rare) I will take whatever action I hope will be least painful for the community. In those few cases where this has happened, the ultimate goal is growth on all sides and healing, hopefully cutting one another a break.
Birch Wind: And it is themed, but not role play, correct?
Maerian Sidhevair: Well…it is embodiment of archetypes. Role play is perhaps a bit more playful and about the game aspect of fantasy or history or whatever, which is fun after all, so we may at times hold an event that is RPish. Ultimately though, this is about embodying the faelf archetype as it speaks to each Sidhevair person. I was talking to my husband about that…he’s Clankus Sidhevair inworld…and he said yes…that’s it…it’s about embodying our Faelf identity both Inworld and Outworld.
Birch Wind: I love your events
Maerian Sidhevair: thank you!
Birch Wind: yes, it really does have that feeling of ‘other-worldishness’ 🙂
Maerian Sidhevair: I would suggest that to check out sidhevair.org for more description of the individual islands and what we are up to. We do have I think 15 isles?
Birch Wind: an amazing area to traverse and enjoy!
Maerian Sidhevair: Our Lands reflect the expression of different faelf energies. These refer to perhaps a land of Greek temples, or a Beltane morning… and we have a place that interfaces with the stars and this straddles several isles… We have a seafaring island, and lots of Groves, much of what’s underwater is Mer-Faelf, and there is one isle that allows stores (which are also rent free) it is called Carassad. That’s a place that was once an island somewhere between England and France (sort of) in the 19th Century their time and the whole place straddled a weak spot in spacetime. They fell through into the world of the Faelf. It’s at heart a faelf take on steam punk aesthetics.
Eventually those who didn’t feel comfortable with that (uptight humans and bigots) left and the rest married in and became Faelf themselves.
Birch Wind: I recall reading that when visiting and wandering through Carassad.
Maerian Sidhevair: Carassad roughly translates as city place
Birch Wind: You do leave notecards about for people to read about this also, so that new comers can understand where they are and what the Sidhevair lands are about.
Maerian Sidhevair: yes but I need to do a better job of that. This is complicated particularly because a lot of what this place is meant to do is encourage people to sit with the Lands in small groups, couples or alone and listen to what the lands have to say to them. It’s a sort of ensouling and ensorcelling of pixels here to evoke and honor nature and the gifts of fantasy. And hopefully to inspire them then to get up from their computers and go breathe fresh air and sit in the sun for a bit…or watch a moon rise and link that to their experiences here.
Birch Wind: I feel quite compelled to do that. As I realized when getting to be May Queen this year… i really enjoyed the energy of the regions.
Maerian Sidhevair: I’m so glad.It was really great having you as our queen.
Birch Wind: aww thank you
Its been hard not getting inworld as often. I have missed you guys 🙂
Maerian Sidhevair: It’s been hard for me, too. I have not been able to be in much myself due to various outworld commitments. But while you were queen, we really grew and were inspired by what you brought to it….your energy basically… we like it. The Lands flourished with you as queen and I got a ton of new ideas at that time.
Birch Wind: Thank you very much. It was a good experience this year, being able to be a virtual May Queen. It felt a lot more immersive that I would have thought. When thinking about what IW has to offer groups I thought immediately of you and the Sidhevairs
Maerian Sidhevair: Thank you Birch !The lands hold energy and Astoria watches over them as she can.There are a couple places that you should definitely take an image of for this interview.
Birch Wind:Yes, please offer me suggestions.
Maerian Sidhevair: I’m thinking Lotharinya and of course the river of stars borne of the twin trees.
Birch Wind: In the sky?
Maerian Sidhevair:Yes, up there. *looks wayyyy up* and there is also Caladannan
Birch Wind: I might need a landmark again for that…
Maerian Sidhevair: It’s above maybe five isles…a big space – for space. It’s all a work in progress too. You can get there by clicking on one of the telescopes in the island with the Observatories. That’s Elenath Sidhevair (translates as Starry hosts)
Birch Wind: What do you enjoy most , now that you’ve been here awhile?
Maerian Sidhevair: I enjoy sharing the Lands with folks at our events and I enjoy endlessly moving a rock back and forth until it becomes real. Sometimes I get the feeling that these lands are building themselves….they tell me what to do…I listen and feel and respond. That and the work of some particularly genius builders here also. We have a wall that honors all the folks that have contributed a lot to the Lands, Julia Hathor for example. It’s in the Visitor’s Center in Carassad.
Birch Wind: Do you have any upcoming plans for the Sidhevairs? Or personal projects?
Maerian Sidhevair: I want to explore more of what the desert has to offer….[Sidhevairs include a lovely desert sim!]
I want to expand the galleries.I have outworld artists who don’t do digital art interested in having a virtual showing of their work in our galleries in Carassad. I want to do another year long ritual event that celebrates the Mysteries of Eleusis in Caladannan again. We have not had one since we came here, it was a huge undertaking and getting established again took over. That and the outworld challenges my family has been wrestling with. A serious illness, a new job, two moves in one year.
Birch Wind: I’m sorry to hear that – illness makes everything else so very difficult.
Maerian Sidhevair: And I’m in a master’s program that is focused on digital art and virtual community cuz I don’t have enought to do *laughs*
Birch Wind: *grins* If there is one starting LM that people should start at, where would that be?
Maerian Sidhevair: The lands are inspired by all the other folks who create and visit in IW too. I think a start in the field below this center is a good place to begin- as far as one can walk, swim, or fly here….all is Faelf. And I hope it is fun and inspiring for those who wish to explore here. All doors are open to all comers unless they are locked… that’s one of our general approaches. There aren’t many locked doors… We want other creatures to feel at home…
Birch Wind: Well Maerian, I would like to thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview with me.
Maerian Sidhevair: and I want to thank you for thinking of the Lands and giving me a chance to talk about this passion I have.
Birch Wind: Your regions are an inspiration to many, myself most definitely. And they are a wonderful display of what is possible here.Thank you for creating such a vibrant and welcoming community
Maerian Sidhevair: Thank you!
http://places.inworldz.com/Estel%20Sidhevair/62/112/23 There are many Sidhevair Isles, but here is a good starting point . Visit, immerse and enjoy!
Some photos of just a few of the many places to see here, click on thumbnails to view full sized.