You will find that many terms in common usage in psionics are simply descriptive, rather than being imaginative. In most cases, such terms are either derived from radio or computer jargon because of obvious similarities in effect, or pulled straight from normal vocabulary because of some likeness or another. Signal, Sending, Receiving, and Ping are all of the first type. Shield, Spike, and Bubble are of the second. Sometimes, slang becomes imaginative – or at least, not immediately obvious – such as the “Hedge” Shield, which is a non-standard name derived from a reference in The Tick comics.
Have you noticed how many psionicists are nerds? But I digress….
A “tendril” is an extension from a plant’s stem, which the plant uses to wrap around something else, usually for support. It is long and narrow. A psionic tendril has much the same idea: a long narrow extension, usually from a person’s field. It is used to hold, touch, or affect something. (In the most recent seminar where I lectured on this topic, ShadowRain very helpfully added this link as an example: http://www.cosmeo.com/images/pictures/player/d3ef6e60-074d-21e7-12ec1a151db6b534.jpg )
If an energy/psionic tendril is very long, more-or-less unmoving, and connected to something on both ends, it is often referred to as a “cord.” Cords are common enough that the writers of “fluffy bunny” energy working sites were aware of them years ago. Making a cord does not require much in the way of skill, strength, or general ability. In fact, a sustained emotional attachment to someone is sometimes enough to do it. Accidental ones are very common. I’d estimate that the average Joe-on-the-street has half a dozen or more at any given time. How often intentional ones are used varies with the traditions and techniques favoured by the energy worker or group in question.
In that same seminar, Rayn asked if anyone had tried to attach anything to threaded tendrils, like attaching a hex nut on a bolt. I was unaware of any such attempt, although I imagine someone somewhere must have tried that at some point. (I’m going to have to experiment with that. It is an excellent idea.)
Deliberate tendrils may be used for greetings (to pat someone on the back, tap someone on the shoulder), to pick things up (wrap the tendril around the object and pull…obviously needs pk ability), to explore (poke the tendril into a lock, or the refrigerator…) for communication (extend a tendril through the air, or along phone lines, or through an internet connection), and so on.
They can also be a nuisance, getting stuck on things. Or people. Cords are more likely to be stuck, because they are so often accidental. It seems that the most common such scenario is a cord between two people in a close relationship of any kind: familiar, romantic, or just good friends. If you have this kind of literal connection to someone who is particularly “needy” in emotional terms, he or she will tend to pull energy from you, across the connection, generally mistaking the energy-stuff for emotional support. If you want to, you can deliberately send energy-stuff across the cord or tendril, too. It would be done the same way as moving some energy stuff into a psiball, and it is just as easy. Some less-than-ethical folks will sneak a deliberate tendril onto other people in order to drain energy from them, by the way.
So, what to do about an unwanted cord?
If it is your own cord, simply pull it back into your field. Think of an amoeba pulling in one of its pseudopods. If it is someone else’s, you might dislodge it by gently hooking a finger underneath it, and pulling it outward, sliding the tendril outward. If it has any branches on it (sometimes they do), dislodge them first, and the main one will come loose more easily.
Your other major option is to cut the connection. Either make a construct knife or pair of scissors (or chainsaw, or laser…you get the idea) and cut through the cord. Or use a real knife and some oomph. Or grasp it firmly in both hands and rip it apart. (Violent methods of detachment are effective, but can cause field damage. Be warned.)
If you want the cord in question to go away more-or-less permanently, you’ll need to either “cauterize” the cut end, or set a specific shield to block that person’s tendrils. Personally, I’d also Shield against a recurring tendril, if it were a particularly troubling one.
I presume there are also other effective methods, but those are the normal ones.
If it does come/grow back, even with these precautions, burn it. “Pretend” to char it with fire, melt it like a nylon rope with a lighter, use a construct laser-scalpel to cauterise it (again).
As a part of your normal field maintenance, it is not a bad idea to periodically check your field for unauthorized cords. You can do this the same way you check your field for anything else: look at your field and see if you notice any unusual extensions, and feel around for any odd protrusion. It is possible for them to attach practically anywhere. “Accidental” cords tend to connect along the central nervous system, the belly, or the heart. Leftover cords from games or exercises tend to be around the head or belly. Deliberately-sneaky cords will tend to be in areas not easily observed, areas that are generally ignored, and tucked under the normal emotional connections to other people. (Check the lower back and feet, especially.)
Once you have found an unauthorized cord, your next order of business is to determine whom the other end is attached to. You can follow it back along its length, or you can rely on what it feels like. Or, you can just guess, go ahead and remove it, and observe who acts differently toward you afterwards.
The other side of the coin is the making of a tendril.
Poke a bit of your field outward and extend it. If you like, you can get it started by grasping a spot on your field and gently pulling it outward, as though you were pulling on some bubble gum or toffee…or drawing a thread of yard from a bit of wool. By “grasping,” I mean “with your fingers”…nothing fancy or exotic.
If you’ve ever sent psi-stuff from one hand to the other when your hands were not touching each other, you have made a small cord. Likewise, if you have made a psi-yoyo, you’ve made a tendril. Often, sending healing stuff or “energy support” involves a tendril or cord, also.
Consider the intended function when you are deciding on the form you tendril will take. For example, the smoother a tendril is and the fewer ends it has, the more easily it is withdrawn. A rough tendril with lots of branches has a tougher grip. This is why, when you dislodge a cord, you want to carefully loosen each bit first and then pull it free…instead of just grabbing the lot of it and tugging. Otherwise, you run the risk of damaging the field it is stuck in. While I have not encountered that problem directly (because I loosen first…), some friends of mine have some unfortunate experience in that regard.
Tendrils may also be turned into nets and tripwires for warding purposes. Practice making a net by weaving strands loosely, like strings on a tennis racket but without the stretching-on-a-frame part.
Occasionally, you might encounter a small “astral” critter on you or someone else’s field. Generally, they can be dislodged and removed the same way as a cord with branches. Then toss them away from you. There’s usually no need to hurt them.
Strengthen them by adding more oomph, programming the tendril to be “more dense”, or adding an extra shell or exoskeleton around it. (“Oomph” is local slang and refers to the actual “energy” part of psi. Whatever it is you’re actually using to make the construct out of.)
Simplest way to filter what goes through a cord is to add a “mini construct” based on a water-filter straw or a ceramic filter…or several layers of fine meshy stuff.
Strange that tendrils have not been as popular as the ubiquitous psiballs, but they are just as useful and easy to make.