The sun/moon woman of chapter twelve was considered, by Jung and probably some others, to be the oldest and one of the few ‘intact’ symbols in Revelation, a remnant of the original, pagan apocalypse / record of initiation that D. H. Lawrence refers to as six stages of mystical death, with a seventh stage that is both death and birth. Perhaps it was this that got me involved with the sun/moon woman, but she had something for me anyway. Despite being in labor, there was something serene and regal about her, robed in the sun, standing on the moon, crowned with twelve stars. Why did that dragon come to eat her child?
The dragon certainly comes across like an evil character in this scenario, and yet, in myth and fairy tales, things are often not what they initially appear to be.
Frederick Carter, a colleague of Lawrence’s writes, in The Dragon of the Alchemists:
The formal analysis of the great history of the ultimate conquest of the Dragon, St. John’s Apocalypse, has been debated without effect since the time of the Reformation at least. The Puritan and Protestant upheld it because of its presumed condemnation of the Church of Rome under the guise of the Scarlet-clad Whore of Babylon, and this, together with the fatality that leads investigators to demand of a prophecy some matter of the time (and of time in its periods), rather than a thing eternally true in the soul of man, as in the spheres of the Cosmos, made it the sport of controversies of a purely fantastic historical nature.
Like all the great dramatic revelations of the world it recounts the soul’s adventure in a journey through the dangerous path…to the fount of origin for life and the soul. …
The most typical quality of the Dragon, as the myths indicate, was its changefulness. Protean, it was all the elements – of fire, air, water and earth – the free, powerful and dangerous denizen. In Art as in myth, the Dragon is the most universal of symbols, and it is intertwined with the deepest mysteries of human thought. …the ultimate characterization of the serpent image…
The amazing figure of the Dragon is the flowering of mythopoeic thought; to seek first for the gleaming shape of wonder and terror in the world of the real and purely rational is without avail to any end; it is a creation of the spirit of man – a dream. Like the dream, it can pass where it will, bearing the wise man who can guide it into the profundity of the inner world, to the spring and fountain of life, and to the perilous topmost height of the mount of heaven, there if he will, to regard the very paradisial garden and the Lord God walking therein.
It is indeed the summation of the duality of the world; it is, at once, the guardian of the gate and the one who reveals the way in. Of the darkness and of the light, it is one with Time; change, and eternity of change are its names.. . The Dragon is the controlling symbol of Time. . .
You can see what we are up against: symbols are not problems to be solved, nor are they puzzles to be de-coded; rather, they are riddlic energies to be lived with.
Is Dragon malevolent or benevolent? Yes. Is Dragon dangerous or friendly? Yes. Does Dragon protect the treasure for you or from you? Yes. The face of the dragon depends, at least in part, on the heart of the human — or the culture — approaching Dragon.
I have discovered nothing new here. Remember the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast? Perhaps it said more before it was Disney-fied.
When texts such as Revelation read conceptually they yield little or nothing. When they are twisted into some shape of literal meaning, they become an embarrassment, and even worse, a danger to the human heartmind.
To read about Dragon conceptually and to engage with Dragon wholeheartedly is the difference between reading a love story and being in love. To be in relationship with symbols and archetypes isn’t a dry matter at all. It’s important not to identify with and seek to possess such potent energies from the 666 mind, and it’s important not to kill such energies with the thinking mind.
The serpent and the Dragon are often considered to be the same, and both are related to the power known as Kundalini. Greed for Kundalini generally creates problems sooner or later; not so if it awakens in a physically and psychospiritually prepared individual.
Perhaps we can restore the word ‘imagination’ to a meaning of conscious awareness rather than fantasy: Something real, as D.H. Lawrence no doubt was referring to when he wrote:
All one cares about is the lead that the symbolic figures give us, and their dramatic movement . . . if it leads to a release of the imagination into some sort of new world, then let us be thankful, for that is what we want. . . . What we want is complete imaginative experience, which goes through the whole soul and body.
Why did imagination get a bad name? Elaine Pagels hints at an answer in writing about the problem of “heresy,”:
Tertullian, a convert in the North African city of Carthage and a contemporary of Iranaeus (c. 180 c.e.) agreed with Iranaeus in denouncing all who deviated from the majority consensus as “heretics.” Both fathers of the Church insist that what characterized the true Church is unanimity —agreement in doctrine, morals and leadership. …Whoever deviates from the consensus is, by definition, a heretic; for, as Tertullian points out, the Greek word translated “heresy” literally means “choice”; thus a “heretic” is “one who makes a choice.”
…Tertullian insists that making choices is evil, since choice destroys group unity. To stamp out heresy, Tertullian says, church leaders must not allow people to ask questions. . . .Now that the church can provide a direct and simple answer to all questions with its rule of faith, Tertullian says, the only excuse for continuing to seek is sheer obstinacy.. .The true Christian, Tertullian declares, simply determines to “know nothing…at variance with faith.”
If you take a look at the history of politics, you can see that unity has always been a good strategy for creating and consolidating power.
True imagination as a way of insight will never be all the same for all people at all times; it’s a present moment event that is shaped by the consciousness of individual and other elements, perhaps more than we can know. Imagination, like a Dragon, will always retain an element of protean, multi-elemental, wildness.
I have deliberately left out the aspect of Dragon in the sky, the great constellation Draco, astronomical and astrological cycles, and how Draco plays a central role. For any interested in exploring that aspect of things, I recommend When the Dragon Wore the Crown –Center and Cycle: Putting Starlight back into Myth by Don Cerow.
next up: Time