Many people come to see me. When they leave they often tell me “It was helpful just to be able to tell my story. To say things I’ve never been able to say to anyone before.” I’m always pleased to hear this but I wonder what they think I do. There seems to be an idea that all we do as listeners is just that. We listen. In which case why come and talk t us? Why not talk to a pet? Or a rock? Or a tree? These are all capable of listening and of being discrete. (Although some trees can be terrible gossips! I’m always very cautious about what i say around some trees.) When someone comes to me and tells their story I listen. Of course I do. But I listen in a very particular kind of way. I listen in the same way that I listen to the wind. Which way is it blowing? What usually follows behind this wind? What precedes it? What might the wind be hiding? Sometimes I simply note that today the wind is blowing from the West. Or that it is unusual today in that the wind is from the North when usually it comes from the South. If I wait it usually becomes apparent why the wind is blowing from any direction. So I sit and listen to the wind in my cave. When there’s a space I might comment on the wind to my visitor.I’ll invite them to listen to the wind with me. Then we can both think about why this might matter and what it might signify for both of us.
Sometimes my visitors are taken aback “I thought the wind was from the South. But you’re right. It from the East. How strange. I’d always thought that wind was Northern. I wonder how I came to think that?” So the story continues. Who told them that this wind was from the North? Why do they think this might have arisen? What might happen next? How does it feel for them that I, a dragon, am challenging something they’ve long believed? With care and gentleness, we make sense of the stories. “If I’ve been wrong about the wind, what else might I be wrong about?” is a question that often follows. And so the journey continues until we find a foundation which is solid.One of your writers suggested that when we shake everything that can be shaken, what’s left standing is God. Or the Ground of our Being. Then the work of re-construction can begin and something new gets built.
And all this comes from just talking. And, being heard. (And listening to the wind…)
People wonder about how a dragon can be a symbol of healing. Dragons are fierce creatures who hoard gold .kill innocent maidens. Loot,pillage and plunder for the sheer enjoyment of it. We breathe fire and are utterly destructive. How can this creature be a symbol of listening? Let’s look at the history of the planet we share with you humans. Do dragons kill? Yes. We kill other creatures. But for food. And then only what we need to survive. We do not kill for the ” pleasure ” of it. If we kill we kill cleanly. We do not trap creatures in snares. We do not poison them. We do not abandon them. (No dragon will ever abandon another dragon. Even if staying with it puts us at risk we will stay there.) We do not use them as bait to catch a more exciting animal. If we kill we use as much as we can of the creature. We do not throw away most of it and only keep its head.
Are we avaricious? Yes. We love gold. And over the centuries we have collected hoards of it. And, yes, our ancestors stole from you humans-who also covet gold. We do not kill each other to get more gold. We do not sell our own kind for gold. We do not capture other creatures and demand gold for their release. It’s not unknown for us to allow one of your people to steal from us. I have turned a blind eye on many occasions when a poor man has needed gold to sell to live through a harsh winter. (And, yes, we have punished men who steal from us because they want our gold for themselves. So do you humans.)
What else are we accused of doing? Oh! Yes! We steal maidens -with princesses being a particular favourite. Well… if a creature comes to us for shelter we will never turn it away. If it has found us, we will protect it as long as it is with us. Sometimes our refugees have been princesses. Or maidens. Or princes. All come to us in need. But like all stories, truth gets lost. For many reasons. Shame. Guilt. Fear. Pride.So what began as a free gift of sanctuary gets turned into a cruel abduction. Or rape. Or torture. Then we are hunted because we are dangerous. Then we will defend ourselves and we can be true. But we never attack first .We try to hide-which we do surprisingly well. But some men have to prove their skill. Their courage. Their bravery. They hunt us down to show their friends how brave they are .Then, it’s true, we will protect ourselves -as will every other creature who feels threatened.
We are accused of eating our young. No dragon would ever do this – unless they had no other choice .We protect our young with our lives. (And would pay with our lives if we willing hurt any young one.) We do not send our young into war. We do not use our young for our pleasure. We do not send our young away. We do not neglect our young. We do not lock our young in prisons. We do not neglect them .Or starve them.The same is true of our elders. We value them. They hold our history. They are our memories. We keep them safe and warm. They are never left alone-except when that is their wish. Our elders are rarely lonely. We do not hurt them. Or steal from them. Or mock them. Their death is never solitary. When their leaving arrives, we celebrate their wisdom. Their achievements. We tell stories about them to honour them. As we do with all our number who have left us.
We are accused of spoiling the lands where we live. We are accused of pulling down tree. Of blocking rivers. Of ruining fields. Why would we destroy the places we need in order to live? We do not destroy forests to sell the wood to others. We do not drive families from their homes to gain more gold. It is not us who digs up the earth to get black gold.
But I forget myself. I am here to listen. To hear. To help and to heal. I am not here to roar and breathe fire .(Although sometimes I should like to…)