Honoring Gaia Through Writing- The Dragon with a Thousand Faces: Retelling the Heroic Myth -
Everyone knows the story: a young man in his prime embarks on a quest and slays a monstrous dragon. In North America,
we know this young man inside out. He's the hero, the champion, the winner in a battle of cosmic proportions. He wins
the girl in the end and saves Western civilization to boot. Sword in hand, he dashes off to fight the good fight, taking
charge of his life and creating a better world in the bargain. His courage is legendary, his strength renowned; he
prevails with flying colors. He is St. George or Heracles, Siegfried or John Wayne, even Daniel Boone. Sometimes he's
a cowboy, sometimes a soldier, sometimes he's a superhero.
When we talk about rugged individualism or the self-made man, it's the dragon-slayer's story that paints the backdrop, lending a larger-than-life feel to our concepts. When we think about sports or politics, business or war, perhaps even love, it is the mythic hero who gives us a touchstone for what's happening. In his story, there are victors and villains, trials and temptations, obstacles to be overcome and dragons to be slain.
We know the hero. We model our lives on his story, even if we're female. We go off to work and deal with our dragon of a boss. We sit down to the computer and slay the demon of writer's block. We overcome whatever stands in our way -- fears, blocks or hurdles --, to accomplish what we're determined to do. Got a problem? Then whet your sword and slay that dragon.
But who is the dragon? Why must it be killed? Why have we suppressed this mythological figure? And why does it keep coming back, rearing its ugly head, just to have it lopped off again? Is it simply a scaly monster that must be slain? An obstacle in our paths that needs to be eliminated? Or does it, like the hero, represent something substantial in our lives, something we need to consider?
I answer these questions and more in my book-in-progress, The Dragon with a Thousand Faces: Retelling the Heroic Myth. This book looks at the snakes and dragons in our myths and legends. The Dragon with a Thousand Faces contains seven chapters structured according to the seven chakras of the Hindu tradition. Within Hinduism, the serpent goddess Kundalini, a dragon herself, is said to rise through the chakras of a person's body until she reaches the seventh and enlightenment occurs. The Dragon with a Thousand Faces focuses on the seven areas associated with the chakras (survival, sex and sensuality, will, love, creativity, psyche and the sacred) and in the process, brings the reader enlightenment about the dragons in our lives:
- by re-telling stories of snake and dragon deities from all over the world
- by discussing how and why dragons have been repressed by our culture
- by speculating about how embracing the dragon might help us live our lives today
- by offering exercises to get us in touch with our own inner dragons.
Here are two published excerpts from The Dragon with a Thousand Faces: "Kali, Powerful Crone and Dark Mother", and "Sacred Sycamore." Here is the text of a recent sermon, also an excerpt from the book: Invoking Goddess Fire.