BY RICHARD POWER
“The Naked Beauty of Endlessness is Revealed, Wanton and Voluptuous …”
Excerpts from I, the Dragon: Chronicles of An Epic Life Among the Humans.
“I, the Dragon” is a treasure map of previously unchartered wilderness left behind for those who seek mystical riches. “I, the Dragon” is a medicine pouch for those leaning forward into the Great Shift that we must undertake if our species is to evolve. “I, the Dragon” is a book of spells offering occult knowledge and powerful techniques for deepening your intimate relationship with the Mysterium itself. “I, the Dragon” is not only the story of a life-long journey into mystical revelation and healing, it is also partly a political, ecological, geopolitical, and cultural history of the last six decades.
The Vultures Know
The vultures know. That the end is just the last of seven veils, and that when it falls, the naked beauty of endlessness is revealed, wanton and voluptuous. The vultures feast on the flesh of that fallen veil; with one eye on the exquisite mystery of the dance, and the other on the unspeakable truth into which it flows.
I wish I could save you from your troubles, but I couldn’t even save myself from my own. Nevertheless, here we are. The vultures know why. There is a savage sublimity within you. Sooner or later, it will erupt. And when it does, the lava pouring from its dark core will engulf all of your lesser dreams in one vast life-changing vision, again and again. The vultures know how.
The heartbeat of each creature is the divine Spanda itself poured into a single chalice. From the first pulsation to the last, each creature’s life is one long drink from that chalice. And when the chalice is emptied, we slam it down on the altar, demanding another. Follow the vultures as they spiral up into the sky of nothingness. They know. Spanda = Space. Space = Spanda.
Your own heartbeat is the graal for which you have searched everywhere and in vain, it holds a secret tincture concocted just for you; drink it and you will know what the vultures know. All that matters is that long drink. Mortality and immortality are not separate; they sustain each other. Follow the vultures. Spiraling upward, and then swooping down on powerful wings of bliss, to tear at the flesh of that fallen veil with beaks and talons of fierce clarity. Follow the vultures. They know.
NOTE: The vulture was the fifth of the “Seven Beasts” that offered me medicine on this journey. I am aghori. I have been meditating in graveyards my whole life. Literally. At birth, I was wrapped in my father’s burial shroud. I have witnessed so much death. Directly. Six decades full of it. Suicides. Cancer. Murder. Drug overdoses. Car accidents. Old age. The vulture did not come to me to deliver some revelation about the nature of impermanence. It came to me in recognition. Because I know. To truly embrace life, you must fully embrace death. You must lean into the grisly reality of it all. The vultures are our teachers.
All of this will come and go. Before the end. And you will be standing right where you took your first step. Not in space or time, but in that love being which pervades and envelops both. You will have so much to say, so much to share, but no words, and so little time. The dragon within you knows the truth of this world. With lidless eyes, it has gazed into the sun, and seen through it to the other side, beholding its own image, resurrected, wings unfurled, throat on fire, its shimmering scales reflecting Maya’s torrid dance just as the seventh veil falls to reveal her naked power.
All of this will come and go. Before the end. And you will be standing right where you took your first step. Not in space or time, but in that love being which pervades and envelops both. The dragon within you knows the truth of this world. Hatched in the nest of sorrows, it fed on the flesh of its unknowing until it knew. Ageless, it sets fire to the corpse of an age; ageless, it births the next, where you took your first step. Not in space or time, but in that love being which pervades and envelops both. You will have so much to say and to share, but no words, and so little time.
Whoever you are, wherever you stand, or fall, or kneel, or crawl, whatever beauty you hold in your hands, it is priceless and fleeting, you must pass it on before it is lost forever. It will only be a whisper of what you saw, only the shadow of what you felt, but it may be enough to ignite the next smokeless fire in the throat of the next dragon birthing the next age from the womb of its mistress Maya, dripping in blood and placenta. This is the truth of this world.
NOTE: The dragon was the sixth of the “Seven Beasts” that offered me medicine on this journey. There is so much that could be said about the myth and meaning of dragons East and West. Here in the West, we have two thousand years’ worth of paintings and sculptures in which male knights slay dragons. It is so tiresome. But there is a truth lost within that excess.
The evil dragon motif is perhaps best expressed in Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and in Peter Jackson’s movie trilogy based on it. “My armor is like tenfold shields, my teeth are swords, my claws spears,” Tolkien’s Smaug declares, “the shock of my tail a thunderbolt, my wings a hurricane, and my breath death!” Smaug hordes gold and treasure. He gathers it to himself and will not let go of even the least trinket. Dragon sickness. Gold sickness. But of course, this is only the motif of the life-negating dragon, there is also the motif of the life-affirming dragon.
This other, brighter dragon motif is perhaps best expressed in the great Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea books. Her dragons are at one with the Force, they flow in balance with the Tao, and the wizards gain much insight into the nature of power from their relationship with the dragons. In “The Wave in the Mind: Talks & Essays on the Writer, the Reader & the Imagination”, Le Guin writes, “People who deny the existence of dragons are often eaten by dragons. From within.”
I came across a beautiful illustration from the Norwegian artist, Theodore Severin Kittleson. 1892. The corpse of a dragon draped over its horde of treasure. In a mountain cave, by the sea. Just the skeleton and some swaths of dried skin. East and West, the dragon is an alchemical symbol. And so is gold. Looking deep into this Kittleson illustration, I felt the truth of what the treasure horde means in the motif of the life-affirming dragon. The evil dragon, the life-negating dragon hordes material gold, the dense gold, the gold of the Caesars and it covets its treasure, and it becomes poisonous and dangerous and weird.
But the other dragon, the life-affirming dragon hoards the alchemical gold, the gold of existence, the gold of human experience, the gold of human evolution, the dragon gathers this gold and protects it in this cave, hordes it there, preserves it for the future. The ancient future. And the bones of the dragon will have become medicine. The bones and what’s left of the dragon’s skin will become medicine. Whoever eventually discovers the cave will the dragon medicine in a great heap, mixed in with the alchemical gold of human evolution. There is a very powerful message in this.
Tragic when the innocent must discover their courage too soon, only to experience childhood in stolen moments and on the run. Tragic, too, when the courageous must sacrifice their innocence in the service of some greater good, only to live out the rest of their lives without it, drawing solace from performing acts of kindness and mirroring unheralded beauty to itself. But life can be cruel and so it happens.
Of course, there is even greater pathos when both of these tragedies occur in a single incarnation. As a child, the Archangel Michael appeared to me, and I prayed to him for protection. He wields the sword of truth and goodness, I was told. That is the same sword that the Lady of the Lake holds aloft from deep within the dark waters of intuition. She lent it to Arthur the Bear, who used it to forge a round table and recover the Graal. But the sword was only on loan. She sleeps with it wrapped in her nakedness and long flowing hair. It rises whenever it is truly needed and never fails those who do not flinch when they feel the burning heat of its hilt. The Lady of the Lake wields the swords from the depths of the great lake, and the Archangel Michael wields it in the fires of whatever Hells you pass through.
But there comes a time when you will shift without warning from calling on the Archangel Michael to walking inside his wings and wielding that sword yourself. And just as he came to travel with you for your protection, so you will come to those around you, and travel with them for their protection. Yes, there will come a time when you will shift without warning from calling on the Lady of the Lake to holding that sword aloft yourself, for the sake of those with ears to see and eyes to hear. Listen, this sword is only a weapon when it has to be, it is also a tongue for kissing and the licking of wounds, and it is beaten into a ploughshare whenever soil must be churned and seeds must be sown. This is the truth.
“I, the Dragon” is available exclusively here.
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For more self-study, The Urban Howl recommends 52 Ways to Live a Kick-Ass Life: BS-Free Wisdom to Ignite Your Inner Badass and Live the Life You Deserve.