Lions and Dragons – Short Story

Zodiac clock St Mark's Square, Venice, Italy

The uninterrupted light of this autumnal afternoon reminds me of the words I awoke with this morning, heard with vivid clarity as I stood on the breach between dreaming and waking.

“The Lion has defeated the Dragon.”

I repeated the statement over and over as my consciousness flooded back into my waking body, trying not to forget those words, as the rest of the dream world I had been inhabiting slipped away from me into the fog, replaced by the familiar surroundings of the dawn-lit bedroom. As I clung to those words repeating them like a mantra I tried to make sense of them, knowing that often such poetic gems were prophetic, coming from a deep source of wisdom that usually resides beneath my usual canniness.

The symbolism of the dragon has been a recurring theme throughout my life and has often represented severe illness, the kind that threatens the balance of life, burning as bright and as vehemently as a dragon’s breath. It has also represented certain special individuals that have left a distinct impression on me, there have been few such individuals. A rare and mythical breed indeed that seem to arise when bidden, seemingly from thin air, and that brand you indelibly with their powerful intent.

As for the Lion, well that could only mean me, a double Leo according to horoscopic interpretations. As rare as it is auspicious.

Except my big old twin lion heart has been gripped within the giant talon of that familiar old dragon for some weeks now physically and emotionally. For the past two he has been tightening his grip so that my throat begins to hurt and my chest feels the weight of his presence. I have struggled to fight against his awesome strength, struggling to breathe and remain calm, as I feel my energy and compassion being drawn from me like blood from a stone.  Yet I seem to be inextricably linked to the magnificent beast in all his manifest forms, whether as malady or human. Never have I experienced them simultaneously. But there is always a first time for everything.

Like all dragons he is a beautiful beast, his scales dark and iridescent changing tone and hue depending on the angle of light, ever changing as the mood of the sky changes with the impatience of the sun. His charm is as alluring as his smile that ignites your soul and melts your heart, intoxicating and hard to resist. His overwhelming presence and majestic wings quickly envelope you making you feel safe and nurtured, and protected from the world outside of them. He promises you riches beyond your dreams, and fills you with the hope of flying as high as he is able to take you with those huge indefatigable wings that seem to defy gravity. But then that is his purpose, to guard his treasure with the fierceness that reputation alone can justify, and as his treasure he will guard you for an eternity. Always and forever, no matter how much you might resist the strength of his hold.

Like an addiction the highs he promises are incredible and all consuming, yet the moment you try to move to gain an equal perspective, to meet his gaze and see into those unshielded eyes, to plumb the depths of his unfathomable and mysterious soul, he spits venom and fire at you enraged that you should challenge him so, to question his commitment and authority. Fearing that you will claim his treasure for yourself, and leave him with nothing but wanting, he convinces you that his fear is your failing, your inability to accept him for what he is. That you in your greed are at fault, not him. Even though you know that if you give in to him completely you will suffocate, and lose yourself so that you forget who you once were and dreamt of becoming, the connection between you is so strong that you gladly take his burden and stop resisting.

Dragons are feared for good reason. They are ruthless in their destruction and do not rest until they have complete dominion over all they survey. They are bastions of the realm between waking and sleeping, between reality and fantasy maintaining the balance of the eternal laws, ensuring that no-one upsets the delicate equilibrium that if threatened incurs their terrible wrath. They are purveyors of wisdom and truth, and when all else seems lost they will hold the key, the magical charm that will heal all and reset the balance.

But all dragons have a weakness, their heart. And when opposed by the strong double beat of a rare lion’s heart, and the razor sharp claws of a concise and precise intent then retreat is their only recourse. Play dead, and hope that the lion’s attention is diverted sooner or later so that she cannot see Dragon watching from the secrecy and darkness of his lair, planning his strategy to regain his rightful property, his golden and very rare treasure. Biding his time until Lion has forgotten that Dragon was ever there.

Deep down however, and with time spent, Lion feels an emptiness, a reminder of a void once filled with unbridled passion and unlimited potential, promises of crossing the threshold from reality to dreaming, to be able to shine so bright and to be able to roar with deafening confidence, and the promise to be with Dragon for eternity. With distance that remembered love is gentle and kind, and enough to keep the flame flickering. But Dragon cannot leave the realm of the real, nor can he leave the realm of the dream, caught between the two as guardian so that his promises can only be partially fulfilled. Tied by his unswerving duty to uphold the laws he is so sworn to serve.

And so as Dragon retreats and releases his hold, temporarily, Lion begins to breathe clearly and strongly once more remembering that she has dominion over her own territory, that she has her own pride to protect and that Dragon no matter how alluring and beautiful he is, he will always be Dragon committed to his duty in a way that she cannot always share, or always condone.

My relationship with my dragons, in all their forms have always been intense but dangerous. Balanced precariously on that precipice with very little to stop me falling into the abyss, save for the memory that I have been here many times before and survived. In an odd way I can’t help but love my dragons despite the pain they cause me, having grown used to their eternal presence they have become part of the fabric of my existence interwoven into the landscape of my reality so that they are never far from sight, buried deep within the recesses of my heart and my mind. They remind me of the fragility of existence, and the illusion of time, and that neither should be taken for granted, or accepted on face value alone. Life is there to be experienced, if only just once.

My experiences of the last two weeks, the love and the passion I have been reminded of have served to reinforce my resolve, despite the painful consequences, as it should be so whenever a challenge becomes immediate and inevitable. If you overcome it then it’s a positive experience, you have grown and evolved.

I the Lion have defeated the Dragon, for now, until the next time he dares to step into the light and melt my heart with his bright dazzling smile, his gentle unshielded eyes and his poetic words.

I shall be waiting…


14 thoughts on “Lions and Dragons – Short Story

  1. you probably don’t want to hear me say this, but the entire time I read this I couldn’t help but think the Lion (of Judah) is your protector and will always win over the beast! no matter how pretty he makes himself, he is still a beast. he may be wise, because he was once part of a much greater thing, but he was also greedy, and jealous and was cast into a realm we both know he can never really leave from…only try to whisper to you and draw you down with him. I think sometime when you are bored, or have nothing to do, you should search for the Lion who watches over you, for you may be his cub…and see what He has to say. just a thought! and ps… I was born under cancer with Leo rising, and rising and rising….lol have a lovely day Ish! 🙂

    1. Thanks Malcolm! Not sure about it being Jungian exactly. But I like using such literary metaphors, they evoke strong imagery and are much more powerful than just mundane prose, which I was trying to avoid in the writing of this piece. It’s a shift in my writing style that I’m quite enjoying.

      1. Probably, but Jungian psychology has never held too much interest for me. These the symbology of the lion and the dragon are very personal to me, though I don’t they are necessarily universal. Perhaps they are.

  2. “When the demon is at your door,
    In the morning he won’t be there….no more…”

    Any Major Dude – Steely Dan

    Subconscious messages often present themselves as analogous images, I hear.
    Either you must go to the zoo to see a lion or Play D & D.

    The Oracle has spoken. But the spoon really isn’t there….

Don't forget to breathe...

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