Reading #16: Pondering the Meaning of Dragons

Posted in Alchemical Tarot, Journal on September 19th, 2010 by Kristine Gazel

Lately, I called off my search for purity and acknowledged that we can never be completely pure – because of our humanity.

Or should I more modestly say: I can not.

Anyway; No one is flawless, after all we all carry a shadow, and If we are not willing to accept it it will show it self in funny and disturbing ways. So it has to be brought forth consciously:

“If you bring forth what is within you, what you will bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you”  The Gospel of Thomas, v. 70

I guess it would be more modest just to look at this “within” me. The greeks knew that too: “Know thyself” was written over the Oracle of Delphi.

So to know oneself would be wise, I think.

But then again, what is wisdom? And how can I plea for wisdom – Fool as I am? Maybe it is exactly in accepting that fact that I’m a fool? I know these things, but I still I surprise myself – and therein lies my folly – and perhaps also my wisdom?

And how is purity compared to wisdom? I decided to ask the Alchemical Tarot this question:
One card for Purity and One for Wisdom. Purity: The Still and Wisdom: King of Staffs.

I think the Still in this respect is a bit sterile, the process of becoming pure will be looong and it will happen in some sort of closed circuit, isolated from the lived life. Fire is involved, but it is definitively under control. This is a controlled and protected environment, where no failures are permitted; Everything will blow up if the process gets disturbed.

The thing is. Life is not that way. Things get broken.  Things will be disturbed and challenged.

And then Wisdom; A dragon. Who should have thought that, now?

The King of Staffs is a dragon and Dragons usually guard the treasure in the fairy tales. Here the treasure is the Fire of Feeling. Of being alive. Of Consciousness (think Prometheus),  and of Wisdom.

Wisdom lies in knowing that you can’t live life and can’t reach for fire without getting burnt in the process of being a live and in  the process of reaching for fire. You have to meet your own dragons and demons, you have to face the Monster. But if you manage to challenge the Dragon King, you will have earned the fire. It will be yours.

So what will it be? Unlived life in searching for purity or the burn in reaching for wisdom? Actually I”m beginning to think we can’t have both.

Images from The Alchemical Tarot, copyright Robert M. Place, are used with kind permission. Visit the Alchemical Tarot website.

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