In biblical lore, the dragon is cast in the role of demon – devil, Lucifer, Satan, the Leviathan, the dragon who carries the Whore of Babylon and the one that threatens the woman standing “with the moon at her feet” and her newborn child. To the patriarchy, the dragon represents evil, temptation, sin, and the threat of eternal damnation. But why? Why is the dragon cast in this role of death and destruction?
My sense is that this association between the dragon and temptation has more to do with the patriarchy’s fear of feminine power (their own feminine power) than it does with a literal demon seducing us into sin. When we look at the ancient cultures that preceded the warring patriarchal hoards, we see nothing but a benevolent relationship between dragon and human beings. In Chinese culture, for example, the dragon represents abundance, wealth, and good fortune; and with its Yin counterpart, the phoenix, portrays the perfect harmony intended between male and female in intimate partnership – each supporting and elevating each other in their unique giftedness. Even in Chassidic Hebrew beliefs, especially in the mysticism of the Kabbalah, the dragon (as a serpent) is welcome as the inner force that awakens us, that carries our true power and which leads us toward embracing and harnessing that power so that we might fulfill our Soul’s mission.
It is in Christianity where we see the most damning portrayals of the dragon – most notably the dragon that wishes to devour the holy child, thereby thwarting the Divine purpose of liberation. But here is something interesting, in Christian iconography, we see contrasting images of the dragon and its role in the human journey of transformation. St. Michael the Archangel holds his sword aloft poised at the ready to pierce the dragon’s heart, thereby destroying the source of temptation. St. Margaret, on the other hand, does not fear or resist the dragon when it swallows her, instead, she walks steadily through the perceived darkness, finding her way to the light and in doing so, discovering the untapped power within her to move through her fears so she could discover and live her truth.
There is a profound lesson in the story of St. Margaret for all of us – that which we perceive to be our demon, our dragon, our “darkness” is not there to destroy us, neither is it meant to be destroyed. Instead, the dragons in our lives are meant to be welcomed for it is in and through our challenges that we find our strength.
This is the secret power of the Divine feminine and that which the patriarchy has attempted to destroy – the power to stand in the darkness and through the darkness finding our way to the light – even if that means (most especially when it means) staring death itself in the face. As every true queen knows, the dragon is not to be destroyed. Instead, we are invited to meet it face to face, harness its power and let it carry us.