So there is a cave. There is daylight beginning to stretch its morning rays into it; not through some small dwarfish opening in a corner but across the entire roof of the cavern. The ceiling is like glass or clear crystal at least from within , from there is it like a giant sink hole, some deep chasm, yet from above it is quite simply not even there; very literally it is a sun trap, light enters but can never be released.
This is a place that does exist. Or more precisely it is a place that only can only exist if we chose to believe. Like some forgotten deity, lost in their heavens without the recognizing warmth of worship. Even in the sun, life here is like a twilight shadow. This cave is a footnote to some new age fantasy tale, an ambiguous cross-reference to some neglected myth: in practice, simply overlooked.
The beams of rising sunlight create playful rainbow patterns around the cave, the crystal ceiling acting like prisms breaking the light into its spiritual components, its own path of enlightenment flickers within. The colours play across the rock cave floor, yet some areas given the impression of something akin to illuminated life, rather than bare rock. And that life heaves almost imperceptibly, drawing a faint hint of breath. This life has scales, and those scales become a living kaleidoscope as they gently rise and fall in the rainbow light.
The roof of the cave is a like a sketch of the world above, an etching on the outside surface of this great glass done. There is a horse in the landscape above. A horse etched into the rock, stylised, beak faced. It’s elongated form stretches across the heavens from within.
The horse keeps its watch – it’s westerly eye regards with parental concern that which sleeps within, as well as searching without – scanning the sun that sets on the horizon each night, scanning for some portent of hope, looking some suggestion of release for its hibernating charge. The horse has been kept sentinel for an undefined millennia. It knows not when this began, nor when it is to end. This sun trap however is no shelter. No paradise retreat. Myth might have it as a physical prison or grave, the price of defeat – buried by Uther or slain by George, name your preferred hero of early Christian times, a faith founded in the blood of the son of God, spread through scars rent and blood spilled by millions in the name of salvation.
But what of the dragon conquest, what if there was never the battle, what if they just kept saying the dragons were gone. Some necessary enactment of their own need for faith. Say it long enough it will have to be true. Get the papers to publish it, it must then be true! What if a whole world ceases to believe in you. Period.
Like that poor child, constantly chided that the ghosts they meet in their dreams do not exist, they wake up one morning without that belief, or at least it is suppressed for now – what happens to those spirits previously observed, even if only imagined, still manifest, where do they go now. What happens to the dragons when George and Michael tell the world they slain them all. People just stop seeing them because they are no longer looking for them.
And so it was for the dragons. The heroes proclaimed victory so the people stopped believing. Like little Jackie Paper. So what if the dragons are not slain, nor defeated: Merely forgotten. They are lost in a deep hibernation of neglect, closed down by a long winter of disbelief. But still like this morning in the glass cave, the sun does rise again. It is not night forever; the winter passes.
Well I choose to believe – tell me what might happen if I dare to acknowledge what I choose to believe. Is that not in itself a gift of life when that belief comingles within those first solar rays of the morning.
What if I can set you free.
So I take my place upon the barren rocks where common folklore would have your blood rendering the land infertile. I allow myself to meditate on you in this place of your reported slaughter. I close my eyes and you are real again. Majestic. A creation of benevolent power, no monster painted with the false violence of contemporary post pagan faith.
Belief proves not just to be the key to life but also the key to access. In acknowledging you, your realm opens itself to me. I sink into your glass cavern which now rises above me like a Victorian palm house, and above me I see the horse, galloping across the heavens. Now I am as much a part of this landscape, as his own chalky form. From below he is alive, an ever vigilant guardian. Watching the world go past ignorant of the truth within.
On the rocks before me a great dragon lies coiled in the sunlight, it’s great head resting on its own tail, its wings carefully packaged in recumbent folds alongside its horny spine. I know it knows I am here. It knows I know. Yet it retains a pretence of sleep. Is it offering me some fairy tale ending, the knight kisses his princess and she awakes? Surely not.
And so I approach cautiously, but confident that I have been allowed this far. I do ask myself if he is going to be hungry though, and wonder why I never checked out about what they ate – virgins was it not so the faery tales said, Wink! I should be ok then. Wink! Wink! I am standing by the great head. I can feel it’s gentle breathe breeze past me. I lay a tentative, flat hand on a warm and scaly shoulder. Even in the depths of this long sleep there is strength, physical but also an electricity, a pure life force. I feel the instant connection to another sentient being. I know I am welcome. With a gentle ripple throughout I sense beneath my touch a slight loosening within his coils.
I place my hand upon his forehead. His eyes snap open. Immediately focussed. Recognizing me without introduction.
Suddenly I flooded with visions and emotions – it is quite literally everything there is. In that moment there is every past and every future.
I feel his life. I understand the pain of being forgotten, of ceasing to have value when no longer believed in. A once great beast rendered invisible. I feel the elation he feels at being recognised, at reborn. I feel his anticipation of flight, his desire to journey, to discover anew, to see what life and time have made of his home.
I wonder how one being can know so much. I wonder how one can feel so much. I can but return with an offer of my love.
The great red eyes blink, the membrane still slightly sticking as it draws across the eye. So many years clamped shut. The eyes refocus, somehow softer. A great uncoiling begins before me inside the crystal cave. We are in this together now. Whatever this might be. Partners.
Above us, it is almost as if the horse’s beak bares the slightest smile.