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Soulful Sundays: Here Be Dragons

In Sterquiliniis Invenitur (Latin): "In filth, it will be found."

The Philosopher's Stone was the most prized substance in the world of medieval alchemy. Not only could this mythical stone transmute base metals into precious ones, it was also esteemed as the elixir of life--the key to immortality. The Philosopher's Stone appears in various forms across multiple cultures and multiple epochs. Interestingly, it is often depicted as a jewel that is nestled in something grotesque, like a ruby inside of the head of a toad.

As a symbol, dragons are also seen across the broad landscape of human cultures. In the West they are depicted as dangerous and covetous, usually guarding immense amounts of treasure. In the East, however, dragons are a sign of good luck and benevolence. To have a dragon in your favor is a blessing. Upon closer examination, perhaps, the Western and the Eastern dragon are just two halves to the same whole--darkness and light.

Hic sunt dracones is Latin for "here be dragons," and it was commonly written on uncharted portions of maps where potential hazards might lurk. It took a brave (or hapless) soul to venture into these areas, but when one of them got lucky, the treasures were beyond compare. Christopher Columbus sailing further West than the maps advised, Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier, Yuri Gagarin leaving the Earth's atmosphere--all of these people chose to enter the realm of the unknown, knowing full well that death might befall them. What they came back with was worth more than gold.

As we enter the Chinese Year of The Wood Dragon many questions come to my mind. How can I dig deeper into difficult areas of my own life to gain more understanding and mastery? How can I look at challenge as just the uncomfortable price for growth? How can I transform my own darkness into light? What rewards will I find by taking on my own dragons? The larger the dragon, the larger the treasure.

The dragon is the most noble (imaginary) animal in the Chinese zodiac, and rest assured, this year will hold great fortune. We need only have the courage to face the hazards and see them for what they actually are--the essence of transmutation and the elixir of life. Happy New Year!

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