The following is an extract from my book The 26 Keys from the section on the Lunar nodes. It was previously published on Facebook under the title ‘Understanding the Dragon’ (along with a few other notes which will eventually be collected here).
Eye of the Dragon
Long ago in the age of legends, a great battle took place between the forces of creation and destruction. Two armies, one composed of demigods, the other of insatiably hungry demons, fell upon one another in a struggle for dominance. Because the demigods had been cursed to lose their immortality by a short tempered sage who had been offended by their lack of graciousness in accepting his offerings, they lost and the demons assumed power over the entire universe, placing a demon emperor on the throne of heaven.
The demigods turned to their leader for advice, a supreme deity who supported, sustained and governed the universe and originated and developed all the elements within it. Acting on this advice, they sought alliance with the demons, securing their co-operation in a mutual goal – the nectar of immortality. The demigods sought to regain their immortality but could only do so if they worked with the demons, and the demons, being greedy and mortal, were tempted and agreed.
So it was that the churning of the great ocean of life began, for the nectar could only be extracted from it if the demons and demigods pulled on either end of the king of the serpents, who obligingly wrapped himself around the great mountain of existence which turned and churned the milk of life. The demons pulled on his head, and the demigods pulled on his tail, and the grinding rock of existence stirred the ocean of milk. The supreme deity assumed the form of a turtle and held the mountain above the ocean to prevent it from sinking, but a second disaster threatened to undo all of creation as the serpent king, placed under agonising strain by the ordeal, vomited a noxious poison that choked those assembled and threatened to negate existence entirely. One of the gods, in compassion for all life, swallowed this poison and became an avatar of destruction and transformation.
Many herbs were cast into the churning sea, and treasures emerged from the ocean of milk – a goddess of fortune and a goddess of misfortune, a magical conch shell, a divine horse with seven heads, a wish granting cow, an elephant and the Moon, before, finally, the physician of the demigods waded out of the maelstrom with the nectar of immortality held aloft.
Immediately the two armies fell upon one another again for possession of the draught, but a winged eagle-god spirited the nectar away from the battle. The demons pursued him and eventually obtained the nectar for themselves, but were tricked out of it by the supreme deity who distracted them by taking the form of a seductive enchantress at the celebration. Returning the nectar to the demigods, the supreme deity was followed by two demons who disguised themselves and infiltrated the gathering. The demigods drank of the nectar and recovered their immortality, and just as the disguised demon was pouring the nectar into its mouth it was detected by the luminous sight of the deities of the Sun and Moon and swiftly decapitated, leaving only an immortal head and a thrashing tail upon which some nectar had dropped.
Enraged and tormented, the demon swore an eternal revenge upon the Sun and Moon, vowing to pursue them for all time. And so it is, from time to time, that the Sun and Moon are caught by the head or tail of the demon and are swallowed up by him so that they disappear from the sky, but being immortal, they always emerge, again, and again, and again.
This extremely ancient story is from the Hindu creation. It is rich with meaning and significance being a tale not only of primordial creation but also of the epic journey of existence and our fundamental dilemmas, the intrinsic tug of war between our inner light which seeks to recover its immortality and our material flesh which hungrily pulls us toward mortal experience. This is the essence of our astrological Dragons Head and Tail and they must always be considered together because they are expressive of two sides of the same notion, always a pair. They are junctures in which spiritual and physical meaning and significance collide and consume one another.
The Dragon is an invisible serpent coiled around the Earth who only becomes apparent to us when the Lights go out. Its head and its tail are always opposite one another. They are formed from the intersection of two discs or circles – orbits. The first is the orbit of our planet around the Sun. Imagine this disc now, with the Earth placed upon it and moving around. As it moves around this circle, the Moon is also moving around the Earth, but in a circle which is inclined into the first, like a small ring placed around the first circle. At the two points where this smaller ring crosses the first one, both ascending and descending, we find the nodes of the Moon, the Dragons Head and Tail. If there is a New Moon or a Full Moon at either one of these points an eclipse will occur, either a lunar eclipse (full moon) or a solar eclipse (new moon). In other words, if you are born during an eclipse, the Sun and Moon will be very close to these two areas of the zodiac. Simply put, they are the places where there would be an eclipse if the Sun and Moon were positioned there. They are places which express a conjoined relationship between Earth, Sun and Moon.
An eclipse is a magical moment which none who have witnessed can walk away from without feeling awed by something unnameable, a strange mixture of being touched by ones own insignificance and something more profound which leaves a silence in the soul. The world is held in suspended animation for a moment as the conductors of the celestial music of life reach a crescendo and dramatically pause, transmitting a wave of raw electromagnetic flux that acts to disrupt the fundamental flow of life on Earth. The visual spectacle in the sky is mirrored in the internal landscape of the perceiver, suddenly stilling the churning waters within, a feeling which we find weirdly exciting and eerie. This is the magic and awesome power of the Dragon at work. He is reminding us that the entire universe is bound together.
Unlike the planets and the Lights which generally move forwards through the zodiac signs, these places almost always move backwards through them but may also move forwards for a brief time, thus churning the milk of life. It takes just over 18 years for them to move once through the entire zodiac, or 18 months per sign, so they are seeding meaning and significance into relatively short human generations like Jupiter. Being eternally invisible except in its effects (snuffing out the Lights) the Dragon is not capable of physical causation astrologically, but instead operates on the astra-mental plane to produce its effects. However, there is a very deep and powerful content to the Dragon which means it is easily capable of creating an effect in the physical world which is just as potent as either of the Lights which it temporarily consumes. In other words the Dragon contains the essence of both Lights, but it is never able to fully digest them because it does not have a stomach.
Where is the stomach? Well, we are. We are the only means through which the content of the Dragon can be assimilated. By ‘we’, what is meant really is the actuality of being alive in a physical universe, not anything special about human beings. We progress along the path of exploring the more spiritual meaning and significance of the universe when we are walking around in it physically because it is the arena of real time experience which develops our spirit and soul, our individual mental body and our personal astral body. So the Dragon represents two portals through which either new or old raw essential meaning and significance can suddenly emerge, confronting us with the need to digest and assimilate it. At times, the meaning of things will be obscured by the overwhelming significance we find in them and the light in life can seem dimmed (solar eclipse); at others, a bloodied shadow falls across the significance of things and the meaning seems very remote and polarised towards them (lunar eclipse). Either of these two things can occur whenever either the Head or the Tail are activated because they are a pair. At such times, we are being forced to deal with something new and significant, or something old and meaningful, and to digest it.
The Head is the part that is more all-consuming but ultimately less primal and more controllable. Here we are able to exert greater control over what is coming into our life or even use the Head to open a way forwards. It is the part that is new and significant. The Tail is far less easy to control, as it thrashes mindlessly, but it is less rapacious, less hungry for new experience, more instinctive and more uncontrollable. It is old and meaningful. Whenever we experience one of these things we are not as far away from the other as it might appear. New and significant situations can be very old and meaningful ones dressed up in new clothes and faces, while encountering very old and meaningful patterns in our lives can give them a new significance.
In an hermetic context, there are karmic and deeply magical connections in both parts of the Dragon. They show our relationship to the Akasha as it relates to our karma, especially our astral and mental karma, and the pathway that the soul must walk to join itself with the spirit in a magical eclipse – the magical equilibrium and the tripolar awareness (simultaneous awareness of self as a physical, astral and mental body). This is the magic that people briefly feel during an eclipse when they look up and feel the wonder of the cosmos as it perfectly aligns – the nectar of immortality itself. We can regard the Dragon as our teacher and supplier in this process, a being who ensures that the entire Earth is continually fed new experience which it must apply to its old patterns.