By Pam Candea
The treasure. It was always about the treasure. Heroes always find the treasure, don’t they? They do that by off-loading their issues onto others so that they can focus on the prize; using other people as the helpers, rather than seeing that others are on their own journey as well? Petra thought dark thoughts – other people putting their issues on her, leaving her unhappy; them skipping away happy. So there was yet another hero off on his journey after ruining her good day. The thoughts got darker. What is my call to adventure here she thought? What dragons have I been sent to slay? How can I be a hero? I will never be a hero, she thought in her blackest moment. How can I? I am a woman – women aren’t heros are they? She felt trapped in the stuffy room surrounded by other people, so she filled her water flask and headed into the Wilde Woods. She had been coming here since she was a child so she didn’t mind the creaks and groans of the trees; the scurryings in the undergrowth, the occasional ‘huff’ of a small dragon, unseen, but ever-present. She wound her way down to the tiny burn babbling over rocks in its path, and sat down to watch the water flow. The birds singing in their bushes got closer, and she could see them peering at her with curiosity. The water sprites came nearer to the surface and sang their sweet song in harmony with the birds. A doe and her fawn arrived for a drink on the other bank. She felt the dryad stirring in the tree she rested against. She felt the earth warming into spring. She felt the darkness flowing out of her. Another doe arrived, heavily pregnant. Petra watched as the first doe settled her fawn in the undergrowth, almost hidden from sight, and then moved to rub necks with the pregnant doe in sisterly love. The pregnant doe moved forward suddenly and out came her fawn, which she turned to nuzzle and lick almost immediately. The other doe stood for a moment, admiring the fawn, seemingly sending praise to the new mother, and then moved back to her fawn. Petra felt restored by the two mothers and their babies and the miracle of new life – females do that she thought: we can bring forth new life from inside ourselves, and we work together harmoniously to bring these lives together and nurture them. Treasure – ha! What more precious treasure can there be? Petra stayed awhile longer, basking in the aura of the tree dryad, listening to the burn, the birds, the scurrying and the huffs. As the sun began to set, she stood up, stretched and began moving back to where she stayed – the busy, stuffy house, ready to tell people the story of her afternoon. As she walked back up the hill, she saw the stone circle and decided to climb to that hillock and watch the sunset from there. As she entered the circle she felt the familiar hum of the stones for which she was named. A small green dragon peered from behind one of the stones. Petra stopped and became very quiet. Often where there was a babe, the much bigger mother was not far away. And there she was in her magnificence, sunning herself in the last rays of the sun – a beautiful green dragon with golden tints – the size of a barn. Petra was now afraid to move as this might alert the female dragon to her presence. The baby dragon came huffing and snuffling over, curious about Petra. Petra froze and allowed the baby to sniff her. Then the adult dragon turned! She moved with alarming speed and got herself between Petra and the baby as fast as lightening, turning a
great red eye to Petra, steam slowly drifting out of one nostril. ‘Why are you here, human?’ the dragon purred menacingly. ‘I did not know you could speak’ was the first thing that came out of her mouth. Quickly followed by ‘I meant no harm your greatness; I was just here to watch the sunset.’ ‘I am as well,’ purred the dragon. The two sat amiably watching the sunset, whilst the baby played in and out of the stones. At the last spark of the sun on the earth that day, Petra felt a great trembling in the earth, then felt herself pulled forcibly into one of the stones! Before she could speak, she was inside, looking out. The great dragon purred ‘this is my gift to you. You will remain here looking out until you can find your own way out. It may seem harsh, but you will learn much whilst here.’ ‘Gift,’ Petra screamed, ‘Gift!?’ ‘Please don’t leave me here!’ She watched from her stone as the great dragon picked the baby up delicately in one set of claws, slowly flapped her wings and flew north to the mountains. Petra struggled for days, wracking her body and her brain trying to find a way out. After some weeks she just stood in her stone watching the seasons go by, waiting, wondering how she could find her way out. Spring passed into summer and she saw the fawns, grown into younglings, gambol by, as the does lick the stone she was in. Summer passed into autumn and the dryads in the trees changed their leaves from green into autumn colours. The small animals were busy storing up seeds and nuts for winter. She saw the occasional dragon fly by. She marvelled that she felt neither hunger, nor heat, nor cold. Nor was she tired – she just watched, and after a while she ceased waiting. She just was. One with the rock, one with hill, one with the wind and the rain and the sky. With that surrender into stillness she found an ease of spirit. She began to explore. She could see and feel what was going on around the rock. She could hear the wind and the rain and the sounds animals and the occasional human visitor made. She could feel the ever so slow movement of the rock and of the earth beneath it. Winter set in and things on the earth were quieter so she began to feel the vibrations of the turning of the planet. The dryads in the trees dropped their leaves and went to sleep, along with many of the tiny mammals and insects. The birds and the dragons moved south. The deer came by and licked the stones for the minerals they held and Petra felt the vibrations of their rough tongues and smelled their musky smell. She listened in the stillness and heard the singing of the stars and the moon. The snow started to melt as the earth and air started to warm. The burn that had frozen over thawed and Petra could hear it quietly babbling in the distance. A small herd of pregnant does moved slowly around the stones looking for tufts of grass uncovered by the melting snow. They were watched by a herd of young stags, just away from their mothers in the last month. Petra wondered ‘can the deer feel the threads of existence connecting all things?’ She thought ‘the dragons and the dryads probably can. I know from being here that the rocks can.’ One day the great green dragon landed with a thump of her tail on the still cold earth. A smaller thump and the small now not-so-small green dragon landed beside her. ‘Hello my friend,’ purred the dragon to the woman in the stone. ‘Welcome back,’ said Petra. ‘What have you learned?’ asked the dragon. ‘I have learned that I am the sun and the wind, the rain and the snow, the earth and the sky, the rocks and other creatures, the stars and the moon. I have learned that we are all in motion, all connected, all constantly changing. I have witnessed how the rocks help the deer, how the rain feeds the earth, how the dryads tend their leaves, how their leaves feed the earth. How the deer eat the grass and their dung feeds the earth to grow more grass. How the birds, and the stars and the moon entertain all of us with their songs. How their songs are created from all of us,’ Petra mused.
‘And if you are the sun, the wind, the rain, the snow, the earth, the sky, the rocks, other creatures, the stars and the moon, what have you learned that will set you free?’ purred the dragon. And with that, Petra walked out of the stone. To find she had great wings trailing behind her. She looked down at her hands and feet to see purple skin and claws. She gasped and looked at her body, now covered in shiny purple scales. She leapt up and soared on the wind.
The next year, the dragon, that was previously the woman Petra, flew back over her previous home. She had seen and done many wonderous things that last twelve-month. She had flown to dragon home, where all were equal, where the ‘service alliance’ who looked after all organisation for the group were chosen by lots every 5 years. She had found human communities where people of all backgrounds, genders, colours and abilities worked and lived as equals, providing to everyone what they needed, and living in harmony with all that was non-human around them. She had hovered over cities where men ruled others, and waged war on their neighbours. She saw places where the earth was being torn up and the water ways polluted. She looked at her home with new eyes. Not so bad as some; better than other places she had seen. She sought out the green dragon and they sat on the banks of the burn, feeling the aura of the tree dyrads, listening to the babbling burn, feeling the sun on their scales, and they talked, and they talked. They went to the stones again, and the purple dragon went once again into the stone. But this time she was able to move through the stone, and in doing so, she regained her human woman form. She walked back to her home, and shared everything she had learned, showing people how they could move toward a community nurturing to all, including the non-human. She often thought of her treasure: her days in the stone and the wonderous year she was a purple dragon.
Following a career in the corporate world, I started The Surefoot Effect, CIC with an award for Social Innovation in 2012. Surefoot supports community groups and corporates tackling the Climate and Environmental Emergencies and social justice issues: training facilitators for group work, running workshops to foster action and individual and community resilience such as The Work that Reconnects, Climate Conversations and Future Conversations.
I’ve supported SCCAN in various ways over time, currently as a member of 3 working circles.
I have lived in the UK for 42 years but I grew up in Detroit, Michigan – Detroit gave me resilience and Michigan a deep connection with nature.