Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ar, the Crone, and the Dragon

With a nod to an old recording of a Jack Kornfield dharma talk, a version of a Scandinavian folk tale:

There once was a princess – Ar – who lived with her parents, the king and queen. The king and queen had overextended themselves, and had for some time relied on loans they obtained from a dragon who lived in the area, dragons having lots of gold and such.

The time came for the king and queen to pay the dragon back, but they didn’t have the money to do it. So they met with the dragon to see what could be worked out. As was the way in those days, they told the dragon that the only thing they had left was their daughter, Ar. The dragon thought about it for a few minutes, and said that he’d accept their offer, would take the princess as his wife, and would become a part of their family.

The daughter was as distressed as you might imagine, but showed more wisdom than her parents. She fled the city to a village on the outskirts of the forest, to a hovel where an old, wise woman lived. She told the old woman of her plight. When she was done with her story, the woman said, “Don’t worry so much. Here’s what you should do…”

Ar listened carefully, and when the old woman finished her instructions, Ar thanked her, and returned home.

Soon enough the wedding day came, with lots of celebrations and toasts and talk and ceremony. Ar was nervous, but dressed for the wedding, as the old woman had instructed her. Ar and the dragon were married. After the dinners and toasts and talk were all done, Ar and the dragon withdrew to their wedding chamber, and Ar said to the dragon, as the old woman had instructed, “Would you like me to undress, so we can consummate our marriage?” The dragon, responded, “Yes!” Ar then said, “One more thing – it would be fitting for you to remove as much as I do. Do you agree?” The dragon, highly motivated, agreed quickly.

Ar then began removing her wedding gown, and the dragon removed such trappings as he’d put on in honor of the occasion. But as Ar removed her gown, there was another gown beneath it. She looked to the dragon, and began to remove her second gown. The dragon, having only put on one layer of clothing for the event, began to peel off its skin. Dragons, like snakes and lizards, sometimes shed their skins, so it wasn’t too painful to do so. But as Ar removed her second gown, there was a third beneath it. The dragon, seeing this, used its claws to carve away its scales. Beneath Ar’s third gown was a fourth, and a fifth, and more – she had followed the old woman’s instructions to put on ten gowns. As she removed each gown, the dragon clawed off more and more.

As she took off her gowns, and as the dragon carved away more and more, Ar saw that his shape began to change. By the time that Ar had removed her tenth gown and stood before the dragon uncovered, the dragon carved away his tenth layer and stood before Ar, now a beautiful young man.

And then, they kissed.