I spent the weekend up on a mountain in the Adirondacks leading one of my favorite retreats. Our shamanic gatherings on Gore Mountain - held twice yearly - are reserved for active dreamers who have worked with me in depth and are committed to becoming dream ambassadors, soul healers, speakers for the Earth and full citizens of the multiverse. This is where we push the envelope and often test-fly new techniques in a wonderful natural setting where the Deer energy is strong and dragons are sometimes seen.
The heart of this mountain is red garnet, and so it isn't hard for us to raise dragon fire in our circles. This time we found we were entertaining a dragon who had traveled far to appear on our mountain. He came in a dream of Louisa, a brilliant Russian-American scientist who was born in St. Petersburg. By the fire late on Saturday night, she told some of us a dream in which she had a close-up encounter with Zmey Gorynynch. "Zmey" is Russian for "dragon", and "Gorynych" means "Son of the Mountain". Zmey Gorynych is an enduring figure in Russian folklore who survived all Soviet attempts to extirpate "reactionary" beliefs and superstitions. He lives deep in the realms of the nechist, dark and unclean and tricksterish forces you must approach with great care if you are foolish or brave enough to approach them at all. He has three heads, and is a great drinker and smoker.
As the fire crackled and sputtered, we listened to Louisa's dream adventure. "I am in a small boat, paddling upstream on a river through a magic forest. I am in quest of something. The way is hard, and the shadows of the woods are scary, but I am determined to find what I am seeking. I come to a waterfall and somehow find the strength to row my boat up the falls. On the mountain above, I come to the burrow of Zmey Gorynych.
"Two of the dragon's head are sleeping. The third is smoking. Zmey Gorynych is a terrible chain smoker. He blows smoke in my face and asks what I want. I start asking him questions about things I want to know. He interrupts me with a great puff of smoke and hisses, 'You bother me with this nonsense? You should ask something that matters - like, What is the purpose of my life?'
"I know that this isn't really a question I should put to a three-headed dragon whose breath stinks. But I ask him anyway. 'What is the purpose of my life?' He responds by spitting on me. As his spittle lands on my forearms, the skin crackles and turns into scales.
"I want to get out of here now, but the darkness is falling. Zmey Gorynych takes me under his wing. His heads take turns sleeping, watching and smoking, so there is absolutely no chance of slipping away. I spend the night in the armpit of the dragon."
She woke laughing. The dream adventure was such a grand romp that I suggested we might try to bring the whole group inside it. Louisa willingly agreed to let her dream be used as the script for dream theatre, the pinnacle of improv, and often wildly funny, energizing and healing. The next morning, she cast some of the men in our circle to play the dragon, and a hyper-fit woman who abhors smoking to play the cigarette they are swapping between the heads. Other actors portrayed the contrary current on the river, the pressure of the falls, the boat and the strange walking trees in the magic forest. In our rehearsal, Louisa watched another dream actor play herself. When she stepped into her own role, the performance had deepened to the point where it took little imagination to believe that Zmey Gorynych was in the space, speaking and puffing and snoring and belching through the orifices of three otherwise most civilized men - an architect, a physician and a civil servant - who heaved and thrashed at one end of a long sofa, which a humorous financial planner from Connecticut, playing the body of the beast, lolled and drooped over the other.
Invited to improvise and take the dialogue with the dragon further, Louisa astounded all of us by asking what is certainly the last question I would want to put to a dragon of this type: "What do you eat?" This brought the house down. Aching with laughter, we skipped what is often the final phase of dream theatre: the interview with the players, when the dreamer gets to hear from everyone in the cast, speaking from the role they played. Some things are too good to discuss, let alone analyze. Belly-laughs are healing, and what we never want to forget in working with dreams is that the most important thing is to seek every opportunity to bring vital energy from the dreamspace into embodied life. Спасибо большое ( Spasibo bolshoe). Thanks a lot, Zmey Gorynych!