Throughout history, dragons have been a universal symbol of what connects the earth and sky—symbolically the unconscious and conscious mind.

In mythology and folklore, dragons have come to epitomize the power of hidden knowledge and instinctual strength and are depicted as protectors of priceless treasure. Many of the stories that portray dragons illustrate a s/heroic conflict requiring the dragon be slain in order to take possession of whatever it may be guarding—often a maiden (as a totem of purity) or a pile of gold (as a symbol of the treasure of our own inner resources).

In Western traditions they are perceived to be a larger-than-life enemy that must be destroyed. In the aftermath of their demise some buried treasure, mysterious fortune, or even immortality may be claimed by its vainqueur.

In the iconography of philosophical and religious traditions from the East, dragons are ambivalent if not helpful omens of prosperity or the tension of unity. In Eastern traditions, dragons are often wel- comed message-bearers of wisdom and truth—in some stories even spiritual guides.

Most of us have allowed our own dragons, arguably both monsters and messengers, to be a symbol of our #Enneagram type, if not our lost Essence. This suggests that type is simultaneously a messenger of grace by reminding us what has been forgotten and what can be hoped for, while also carrying the potential of becoming a monster that takes over the emptiness created by this loss. (And once it takes over, it becomes the guardian of the cave, or our shadow.)

The dragons can be monsters—if we allow them to grow unobserved in our shadow, rather than dealing with them directly. But they can also be messengers, if we welcome them into awareness and seek to understand them as authentic parts of ourselves. Simply put, they really are what we allow them to become.

[Adapted from “The Enneagram of Belonging” Illustration by Elnora Turner]