Author: Kathleen Leppek
Who am I, what is my inner child, who is my inner dragon, and what is the cave within? Some occurrences have happened for me to ask these questions and many people who are on the quest to know themselves also ask these questions at some point.
I was substitute teaching for a kindergarten classroom and it was time to read a story. Looking at the bookcase, I discovered an old favorite, Puff, the Magic Dragon. I asked the class if their teacher had ever read it to them and she had not. I told the students when I was in kindergarten, my teacher introduced the book to my classmates and me. I told the class it’s a book that can be read or sung as a song and I would sing it to them. All eyes were upon me as I sang away about Jackie Paper, Puff, and the Land of Honahlee. The children’s interest raised as they learned Puff was a best friend and an excellent playmate to Jackie Paper. Both of these things are what all children want, a best friend and someone to play with.
Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honahlee
Together they would travel on a boat with billowed sail
Jackie kept a lookout perched on Puff’s gigantic tail
As I sang on, one day Jackie Paper no longer came to play and Puff turned back and sadly went into his cave. Over the years, I had forgot about this part of the story. My voice cracked, my eyes welled up, and a tear ran down my cheek. I wiped the tear and bravely finished the story. As the children sat, awe struck, I asked questions about the story. What did you like, what else, what did you like about the friendship, what did you learn. We talked about the idea of having friends and making time to play even as we grow older, as an adult.
For most of a school year, I was with a 4 year old kindergarten class while a teacher was out on pregnancy leave. I decided to give the story a try again and even practiced the book ahead of time. I had no problem reading the story out loud and through the part when Jackie Paper doesn’t come to visit and Puff shuffles sadly back to the protection of his cave broken hearted. But, in front of the class once again my voice cracks, my eyes water and a tear runs down my cheek.
One gray night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more
And Puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar
His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain
Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane
Without his life-long friend, Puff could not be brave
So Puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave
The story became the class favorite and each Friday we sang with the picture book and later the song was played as we readied for naptime. Besides the music having a catchy tune, the children never lost interest in the tale, always staring with intent and wonderment at each page of the book and at me waiting to see if a tear rolled down my cheek. They never tired of our discussion of staying in touch with your inner dragon even as we grew older. What kept the kids so interested in the story?
I remember years earlier, deep in meditation, I had a vision of myself as a young 5 to 7 year old looking sadly back at me. She was at an altar that was covered in lighted candles. Why was she so sad? Was I ignoring her hurt and misunderstanding and not nurturing her need for learning, adventure, and togetherness? Another time in meditation, I traveled down a cave, all the way to the bottom. With a plunk, my feet hit a well-lit granite floor with an intricate geometric pattern. It seemed I had traveled to the center of my being. After a long pause, suddenly I was back up and out stunned and wowed. Was this my inner cave? Was I getting in touch with something here?
I have since seen my inner child in meditations. Now she is much more relaxed even smiling as the candles flicker around her. I feel the more I share, care, interact, have empathy and compassion for myself and the life around me, the more at ease I become as well as the more at ease my inner child becomes. I have acknowledged my wounds and misunderstandings of the inner child and gained her trust back. Has my inner child now become the divine child fully integrated as a personality and soul, no longer neglected?
There are bumps in the road of every day life, but I have the confidence to search for meaning, understanding, and acceptance.
Could that cave be my heart, my true self, my inner potential, and the compass within pointing me forward? I’ve had dreams where I am in total darkness and I can’t even see my hand when I lift it up to my face. This does not detour me. I push forward, determined, sometimes crawling on my hands and knees, feeling my way forward, fearless. Something magnetic beckons. Who is calling me? I will move forward. I will learn. I will be free.
Does the dragon signify that we are never alone? We actually have a wonderful friend, an ally that never leaves our side, which knows everything about us, our best, our worst, and fully accepts, loves and supports us no matter what. We just need to interact, share, and stay in-touch. When we deny who we are, does the soul go within and wait for us, longing for us to open back up to our true self? Is the tear that rolls down my cheek a recognition that the divinity within my heart is there waiting for me to accept it?
Noble kings and princes would bow whene’er they came
Pirate ships would lower their flag when Puff roared out his name
This verse calls out to the supernatural power of the dragon connected with Jackie Paper. The kings, princes, and pirates felt the creativity of the pair and bowed to their magic power. The dragon is much more than a protector; it represents the innocence, wonder, trust, and enchantment of childhood. Some adults speak of an imaginary friend they had when they were young. This friend is actually the soul speaking and is naturally inherent. It represents hope and the belief in miracles. The soul is all accepting and provides the lack of critical judgment that allows the child to explore with energetic blissfulness.
The cave is the heart and the home of the supernatural hero or dragon within and the divine spark of intelligence that connects us to all living things. When a child turns seven, they accept the limitations of society and turn their back on their inner magic and abandon the dragon. This abandonment forces the dragon back into its cave, the heart. The child’s imagination, fueled by the dragon, dries up as the dragon is unable to communicate with the child and waits for the child’s acceptance. The limitations of society lead us to suffer growing cold, resistant, and hopeless. These feelings may seem real to us, but instead are a false belief to the freedom, potential, and hope provided in the supernatural hero powers of the soul. The magic dragon waits in the heart and never leaves you. It waits for a rebirth and new opportunity for you to see the beauty, magic, and potential in life. Bringing a child-like quality of wonderment back into your life is essential to forming a closer relationship with the soul. Believe in the magic.
I will move forward and search for experience, meaning, and understanding. I will connect with my inner dragon, my inner child, and my soul. They all have important and pertinent information to navigate my way in life. I will share and unlock my care and love. I will be free revealing my potential, my path, and my soul’s expression. I will be fearless and strive with the power of the best friend and support I could ever wish for, my soul.
In a dream, I’m on stage fully exposed with a bright light shinning on me. I hear the voice of my soul say, “I know who you are and all you have done. I know your history. I fully understand you. I accept you. I fully support you and love you.” Are all these dreams and visions my soul and inner-self reaching out to me? I will reach in return for my connection with the soul, with my inner self, with all that I am. I will be whole.
If I rolled back time and I was with the students again, I would pose questions and help them solve the riddle of Puff, the Magic Dragon and they would know they are never alone.
Puff, the Magic Dragon is written by Leonard Lipton and Peter Yarrow and sung by their folk group Peter, Paul and Mary released in 1963.