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Riding With The White Dragon

One of the most magical, and unifying, aspects of both Beltane and Samhain community celebrations is the opportunity to ride within the white, or red, ‘hide’ of the gigantic dragons. More ‘legs’ are always needed. Here is my account of riding inside the White Dragon last Samhain:

‘Could you be a part of one of the dragons, Ali?’ I was asked.

Thrilled and excited, I gambolled away…

…and, nipping down to Hawthorn’s car park, I found the Red and White dragons, half full of ‘legs’, idling in the strong November sun. Within two gulps of a wombat’s weasand, I was clutching a blue hoop and balancing a crosspiece of wood, while a tent of white stretched above me: Yes, I was, as you might say, a rib of the White Dragon, and jolly proud to be included, let me tell you.

All I could see was the woman in front of me, swathes of white draconesque ‘skin’ and, occasionally, footwear stomping along to my right. But, oh my, the atmosphere – what with the Dragon Banner carriers, the drums and the horns blasting – was amazing; I felt as if I truly were part of this long writhing creature being summoned up, up, up to the place of ritual.

Sun bloomed, a large golden rose, through the dragon’s ‘hide’. Rhythm tranced. An ancient walk began, or continued, as if, for that half an hour or so, we were one creature, moving in unison, moving without thought, going with the pulse of the Mother’s heart, the waving autumnal leaves, flitting and flurrying underfoot, the sense of wordless community bonding us all.

Ah! Slipping out of the dragon was magical too: The long grass was as bright as vision glimpsed after tears. The banner carriers stopped. The Lord of Crows strode past. Gwyn ap Nudd’s chariot, carried by the bale-hounds, led by Dormir, was brought up the track. People swarmed.

We stood, all of us, in a vast circle, two, three, four deep – who knows? There is a time for mathematical exactness and this is not it. The thronging was more than human in any case. Shades and shadows, Fey and foe, they all gathered…

My advice: Volunteer for this if you can! If asked to be a leg, say, ‘Yes!’ It is terrific fun! You won’t regret sticking your hand up!

The Dragons are Stirring…………

Deep within the earth beneath Glastonbury Tor, two sparks appear: One blood red, the other silvery-white, they emerge from sulphurous tunnels and, bringing the olfactory imprint of forge and earthen core, hover, dancing.

The sparks grow. Definition emerges. Embryonic wings creak; saurian heads, horned with gold, enlarge; thunderous, thumping tails crack and crunch upon loose rock; eyes of or reveal ancient wisdom.

Twin Dragons, they are – and, coiled within soils both mythical and real, they wait, an ouroboros of red and white, for the annual battle ‘twixt Winter King and his Summer rival, and the latter’s victory – and the return bout at Samhain in which Gwyn ap Nudd, antlers proud and fierce, bale hounds slavering and whining in his wake, reclaims his crown (and lady) from Summer’s waning King, Gwyther.

They are the basis of many a human story: The dragons of prophecy in the Arthurian canon; the protectors of the Tor; emblems of ritual; pub names and Mah Jongg tiles: They permeate our consciousness and dwarf our petty concerns with their majesty, beauty and power.

Conceived within Mother Earth’s mineral womb, fire and ice curled together, seasonal dots nurtured by elements – and birthed long before mankind’s brief span began – these beings of myth and legend have been given form in Avalon; soldered, stitched, painted into glowing life, they wait.

Restless, fully grown, their stirring becomes a rumble, a tinder flick of fire, a sharpened spear of ice. Beltane draws nigh. The inner Dragons’ material counterparts wait: For the life force to surge; for the beat of drum and tread of human feet fusing into their vast claws; for the colourful crowd of people; for the signal, from horn and hive, elementals and higher beings, to reprise the May; to celebrate the Beltane rite; to march once more upon the green hills and Spring-infused levels of Logres.

Come one, come all! The Dragons await! May 6th approaches…