The Art of Facing Your Dragons: A Collaborative Post by Jean Raffa and Joseph Anthony

Profile Picture: Jean Raffa                                                  
Jean Raffa

I am thrilled to be able to introduce you to a new friend of mine, Doctor Jean Raffa.  I met Jean on twitter of all places.  One or the other of us commented on one or the other’s tweet, and the rest is present day history in the making.  Here is how Jean is described on her marvelous blog: Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom: ( :

Dr. Jean Raffa is an author, speaker, and leader of workshops, dream groups, and study groups. Her job history includes teacher, television producer, college professor, and instructor at the Disney Institute in Orlando and The Jung Center in Winter Park, FL. She is the author of three books, a workbook, a chapter in a college text, numerous articles in professional journals, and a series of meditations and short stories for Augsburg Fortress Publisher.

Through formal and informal means, including a five-year Centerpoint course and an intensive at the Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland, Jean has been studying Jungian psychology and her own inner life for more than twenty years.

Since 1992, Jean has made more than a hundred program appearances, including television, radio, and Internet interviews, classes, workshops, and book signings. Her book The Bridge to Wholeness: A Feminine Alternative to the Hero Myth (LuraMedia, 1992) was nominated for the Benjamin Franklin Award for best psychology book of 1992. Reviewed in several journals and featured on the reading lists of university courses, it was also picked by the Isabella catalogue as a must-read for seeking women.

Dream Theatres of the Soul: Empowering the Feminine Through Jungian Dreamwork (Innisfree Press, Inc., 1994) has been used in dreamwork courses throughout the country and is included in’s list of the Top 100 Best Selling Dream Books, and TCM’s book list of Human Resources for Organizational Development.

Jean is married with two adult children—a daughter with a Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy and a son with a Ph.D. in Economics—and five grandchildren. She currently lives in Maitland, Florida and Highlands, North Carolina with her economist husband, Fred.

As you can see it is an honor to have her here today. 

What we’re going to do is read a post called, ‘Dragon Lady: The Shadow of the Queen” that Jean wrote on July fifth, and then we’ll read the comment I posted on her blog, and her response to my comment.  We’ll end it all with a story I wrote at 1:30 AM on July 5th after reading Jean’s wonderful post. 

She is writing a Part Two to her Dragon Lady post tomorrow, July 8th, so please check it out.  Here’s the link:   I will also be adding her blog to our blogroll on the left side of your screen.

So grab a cup of ice-coffee or ice-tea, a smoothie, or a cold glass of lemonade.  This entry will be a little longer than usual, but it’s well worth it.  Please read Jean’s article on the Dragon Lady.  It is both fascinating and inspiring.  And then check out her blog tomorrow for part 2.  Cheers everyone!

Dragon Lady: Shadow of the Queen, by Jean Raffa

 July 5, 2011

The Western world has been obsessed with the masculine aspects of Deity for thousands of years. As a result, to experience the Sacred Feminine we must be willing to follow Bear into the remote caverns in our unconscious selves where we have dumped all our unwanted garbage in hopes we could forget it ever existed.  In sum, we must be willing to develop a relationship with our “dragons,” by which I mean our frightening, disowned, less-than-lovely selves.

The myths that emerged in the Near East around 2000 BC featured a male deity who, unlike the son/lover of the previous Goddess religion, was a storm god of fire and lightning who conquered a dragon of darkness and evil. According to Merlin Stone, author of When God Was a Woman, “…the plot and the underlying symbolic theme of the story is so similar in each myth that, judging from the stories that do use the name of the female deity, we may surmise that the allegorical identity of the dragon or serpent is that of the Goddess religion.”  Some still call a powerful, assertive woman a Dragon Lady. To many males, especially those with domineering mothers, their own feminine sides and some women seem extremely dragon-like:  something terrible and threatening that needs to be overcome.  Jung agreed and considered the dragon to be “a mother-image (that is, a mirror of the maternal principle or of the unconscious)…”

But the dragon is by no means all negative.  Hindus and Taoists consider dragons to be powerful spiritual beings, masters of the waters and guardians of treasures, especially the pearl of perfection that symbolizes enlightenment and bestows immortality. The Herder Symbol Dictionary says that in China and Japan the dragon grants fertility “because it is closely associated with the powers of water and hence with the yin [feminine] principle.” Thus, one meaning of this paradoxical symbol is that if we wish to attain the highest levels of consciousness and spirituality, we need to face all the despised and rejected qualities we have relegated to the feminine unconscious, and it is this descent that earns us the ultimate prize.

Unconscious parts of ourselves acquire negative power because of the well-known psychological law that the longer and harder we repress them, the more energy we give them until they start influencing our behavior in disagreeable ways.  They are like sweet little girl dragons which start out innocently enough.  If we love them and allow them to come out and play they will grow up to become our friends. But if we ignore them and starve them and keep them cooped up in dark and cramped cages — in much the same way many male-dominated cultures have treated women and their own feminine sides —  they grow stronger and angrier every day.

While the bad news is that facing the Dragon Lady, a symbol for the Queen archetype’s shadow side — i.e., the regressive powers of the feminine unconscious — can be very painful, the good news is that she can initiate us into a far nobler fate than we could ever imagine.  After all, if Snow White had not been terrorized by the evil Queen she never would have run into the wilderness, met her protectors, the seven dwarves, eaten the poisoned apple, or been awakened by the kiss of the prince to experience union with her Beloved.

Prince Ego’s search for the princess, our unconscious feminine self, is the authentic hero’s journey, and their union symbolizes wholeness or enlightenment, the ultimate prize and true destiny of every soul.

And here is our exchange on Jean’s blog:


Well, Jean, your post has inspired me again. You might know from following me on twitter that dragons sometimes appear in my messages…and they almost always have a child with them. Here are a couple that I wrote over the past month or so just to give you an idea of where this response is going:

The child curled up snug against the side of the dragon. And the dragon smiled and shifted his wings to create a kind of tent over him.

The dragon lowered his head and said, “Do I really have to say sorry to the villagers?” “Yes,” said the child, “and then fix their barns.”

So, I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination in Jungian archetypes. I just write what comes.

And sadness came when I read your post. Sadness at thinking of the negative ways women have been treated by men. Sadness came at the thought of the negative ways men have been treated by women. Hurt people hurt, no matter the gender… And I am someone who suffered abuse from the hands of both sexes…So I know; I can still get frightened by the wounded dragons of both men and women. And I have also lashed out to avenge the pain…But that was long, long ago. Sadness also came when I thought about how poorly dragons have been treated also.

But Wonder also came when I read your post however, and much Hope. And I thought: “OK, going to meet our dragons is hard and terrifying. But having come back from the journey many times over these past few years, I know it is not only possible, but Wonderful. Here is what I have found.

What is in the heart of the darkness? Light. And where does the Light come from? The eyes of the dragons. And what makes their eyes shine like fire? Their hearts. And where does the fire in their hearts come from? Many sources. One is their pain…And their pain comes from each of us in one way shape or form. Another source is their joy. And their joy comes from those who journey to face them.

And when I faced my dragons I did not go with a masculine or feminine energy. I went as a child. That might sound cute, but it’s true, and it wasn’t a conscious choice. And I don’t mean necessarily, my inner child—there’s too much idolatry wrapped up in that term now. I mean, perhaps, an archetypal image of both creative power and wonder, and innocence—Divine Innocence. Of course within the heart of that child burned masculine and feminine fires, but it was a child nevertheless that made the journey into the darkness. And the child did not go to kill or subdue the dragons, the child went to Love them.

Your post also inspired a story, but I don’t want to hog up too much more space, so I’ll send it to you personally Jean on fb to do with as you wish.

Thank you again for the inspiration.

Your friend along the journey,


  • jeanraffa Says:

    Dear Joseph,

    Jungians have a name for your symbol of childish wonder: it’s called the Divine Child. It can appear in dreams as a very wise, beautiful, precocious, or otherwise unusual and fascinating child, and is, as you have so rightly intuited, a symbol for the Self, the archetype of divinity, love, wholeness, etc. Facing your dragons with the openness and trust of a child is the healing way. I salute you for trusting and following your intuition so beautifully, and look forward to reading your story.



And last, but not least, here’s the story I wrote that Jean inspired:

Once upon a time a child traveled inside the Darkness of Darkness. He had heard dragons prowled there—starving dragons, wild with hunger and pain. He had heard that the stars in the sky are the fragments of the armor of the foolish knights who tried to kill the dragons. They didn’t get within 50 feet of the dragons before fire flew towards them, entered the openings in their gilded feet and rushed upwards exploding the knight from inside his own armor sending him and his armor into a thousand, thousand pieces. And the armor makes the shining stars.

More recently, brave warrior women thought they could subdue the dragons so they went to face them. But alas, being more or less wiser than the knights they therefore didn’t allow themselves to get so close as to be eaten by fire. So they stood off at a great distance and sang their muscles and spells into the earth. And their powers wove through the sand like a snake. And they rose up in the dragon’s cave and formed bounds around their scarred, scaly bodies. Amused and outraged at the audacity of the warrior women—at even thinking about trying to subdue them, the dragons shook off the cords like string made of sugar and sang back a melody of power into their heads that was so intoxicating that they simply danced away and decided to become knights. But that’s OK, the knights have all quit being knights so they could became warrior women…but that’s another story.

And so it was a child who danced and played and otherwise performed all manner of shenanigans on the way to the dragon’s cave. And being altogether wiser than the both the knights and the warrior women, he learned from their fatal mistake of going to visit the dragons in order to kill or subdue them…The child went to Love them.

And before the dragons knew what was happening, a child stood in their midst.

“Leave us,” they snarled, “we have been too long forgotten. We are hungry and we have eaten many a child before…”

“But I am here because I remembered you,” said the child. “I am here to feed you. What I mean is, I am here to Love you.”

“LOVE US!” cried the dragons, “No one loves us.”

And the child, sensing their pain, moved towards them like a breath of honeysuckle, and placed his hand on one of the dragon’s faces.

“I do,” he said. And as tears fell from his own eyes, he looked those dragons right into their eyes and let the Light stream from his eyes and his hands and travel down, down, down into their dry, smoldering hearts.

“Don’t extinguish our fires,” wept the dragons.

“Never,’ said the child, “I am making them stronger so that they can be used to one day save the world.”


This is a painting I did twenty years ago, called, “Eye of the Dragon.”

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

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