The turtle and the dragon

Upon a landscape of barren, a time of uncertainty, there rose a day of sunshine with no warmth. The day the makers seeded a little light into the unfinished form of a dragon. A body that one day promised to breathe warmth into cold hearts and frozen bones.


Little light landed quietly inside dragon. It lay still, so still in the ground, unable yet to move.

Unsure of its existence. It lay. Vulnerable, aware, unsteady.

It pondered itself for a while, until, with a big breath of courage, it thought it might try to move.

That it might speak.

It started to shift and stretch into unknown limbs. But, as it twisted and rolled, it suddenly felt a great weight being cast over its body. Its makers were slowly covering it, under handful by handful of sodden soil. Burying him.

He felt a burden, felt a dreadful weight upon his back. Dragon asked his seeders why, why do you bury me?

They said “Little dragon stay right here. It’s for your own good never fear. For the world is dark, yet you are light. It’s dangerous for you to be insight”

Dragon didn’t understand. “What is the point of having form, if I have no voice to share? I don’t understand your song, or this mud you make me wear.”

He started to get restless and aggravated. He tried to stand but the more he tried to loosen from their grasp the more weight they heaped upon his body. Dragon tried to move his head and still they heaped more thick mud upon him.


Until he was sure he would drown or suffocate under the mass.

And as Dragon persisted the great hands of the seeders started to imprint upon his body. Harder and harder they pressed into his back. He tried to shake free but he could not. The weight of their moulding was too great. The more he tried to push out the more they pushed in.

ancienteyes_by_abigailryder-d8moax9“Stay where you are, under this mound. Don’t be seen, don’t make a sound” They kept saying.

Dragon couldn’t comprehend. The weight was causing him pain, making him frustrated and sad and angry all at the same time. He tried to roar but barely a whisper could pass. When he opened his mouth the weight the muddy soil would pour inside and choke his sweet throat. Until he could barely breathe.

So he stopped trying. But they didn’t stop pushing.

They pushed harder and harder into his form. Trying to keep him quiet even though he was silent.

Whispers passed close by as words of this little light being began to rumour. The makers became angry and scared, thinking dragon must have somehow found his voice. They pushed him down deeper and deeper until their fingers cut great wounds into the flesh across his back .

He tried to wail but he could not. He tried to show his pain but he could not. He could not move he could not talk but he could still push. He did still push. Quietly, so quietly he was almost still.

Pushing out against the pain of their loving intent which was born out of fear but generating so much hurt.

He pushed out. He had no voice but he pushed out.

With all his might he pushed and as he did the most beautiful scales suddenly started to appear on his skin. One by one the most stunning armory unfolded across his back.


Unaware they kept pushing and so did he. And the more he pushed the stronger he got. And the more scales that grew the more that could grow. Until eventually desperate fingers could penetrate his skin no more.

Yet still they pushed and still he pushed back.

And when they could push no more and he could push no more all was silent and still but for a moment.

Meanwhile the rumours spread far and wide, and the whisperers came to visit. They greeted dragon, whose scales had penetrated the earth. They wanted to see his light, but he was buried so deep within his skin it did not shine.

They took this as insult and got angry when he could not respond to them. They were afraid that the promise of light was not to be. And great daggers they took in to their hand and thrust into his back digging deep holes through his flesh.

By now the makers were more afraid for him that ever. They screamed at him to fight back. But he could not talk. He could barely take a breath. He screamed deeply but any sound was muffled by the weight that had entered his mouth.

And the whisperers could not see his shoulders shudder as he cried, for the hard shell that surrounded him now hid all movement. And the makers crumbled in defeat, eventually driven away by the angry mob.

Deeper the daggers came and still he remained still.

Eventually they thought he must be dead, or just plain rude.  They left him alone in search of another source of illumination. And when it seemed all was safe, when he was finally alone, he had a thought that perhaps he could go and find his clan, his tribe, the mighty beasts of fire in the sky.


He didn’t know if his wings would work he’d never tried to move them. Then he realised he was so heavy with this weight on his back, he would never get off the ground. He would never fly. Never find his own kind. In deep dismay he succumbed to the stillness.

With no voice, no movement and no flight he felt his path had ended here. It was time for him to leave.

In great agony of body and mind he called forth the great dark angel, she of of the beautiful black wing who he knew would release his pain. And unleash him unto freedom.

Although no words came from his mouth his broken body called to her. Begged her to come. And come she did.

He felt her presence before she even arrived.

So easily, a warm embrace of black wings surrounded his body. For the first time since he could remember, all the cells in his body relaxed into each other. Warmth permeated through his shattered form. And he felt the ultimate release. Of relinquishing control. Of letting go.

He gave himself over to her. And begged her to take him to freedom.

“Aah but my dear one of course I will take you. “ Said she of black wings. “Of course, you are home. Let’s go now. “

Tears poured down dragons face as he let himself melt into her, as she slowly, gently, eased him out of his body. Inch by inch, until there was barely a strand of memory remaining of body or pain.

And her voice came again. This time perhaps a little sterner. “Aah my dear one, of course you can come home now, but just remember you can only ever do this once. Once you leave, your body will be gone for ever. There is no going back. There is no going back. “

“Mmmm yessssss” said dragon.

Black Modern Angel“What if you change your mind? There is no going back. You can come with me tomorrow, in a week, a month, in ten years, if you stay now. But if you go, there is no coming back. “

Dragon hadn’t thought about it in this way. Having had a break from the noise and pain for a while he considered his path. He realised he didn’t know if he was quite ready to make such a decision.

He turned to the beautiful black winged creature that had promised his relief. “What is the purpose of my form if I have no voice? What use am I if I cannot fly? I have no use here. I’ve been broken beyond repair. I can’t imagine why I would remain here even a moment longer. A dragon without fire is like a life without spirit.

“Aah dear one no wonder your spirit is broken.  Said she. Whoever told you you were a dragon? Who told you you have to be fierce and breathe fire in order to be strong? Whoever told you you had to fly?’

Dragon turtle was confused. But I was always told I was of dragon blood said he.

“Then your makers have been sadly mistaken. You weren’t born to fly my love. Your strength comes from being still. This weight upon your back was never meant to be airborne. Not even on the earth. You my darling were brought here by the medicine of turtle. You belong in the vast depths of the sea. Your fire comes not from your mouth, it emanates from your belly and heart, and ignites every heart around you with the spark of delight. And that is what has kept you strong. That is what has generated such greatness upon your back. And now your body knows what to do these daggers are being expelled from your back. Can you not feel them?”

Turtle could indeed feel the daggers falling away.  And the fire she thought she had lost reignited in her belly. Yes, ok, I’ll find a way. I can stay another day. Said she. “I can stay another day.“

“Dear one” said she of the black feather, releasing turtle back into her body, “Those that moulded you in their blindness and fear may have caused you pain, but look at what you have become. There is no mistake here. You are now strong; you are so strong, that you hold an entire world upon your back.”

She knew this to be true. And turtle discovered that she did not have wings. She had but little feet. Small but strong enough to heave her great form into the water.


Her body submerged, as the cool salt water enveloped scale and skin. The elementals of the deep greeted this wondrous new creature in their midst. They surrounded her with loving light, and their deep embrace began to soften the hardness upon her back, until it moulded gently, perfectly around her body.

And as turtle eased into the vast beauty of  the ocean, she felt such release. She realised the weight of the world, wasn’t nearly so heavy, once she was in the water. Not heavy at all. In fact it gave her balance.

What had been a trap had become her protection, her home.

Thank you dark angel, for gifting me the sight of life.

Turtle breathed deep as black wings drifted skyward and turned to face a new soul. Then with the deepest surrender, she sunk into the depths of her new life, with a brand new world upon her back.

The beginning.


Written by Tjoni Johansen.


Copyright 2015 all rights reserved

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About the story

This is the beach in Lakes Entrance that birthed The Turtle and The Dragon. One sunny creative day I approached the sand with tripod on hand, ready to build with the earth and play with stop animation.

IMG_1225What emerged as my hands moved through sand and shells and sticks and feathers was this beautiful myth.  She literally came up to meet me through Mamma Earth. Through tears and giggles and wonder I sat by the ocean the next day and spoke the story into my phone. From there it was transcribed into what you have just read.

The themes around struggle and bullying and suicide are more real than ever in 2015. I’m hoping to offer children, young and old, a tool to safely explore and transmute their own battles into their own power. Without a voice many children are sadly internalising their conflict and doing it alone. I hope this myth and the work to follow may help to act as a bridge of expression and communication.

This work will be published publicly as an audio book, story book and workbook for both children and parents. More material is planned to follow including hard copy versions, meditation music files, and live workshops. If you are interested in supporting this project or simply being updated as it progresses please email with your name and email address. Many thanks!