Did you believe in magic?
Did you once believe in fairies, leprechauns and and flying dragons? Did you believe that if you climbed a tree to the uppermost branches, you could touch the sky?
Do we need magic?
As the country finds itself reeling from the proclamations of anew administration, I have found myself, like so many others, in need of comfort. One of the places I find comfort is music. There is the music of ritual and meditation, the music of dance, the music of heartbreak. It can energize and uplift; it can soothe the hurt away, it can take you to distant lands.
After the experience of the Women’s March on Washington, I chose the protest music of Peter, Paul and Mary. I found myself listening to “Puff, the Magic Dragon”, an old favorite. I have listened to this song many times through the years, but this time, I understood it in a completely different way.
As I listened, the tears began to flow. I had finally come to the realization that this song is about the loss of magic. Jackie Paper was a little boy, one who believed in magic. With magic there can be wonderful creatures such as dragons, and painted wings and giant rings. But Jackie Paper grew up, and when he did, he lost his belief in magic and Puff, sadly, lost his lifelong friend.
When we are small, we believe in magic because the world IS magic. Everything is new and bright and wonderful! But soon, much too soon, we are told to grow up for there is no magic in the world; giant rabbits who give out candy and big, jolly men in red suits who give out presents are not real. So, the sense of magic and wonder we held so dear is outgrown, part and parcel of being an adult. We don’t realize at the time how much of a sadness that really is, not only for us as individuals, but for the world at large.
Many of us, lately, have been feeling a loss. We believed in one thing; and another thing came along and stole it away from us. Our belief was a form of political magic and it failed us.
In reality, though, they, too, are feeling this loss, there are those who never did lose that sense of wonder and magic. Women who follow the Goddess, as well as other pagans, are in a unique position because we know there is magic still in this world. She IS the magic.
Our world may now be overwhelming and confusing due to the results of the US election. Our understanding of the world may be fractured. We have a struggle ahead of us. But I feel that our confidence in Her and in our own inner strength will pull us through. Our belief in the magic of the world will pull us through.
There is one last thing. Jackie Paper grew up and stopped believing in magic, stopped believing in Puff, The Magic Dragon. In a short story written by the wonderful Jennifer Roberson*, Jackie, now a grown man known as Jack, travels in sadness and desperation, in need of his childhood friend, in need of the magic that was once such an enormous part of his life. As the story comes to an end, once again the tears flow, as Puff comes out to see his lifelong friend, and reaches out with his long tail to gently touch Jack’s foot in greeting and Jack replies, “Hello, Puff”.
Thus, bringing him back full circle to his belief in the magic he so desperately needed, that we all need.
- “Mad Jack” from the book “Guinevere and Other Tales by Jennifer Roberson
14 thoughts on “Puff the Magic Dragon & the Loss of Magic by Susan Morgaine”
Susan, thanks for this post, much enjoyed it. Peter, Paul and Mary were an amazing group of magical folk singers with great music and fascinating lyrics, including PUFF THE MAGIC DRAGON, which begins…
Oh, Puff the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honali
I saw a photo online of Peter, Paul and Mary, recently, and so interesting to see them as elderly people, and yet still so full of joy and vitality. Have a look at peterpaulandmary.com
I have always loved PP&M from when I was very young, which was many moons ago.
I’m so glad you liked the piece. Thank you for commenting.
In answer to the need for comfort, thanks Susan, that is, regards the country “reeling from the proclamations of a new administration.”
I’ve been surviving the current political situation, by faithfully following The Rachel Maddow Show online — she calls the shots perfectly, but she always has some sort of playfulness in its context — she faces the reality, but she never lets herself get too angry, she simply shows how silly some of the current political process truly is. I like her reality, and how she handles it all as a liberal commentator and a true feminist.
See Rachel at: http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show
I, too, love Rachel Maddow. My one wish is that she were on a *bit* earlier. Even though she adds her trademark playfulness, the news she is reporting on per the new administration is still upsetting. I find if I watch it and then head to bed, that sleep is a bit longer in coming!!
Yes, I believe in magic. That’s why I’m writing about it in my wicked witch stories. Maybe it’ll work on the Troll-in-Chief.
Thanks for the reminder of Peter Paul and Mary. I was–maybe still am–a fan of theirs.
Hi Susan —
I never liked the ending of “Puff, the Magic Dragon.” So maybe 2 decades ago I added some verses. You’ll be happy to know that my new protagonist is named Susie.
But caves are just as magic
As Puff in times of yore.
His darkened days restored his ways,
And Puff let out a roar.
His scales began to glitter,
The fire within him burned.
And Puff, that mighty dragon,
Knew for what he yearned.
One bright day it happened,
Little Susie came to play.
They talked a while and with a smile,
She told him that she’d stay.
Today they glide above the clouds
On Puff’s gigantic wings.
She’s grown-up now
With furrowed brow,
But Susie often sings:
It’s a waking dream.
Susie strides, Puff at her side,
To catch her fey moonbeam.
Without her lifelong friend,
She could not be free,
But with her magic pal, she lives
In mystic harmony.
I absolutely love this. It fits perfectly, and not just because her name is Susie! I wonder if it is something you could send to PP&M.
Also, try and find the short story by Jennifer Roberson; I think you may like her ending too.
Thank you for the reminder, and the video, Susan. Yes, there is magic and miracles all around us, but many don’t notice. Why is that? The play, Flower Drum Song, has a song: “A Hundred Million Miracles”…are happening every day. Life is starting to “Spring” from the earth, evolution happens, birds fly and sing, people make poetry, stars shine, and so much more.
I too have always believed in magic having been gifted a set of powerful fairy/folktales at a young age. My mother and I returned to our favorites again and again. Some were cautionary tales; the characters who were mean and usually greedy were transformed in some way that taught me not to embody those qualities. I was a talkative girl, and one tale featured a very talkative turtle who wanted to “fly.” He convinced two geese to carry a stick he could grasp with his mouth as they flew to a warmer climate. He loved the experience of flying, but when teased/criticized by children pointing and laughing at him, he defended himself and fell. (Some variants make this a pourquoi tale explaining why turtle’s back looks cracked.) My book only showed turtle falling. “Poor turtle, he could not stop talking.” Even at 8 I knew I was being cautioned. It taught me, as did the warning “be seen and not heard,” but I became a performer to strengthen my voice. And the world of story has helped me hold fast to the potential of inner flight, flights of magic. Thanks for a reminder of this song and the courage it takes to believe in the possibility of things improving, our voices as powerful weapons for change, and yes, the magic that is something we all carry within – if we can believe in it.
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Thank you for this lovely interpretation of one of my favorite songs. I’ve been playing it recently on the piano (obtained our family piano as therapy for a wrist injury from last year) and now when I play, I will imagine a happy ending of rediscovering magic and the reunion of all of us to our belief in miracles and mystery and magic. Another of my favorite comfort songs is _Rainbow Connection_ as sung by Kenny Loggins; it nearly always makes me cry as a I dream of what might be in our world.
How lovely! Thank you. I, too, remember Rainbow Connection, but as sung by Kermit the Frog. :-)
Thanks for sharing. I too felt at a great loss after this election, but I am resisting and I donate to ACLU and SPLC. I also work with my local election and political party. I will not “give up” on America, even though I am disappointed in those who voted for djt. I will survive him
In a 2007 children’s book, Peter Yarrow & Lenny Lipton (the original creators of Puff) joined with illustrator Eric Puybaret for a delightful rendition of the song in pictures. The two most interesting aspects are first, the line “not so little boys” has been changed to “not so little girls and boys”. Second, at the end of the song when the first line is repeated twice, the drawings show a little girl discovering Puff & his cave with a father (looking a lot like Jackie) watching from behind the cave wall. Yarrow says this in the author’s notes at the end, “And though it is terribly painful when Jackie grows up and has to leave, Puff has given Jackie the strength and courage he needs to believe in himself when he goes back to the real world. One day, as you can see at the end of this book, a new and special friend comes to Honalee to play with Puff. In this way, Puff and Jackie’s friendship continues through new children like you.” And so the magic continues, with interruptions, yes, but still there for all children (whatever their age).
Thank you for this wonderful piece. We need belief in magic so much these days. . . my blog http://www.strawandspindle.com is all about weaving the seemingly mundane straws of everyday life into the gold of magic, imagination and fairy tale. You are so right when you say, of the Goddess, She IS magic! Blessed Be!