There is a part of The Fairy of the Dawn story which demonstrates the search for hidden or lost teachings; so that the hero has a wisdom structure to carry him through the inner realms, and who can advise him on his journey.
When our hero, Petru first comes to the bridge at the edge of his father’s realm, he must fight the terrible dragon guarding the bridge. He is unable to do this because his horse cannot handle the sight of the dragon and neighs and rears up at the mere sight of it. He knows that he cannot fight the dragon as his horse is not steady or strong enough. He must return for a better horse. This horse is a symbol of the structure – of his belief system or religion, which in this case could not quite sustain him. So, he returns to find his old nurse and teacher Birscha eagerly waiting for him at the gate of the palace. She tells Petru that he will never reach the spring of the Fairy of the Dawn unless he rides the horse which his father the Emperor rode in his youth. In other words, he must use the ancient teachings or knowledge base and steed of the Emperor, who is in fact the Heart, according to Sufis. He represents the Divine One. Birscha tells Petru to ask his Father where the horse is to be found, and then mount it and be off.
Petru does as he is told and the Emperor immediately knows that it can only have been the witch Birscha, who has told him this. ‘Fifty years have passed since I was young’, he says. This symbolises the completion of a (7 x 7) cycle – it is a Jubilee, a return to the beginning. A fresh start. ‘Who knows where the bones of my horse are rotting; or whether a scrap of his reins still lie in his stall?’ the Emperor tells Petru. Petru is devastated at this but Birscha understands the hints and symbols he has been given. The bones or structure of the Teachings are still in the horses’ stall somewhere – hidden. The scarps of the reins signify the remains of practices – means of mastery of the ego – like prayer, chanting, song or sound, breathing practice, meditation, and contemplation. These are the reins which control life. Birscha understands and sends Petru to find the scrap of the reins; the place was full of saddles, bridles, and bits of leather, but he picked out the oldest, blackest, and most decayed pair of reins and brought them to old Birscha.
With respect to Teachings and mysticism, it is thought that the Illuminated Souls, who came to earth, like Rama, Krishna, Shiva, Buddha, Abraham, Solomon, Zarathustra, Moses, Jesus, Mahomed and in many others known and unknown to the world, have directly received the sacred wisdom as a transmission from ‘above’. The Wisdom is always the same, but understood through the prism of the culture or times it was received. From this direct vertical transmission, a religion is perhaps eventually formed. Followers of the original Prophet or Teacher are taught, and the religion is spread horizontally over the regions and the peoples of the land, sometimes over hundreds and thousands of years. But the purity of the teachings become diluted or distorted over time, so that they are gradually lost, being constantly re-interpreted. Therefore, many teachers ask that their words are not to be changed under any circumstances. Petru must search in the stable (the Temple of God) for the oldest version of the practice, so to discover their original purity and wisdom.
When he brings the reins to the old woman, she performed a ritual – murmured over them and sprinkled them with incense, before holding them out to the young man. In a way, they are transformed and now carry the real mystery. ‘Take the reins’ said she ‘and strike them violently against the pillars of the house’. The pillars of the house can be seen as the Seven Pillars of Sophia – of the Feminine Wisdom – the Spiritual structure of the Teachings. In the Book of Proverbs (9 1) ‘Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn seven pillars. Sophia calls out to humanity, ‘Let the simple turn in here — Abandon the company of simpletons and you will live, you will advance in understanding’. (Prov. 9. 4 – 6). The Seven-pillared temple, upon which Wisdom is standing, symbolises Her Church or structure. She teaches and protects. It is very interesting that the central figure seen with Sophia is a man holding a sword above a dragon, signifying strength. This could indeed be Petru. Petru did what he was told, and scarcely had the reins touched the pillar when, to his amazement, a horse ‘whose equal in beauty the world had never seen; with a saddle of gold and precious stones, and with such a dazzling bridle you hardly dared look at it, lest you should lose your sight.’ By striking the reins against the pillar of wisdom, he has manifested his inner guide, his psychopomp – the whole wisdom teaching.
‘Jump on the back of the brown horse,’ said the old woman, and went into the house.
Now the horse tells Petru to ‘sit firmly in the saddle’, and off they go to fight the dragon, cut off its head, and cross the bridge, before travelling deeper and deeper into the other realms; to the spring of the Fairy of the Dawn and back again. We need a teacher like old Birscha, to lead us to our guide, who shows us the way; – the steed who carries us through the realms.