Monsters and Angels


Child has two chains that he wears around his neck. One is his St. Michael’s medallion, and the other is a dragon circlet.  St. Michael is the Archangel who lead Ghod’s armies and he’s the guy who defeated Satan during the uprising of the angels. He’s patron saint of the military and first responders, and is the guardian of the RC church and the patron of Vatican City. He is recognized in Judaism, Islam, and a bunch of Christian traditions. He’s a protector and a guardian against evil. He’s the warrior. And, his attributes often have him standing on the neck of a dragon with a sword overhead. It’s a dragon that represents the fallen angels, but a dragon nonetheless. The St. Michael medallion that hangs around my child’s neck depicts this battle, and it hangs right next to another dragon. Child doesn’t wear the dragon as a representation of Lucifer, he wears it because Chinese zodiac is pervasive and it’s kind of cool to be born in the year of the Dragon.

Even if you don’t have Chinese heritage, examples of the Chinese zodiac are abundant. I’m from Italian/Polish stock, and I know what sign I was born under. Chinese restaurants often have place mats with the signs (and their associated birth years so that you can see if you’re actually compatible with your dining companions), and our local grocery store flyers have features for the Lunar New Year that indicate the zodiac sign for the upcoming cycle. There are fun cartoon-y images of the incoming zodiac sign (this year, it’s the sign of the pig), and there are Canada Post stamps.  But beyond the zodiac signs, there are also 5 elemental signs that provide additional “desirable characteristics” that can lead to better life outcomes, if you subscribe to that. In any case, Connor was born under the Metal Dragon element, which is the most auspicious of the dragon elements. I think it’s a fun novelty, but in China and other countries that adhere to the Chinese Zodiac, children are conceived based on the element under which they’ll be born. For some, it’s serious business.

The dichotomy of the two medallions together struck me all of a sudden. It’s difficult to know some days which is the hunter and which is the hunted. The chase never stops.

One of my favourite songs is Monsters and Angels by Voice of the Beehive. The chorus goes like this:

There are monsters, there are angels. 

There’s a peacefulness and a rage inside us all. 

There’s sugar and there is salt 

There’s ice and there is fire. 

In every single heart, there are monsters, there are angels.

I feel that every day. To whit, I have a tattoo on my arm of two wolves. The legend of the two wolves says that there was once an old Cherokee Grandfather who was speaking to his grandchildren. “Inside of each of us there are two wolves. The light wolf is about empathy and generosity and serenity and gratitude. The dark wolf is about envy and selfishness and anger and aggression. The two wolves are at war”.

One if his grandchildren asked, “Grandfather, which wolf wins?”

The grandfather replied, “The one you feed”.

When I look at my tattoo, I think about which wolf I’m feeding. Beyond that, I have wrapped a dragon around the wolves. Child was born in the Chinese Zodiac year of the Dragon – He is the reason why I try to make good choices. He’s the reason why it’s important for me to feed the correct wolf.

Whether it’s my ink or Child’s medal and dragon, it doesn’t matter what the touchstone is that makes you accept that in every single heart there really, really are monsters and angels. May we make good choices, either way.

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