Dragons are an ancient and universal symbol of earth energies, according to myth living in caves beneath the earth, frequently guarding fabulous treasures. However there are differences in attitudes to dragons throughout the world. Oriental dragons were much revered, considered responsible for bringing rain and prosperity to mortals, they lived either in sea caves, deep pools or palaces in the clouds(but see also the Nine Dragon cave legend below.
Western and Eastern European dragons were primarily guardians of gold, identified with the lifeblood of the earth. However they were enemies of humans, their treasure to be plundered and the dragons killed. In China their treasure was gems and pearls, the latter bringing humans who found them scattered after rain, wisdom as well as prosperity.
Dragons and Earth Energies
Places to which dragon legends are sites of spiritual power and healing In Celtic and Oriental legend, herbs that grew on scorched earth where these fire-breathing creatures landed had magical properties.
The Chinese dragon power or current is represented visually by the form of the dragon, etched as the contours of the landscape. This concept has been adopted to classify and identify earth energy flow throughout the world his dragon power can adversely affect the land if destroyed. For example in Hampshire a dragon form lay between Twyford Down, a very ancient trader’s path and old Winchester town, with its head on the top of the Down and its tail on the town. It was feared by local earth energy practitioners that by ripping up Twyford Down to create the M3 motorway, the head would be cut off the dragon and so the energies would die. They carried out a ritual to make the dragon turn round so he would only lose his tail which could regrow. But the monstrous hacking of the land has certainly created bad vibes and the M3 Twyford cutting is locally noted for road rage.
These dragons are considered most fortunate and Dragon King temples were created so people could pray to the dragons for a good harvest, since the dragons controlled the rains and the seasons.
The Chinese dragon is made up of nine creatures, including the horns of a deer; the neck of a snake; the scales of a carp; the claws of an eagle; the paws of a tiger; and the ears of an ox.
As well as bringing rain, dragons could divert floodwaters away from towns. They would appear to herald a period of prosperity and fertilise the soil with their magical semen.
However when they fought it caused thunderstorms, though the deep pools left by intense storms also gave growth to healing herbs such as the all-purpose Red Herb.If angered by mortals the dragons would gather all the waters in a basket creating drought. They might even cause an eclipse by swallowing the sun.
They could also be bad-tempered when finding a good home.
From Tongren City, Guizhou Province comes the legend of Nine-Dragon Cave.Once six yellow dragons lived happily on Liulong Hill (Six-Dragon Hill), which is behind Nine-Dragon Cave. They invited three black dragons living in Jinjiang River, which faces the Cave, to come to the cave for a celebration. When the nine dragons entered the cave, they realised what a wonderful home it would make. They all wanted to live in the cave, but their was not room so they quarrelled They are still inside the cave today, though they make themselves invisible when tourists come. The rumbling heard within the earth is their continuing bickering and jostling for space.
The ruler of the Fire dragons everywhere is called
Fafnir whose name comes from the Norse and German culture.
He was according to some myths, once a dwarf whot was transformed into a dragon because of his love of the treasures he created and the metals he forged.
In some legends Fafnir had killed his father for his gold and hid with it in caves beneath the earth.
Fafnir was slain by Sigurd Volsungr at the request of his foster brother Regin. Regin was brother of Fafnir and wanted the gold, Sigurd burned himself while cooking the dragon’s heart for Regin. He, licked his fingers and so absorbed the dragon’s power to communicate with the birds. The birds warned Sigurd that Regin was going to kill him and so Sigurd slew the dwarf and rode off with the treasure
This isn’t however a straightforward legend of nasty
dragon and good hero who won the treasure by fair means.
The story in fact is a much older one from a time before people started to hate dragons.. Rather than being a former dwarf ,itself a form regarded with distaste by Christian chroniclers, Fafnir always was a dragon and indeed Lord of dragons. He and other dragons were earth guardians who guarded from greedy and insensitive miners., metalworkers and adventurers , the hidden treasure within the earth, both gems and precious minerals. These if used unwisely led to greed and sometimes killings and in ecological terms would run out if too much was taken.
Indeed dragons adorned Viking ships to offer courage and protection in battle and on voyages and were admired by warriors as icons of power.
The modern more Christianised legend when both dwarves and dragons were out of favour, is told on the Sigurd rune stone, carved on natural rock, at Ramsundsberget, Somlermanland in Sweden,(have I spelled this correctly?). This was created in the 1100s... The tale is also in the Icelandic Prose Eddas, written by the Icelandic Christian historian and statesman Snorri Sturluson, who lived between 1179-1241.
Slaying the dragons of Eastern and Western Europe
Originally these dragons may, like the Chinese ones, have been benign. Dragon slaying may in fact have been an early ritual whereby the dragon was killed and then was reborn as the fertility of the Earth. The virgins he ate symbolically representing the earth maiden being absorbed by him, to be released by the young knight/Sun God.
But with Christianisation dragon slaying was seen as the triumph of the new religion over the old, hence so many dragon slaying saints, including St Michael, St George, St Margaret of Antioch, St Martha and St Catherine. All over England there are hills and spots remembered locally where the dragon was killed. Dragon Hill, near Uffington in Berkshire, is one example where St. George, the patron saint of England, is believed to have killed the dragon. Where its blood fell, no grass has ever grown.
St George, a soldier from what is now Turkey, was a
soldier in the Roman army who visited Caerleon and Glastonbury while he
was serving Emperor Constantine in England. Emperor Diocletian martyred
him for standing out against the persecution of Christians. Becoming a
patron of the Crusaders, dragon slaying exploits have been credited to
him in Libya near the town of town of Sylene and of course in England,
The most unlikely dragon slayer is St Martha, patron saint of housewives, cooks and servants, who in the Gospel of St Luke is described as cooking and tending to Jesse’s needs while her sister sat listening. Her dragon slaying role occurred when she crossed the Mediterranean to go to France after the Crucifixion. St. Martha defeated her dragon at Tarascon by sprinkling it in Holy Water.
Eastern European dragons
But other dragon-slaying legends are a celebration of the triumph of man-made civilisation, over wild unpredictable nature, though the rescued virgin still features in the legends of Eastern Europe as it did in the George myths.
The Dragon of Cracow
During the reign of king Krak, the semi-legendary founded of Cracow, there was a dragon living in a cave beneath Wawel Hill under the castle. As well as livestock the dragon demanded local virgins as sacrifice .At last only the King’s daughter was left and the King offered half his kingdom to anyone who could defeat the dragon.
But none of the brave knights or princes who came from far and wide succeeded. But as in all good tales a humble hero, the local shoemaker Dratewka, won the day. He filled a ram with sulphur and left it in front of the dragon’s cave. After the dragon has swallowed the ram, he felt enormous fire in his stomach and started to drink water from the Vistula River. The dragon drank until he exploded. The shoemaker was rewarded with half the kingdom and married Krak’s daughter. The dragon caves can still be visited.
English and Welsh dragons
Wales has a red dragon on its flag and this has survived through the centuries as a symbol of Welsh independence. Its motto is Y Ddraig Goch Ddyry Cychwyn, the Red Dragon leads the way.
The book of Celtic myths the Mabinogion tells of a fight between the red dragon of the Celts and the white dragon of the Saxons. After a bitter fight the dragons become inebriated with mead and were buried alive in a huge stone coffin, said to lie below Oxford in central England. As long as the dragons remain slumbering beneath the earth, the British Isles will never be invaded.
Creating your Power Dragon and his treasure
You can make either a two or three-dimensional dragon in clay, wood,, thin copper wire, on paper, as a collage, painted or created on your computer
Draw your dragon to represent the powers you desire right now in your life,thick golden scales to protect you from spite, fire to burn away stagnation and inertia, huge wings that you can soar high in the clouds above the mundane world., claws to dig your cave for the security you desire, find to dive deep into subterranean pools to find healin
Children will love helping you make it and will maybe confide their own dragons of fear
Having made your dragon, focus on his treasures: rain to bring fertility into your life, pearls of wisdom, gold to signify the life force coursing through your veins; healing herbs for your spirit or those you love and to regenerate places that have been spoiled. Perhaps it is time to gather up your own resources and leave a potentially futile situation. Maybe you need to symbolically eclipse the sun and outface a bully to express your anger at neglect or unfair treatment.
Keep your dragon in a place you can see him (or her) and buy a tiny ceramic\ or silver dragon to carry with you when you need courage or to protect you against aggression such as road rage.