What is it with Dragon’s? From hit television shows, books to video games, cartoons and Chinese Astrological signs, it seems dragons are popular and have been for a long time. Known to many cultures they were described by Ancient Greeks as Draconta, meaning “to watch” and Sumerians as huge flying serpents.
Even in the Bible, Book of Job: “I will not fail to speak of Leviathan’s limbs, its strength and its graceful form. Who can strip off its outer coat? Who can penetrate its double coat of armor? Who dares open the doors of its mouth, ringed about with fearsome teeth? Its back has rows of shields tightly sealed together; each is so close to the next that no air can pass between. They are joined fast to one another; they cling together and cannot be parted. Its snorting throws out flashes of light; its eyes are like the rays of dawn. Flames stream from its mouth; sparks of fire shoot out. Smoke pours from its nostrils as from a boiling pot over burning reeds. Its breath sets coals ablaze, and flames dart from its mouth”
Interesting, such detail and colorful prose. Yet according to lore there are a wide range of dragon types; some with heads of elephants (India), lions, birds (Middle East) and, of course, snakes, then there are the Gargoyles, Hydras, dragon gods, basilisks, wyverns and cockatrices whatever those are. They come in a wide range of colors – greens, reds, blacks, yellows. Chinese dragons cannot fly while the western ones do.
So, why so many types, sizes and colors all seeming to represent a single beast? Almost every culture has their own version of the beast. As monsters go dragons have had a bad rap, primarily cast as powerful, fearsome beasts to be slain by bold knights and hero’s. Their reputation might have turned a corner with “How to Train your Dragon” and “Game of Thrones.” Originally, however, dragons often held major spiritual significance. In China, the dragon represents the primal forces of nature, religion and the universe. They are often associated with magic and in some traditions were said to have taught humans to speak.
It wasn’t that long ago that rumors of dragons appeared to have been confirmed by eyewitnesses, usually sailors returning from Indonesia. Coincidentally that is where the real life Komodo dragon lives, which can neither fly nor breathe fire. Speculation is that accounts of spitting cobras might have been the source of the fire breathing aspect, although more religious folk could have used fire coming from the mouth as a symbol of the Mouth of Hell. Crocodiles kinda look like dragons. Bones of whales, dinosaurs, and other large mammals could have been interpreted as those of “Dragon.”
In today’s modern world with satellites and cell phones it’s hard to believe that dragons are real, or we would have spotted one by now. Yet, born under the sign of the Double Dragon I feel that I have some powerful connection to whatever the dragon represents in our human culture.
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