Dragons: Were they once real?

Real Dragons?

Did the dragon once live?

All of the Oriental dragons were intimately associated with water.  Dragons lived in lakes and rivers and seas, even in raindrops. They controlled the tides, floods and rainfall.  If they really existed, then a source that immediately comes to mind is the Chinese alligator, Alligator sinensis.  They are not as large as their American cousin, ranging from an average two metres in length to sometimes three metres.  But they are dangerous, reptilian and water-based – all good reasons for linking them to the Oriental dragon.  But only if you haven’t heard of the predecessors of the real-life Komodo dragon .

Australian monitor lizards all belong to the genus Varanus.  They are easily identifiable by their streamlined shape, elongated neck, semi-erect posture, and a forked tongue – which can give the effect of fire-breathing.  They all look very similar except for their size differences, which are extreme to say the least.  The smallest is the pygmy monitor Varanus brevicauda (20 centimetres long, weighs 8-10 grams).  The largest in Australia is the perentie or Varanus giganteus, which can attain a length of two metres.

Larger still are the Komodo Dragons (Varanus komodoensis) of Indonesia, a country that the ancient Chinese would certainly have visited. [20] They can reach lengths of three metres and weigh 150 kgs, [21] making them the world’s largest lizards.  They are formidable predators, like crocodiles that are able to run quickly across land.  They were probably the reason that the stegodonts (pygmy elephants) [22] became extinct in this area. They might even have wiped out the 1-metre tall, miniature humans, Homo floresiensis, who lived there up until 12,000 years ago.

These dragons were previously more widespread, with evidence of them once occurring in Mongolia coming to light. [23] And in Queensland, Australia, only becoming extinct 19,000 years ago (take that date with a pinch of salt), was a bigger lizard still, a cousin of the Komodo dubbed Megalania prisca.

Megalania prisca

Megalania prisca, as we have learned from fossil evidence, grew to be a staggering seven metres in length and weighed 600 kgs [24]. Although it was technically a lizard, it must have had the presence of a dinosaur, and almost certainly ate a few of the humans of that era.  But it’s usual meal was more likely to have been rhinoceros-sized wombats.  [Strange days indeed with gigantism seeming to be rampant.]  These meals are believable when you consider that Komodo dragons have been known to kill water buffalo weighing three times more than themselves. [25]

Which brings us back to ancient Rome!  Pliny, the Roman naturalist, said that the dragon of India was

“so enormous a size as easily to envelop the elephant with its folds and encircle with its coils. The contest is equally fatal to both; the elephant, vanquished, falls to the earth and by its weight crushes the dragon which is entwined about it.”

He also mentioned the dragons of Ethiopia, which, with a length of only thirty feet, were too small to kill elephants.  Other European myths state that dragons always jumped onto elephants from out of trees.  Is this all just fantasy, amazing stories concocted to scare children with?  Or is it just as reasonable to suggest that dragons once lived?

So where are we heading?  On the one hand there are myths connecting dragons to global destruction and rebirth. On the other are links to DNA, ancient languages, ancient calendars and the I Ching.  And now I am taking a big breath and suggesting that the mythical dragons were rooted in reality, that knights in shining armour actually killed real dragons, and somehow it all makes sense.  This is where a new theory of evolution comes in.. stay tuned.

[20] Some ancient Chinese texts even tell of Australian kangaroos and boomerangs


[21]
Auffenberg 1981


[22]
Diamond, Jared.  1992.  “The Evolution of Dragons.”  Discover  13(12):  72-80.


[23]
Wilford, J.N., After 60 years, Scientists Return to Fossil ‘Paradise’ of the Gobi. Science Times. The New York Times, Tuesday, July 29, 1990, pp. B5 and B8.


[24]
(Hecht 1975; Auffenberg  1981; Rich 1985).

[25] Auffenberg 1981

Dragons, DNA and the I Ching

DNA and the I Ching

Just like Quetzalcoatl of the Aztecs, Nü-Kua was a dragon that taught her people about art, irrigation and agriculture.  She had a male partner, another half-dragon named Fu Xi, and he taught humans how to hunt, fish and create music.  He also had a role in creating the eight trigrams which were the foundation of the I’Ching. [17]

Fu Xi became the first Emperor of China, circa 2800 BC.  One day he spotted a dragon-horse rising out of the Yellow River.  On its side were some markings which Fu Xi recorded.  He called them the Ho Tu, from which he derived eight trigrams which represented the four cardinal directions and the diagonals between.


Figure 1: Ancient and modern forms of the Ho Tu

 


Figure 2: The trigrams of Fu Xi

These eight trigrams are the basis of the I-Ching, the oldest scripture in Chinese culture.  In 1122 BC, the official records of the Zhou dynasty stated that three different versions of the I’Ching existed, (although only the one that we use today has survived).

Several modern books like the Tao of Chaos have demonstrated extraordinary similarities that link the I’Ching to modern knowledge of DNA structures. [18]  Basically, DNA comprises of four code letters, A, T, C and G.  These are combined into sets of three, known as codons. This means that there are 4 x 4 x 4 = 64 combinations available, and the I Ching also has 64 combinations.

An 8×8 magic square can be constructed by placing the numbers 1.64 in sequence, and then reversing the order of the green positions.  The total of any line gives us 260, the number of days in the Tzolkin, the Mayan sacred calendar.  Is it just a coincidence that the next Year of the Dragon is 2012?

  

64 2 3 61 60 6 7 8
9 55 54 12 13 51 50 16
17 47 46 20 21 43 42 24
40 26 27 37 36 30 31 32
32 34 35 29 28 38 39 25
41 23 22 44 45 19 18 48
49 15 14 52 53 11 10 56
8 58 59 5 4 62 63 1
 

DNA is of course directly related to mutations, which we shall look into in a later chapter.  Also, links have been made to the description of the 22-letter Hebrew language (as described in the Hebrew book of creation Sefer Yetzirah), and the 22 major arcane Tarot cards – each corresponding to the 22 amino acid and punctuation groups of DNA.

[See Occult Genetic Code & Interpreting “Sefer Yetzirah” through Genetic Engineering]

 


Figure 3: DNA meets the I Ching, according to Katya Walter

DNA symbols

There are two serpentine symbols associated with medicine today, the staff of Aesculapius and the Cadeuceus, although the staff of Aesculapius has the strongest mythological association to healing.  Aesculapius was a Roman physician who was such a skilled healer that he became a god, and temples were dedicated to him.  The symbol of his wooden staff with only one snake coiled around it was adopted by the American Medical Association early last century.

The Cadeuceus has a slightly [*] more ancient background and, more importantly, it reinforces our links between floods, DNA and serpents/dragons.

The Cadeuceus is a figure that consists of two entwined serpents encircling a wand or rod.  It was carried by Hermes in Greek myths and Mercury in Roman mythology as the messenger of the gods.  It was a symbol of authority and protected the herald who carried it.

The similarity of this symbol to the double helix of DNA strands is a common observation. By looking at Greek myths we can find links to cataclysms and re-creation…

Hermes was the grandson of Atlas;

  • Atlas kept the world steady on his shoulders (in a non-poleshift state). He was the father of Maia
  • Maia / Maya, was the Greek goddess of spring and rebirth. The month of May is named after her, and Maia means “the maker”
  • Zeus made Maia his wife and she settled in a cave 1700 metres up the slopes of Mount Cyllene. It was in this cave that their son Hermes was born.
  • The Ancient Greeks attribute many innovations to Hermes. He discovered the flame, constructed the first lyre and flute, and introduced words and numbers. He invented medicine, astrology, weights, measures and commerce. And he carried the Cadeuceus.

So, the protector from poleshifts, had a daughter in charge of the rebirth of Earth, who is was the mother of Hermes who carried the Cadeuceus.

Hermes appears to be the same character as Quetzalcoatl/Kulkulcan/Nahuatl of Mesoamerica. The both had serpent imagery (Quetzalcoatl was a feathered serpent, Hermes wore a winged hat and sandals and carried the Cadeuceus) and each provided similar services to their people (Quetzalcoatl cured ailments, introduced corn, science, calendars, created fire and gave instruction of music and dance). Another mythical cousin to these two is Buddha. Also a great teacher, he had a virgin mother named Maya.

Although this symbol is most famous for being carried by Hermes, we can trace it back to a much earlier civilisation.


The earliest depiction of the Cadeuceus, flanked by a pair of dragons, circa 4000BC

On exhibit in the Louvre is a green libation vase, which was excavated from the ancient Mesopotamian city of Lagash.  The inscription on it, from King Gudea of Lagash circa 2025 BC, is a dedication to Ningizzida.  Also on the vase is an image of two entwined snakes on a rod.  Some have dated the vase as far back as 4000 B.C. The rod is most likely to be Axis Mundi, the world tree, Yggdrasil, the tree of life.  Ningizzida, a fertility god, was also known as ‘Lord of the Tree of Life’.  He was often depicted as a serpent with a human head, and later became a god of healing and magic.  His companion was Tammuz/Dumuzi, who personified the creative powers of spring [19] (like the Greek Maia).

And Ningizzida was the son of Ninazu (a.k.a Anzu or Zu) – a divine storm-bird and the personification of the southern wind and the thunderclouds. [20]

In the same era the cadeuceus was being used by the people of India to represent Kundalini – but that’s another story.

Could ancient scriptures and symbols, ostensively brilliantly simple descriptions of DNA, have come from a dragon?  Or were they just credited to a dragon in a myth, because dragons represent order from chaos, and symbolise terrible all-changing catastrophes?

The fifth Aztec age was initiated by the dragon Quetzalcoatl in 3,113 B.C. and is due to complete its cycle on Dec. 21, 2012. Is it just a coincidence that this happens to be the next Chinese year of the Dragon? Is this the date of the next pole shift?

A Theory

Here is a theory that combines all myths about dragons:

Between 5,000 and 12,000 years ago, an extraterrestrial force, with accompanying cosmic radiation, caused the Earth’s poles to shift.

  • The Norse, Greek, Aztec, Chippewa & Chinese all have flood legends which have dragons in an integral role
  • The Fon and Norse legends involve the world tipping over, because of dragons
  • The Norse and Babylonian flood legends involve the shifting of the stars – something that would appear to happen in a pole shift

This in turn caused a global cataclysm of floods, earthquakes, mud and volcanoes. All living things had their numbers drastically reduced. Life arose from mud. Those that survived had mutated DNA from cosmic radiation – (even today cosmic rays are the main cause of random DNA mutations). Many new species came about.

  • The Fon, Norse, Babylonian, Aztec & Chinese all have creation legends involving dragons
  • The Norse, Babylonian, Greek, Aztec & Chinese all have mutations appearing in their legends

Some, including dragons and unicorns, had genetic Achilles heels, which prevented them from surviving through until the modern era.

Dragons were the most monstrous of all the new species, and became the symbol of the cataclysm and the resulting mutations. After a few generations, two species of humans remained, the Neanderthals (giants) and the Nephilim (angels/gods). The Nephilim were the most changed, and they became associated with dragon symbolism. They had changed for the better, and they retained information from before the cataclysm. But they were few, and they were weak. The only way to survive was to mate with the Neanderthal giants. And to teach their offspring all they knew.

  • Cecrops and Athena (Greece), Quetzalcoatl (Aztec) & Nü-Kua (China) were all dragons that introduced knowledge to their respective cultures

The ancient myths that relate to the cataclysm feature dragons and mutations, as a simplistic way of explaining what had happened. It is to their the credit of the inventors of these myths, that the underlying message has somehow managed to survive for millennia.

 

[*] The story of Aesculapius and his association with Hermes begins to make the story of the related symbols quite interesting. According to Greek myth, the god Apollo, in a fit of jealousy, killed his unfaithful mortal lover, a woman named Coronis (the Greek root of her name, korone, refers to a seabird, or a crow). When Apollo discovered that she was pregnant with his son, he had Hermes deliver the child while her body lay on the funeral pyre. The child was none other than Aesculapius. ( from “Caduecus” http://www.endicott-studio.com/forcaduc.html April 2002)

[17] Ch’u Chai and Winber Chai, eds. I Ching: Book of Changes, translated by James Legge (New York: University Books, Inc., 1964) ii

[18] See Tao of Chaos by Katya Walter or DNA and the I Ching by Johnson F. Yan, or “The I Ching & the Genetic Code: The Hidden Key to Life; Martin Schonberger, ASI Publishers Inc., New York N.Y., 1979

[19] Encyclopedia.com http://www.encyclopedia.com/html/t/tammuz.asp April 2002

 

Dragon Myths: Ancient Greece and China

Ancient Greece

In Greek myth the founder of Athens was Cecrops, who was born of the earth (without parents), as a half-man, half-serpent – he had a tail from the waist down:

As the first king of Attica, Cecrops greatly contributed to the civilising of the state.  He was the provider of laws, and encouraged  monogamy.  He invented writing, ended human sacrifices and encouraged a new practice of burying the dead.  He called his principal city Cecropia but his people wanted the city to be associated with a god, either Poseidon or Athena.  Poseidon demonstrated his power by striking his trident and cracking the rock of the Acropolis, causing a stream of water to flow out.  Athena simply created an olive tree, which the people preferred, and so they designated her the patron deity – hence the city’s modern name of Athens.  Poseidon was greatly upset by his loss and punished Cecrops and the city by sending a disastrous flood.  The people survived and built a new city of Athens.

There are further serpentine links to be found in these stories, as well as connections to floods:

Athena was the goddess of wisdom, prudent warfare, arts and crafts, and defender of the law.  She taught the science of numbers, and she invented such things as the potter’s wheel, flute, chariot, ship, and plough.  To this day she is a patroness of art, science, and learning – not unlike Quetzalcoatl across the Atlantic.

Athena could not prevent Hephaestus (the god of fire and metal-working) falling in love with her, yet she wished to remain a virgin.  Hephaestus pursued her and caught her on the Acropolis.  He brushed up against her, spilling his seed.  Athena wiped it off with a piece of cloth and threw it onto the ground, fertilising it.  This produced Erichthonius, a boy with a serpents tail like Cecrops, who Athena decided to keep as her own son.

Children of the soil, such as Cecrops and Erichthonius were known as Autochthons, literally “sprung from the earth”.  They were said to have neither father nor mother, and therefore they just arose from the ground like a plant does.  This race usually appeared during those periods in which the motion of the universe was reversed – caused by the withdrawal of divinity.  Under such conditions, lacking a divine overseer, normal birth was not possible, so the people were born from the earth instead.

 

The
two-shap’d Ericthonius had his birth
(Without a mother) from the teeming Earth;
Minerva nurs’d him, and the infant laid
Within a chest, of twining osiers made.
The daughters of king Cecrops undertook
To guard the chest, commanded not to look
On what was hid within. I stood to see
The charge obey’d, perch’d on a neighb’ring tree.
The sisters Pandrosos and Herse keep
The strict command; Aglauros needs would peep,
And saw the monstrous infant, in a fright,
And call’d her sisters to the hideous sight:
A boy’s soft shape did to the waste prevail,
But the boy ended in a dragon’s tail.

From Ovid’s Metamorphoses

Aglauros and Herse went mad at the sight of him and hurled themselves from the top of the rocks of the Acropolis.  Pandrosos, who had obeyed the rules, was made the first priestess of Athene.  Athena then secretly looked after Erichthonius in her sanctuary while he grew up, and eventually he became the next King of Athens.

After the Flood of Deukalion, Zeus commanded Prometheus and Athena to call forth a new race of men from the mire left by the waters of the deluge. [13]   Prometheus shaped men out of mud, and Athena breathed life into the clay figures.  Also born of the mud was a great snake named Python who lived at the centre of the world, and held it together.  Soon after it was killed by Apollo.

Chinese Dragons

Wherever the Chinese New Year is observed, the dragon is the most prominent symbol.  Long weaving dragons ride upon the shoulders of dozens of men, undulating through streets crowded with festive onlookers.  Apart from festivities, dragons dominate the architecture, fabric and ceramics of China.

“The Chinese, when they wish for rain, make a huge dragon out of wood and paper and carry it in procession; but if it does not rain, then they destroy the dragon.  Chuang-tzu maintains that this arises from the fact that the dragon and the serpent, invested with the most profound and all-embracing cosmic significance, are symbols for ‘rhythmic life’.” [14]

The Chinese calendar runs in cycles of twelve years, each named after a different creature:

Rat, Ox, Tiger, Hare, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Boar.

But why is the dragon included here, alongside eleven very real species that are alive
today?  It might just be a zodiacal image that snugly fits a pattern of stars, but if that were so, if the patterns were so obvious, then why doesn’t the western zodiac contain the same symbolism?

Five clawed dragons, especially yellow ones, were the most fearsome and powerful of their kind.  It was once the law in China that only the Emperor could use the symbol of a five-clawed dragon.  If someone other than the Emperor was caught wearing this symbol, he or she would be put to death.

In Chinese legends dragons are capable of many things.  They tend to appear at favourable moments to indicate periods of prosperity.  But if disturbed they might cause a drought by shifting all the water of the area into baskets, or they could choose to eclipse the sun. They were benevolent yet also moody and volatile.  Historically the worst
floods in China have been attributed to a mortal upsetting a dragon.

In the beginning, according to Chinese mythology, there was only a cosmic egg.  Within it, amongst the swirling darkness of chaos, slept a giant called P’an Ku, who had been developing for eighteen thousand years.  Upon awakening he smashed the egg and allowed the darkness to pour out, as well as light that had been trapped within the chaos.

The darkness fell and created earth, while fragments of light rose up and created heaven.  Disturbed by the idea that chaos could return if the light and dark were to mix, P’an Ku set himself the task of keeping the earth and sky apart until he could be sure all was safe.

After tens of millennia P’an Ku decided that everything was okay – so he sank into the earth and died. 
His final breath became the wind and clouds. His body and limbs formed the mountains and hills, and his blood flowed as streams and rivers.  Vegetation grew from his hair, and his teeth gave us precious jewels.  P’an Ku created order out of chaos. [15]

A beautiful creature emerged from the heavens and saw the remains of P’an Ku.  She was the dragon goddess Nü-Kua, one half woman and one half dragon.  All alone on a beautiful planet she decided to create humans by fashioning them out of clay, and animating them with her breath of pure love. [16]

 

[13] Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

[14] J.E.Cirlot, A Dictionary of Symbols

[15] Man-Ho Kwok, The Feng Shui Kit: The Chinese Way to Health, Wealth and Happiness, at Home and at Work, (Boston: Charles E.Tuttle Co. Inc., 1995) page 7

[16] Anastasia Saraonov, Anastasia’s Eclectic Alcove, “P’an Ku & Nü-Kua”, (28 May 2000)

 

Dragons: Myths from the Americas

American Dragons

Piasa Bird

It was August 1675.  A seven-member expedition paddled west through the Straits of Mackinac, searching the middle Mississippi River region for a passage to the Pacific.  The first European exploration of the area, they were led by Father Jacques Marquette, a French missionary, and Louis Jolliet, a fur-trader and cartographer.

The explorers left despite dire warnings from local Indians – there is a winged monster in the area that devours all who come near it.

Some 15 miles downstream from where the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers join, high on the rocky bluff above the Mississippi’s east bank, the adventurers saw two hideous monsters painted in yellow, green, red, and black.  Father Marquette described the pictograph:

“While skirting some rocks, which by their height and length inspired awe, we saw upon one of them two painted monsters which at first made us afraid, and upon which the boldest savages dare not long rest their eyes.  They are as large as a calf; they have horns on their heads like those of a deer, a horrible look, red eyes, a beard like a tiger’s, a face somewhat like a man’s, a body covered with scales, and so long a tail that it winds all around the body, passing above the head and going back between the legs, ending in a fish’s tail.”

He was describing the Piasa Bird, legendary amongst the Illini Indians of the area.  Piasa (pronounced pie-a-saw) means “the bird that eats men.”  The Indian myths described it as a large, winged, flesh-eating animal that lived in a cave above the river, thousands of moons before the white man came, when the magolonyn and mastodon were still living.  It was much feared and would fly down and carry off anyone who came too close to the bluff.  Its reign of terror ended when an Indian chief named Quatonga and twenty of his warriors managed to trick it out of its cave and kill it with poison arrows.

 

The commemorative paintings were lost when the bluff was quarried, however a recreation can still be seen there in the modern city of Alton, Illinois.

Professor John Russell of Bluffdale, Illinois, published an account of the Piasa in 1836. After listening to the legends, as told by the Indians, he decided to check out the cave for himself:

“Near the close of March of the present year, I was induced to visit the bluffs below the mouth of the Illinois and above that of the Piasa [Creek].  My curiosity was principally directed to the examination of a cave connected with the above traditions, as one of those to which the bird had carried its human victims   Preceded by an intelligent guide who carried a spade, I set out on my excursion.  The cave was extremely difficult of access, and at one point of our progress, I stood at an elevation of more than one hundred and fifty feet on the face of the bluff, with barely room to sustain one foot.  The unbroken mass towered above me, while below was the river.  After a long and perilous clambering, we reached the cave which was about fifty feet above the surface of the river.  By the aid of a long pole placed on a projecting rock and the upper end touching the mouth of the cave, we succeeded in entering it.

“The roof of the cavern was vaulted, the top of which was hardly less than twenty-five feet in height.  The shape of the cave was irregular, but so far as I could judge, the bottom would average twenty by thirty feet.  The floor of this cave throughout its whole extent was a mass of human bones.  Skulls and other bones were mingled together in the utmost confusion.  To what depth they extended I was unable to decide, but we dug to the depth of three or four feet in every quarter of the cavern and still found only bones.  The remains of thousands must have been deposited here: How, and by whom, and for what purpose, it is impossible to conjecture.”

The Piasa is the most dragon-like of the various Thunderbirds that exist within the legends of indigenous North Americans, although the Thunderbird of the Chippewa was equally as monstrous:

“The birds eyes were fire, his glance was lightning, and the motions of his wings filled the air with thunder.” [7]

The Quillayute described the Thunderbird as a very large bird, with feathers as long as a canoe paddle.

 He created thunder and wind with the flap of his wings.  His eyes fired lightning.  If hunters got too close to his cave in the Olympic Mountains, he made thunder and rolled ice down the mountainside.  His favourite food was the whale, which he caught in the ocean and ate in his cave.  One time, during the Great Flood, his battle with a killer whale was so tumultuous that trees were torn up by their roots, which explains the lack of trees in Beaver Prairie today. Mountains shook.  The killer whale escaped many times, each time running further away, and eventually the Thunderbird gave up.  This is why the killer whales of today live deep in the oceans. [8]

Quetzalcoatlus Northropi – a giant pterosaur – lived in this region during the Mesozoic Period (65 million – 230 million years ago).  It had a wingspan of 33 feet, and was possibly capable of catching killer whales.  Although there are many modern stories of
these creatures still existing, they are anecdotal and lacking in evidence.  But the myths of North America and other continents are strong proof that a monstrous winged lizard lived within the memories of mankind.  The only counter-evidence to pterosaurs living just 10,000 years ago is the dating techniques that are championed by orthodox scientists.

Nanabozho

Nanabozho was the main character in many of the myths told by the Chippewa Indians, who once lived on the shores of Lake Superior, the setting of this story:

One day Nanabozho came home to find that his young cousin was missing.  Searching for tracks he found the trail of the Great Serpent.  The serpent must have taken his cousin. He packed a bow and arrows and followed the serpent’s trail.  It took him over rivers, mountains and valleys to the shores of Manitou Lake.  At the bottom of the lake Nanabozho could see the house of the Great Serpent.  Living there with the serpent was an assortment of monstrous and evil spirits.  The serpent itself, a huge multi-coloured scaly beast, was wrapped around the body of Nanabozho’s cousin.

Intent on revenge, Nanabozho utilised some of the trickery he was famous for.  He ordered the clouds to disappear
and the wind to be still.  When the air above the lake became stagnant, he asked the sun to burn as hot and bright as it could.  If the water boiled, he thought, the serpent would leave the lake and seek the shade of the trees beside the lake.

Nanabozho found a spot near the trees, transformed himself into a tree stump and waited.  The sun burned fiercely.  After some time the water in the lake began to simmer.  Some small serpents came up to the surface.  They looked around for Nanabozho but couldn’t see him.

The water boiled.  The Great Serpent rose out of the water and moved toward the shore, with his evil spirits behind him.  It knew of Nanabozho’s trickery and guessed that the stump could be him in disguise.  It sent some small serpents to attack it, but Nanabozho, although he was scared, kept quiet until they gave up.

The Great Serpent slipped out of the lake and sheltered under the trees, as did all its companions.  Nanabozho waited until they were all asleep. When they were, he silently drew an arrow from his quiver, and fired it at the heart of the Great Serpent.  His aim was true.  The serpent awoke with a howl so loud that the mountains all shook.  It plunged into the water, dived to the bottom and tore the body of
Nanabozho’s cousin into hundreds of pieces.

The Great Serpent knew that it would soon die from the wound, so it planned one final act of revenge.  It caused the water of the lake to swell upward out over the land.  The flood surged across the valleys and Nanabozho fled before it.  He ran back to his village, shouting

“Run to the mountains!  The Great Serpent is flooding the earth!  Run!  Run!”

The Indians did as he said and climbed to the top of a mountain.  Nanabozho kept running until he reached a high mountain near Lake Superior, the highest mountain around.  Other people were also there, seeking safety from the flood.  As other mountaintops
disappeared below the water, Nanabozho made a raft out of timber and placed all the people and animals upon it.  Then the highest mountain was also overwhelmed by the flood, but the people on the raft survived.  After many days the floods receded and life started over again.  The Great Serpent was dead. [9]

Many other stories of Nanabozho were made famous in the poem “The Song of Hiawatha” by Longfellow – with a lot of distortion from the originals, not the least being calling the hero Hiawatha instead of Nanabozho.

Quetzalcoatl

Close to Mexico City are the pyramids of Teotihuacan.  They are carved with many things – including a dragon called Quetzalcoatl.

Quetzalcoatl was not an evil dragon.  He was the ancient cultural hero among the Aztec, the Toltec and other Meso-American peoples.  He taught them how to write and explained agriculture to them.  He introduced the calendar, monotheism, music, dance and so on – in essence he civilised them. [10]

The Maya knew him as Kulkulkan, and the Quiché called him Gucumatz.  The same god appeared in Zuni rituals as Kolowisi and a Hopi ritual named him as Palulukong.  All of these have the same meaning: “plumed serpent”.

In his dragon form he ruled the wind, the rain and the fertility of the earth, the cycles of human sustenance.  As a celestial and terrestrial being he was man’s magical connection to the mysteries of heaven and the sacred earthly realm.

Quetzalcoatl was an integral part of the creation of each of the worlds/cycles/suns of the Aztecs.  The fifth age was initiated by Quetzalcoatl in 3,113 B.C. and is due to complete its cycle on Dec. 21, 2012.  Just prior to the age of the fifth sun, Quetzalcoatl created man by going to the underworld and retrieving the bones of an earlier human incarnation.  On his return journey he stumbled and fell, breaking the bones, and therefore the resulting people came out in all different shapes and sizes.

When he was driven away by war he promised to return to his people one day.  Some accounts have him leaving in a dragon boat or on a raft of serpents.  Some believe he sacrificed his human body and flew off into the sky to become the bright planet we know as Venus. [11]

To the ancients the planet Venus was seen as highly important being second to the Sun and the Moon.  The ancient Greeks believed that a massive comet named ‘Phaeton’ (or  ‘Blazing Star’) nearly collided with earth, setting our planet on fire before it transformed into Venus.

The ancient Assyrians knew Venus as the ‘fearful dragon…who is clothed in fire’.  The Aztecs knew it as ‘The star that smoked’, and the Midrash called it the ‘brilliant light… blazing from one end of the cosmos to the other’.

Were dragons and a glowing Venus part of the same set of circumstances?

At the Mayan/Toltec ruins of Chichen Itza (Yucatan, Mexico) is “El Castle”, the pyramid of Kulkulcan / Quetzalcoatl – it is the largest and most important ceremonial structure there.

The pyramid is directionally oriented to mark the summer and winter solstices.  Hence, it has often been erroneously labelled the Pyramid of the Sun, despite obviously being dedicated to Kulkulcan, the feathered serpent.

Although the original structure dates back to about 600 AD, successions of new temples were built upon previous ones through until the thirteenth century.  Rising to a height of ninety feet the pyramid features many numbers important to the Maya.  Each of its four-faces has a stairway with ninety-one steps (91×4 = 364).  Adding the top platform gives us the number of days in the solar year.  The faces incorporate 18 terraces, one for each month in the Mayan religious year, and 52 panels – every 52 years the Maya feared that the world would end.

At sunset of the vernal and autumnal equinoxes an interesting effect can be viewed, as witnessed by Graham Hancock:

“By about 5.15 in the evening it was clear what was happening.  So skilfully was this magnificent pyramid aligned to the trajectory of the setting equinoctial sun that it had been possible for the ancient builders to contrive a pattern of light and shadow on the western side of the northern stairway.  Very gradually, as the minutes ticked by and the sun fell lower in the sky, this pattern, which was projected by the north-western corner of the pyramid, gained in shape and substance.  By around 5.30 p.m., it had manifested itself fully as a gigantic undulating serpent with seven coils of shadow defined by seven triangles of light.  The tail of the serpent reached the top platform of the pyramid, with its body extending down the balustrade all the way to the ground where a huge sculpted serpent’s head with gaping jaws completed the illusion at the base of the stairway.” [12]

Elaborate panels and stone carvings featuring images of serpents appear all over the pyramid.

The association between cosmos, snakes, catastrophes and cultural deities continues…

 

[7] Emerson, Indian Myths. Page 34

[8] Ella E. Clark, “Quillayute” in Indian Legends of the Pacific Northwest (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1953).

[10] Katherine Guardado and David Shindle, Quetzalcoatl: The Man, The Myth, The Legend, “Cultural Hero”   (27 January 2000)

[11] Joseph Campbell, The Hero With A Thousand Faces, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1949) page 358

[12] Graham Hancock & Santha Faiia, Heaven’s Mirror – Quest for the Lost Civilisation, Penguin 1998

 

Dragon Myths: Africa, Scandinavia & Babylon

African Dragons

The Fon of West Africa have a legend that says:

In the beginning, the world was created by Nana-Buluku, the one god, who was genderless.  Nana-Buluku made itself a companion named Aido-Hwedo, who was a rainbow serpent.  The dung from this serpent or dragon created the mountains, and nourished the earth so that plants could grow.  The writhings of the dragon created rivers and valleys.

When the world was complete, it was so overladen with plants, animals and mountains that they feared the world might collapse.  Aido-Hwedo offered to help by forming a great circular loop, with its tail in its mouth, and enfolding the world (see Ouroboros).

Because Aido-Hwedo could not tolerate heat, Nana-Buluku created a great cosmic ocean for him to live in, and there he has stayed.  He was fed iron bars by red monkeys that lived beneath the sea.  If and when the monkey’s iron supply runs out, Aido-Hwedo will be so hungry that he will eat his own tail.  Then,

“…his writhings will be so terrible that the whole earth will tilt, and then slip into the sea, and that will be that!” [3]

 


Scandinavian Legend

The ancient legends of the Nordic race were often practical warnings, in allegorical form, against the dangers of the world.  The destructive power of nature was typically symbolised by predatory animals.  The wolf was the more common symbol, but it was the dragon which represented peril on the grand scale.  The dragon’s favourite victim was the virgin: a fertile woman who represented the source of human life, and the continuation of our species.  Just as she indicated how precious our existence was, and how easily it can be lost due to major catastrophes, the dragon represented those terrible scenarios himself.

Originally there were two worlds, one of fire and one of ice.  When they became joined, the ice melted and from the water came Ymir, an enormous sleeping giant.  From the sweat of his armpits a race of Frost Giants were created. The goddess Audumla had also formed from the melting ice, and she gave birth to a dynasty of gods.  Three brothers – Odin, Vili, and Ve, were the first Aesir gods.  They attacked the sleeping Ymir and killed him.  His wounds let loose a torrent of blood which drowned all of the Frost Giants except for one family that managed to float to safety, thus saving their race from extinction.  Odin and his brothers proceeded to chop up Ymir’s body and from the pieces they made the levels of all the worlds. Ymir’s flesh became land, his bones formed mountains, his hair grew as trees, and so on.  Holding it all together was the Norse symbol for the universe – the giant ash (or yew) tree Yggdrasil.  Its shaft was the pivot of the revolving heavens, and its limbs and roots spread into a variety of worlds or planes of existence.  There were levels within levels, all connected and each containing beings such as gods, elves, humans, giants, dwarves and the dead.

One world was above ground, that of Midgard (Middle-Earth), the world of human beings.  Below it Yggdrasil’s immense roots descended into three levels: one into Asgard, the second into Jutanheim, and the third into Niflheim.

Asgard was the dwelling of the gods.

Jutanheim was an eternally-frozen land and abode of the Frost Giants; enemies of men and gods.

Niflheim, was a region of cold and darkness, the land of the dead. Imprisoned there was the fallen trickster-god Loki.  Mating with a giantess he produced three monstrous beings – each of which were consequently forced into binding roles by the great Odin.  Their first child was Fenrir, a huge wolf, who was imprisoned in Asgard.  Hel was a woman, half alive and half corpse, banished to the kingdom of Helheim, where she fed and housed the dead. And thirdly Jormungand was a huge serpent which Odin threw into the sea, where it grew until it encircled the Earth while biting on its tail – an Ouroboros.  His twisting and turning beneath the sea was the cause of storms and earthquakes.  Nearby lay another giant serpent-dragon Nidhoggr, who devoured the bones of the dead as well as gnawing at the root of Yggdrasil, the axis of the world. [*]

“The ash tree Yggdrasil suffers anguish
More than men can know
The stag bites above; on the side it rots;
And the dragon gnaws from below”.

Robert Graves, The White Goddess

As if the gnawing of a dragon wasn’t enough, there were four deer and a goat living on Yggdrasil’s limbs eating all the leaves and the trunk was infected with rot. All of these creatures were awaiting their release and the beginning of Ragnarok, the battle of the End of the World. The root that extended into Asgard was tended by the three Norns, Urdur, Verdandi and Skuld – goddesses representing the past, the present and the future.  Each day they applied the healing water from Urd’s Well to the trunk of Yggdrasil, chanting the Orlog – mysterious laws of the universe that the myths do not reveal to us – making sure that the great tree lived on, despite the attacks upon it. The giants were determined to eventually overthrow and destroy the gods, and Ragnarok occurred as prophesised.  Battles raged for three years, followed by three summer-less years of terrible cold.  Then a huge earthquake broke the bonds of Loki and his son Fenrir.  The huge serpent Jormungand came ashore, making the ocean surge upon the land.  The forces of good and evil met and did battle at the plain of Vigrid.  Fenrir swallowed Odin.  Thor killed the giant serpent Jormungand, but succumbed to its poison.  The world was engulfed in fire and smoke and all those who fought were killed.  The stars disappeared and the earth sank below the sea. Eventually a new, fertile world emerged, and it was populated by two humans who had hidden in the Yggdrasil tree. In another chapter we will discuss the relevance of a serpent gnawing on the axis of the world, and the disappearance of the stars.  For the time being, it is enough to absorb how often dragons and “the end of the world” combine in global mythology.

 

Babylonian Myth

She cloaked ferocious dragons with fearsome rays
And made them bear mantles of radiance, made them godlike


(Enuma Elish, – Tablet III)

The “Enuma Elish” is the Babylonian creation epic, a thousand-line poem inscribed 4000 years ago upon seven clay tablets.  It was probably a chant to help welcome in the Babylonian New Year. [4]

In this epic there is a huge dragon named Tiamat who is the personification of the ocean and chaos, who is the mother of all that exists, of even the gods.  She is an uncontrollable creature made of “formless primordial matter” [5]

Her partner was Apsu, the personification of the freshwater abyss that lay beneath the Earth.  With their union, when saltwater mixed with freshwater, the first gods were born – Lachmu and Lachamu, who begat Ansar and Kisar, parents of Anu, Bel and Ea.

These offspring irritated Tiamat and Apsu – so they decided to kill them all. Ea discovered their plans and struck first, killing Apsu in his sleep.  When Tiamat heard of this she flew into a violent rage and created a legion of eleven monstrous creatures – a viper, a shark, a scorpion man, a storm demon, a great lion, a dragon, a mad dog and four nameless ones – which she assigned to her new husband, her son Kingu.

The young gods were terrified, knowing that they were no match for the powerful Tiamat.  They persuaded Ea’s son Marduk to be the champion of the gods by promising to make him the supreme god and ruler of the universe.  Marduk fought well and was finally able to shoot an arrow into Tiamat’s mouth, cleaving her dragon body in two.  From her upper half he made the arc of the sky and from her lower limbs he created the earth.  He also slaughtered Kingu, and from his blood and bones Marduk created the first humans.  He then firmly fixed the stars, arranging the constellations of the zodiac, and created the  moon – “sets him as a creature of night, to make known the days monthly without failing”. [6]

Once again stars were integral to the story.  Across nations and cultures the dragon is an emblem of destruction and anarchy, misdirected violence and untameable animal passions.  The myth of Tiamat represented how destruction and chaos were transformed into order.

 




[*]
NB: Early Sumerian and Akkadian artifacts (circa 2500 BC) show pictures of a pole or tree which is called the “axis mundi ” – the world axis.  It is the shaft that runs through and supports the world.  Guarding this tree or pole is a snake or pair of intertwined snakes.


[3] Robert T. Mason, The Serpent As Divinity, “The Devine Serpent in Myth and Legend,” (28 May 2000)

[4] Judy Allen and Jeanne Griffiths, Book of the Dragon (London: Orbis Publishing Ltd., 1979) page 19.

[5] The Concise Oxford Dictionary, 7th ed. (1982), s.v. “Chaos”

[6] The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IV,  Copyright © 1908 by Robert Appleton Company – Online Edition Copyright © 1999 by Kevin Knight  http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04405c.htm May 23 2000 –Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor — Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York

 

2012: The Year of the Dragon

2012: The Year of the Dragon

Far off, unknown, beyond the range of thought,
scarce reached by gods, the years’ rough haggard mother,
stands a primeval Cave in whose vast breast,
is Time’s cradle and womb. A Serpent encloses,
the Cave, consuming all things with slow power,
and green scales always glinting. Its mouth devours,
the backbent tail as with mute motion it traces,
its beginning. At the entrance Nature sits,
the threshold-guardian, aged and yet lovely,
and round her gather and flit on every side Spirits.
A Venerable Man writes down immutable laws.
He fixes the number of stars in every constellation,
makes some of them move and others hang at rest.
So all things live or die by predetermined laws…

When the Sun rested on the cave’s wide threshold,
Nature ran in her might to meet him; the Old Man bent
grey hairs to the proud rays
.
[1]

Claudian (c. 370-408), Roman poet

Of all the world’s monsters, the dragon appears to be the most universal. Dragons appear in the early literature of the English, German, Irish, Danish, Norse, Romans, Greeks, Babylonians, and Egyptians – and in oral tales from every inhabited corner of the globe.

The word “dragon” is derived from the Latin dracon, which came from the Greek word for serpent, spakov. Spakov can be traced to the Greek aorist verb, spakelv meaning “sharp-sighted one” (a reference to the perceived good vision of snakes), and is related to many other ancient words to do with sight, such as darc (Sanskrit for see), derc (Old Irish for eye), torht (Old Saxon) and zoraht (Old High German) which both mean clear, or bright.

The distinctions between words that describe dragons and snakes are often blurred, and are to some degree interchangeable. The old German word for dragon, “lindwurm”, literally means “snake-worm” The ancient Anglo-Saxon word “wyrm” has been translated as meaning any of “dragon,” “serpent,” or “worm”. An English folktale which dates back to the early fifteenth century tells of Sir John Lambton battling “the Worm.” The original story makes no mention of this “worm” having legs. Early pictorial representations of dragons were almost always shown as large snakes, but from the sixteenth century onward images associated with the Lambton story are of four-legged dragons. We must consider ancient dragons to be more like giant serpents, and less like the more modern fantasy images that we know so well from role-playing games and books like The Hobbit.

The Bible interchanges the words dragon and serpent liberally.

“When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.”

“Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.”

(Revelation 12:7)

[ A good Biblical description of a dragon can be found at Job 41 ]

The themes of chaos and disaster are often linked to dragon lore, as well as the processes of fertility and re-birth, and the revolutions of the cosmos.

Ouroboros

Dragons or serpents having importance in the cosmos are
present in most ancient cultures. Also common is the image of a serpent swallowing its own tail. It is commonly known as the Ouroborus/ Uroboros.

Graeco-Byzantine

The image is from The Chrysopoeia of Cleopatra – an alchemical tome. The words in the centre mean “the all is one“. The dark and light halves represent the same opposing principles as the Chinese yin and yang.

Greek

Old Sages by the Figure of the Snake
Encircled thus did oft expression make
Of Annual-Revolutions; and of things,
Which wheele about in everlasting-rings;
There ending, where they first of all begun ..
…These Roundells, help to shew the Mystery
of that immense and blest Eternitie,
From whence the CREATURE sprung, and into whom
It shall again, with full perfection come … [2]

Aztec

( image of unknown source)

Rattlesnake Disk of Moundville AL

North American Indians

A ceremonial disk found at Moundville, Alabama, USA (diameter 12.5 inches)

[curious about the eye in the hand? Visit http://www.darkfiber.com/eyeinhand/ – a very large single page]

The Ouroborus was known as far back as the twenty-first dynasty in Egypt, on the papyrus of Dama Heroub. It shows up in alchemical texts such as Chrysopoeia and Codex Marcianus, and the Greeks used it to symbolise the universe. It represents the revolutions of the cosmos, an eternal cycle of destruction and renewal. It shows catastrophism and the re-emergence of life at its most basic.

 

[1] Claudian, full name Claudius Claudianus (c. 370-408), Roman poet. This passage ends the second book of his poem, On the Consulship of Stilicho

[2] George Wither’s A Collection of Emblemes, Ancient and Moderne (London, 1635)