If I could have any pet in the entire Universe, it would be a…DRAGON! As a teen and young adult, I read all of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books and spent many hours sketching dragons during “boring” lectures. I imagined riding at great speed on dragon backs and wrote poems and stories about my own dragon friends. As I became older, my focus turned to business and the outside world and my dragons “disappeared” into the background.
I discovered that dragons have played an important part in history all over the world. In the east, the dragon is a symbol of strength and good fortune. Children born in the year of the Dragon are considered to be specially blessed and destined to do special things.
The Ming Emperors built the Great Wall of China along a line where a great dragon is supposed to be sleeping. It apparently worked, because China remained unconquered for hundreds of years after the wall was completed. Even today, when building a house in China you might have the chi master come and determine where on your property the dragon sleeps. That’s where you want to build your house.
In Japan, the enchanted sword, Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (The Grasscutter Blade) sprang from the tail of Yamata-no-Orochi, the eight headed dragon, when the god Susa-no-o killed the dragon to save Kushinada-hime, the princess with whom the god had fallen in love. According to legend, the sword from the dragon’s tail has been passed from Emperor to Emperor to this very day.
In the western world, the dragon has represented both evil and good. To the English, St George is a national hero. Every school child knows how George slew the dragon. And St George’s day is a holiday where children go to school in fancy dress (that’s costumes for us Americans) and hold a medieval style pageant.
Fairy tales told of evil dragon’s who ate children for breakfast and guarded vast treasures. Heroic Knights were able to kill them or trick them into giving away their treasures. But some dragons were wise and helpful if a knight could get up enough courage to ask a question or was smart enough to listen to what the great beast said.
Many countries have chosen to be represented by the Dragon. Henry Tudor (VII) brought the red Welsh dragon to prominence when he took the crown of England
and the flag of Richard III was blazoned with three golden dragons. In modern day, the flags of Bhutan and Wales carry dragons, as well as the flags of many of the world’s rulers. Emperors, Monarchs, Barons and Earls all want the strength of the dragon to represent them.
My love of dragons waned over the years, but never really went away. In the eighties and nineties, any movie with a dragon in it got me into the theater. Some were great, others were barely worth the time and money. But in the last ten years, my dragon friends have reasserted themselves.
Christopher Paolini wrote Eragon and I was totally hooked again. (As a writer, I decided not to go see the movie because it would ruin the image of that world I had held in my head for so many years.) Shows from companies as wide ranging as animation studios to the History Channel have focused on dragons.
At a local swap meet, I “accidentally” found four dragon friends who just had to come home with me.
. And when I got mauled by my insane Bengal Cat, who turned out to be the perfect tattoo to cover the scar that went all the way around my leg? A dragon of course.
Every so often they appear in my dreams. Hmmm. Maybe it’s time for me to pull out that tale about a dragon shape shifter I started a few years ago.
Tell me about your experiences with dragons (real or fictional) and I’ll enter you in this week’s contest to win this Medieval style Dragon Pendant and Celtic Dragon Bookmark.