Thursday, May 31, 2012

"DRAGON": A Mass of Confusion, part last.

Here we go on this last confused flight. Any attempt to learn about truly complex subjects never ends. I'm going to simply quit looking for more shards of evidence and ideas and leave the rest to you. I was in the middle of the last blog entry when a friend sent me another dragon claim --- you can never achieve "completion" so don't try. I have friends who never publish anything because they are always waiting to "wrap it all up". Not a chance.

Here are the first third cases claimed by some to be dragon encounters --- just my randomly collected files, remember. These are obviously the really old ones. To me, six of the seventeen sound like they could be dragons as defined in our series. There are seven others which are iffy. Unfortunately, none is a particularly strong case in the UFO sense of a well-documented sighting. Since they are really old, I suppose we shouldn't expect them to be. There's just barely enough here to keep our hopes up.

One of the things that I like most on that list is number 5, the dragon of Burley Beacon and Bisterne. This tale is about a very respectfully built dragon, legs and wings and reptilian and large, which has very inconvenient behaviors for the local populace. If one could take anything at all about this story at face value, the encounter took place in the 1400s, which in theory would be plenty "modern" enough for us to have good "history" and therefore credibility. In the tale, a historical character, Sir Maurice de Berkeley, confronts and slays the inconvenient monster, both he and his hunting dogs perishing due to the battle. Since that conquest, the Berkeley family became lords of that area's manor, and the dragon took its place on the family crest. The legend was consistently maintained for centuries thereafter.

If the culture of the times was like current US culture [even without our communications technology], the Berkeleys couldn't have gotten away with just making up such an "unusual" claim, and so we'd have good reason to believe that we had a good dragon story on our hands. But what if that is just what you did to create a family-establishing legend in those times and places? I don't know that culture. I cannot say. Some expert could.

Another prize of the era is of course this: the 1619 claim by Athanasius Kircher that a winged dragon AND a winged serpent flew from Mount Pilate to Lake Lucerne [Switzerland] and that's just that. Love it, but WHO said it, and why are we to believe it??

Here's the rest of these things [I told you that my files weren't too hot on this critter]. I have about five more cases which intrigue me more than most, and at least a couple of handfuls of maybes. Compared to Little People encounters, Sea Serpents, UFOs this topic is starving for evidence. Number forty is a full-fledged dragon rising from the ocean. If I had a dozen more I'd be in business.

That's the trouble with the narrowly-defined true dragon, rather than the great big reptile. There ARE a few dragons which ascend beyond being just big reptilians, but they are few.

Japan contributed a smallish Dragon recently [2003] when this Lake "lizard" crawled out of the water and flew away. Was it well-observed? Multiple-witnessed? If so, it would be a mini-dragon. And we'd all be happy.

This next business is colossally frustrating. Listen to this: 1946; 50 people out watching a meteor shower. A huge thing flies overhead. "Gigantic wingspread. Larger than any plane I've ever seen". Wings seemed luminous along front edge. Body grey color. Head like a serpent with scaly neck. Head and neck very long and held hanging downward as it flew, as though searching below. Eyes were a dull cherry red. Wings flapped and creature changed directions slightly. Then accelerated a flew rapidly out of sight.

Well... with the exception of no blast of fire-breath what else could I ask for? Nothing except a better witness report. Because..... the witness here is Mark Probert, a very famous at-the-time trance-control medium who "worked" for Meade Layne at the Borderland Sciences Research Association. Could this have actually happened? Probert claimed that Layne took greater than 50 phone calls the next day from people claiming to have seen something. Is this the case of the best case with the worst witness credibility? This sort of thing makes me cherish the fine, if rare, UFO field researchers that we've had scattered across the years. Will anyone really do good field detective work again? On ANY of these subjects?

By the way, Ulrich Magin, in his fairly recent book Investigating the Impossible has as his second chapter as pretty good candidate for an ocean-going Dragon [winged and all] from 1922 near Istanbul. I just read this so it's not in my files, but it's as good as any.

Alright. Since this subject refuses to cooperate, it's time to go Out Proctor, where you can run but you cannot hide. In the further hollows there seem to be several odd things relating to dragons.... let us cautiously see.

I've been informed that it's all down to the Djinn. Hmmmm..... Djinn are sort of the Faerie class of entities, so maybe I'm not entirely opposed to this.

Back in 1937, famous parapsychology investigator, Nandor Fodor, wrote to the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research about the experiences of Professor E.G. Browne. Browne had said that during his travels in Persia, he had attempted to learn the secrets of the esoteric rites of the practitioners of that area, particularly as regards the Djinn. He was instructed in a method of "calling" the Djinn and under conditions wherein which they would be responsive to him. Browne's description of this ritual reminds one somewhat of a Vision Quest. In that, Browne was to take himself to an isolated spot, and gradually increase his fasting over a forty day period. He was also to repeatedly chant certain arabic incantations, all while seated in a circle drawn on the ground. At certain periods into his fasting and chanting, entities would come to him.

The first entity was to be a lion, which would enter his circle. Browne was not to panic but persist in his chanting until it left. This was at the 21st day. On the 22nd day, a tiger came. And on the 23rd day, "a most hideous and frightful dragon appeared". Browne, who had held up under the pressure of the lion and tiger, now cracked, and ran in panic, giving up his attempt at mastery of the Djinn. Browne decided later that all of this must have been hallucination, as it very well could have been. Nevertheless, it is of some interest that a dragon figured in the imagery experienced.

Possibly related to that tale is the reported experience of a modern scientist, while attending a workshop in 1984. This meeting was a naval presentation [he was in at the time] and the subject matter was not very exciting. It was about 11am and well into the orientation lecture when the officer began to see the floor beneath himself and the other officers in the room becoming transparent. He was not asleep in any way, as he remembered every word of the lecture "loud and clear", but his experience of the "floor environment" was radically changing despite the above-the-floor scene remaining exactly the same.

What he was now looking at below the floor was a set of apparent "connections" between every individual in the room with the back of a great animal --- yep, a dragon. Each man was attached to that great dragon through which seemed to flow an animating energy of life. He felt powerfully alive. The dragon, which seemed to extend forever, had a tiled/fitted scaly back composed of subtle jewel-like colors. It was "impossibly beautiful". Staring at the beauty, he then saw the beast writhe a bit, lift up its head, and momentarily stare back at him. The view of the dragon lasted several minutes until the floor again began "solidifying" and the vision was gone. "Strange days indeed. Most peculiar, Momma", as John Lennon said.

F.W. Holiday in his Dragon and the Disk seems to have a totally different idea. After searching the Scottish Lochs and the Welsh countryside for years, Holiday sees that the dragons and the Balls-of-Light phenomena are somehow one. Although I like Holiday's originality of thought process as he pursued these mysteries, and have an instinctive itch telling me that somewhere in all of that mish-mash some truth lies, I still can't make any hard connection. Paul Devereux seems to be able to, as he has his Earth line energy concepts, and even called his work the Dragon Project. But I'm still not quite getting it. Strangely enough, in a recent book, Solomon Islands Mysteries, it seems that people in that part of the world have the exact same idea. And, as I have difficulty with any hypothetical cultural transferences between the Solomons and Wales or Loch Ness, that is even more intriguing.

But what does it actually mean? Are Earth energies [the physical textbook kind] generating brain-boggling electromagnetic fields [Michael Persinger and John Derr's hypothesis], and scrambling consciousness, burping up dragons? And the BOLS are just secondary physical side-effects? Or are the BOLS faerie, and the "dragons" or whatever else from "there"? Remember that Teodorani believes that the only sustainable hypothesis to cover the behavior of the BOLS he studies is that they somehow contain consciousness. Cue John Lennon again.

Let's go into a different Out Proctor Hollow. The above is a very early painted rendition of what Pierre Marquette saw of the Piasa Bird on that expeditition. Hmmmm.... just look at that thing for a moment....

" As we coasted along the rocks, frightful for their height and length, we saw two monsters painted on these rocks, which startled us at first, and on which the boldest Indian dare not gaze long. They are as large as a calf, with horns on the head like a deer, a frightful look, red eyes, bearded like a tiger, the face somewhat like a man's, the body covered with scales, and a tail so long that it twice makes a turn of the body, passing over the head and down between the legs, and ending at last in a fish's tail. Green, red, and a kind of black are the colors employed." 

Not exactly a European dragon but certainly in the ballpark. My intuition is that the things were pictorially somewhere between the two renditions above.

The Sioux have a legendary creature, sometimes painted on rockfaces, called the Unktehi. It seems properly cryptozoological if not trending towards prehistoric or dragonish.

Apparently there are more than one place where the Unktehi is drawn, indicating some significance to me. I've taken one such drawing and added wings --- an illegal move by me, but I'm meditating..... not completely far off Piasa Bird imagery.

Could the pre-European Native Americans known of a dragon-like creature? If so, what does that do to our ideas as to whether anyone ever had true "external reality" encounters? As I said, folks: I'm trying as hard as I can on this one.

And with that: what then is this alleged Native American pictoglyph from Wupaki Park all about? Is it legit? A modern fake? Half legit with modern additions? Too bad that I at least don't know, as it is a fine, albeit crude, rendition of a dragon in my eyes.

So even here Out Proctor, I'm still haunted by Beowulf's Bane. Where did it come from? It doesn't seem like a reverie of the Lifeforce of the World, but more like an awesome cousin of the equally awesome Piasa Bird.

Desperate for inspiration, I'm turning to my least favorite Catholic saint, Augustine. Despite being a theological misfire of calamitous proportions on several major topics, he was a highly curious man with many contacts. And in an unfinished treatise on the creation of the world, Augustine stated flatly that dragons existed and that the pagans have known this for a long time.

When Augustine uses the word "pagans" he is usually referring to certain Greco-Roman area cults, one of which he himself belonged to as a youth. But Augustine also knew well the "paganism" of the British, as his main theological opponent, the one who tested his thinking most severely, was a British monk named Pelagius. In fact there was a lot more "commerce" between Britain and Rome back then than one imagines [we are speaking of the c.400AD era here --- the Dark Dark Ages]. What sort of dragons was Augustine hearing about, that convinced him of their reality? By the way, he speaks of these things as natural beasts from the creation, not icons of Satan.

I'm getting an itch that he's talking about this. You're allowed to get itches Out Proctor.

Going back to the beginning: Tiamat vs. the gods of Order. The Tiamat legend gets a serious change of imagery with the Mesopotamian ascendance of the later Babylonian-Assyrian empire. By 700BC The battle isn't between goodness and a giant sea monster, but between Bel [good guy god] and a winged dragon... or maybe a Griffin.

Here's another cylinder seal of that era. The fight now takes on a decidedly dragonish flavor, as the opponent is properly winged, and yet continues the flavor of the serpent/reptilian Tiamat in the back of one's mind. And... the griffin, which seems very close to our ancient dragon at this point, is a guarder of treasures as well.

Here we have an illuminated manuscript representing the biblical story of Daniel "defeating" the dragon, which is clearly a direct Old Testament steal from the old Bel and the Dragon Mesopotamian story. Our dragon here, happily in its cavern has a more dragony than eagle-like head, and one sees many legends running together on details.

Dragons and Griffins --- not really so different in appearance. Throw a Wyvern into the middle and you have rather smoothly translating physical set. How does this play into our story, though? I can't claim to have strong opinions about that. The legends, powerful legends possibly resting upon real sea serpent and monster encounters were there. They were so ubiquitous that they were in the minds of Bible writers and people like Augustine. Right with that were the Griffins. Based on encounters? All this was a stew existing in the scandinavian and british minds. The Beowulf poet lived in that legendary environment. He plucked it out. Was it a plucking of an idea based upon encounters? Or was this only a very emotive image of awesome force?

Lots of griffin, wyvern, dragon image exists. Shreds of claims and testimonies exist. The Piasa Bird stands there mocking. Dragons.... did any entity from faerie ever decide to manifest in that form? Where are the encounter stories?

I'm out of here. Dragons DO exist Out Proctor.... but I still don't know about anywhere else.

Till next time, and next topic: may your lives be full of wonders and only beneficent dragons.

Monday, May 28, 2012

"DRAGON": A Mass of Confusion, part four.

I've been looking for Dragons and not finding many. That's at least half my own fault, of course, as this blog series has insisted on trying to limit the term "dragon" to the classic European winged fire-breather, and those critters seem rare at best.

So, here in table form is my "problem". I know that almost everyone else wants to include almost any old large reptilian as a "dragon" but to me that has just muddied all the discussion of whether certain kinds of anomalous creatures have any actual evidence going for them. This table is in its way "logical". It's trying to lay out in the abstract the possible array of creatures which contend for the dragon label. The "Water" category are things which would be seen in the water [ocean, lake, river] but not flying about in the air. When I looked into the old stories, there are large numbers of tales of great sea serpents, of lake and river monsters, but the historical/cultural base for such beasts does not put wings on them, and in only one case [Leviathan] is there a fire-breather. Even though I therefore see no dragons there [in my way of defining them], I find quite a lot of evidence supporting the idea that the water monster and sea serpent are realities, even if not textbook biologically-evolved ones.

As we've looked at the old tales, the land-based things are a little different. There are great snakes, often crouching in caves in mountains, or other such land-living dangerous reptilians, and these usually get the name dragons, but not here. If there is a fine dinosaur lumbering about the Congo, it's a dinosaur. If there's a Tatzelwurm skulking in the Alps, it's a Tatzelwurm. If there's a monstrous snake, it's a great big snake. If you add some wings to these critters, then I'll give you "dragon". If it doesn't breathe fire, well ... a "minor" form of dragon. If it does: Dragon it is. Our trouble is, then, of course, that we only found one of these: Beowulf's Bane.

In the air, we have more confusion. The elongated serpents with the wings [The Chinese-type dragons] I'd still rather call something else: and their own word "Long" or "Lung" seems fine to me. If the big reptilian has wings, then it's a dragon unless we recognize it as something else. That is to say, Pterodactyls et al are pterodactyls et al, not dragons. It is in this cluster of possibilities that the "best" dragon resides: big, reptilian, legged, winged, and fire-breathing as it flies about. Our problem then is: there might not be any.

We are constantly getting comments [above in map form] that dragon myths occur all over the world. Well, no, they don't. Myths of big anomalous reptilians occur all over the world, but things close to dragons do not. This does not mean that there are no dragons anymore than it would mean that there are no leprechauns. It just means that leprechauns and dragons have to make their case without some form of universal encounters sort of argument.

Babylonian sirrush is very interesting --- no dragon.

Gosforth Cross monster is impressive --- no dragon.

Some sea serpent tales are great --- but they aren't about dragons.

I NEED A DRAGON!! Well, if Olaus Magnus can't find me one, nobody can. His Carta Marina is full of the most wonderful things, all of which he put out there as if he believed that they were true.

I just about thought that even Olaus had failed me, when WAY to the north in Lapland, there was a fine proper dragon. Sea serpents, sea monsters, river monsters, mountain great snakes, all of these inhabit this map of wonders [and much else], but the Lapland Dragon stands alone.

And here it is, daintily goggling up a rodent of some kind. Poor fare for a dragon.

And there's more. At Maeshowe in the Orkneys the vikings carved a dragon-protector on the tomb when they invaded and broke into the ancient monument in the twelfth century. Those locals and those vikings thought that something like dragons were "around" in some way. Maybe I'm on the scent.

This Moche culture pot from Peru has a dragon on it , as far as I can see. There seems even a feathered wing sticking out. I have no idea how old this particular pottery vessel is, and it would help to know. Still, it's hopeful.

The illuminated prayer book of Charles the Bold [15th century, I think] is littered with proper dragons. Now we are in synch with that explosion of interest and iconography about such beasts. But why??

Carved into old churches --- true proper dragons. What's inspiring it??

And the dragonhunter's best friend, Beowulf's-Bane glorious in illumination of the text. Now in the late Middle Ages, Europe has gone Dragon-Bonkers. Before the high Middle Ages, shreds of hints; afterwards, an explosion of "belief"??

By the 1500s and 1600s there seems to be little doubt in the minds of wonder-seekers such as Gesner, Faber, Aldrovandi, Kircher, or Olaus Magnus that dragons or things very much like them were about. Claims were made of captured and killed dragon-like beasts, and of dragons still on the loose in certain parts of the globe. Was this "new" publicity simply because these tales [and realities?] were only now able to be gathered up and promulgated, and were in fact always abundantly there? Or did the mish-mash biology of the "proper dragon" just then coalesce from bits and pieces of other legends? Again, only Beowulf's Bane gives me any real strong hope up to now.

As a sideissue, since we're on iconography: some have used the Ica stones [the "Cabrera Rocks"] or the Acambaro figurines as evidences of dragons. The Ica stones are irrelevant regardless what they portray. I visited Dr. Cabrera and the surrounding vicinity myself and saw that they are faked [unfortunately]. I bought two examples from the guy who was making them to sell to Cabrera and they were worth the sols. The Acambaro figurines may be another matter. I have not yet read a good dismissal of the radiocarbon dates that were done/published, and so think that their genuineness stays an open question. But even then, they look to show large reptiles but not dragons.

So, although there's some smell of dragon all over these icons, like the beast itself, it's hard to tie down. The next, I think last, post in this series will look into my measly files on potential dragon encounter cases [a little over 50 of them] and try to see if any of them are any good at all. After that Fool's Errand, I'll walk Out Proctor for a while --- always something to see out there.

Here's looking at you, kid.


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