Tuesday, May 22, 2012

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

I found lots of water monsters the other day, which many people were calling "dragons", but nothing that I would. Today, I intrepidly wander out in search of Wings, and maybe also Fire. We'll have to see how much time and energy there is. The Chinese "dragon-not" above is really quite dragonish, but I need some wings, please. Right now that sculpture is of a great big reptile of interesting appearance.

But off to China we go anyway. I like Chinese "Dragons" and am prepared to give them some special place in the Dragon area of the cryptozoological zoo. They're NOT QUITE the dragon I'm looking for however. The Chinese dragons do fly about [some of them anyway], but wings are an optional decoration. Even in the old China legends, the dragons [often weather, storm, nature energy gods] will fly through the skies wingless, and then, upon reaching the magical age of 1000, they get some honorary wings. This is a charming idea, particularly as Chinese dragons are almost universally "good" elements in the Creation, but they do not fit the dark-bordering-on-evil presence of the much less serpentine classic winged dragon of Europe. Strangely, it seems as if most of the European and Oriental dragon traditions separately evolved.

There is a Chinese creature which appears more dragonish in shape: the Bixie. This is a much smaller entity which is, to my reading so far, totally benign. In fact, it is a "good luck charm". It does have small wings with which it flits around, and is otherwise very unlike the European dragon in behavior.

I like the name "bixie" though, because I can rhyme it with "pixie", and then remember that in the related Vietnamese legends, a dragon mates with a Faerie to produce the first Vietnamese people. Whether any of that makes sense, it seems to anchor an otherwise obvious thought: dragons are like Faerie in their nature.

Well, let's go further a'wandering. Old American cultures are rife with what we all know as "The Feathered Serpent". Toltec-Aztec had Quetzacoatl; Maya had Kukulkan; even the South American cultures' Viracocha may have been their rendition of the same entity. Quetzacoatl is usually represented as a big snake with a plume on his head. Also, a possibly feathered tail, always represented as multiply split.

Quetzacoatl was a knowledge-giver and a benign fellow --- properly venerated among the peoples as a technology and civilization bringer. Also a moral counsellor. The artistic depiction above is therefore of distinctly un-Quetzacoatl behavior, as, although sacrifices seem to have been made to him, his teachings forbid such. An alternative idea for Quetzacoatl is that he represents a great moral teacher who brought some spiritual teachings, as a human being, to tribes from South America to the North American plains.

The bottom line here is, however, that due to the zeal of some over-enthusiastic moronic missionaries of my Church back in earliest Spanish Intrusion days, we've lost too much of the Latin American texts to put together any clear understanding of what Quetzacoatl et al were all about. Whereas they seem to be serpentine, as pictured in the old carving on the Xochicalco monument above, and perhaps flew [though not possessing wings], they do not seem quite to be European type dragons, and, given their general benign and helpful character, relate a lot better to their Chinese cousins.

We seem to have found a kind of dragon, but not the dragon of Western Cultural Legend. So, let's try "western culture".... hmmmm .... what a brilliant thought. There do seem to be a few things flying about. Medea apparently has some large [wingless] snakes to haul her chariot around. Plumed too, I see. But not quite dragons. But we know that the Greeks did have some winged beasts, so where are they?

These things such as this Sicilian Griffin go back a long way. And our Griffin's general body plan seems getting closer to the "land-reptile-with-wings" that we're looking for, but, of course the Griffin is made to go about griffiny business and not dragonish business, so hopefully we'll probe deeper into the Forest of Myth.

Typhon. Typhon's kind of like the later Tiamat but with wings. It's a mixed up monster concept which has some dragon pieces in there, but has none of the potentially real or coherent feeling of the dragon. Typhon is scary, but...

Typhon is a very old concept, and I'd be very surprised if there was not heavy Babylonian influence in this. The statue/carving above is an Etruscan rendition. The humanoid features take Typhon completely out of the dragon search.

So, I'm still flummoxed. Maybe if I look for Fire....

There are some fire breathing somethings-or-others which could serve as inspiration for our dragons, but not directly. At least some have the advantage of going far back in time.

One of the best early fire-blasters was the Egyptian Cat goddess, usually said to be Sekmet, but probably more of the Bast nature. Bast was a fire-breathing lioness of a very early B.C. date.

More intriguing, if we knew anything at all about it, is a creature named Den-Wen which terrorized the countryside destroying everything by fire until an early king somehow killed it. It was supposedly a fire-breather and serpentine, but almost no information about it exists. The tablet above is of an even earlier king and shows what could be a dinosaurish creature at the top.

Greece has a bunch of fire-blasters. The monster Typhon shot fire from its eyes. An offspring of Typhon, the original Chimaera, had the front end of a lion, the back end of a big snake, and a goat growing out of the middle of its back. It was apparently the goat which spit the fire. [That's Bellerophon on Pegasus killing it above]. This thing is almost identical with a more ancient Hittite monster but that has a man growing out of the back rather than a goat. Needless to say, none of these chimaeras look like dragons.

Other Greek fire-breathers were bronze bulls plaguing Jason of the Argonauts, horses pulling Ares' chariot, and giants doomed in losing combat with the gods to lie beneath volcanoes, like Enceladus under Mt. Etna. NO DRAGONS.

Something quite like what we've been seeking resides in old Russian folklore in the form of the Zmey Gorynych, a perfectly good fire-spitting winged reptile, which despite the excess of heads, fits a dragonish definition quite nicely. BUT I can't find out if this thing is a really old legend, and if so was the thing portrayed this way way back then.

It's clear that I can't help myself on this, and that I need expert advice. In part three [whenever it happens] I'm going to ask God [The Bible] and an even more dragon-fluent expert, Tolkien. All I know so far is that the Great Red Dragon of the Apocalypse "ain't no Dragon" just another big snake. [despite that modern rendition above].

Till then....


  1. china Dragon do exist:


  2. b"h

    Hi Professor, it does seem that in ancient usage the word was not used for fire-breathing, winged reptilian types, even if the name drakon-dragon was was later applied to such reports.

    δρακων (drakwn = drakon)

    NT and LXX usage


    Ancient usage


    Best regards

  3. Hello Professor,

    Thank you for posting as I am searching for dragons in Art History.

    Your "God" question about the Apocalypse and the dragon is insightful and believe you are correct.

    The Hebrew word Nachash (naw-khawsh') defined as "serpent, snake" in this context,
    "Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made."

    In the Revelation writings (Apocalypse), we see it again in this context,
    "And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world..."
    Since it was written in Greek (Patmos), the word "serpent" is Ophis (off' is) defined as the same "snake, serpent."

    great dragon (Megas Drakon) - like benkeshet said above
    serpent of old (Ophis Archaios)

    Thank you for posting the art and I hope this helps you on your journey,

    1. always delighted to read intelligent posts... none of us can comprehend the vast information which is already out there, but acting as sharing colleagues all our lives are enriched.

  4. The first picture of Typhoon perhaps gives some possible insight into at least the world wide origin of fire breathing sinuous flying monsters. The figure on the right seems to be a depiction of whatever god represented Jupiter in their culture, the Babylonian Marduk, the Greek Zeus, or in India it might have been Indra killing Vritra. In his right hand is a crude but fairly classic depiction of the Thunderbolt of the Gods, the Vajra of the Rigveda, which was the most fearsome weapon in the arsenal of the heavenly gods in their battles against the Titans of Gaia which are generally closely identified with serpent like features.

    There is quite a bit of compelling research available on the internet that this body of mythology is based upon ancient plasma events between the various planets including Earth. For instance the so called solar wind is made up of positive charged protons given off by the sun, which has all the characteristics of being a massive glow discharge; in this case an anode of over 200 billion volts positive in relation to Earth. The further away from the sun the relative electrical charge is proportionally greater: i.e. Jupiter's potential would be huge and its size would provide for a massive electrical capacity. This all gives some idea into what might happen when an object from one region of space approaches another in a different region - makes the shock you get from shuffling over a carpet in dry weather and touching the door knob rather mundane to say the least.

    In the above Zeus/Typhoon scenario, Typhoon would have been the effects caused by massive positive discharges from Earth, while the bolts from heaven would have been due to the negative discharges from Jupiter, which would have won the duel due to its much larger capacity. The dragon and other associated Titan related serpentine motifs would arise from the multi-filament nature of plasma discharges which would have filled the skies for all to see. There are lots of in-depth discussion about these possible phenomena on the internet for any who are interested, searches can be done under electric universe or plasma cosmology.

    Interestingly enough this possible phenomena would also seem to provide clues to other topics discussed on this blog such as the nature of certain UFO reports. For if the Earth is in fact a type of leaky capacitor and the huge electrical potential existing just outside our atmosphere on occasion makes it through, then one would imagine all sorts of strange phenomena could occur such as unexplained fire balls and other similar events. For a non-UFO example, it is very possible that the infamous Mrs. O'leary's Cow, which has been blamed in song and story for the great Chicago fire of 1871, was completely innocent and has been unfairly much maligned all these years as the real cause might have been the passage of a highly electrically charged meteor over the region. There were reported massive forest fires all along an arc which included Chicago, and which in fact resulted in the destruction of a town to the northeast. The physics of such phenomena is also directly related to much of the work of T.T. Brown but that should probably be posted elsewhere.

  5. Well... I don't buy the astronomical discharges concepts at all. The distances involved with astronomical objects [ex. Earth to Jupiter] make such interplanetary discharges non-credible... I used to teach a bit of astronomy in college and we would micro-map solar system separations on "Sun is a volleyball// Earth is a cake sprinkle dimensions" and it takes the whole city of Kalamazoo.

    The concept of highly electrically charged meteors has no evidence [for something carrying the necessary charge imbalance] as well. Mrs O'Leary's Cow is doubtless innocent, but my own ancestors, who owned a farm right along side hers, were hard-drinkinbg Irish immigrants and far more likely to be the guilty parties.

    But, each to his own. The science that I know does not support these ideas however.

  6. There were reports that just prior to the shuttle Columbia disaster that an apparent electrical discharge had flashed down the pathway the shuttle had punched through the atmosphere. Our atmosphere below 60 miles or so is dense enough to act as a insulator, however above that it is a pretty good conductor: i.e. plasma is simply electrified gas. If the voltage is high enough when an object creates a path through an insulator the electricity will follow. The relative charge above 60 miles varies, especially from day to night side, but, this is off the top of my head, some where around 350,000 volts or much higher. Because of the Sun's electrical nature any space object will have a voltage relative to it, the further away the more the charge will be displaced toward the negative. Any meteor will therefore have a charge, probably negative relative to the Sun, but either negative or positive relative to the planets depending on where the meteor came from. Any and all non-earth orbit meteors therefore have an electrical charge relative to Earth, that isn't fantasy or speculation that is simple scientific fact. Any meteor that punches through the atmosphere will potentially create a pathway for an electrical space/earth discharge, again this is not fantasy or speculation, it is just a statement about the nature of leaky capacitors, and indirectly about Sprites and Jets, and the connection between space charge and our own everyday electrical storms. It is certainly within the realm of scientific possibility that extraordinary plasma events can occur in conjunction with meteors entering our atmo, and the facts surrounding the Chicago fire certainly point to that as being a possibility. But if the possibility is going to be dismissed out of hand then heaven forbid I should bother with the reference material of what occurred throughout the region at that time, or trying to discuss plasma events in general, or even T.T. Brown. Especially since it might threaten to disrupt enjoyable stories of one's ethnic heritage while having a few with good comrades while earnestly discussing the confusion of the mysterious never to be elucidated worldwide origin in the human cultural psyche of fire breathing flying reptiles, UFOs, and what not.

  7. I am continually surprised by the non-collegial content and inappropriate emotionalism that the internet seems to encourage out of posters whenever any mention of an idea which does not agree with their own is broached. "Threaten to disrupt enjoyable stories of one's ethnic heritage..." is pathetic. This blog encourages folks to engage in civilized dialogue. The commenter above immediately went to personal smearing remarks. This is unwelcome here.

    As to the above content sans its unhelpful elements: the shuttle remark is rumor and not documented fact. It should be treated as no more than that. Better documented instances of low-energy "plasmas" floating down the middle of planes are rare but a few exist. No one denies the electrical properties of the atmosphere; the issue is a directed concentrated blast of this far beyond a lightning strike [so that it would be memorable enough to elicit legends. When the West Texas meteorite, I believe {perhaps the Barringer instead} entered the atmosphere on direct collision it was calculated to have to get within a couple of miles or so of contact before the compression wave would ionize atmospheric gases to cause a light column event. A prehistoric Native American at safe distances could have seen that. Such is very unlikely for non-collisional events.] No on-the-ground observer sees sprites or jets and would not put these ideas together. "Idea babies" are fun, but should be defended with intellectually honest commentary. There is nothing in the history of the Chicago Fire which points to anything but bad building practice, unfortunate wind directions, and human errors. Saying meteor plasma is a "possibility" is very little different than saying poltergeists, or Ouija boards, or Old Nick, or a sudden rupture in the universe. List could continue until the fingers got tired typing.

    As readers know, TTBrown has been discussed on the blog --- another aspect of a poor job commenting.

  8. The serpent, Dragon relate to the entropic phenomena in altered state of consciousness (my opinion). The only tradition which have remained up to now is the Dzogchen teachings of Tibetan Buddhism.




    1. With respect, I see no connection between a powerful vivid experience of something like a "Dragon" or a UFO and the phenomenon of eye floaters. There was a medical person [in the 50s, I believe] who "floated" the theory that all UFO observations were due to "muscae volante" [the flying mice nickname for eye floaters]. The preposterousness of trying to ascribe UFO cases, practically of any sort, to eye floaters makes me pretty skeptical, to say the least, about trying to ascribe other anomalous phenomena to something so simple and so well-known to the person who actually has such deformities on the eye surface.

      As to the "entropic phenomena in ASC".. that phrase needs a lot of explaining to be meaningful. If the Entropy element of that is meant to indicate that the observations are mainly products of random energy dissipation in the brain's function, then I could hardly disagree more. If the brain operated on false but vivid "entropic deceptions" [not strongly connected with objective reality], we would be in deep trouble survival-wise. Since I must assume that the concept is NOT that obviously false, I assume that the term needs much fuller clarification.

  9. You may be right, but many people who practice meditation start to see those strands and undoubtedly they relate to altered states of consciousness. Hallucinogens are very related to eye floaters. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hallucinogen_persisting_perception_disorder
    If somebody, i believe, takes ayahuasca the visual phenomena of floaters become more vivid.
    See also this book http://www.amazon.com/Luminous-Heart-Inner-Radiance-Drawings/dp/0983194505

    Moreover see the following The Lukhang's temple paintings (Tibetan Buddhism) where the strands are very present and tail of peacock


    Also from the below Lukhang's painting you can see the same humans with animal head like in ancient egypt:


    However, i agree that i may be completely wrong

    1. If what you are hypothesizing is that "Dragon Experiences" only occur to people on hallucinogens, and that those hallucinations take a real physical eye blemish like a "floater" and boost that image up until it becomes part of their hallucinogenic trip as a dragon encounter, then I at least understand your sequence of thought, though assuming that everyone who has/had such an encounter is/was on hallucinogenic drugs seems a difficult assumption to swallow.

      Hypotheses like this could be used to wave away any experience at all --- saying that every witness is on drugs and that their minds are just inventing things out of miniscule input data is an intellectual position which almost by definition dispenses with any report by just saying that it was just the product of a drugged malfunctioning mind.

  10. Firt,muscae volante are not physical particle they are the loss ability of filtering of brain, they are the first symptoms t, they can become strands with concentric circles. There are two kinds of eye floaters.

    Second the ancient spiritual practices produce a natural hallucinogen DMT in brain.
    Even sun gazing can cause it i believe.
    DMT open the mind to collective unconscious stored in quantum vaccum,

    Laszlo (1995) goes even further to suggest that much of memory may be stored in an ambient, collective holographic memory field delocalized from the individual; and that memories are only accessed by the brain from the ambient field. This ambient field may well be our collective unconscious.
    A "healthy" mind is a close door but a mind under DMT is a open door to collective unconsciousness stored in quantum vacuum (the same for all humans).

    A little conspiracy may sound but who knows..

    1. Your information and mine differs. I'll leave it there. readers can explore and decide for themselves.

  11. Hi there. My particular interest is due to my practice of the Kunlun Nei Gung system, a form of Taoist Internal Alchemy, which has as its immediate & end goal, the development of the so called "Gold Dragon Body", the basis of Taoist immortality legends.
    I have in my possession a book titled "The Return of the Serpents of Wisdom" by Mark Amaru Pinkham. It is pretty 'out there', but provides a solid review of serpent history myth. In a quick scan of the book I could not find a specific reference to "Fire breathing". However in the Introduction, the author states:
    "the Serpents of Wisdom have been recognised by their their emblems & symbols which traditionally take the forms of snakes & dragons".
    Such images are often "androgynous in nature (and) unite the the symbol of the snake, which represents the female principle as well as ego & matter, with principles with symbols and & colours associated with the male principle & Spirit, such as wings, feathers & hues of gold & blue. Their synthesized union produces such androgynous symbols as winged snakes, feathered serpents,azure dragons and golden cobras."
    The following example are identified:
    ~ Djedhi of Egypt
    ~ Lung Dragons of China
    ~ Quetzcoatals of Mesoamerica
    ~ Nagas of India

    Best wishes on your mission, Professor!

    1. Thanks for the esoterica. Wish I could get to everything which is floating around out there in the read-isphere, but life is too short.

  12. The same as rainbow body in Tibetan Buddhism. All ancient practices consist in cultivating the chi or prana or many names called which is electromagnetic energy. The scientist have a very interesting theory about how chi can be transferred through liquid crystalline matrix of body. Mae Wan Ho concludes that living organisms are liquid crystals. My opinion is the more one develops chi the more crystalline his/her body becomes. Because the electromagnetic energy has an effect on orientation of liquid crystalline material.

    read two wonderful books: The Rainbow and the Worm: The Physics of Organisms by Mae Wan Ho and The Body Electric: Electromagnetism and the Foundation of Life by Robert Becker and Gary Selden.

    I do not recommend any practice. I agree with professor that life is short and should be lived as it comes.

    1. Also thanks for the very civilized contribution to the readers' worlds of possibilities. I heard Mae Wan Ho talk about her research on light transmissions within and between biological organisms at the Society for Scientific Exploration a long time ago. Her views as expressed then were much more modest than what is noted here, but could be seen going on that trajectory. I have no right to an opinion on the scope of this, but would give one caution: the term "liquid crystal" [or liquid crystalline structure] is fraught with misinterpretation. Before jumping on any "grassroots-style" interpretation of her work regarding "crystalline" models, one should look more deeply at what the term "liquid crystal" means, and what it does not. It's not all that straightforward.

  13. Hello Professor,
    I have just stumbled onto this page and looked at the photos and scanned the text. I have been interested in dragon in a very loose way for a long time now and once even took a class of children to the national Gallery in London to look at them. Over time, I've come to accept, rightly or wrongly (-though I still believe,) That snakes and dragons, wiverns and worms are all part of the same thing. (concept-idea-imagary etc) i look at old anglo-saxon, viking stones etc, and have over time felt I have to dip into Chritianity or at least the christian heritage of my country GB. Again, I cant help wondering -as time goes by and I see and learn more whether as Chritianity took hold, other ideas were lost... nothing new there.. but then as christianity progressed parts of itself were also lost. It's very hard to explain ideas which one kind of knows but not fully (knows) oneself. But I am beginnig to thinks a few things around the subject of Dragons (incl worms wiverns and snakes in the GB context) 1) that they were somehow a metaphore or a symbol of something alchemical almost... and in this way, something unique to the individual. There are many 'worm myths linked to place in GB' eg. The Sockburn Worm.. Where an individual is said to have slain a worm. At Sockburn, it was a man named Conyers and on his effigy in the chapel there, one can see the dog at the foot has a presumably 'dead' wivern or worm in its mouth. Perhaps Conyers, the man, put and end to an argument or something in the district and this earned him respect? All we know now, is a puzzling story of a worm and a man that doesn't quite make sense in our day and age but is still interesting and engaging as a story. Another idea I have, gained over time from interacting with animals, watching nature and thinking and learning about history through quiet investigation is that I think people in Great britain, long ago, lived so close to nature and were so involved in it for their survival and so tied to it for their survival, that they knew the elements of nature so well... and the characteristics and properties of plants and animals. I am beginging to be of the opinion that this bond was sooooooo close between man and the species that man could at times -in terms of art and story and myth at very least, take on the qualities of animals or call upon those qualities in times when he or she felt they would be of benefit to him or herself. One image I am particularly thinking of here, (though Ive seen many...to make me believe this)Is on the carved wooden panelling of the hall at sockburn. It was originally ecclesiastical document chests from spain 1600s bought by the owner in the 1800s and dismantled to use as panelling in his Hall. One tiny section of this has an image of a mans face, from each side of which is a curled wing (imagine a face with an 0 each side.) The tips of th wings do not quite complete the o though, ending instead, in a small beast-like head.(two one on each wing.) What is this? if not some graphic idea that man considered himself not so much 'above beasts' at that time, as 'one of the family of beasts' - Not living 'apart from' and 'above' nature as we so often do now.. but 'in nature' 'in tune' and so much so that animals an birds where his/her friends and could therefore borrow wings and other attributes and call upon them as he or she felt the need. I don't know if there is any truth in what I say for anyone other than me. But I am happy with the idea that The history of the British Isles as recorded through the dominant faith of Christianity is only part of a much bigger picture, some of which even the Christian Church ommitted, forgot or neglected. Getting out an into nature, is I think, so important and also 'grounding' and 'healthy'. I dont believe in dragons.... But I do! (and love them too.)

    1. hmmmm.... hard to respond to this since you have not yet gotten your ideas clarified in your own mind... but, GOOD that you are opening and exploring.

      My view is that "dragon" and much else is faerie. Since then, persons like the alchemists would use the imagery to use in their work.



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