Friday, 1 November 2013


Hmmm Dragons have been raising their heads quite a lot recently. What I know from Welsh and Germanic lore - within the Welsh the red and white dragons represent the energies of the peoples of Britain; Red for the Welsh and White for the English. The energies are intertwined and in conflict. This shows in many ways but none more so than in rugby when the English (wearing white) clash with the Welsh (wearing red) annually at the 6 Nations. This wikipedia entry sums up the history and myths: Welsh Dragon. However, this conflict is also very creative. The English have a stereotype of reserved, steady determination whilst the Welsh have a stereotype of creative, artistic brilliance that can be erratic. This seems to be a primal tension and the red, white and black colours have been traced back to the Neolithic of having spiritual and cthonic importance. Red Ochre having been used to colour the bones during burial . Archaeology About says this The site of Paviland Cave in the UK, dated to about 23,500 years ago, had a burial so soaked in red ochre he was called the "Red Lady". White can be seen as having symbolic importance in the various white carvings into the hillsides of Southern England and black was one of the first colours used in cave paintings. In later times a White Dragon has become associated with Wessex and the modern flag has a White Wyvern on it. Thus the red and white Dragons are for creative inspiration and the discipline of work that underpins it; 'Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration' as Thomas Edison said.

The Germanic Dragon, Draka or Drake is a chthonic (under world) energy usually invoked to protect buried kings and their treasure. In this respect it represents a very negative energy usually related to greed and taking from the earth what is not yours. I tend to think of this as a Black Dragon. Fafnir from the Volsungasaga / Niebelungleid is the most well known I suspect that my local Dragon legend in St Leonards Forest is this type. This would be the dragon that appears in Tolkien references for Middle Earth, it is often in depicted as a Gold coloured dragon. In many tales the gold colour comes from it's having absorbed the golden hoard that it protects into it's skin.
The chthonic black mud that lay at the bottom of the hammerponds inside the forest reminds me of this dragon. The land round here used to be very boggy and marshy - it was reputedly deep enough to swallow a horse and cart without trace. The forest itself is home to many Adders, the only British venomous snake, which is a grey-green with a black zig-zag marking downs it's spine. It is the only place in Sussex that I've seen one and maybe the root of the Dragon legend for that part of the ancient Anderida forest.

The Green Dragon only appears in one myth for Mordiford. But in Britain the symbolism is very prevalent so this is my personal opinion based upon my knowledge of folklore and customs. It appears in many pub signs and within Morris men folk dances. It represents the energy of the land. It is represented on the pub sign because of the association with hops used to make British beer aka Real Ale. The hop plant grows very energetically and fast, the hop self seeds energetically but is a perennial and so dies down every autumn. This represents the natural life force or Nwyvre that rises in the spring and declines in Autumn. It is interesting that the one myth has a version where an outlaw slays it by hiding in a barrel of cider (in that part of the world cider is as important as ale). This would suggest it is related to controlling the forces of nature and harvesting them.
The final dragon energy to consider is that which the Yogics call Kundalini energy. This is your internal Nwyvre that typically travels up your spine. With my OBOD Ovate work this energy is a green energy, appropriate for Druidry, and is the energy that Christian mythology controls with St. George who is usually depicted as slaying a Green Dragon. So the Black and Green dragons represent the static underworld and the vibrant ever changing power of life.

I also find the history of the Dragon (in Western culture) interesting - it appears to have entered the North Western European tradition via the Sarmatian cavalry conscripted into Marcus Aurelius' Roman Army in the 2nd Century A.D. They had a whistling serpent standard that was eventually adopted by the Roman cavalry. These Sarmatian's may have heavily influenced the Arthurian legends when they were stationed in Britain. These articles may be of interest :
Hungarian Quarterly
King_Arthur Sarmatian hypothesis
The Dragon has a strong hold on the human psyche, it's prevalent within our culture. The meme of Dragon energy seems to be a way of articulating a transrational relationship between humans and the world. So when it is said "Dragon's don't exist" I guess it means a physical creature, however, as a Meme or collective unconscious energy they certainly do exist. Physically in the past, as a cavalry standard, they would have existed - the screaming sound of the Draco standard as several thousand heavily armoured cavalrymen charged would have been a frightful thing and would have long stayed in the memory of those who experienced it.
To sum up the four dragons in the Gewessi worldview would be red in the West, White in the East, Black up North and Green down South. Finally perhaps we should consider the risks associated with chasing the dragon....

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