[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Dragons are Deep Magic creatures and so possess extremely powerful magic, akin to the Phoenix, Gryffin, and Unicorn. Dragons may inhabit land and water (in the form of sea serpents) and utilize the element of air if they are winged. The ancient name for dragons was “worm/wurm” in Europe and they were often seen as evil. However, in Asia, they were/are considered harbingers of Good Fortune and revered as the “base” upon which earth rests. There are even buildings which have holes built into their upper stories to allow dragons to fly through them! Dragons are also considered one of the four ancient mythical beings and have the powers of Healing (in the heartstrings), Courage, Cleverness, Wisdom, Longevity, and the ability to produce Fire. They also love bright things and have been known to hoard great wealth in their lairs, which they protect with unmatched fierceness.
The Dragon is a complex and almost universal symbol of the above-listed attributes. The Dragon or the “Winged Dragon” is a combination between a snake and a bird as flesh and spirit. In the beginnings of most lore, it is a positive symbol as manifestation of the life-giving waters (the snake) and the breath of life (the bird) and is identified with the celestial gods and their terrestrial deputies: emperors and kings. Later, however, the dragon might become associated with more negative natural phenomena such as lightning strikes and flooding waters, earthquakes and volcanoes. In the cultures of the East, the Dragon is a “good” celestial power, while in West European cultures it becomes a destructive and “evil” power. The Dragon can be a solar or lunar, a male or female, or a good or evil sign. In the Far East, it symbolizes supernatural power; wisdom, physical strength, secret knowledge, the power of life-giving water. It is the emblem of an emperor as a son of the heavens, as well as of a wise and noble man. (Still, our term “draconian” comes from a Greek tyrant who imposed severe punishments for the breaking of even minor laws, so today the meaning is not altogether positive.) Later, as monotheistic religions developed—especially in Europe, the Dragon is connected with evil. The Dragon and the snake usually have analogous symbolism, as they symbolize the undeveloped and undetermined, chaos, latency, the untamable nature, the life-giving water element, the “base” (subterranean) human survival impulses and the uncontrollable natural forces. When he throws or strikes with lightning (flame), the Dragon symbolizes the change from the still-not-created to the created, the building of form and matter, in the Eastern cultures, but in the Western cultures the Dragon‘s strike is seen as destructive of that which already exists: farms, cattle, villages, etc. The Dragon can also be dual as a god of rain or as an enemy who prevents rain and brings a fiery drought. Dragons are connected with the great sea depths and also with the mountain tops and clouds.
Dragons as “monsters” are “masters of the land” against whom heroes, conquerors, and creators have to fight to overcome in order to gain the ability to “rule” the land. They are guardians of treasures as well as the gates of esoteric knowledge. The fight with a Dragon symbolizes the hardship that has to be overcome to gain the treasures of inner knowledge. In Christian cultures, the killing of the Dragon is the conflict between the light and the darkness, the destroying of the destructive power of evil or the man who overcomes his vile passions and obtains self-control (in Western European cultures, no matter the religion). The saving of a young girl from a Dragon symbolizes the freeing of good powers after the utter defeat of the evil powers. The Dragon is often portrayed as an opponent to be like a dying god. The winged dragon symbolizes the “volatile”and creative aspects of human nature and a dragon without wings symbolizes the “mundane” and base human emotions. The Egyptians used a dragon as the emblem of Osiris as a god of the dead. The Dragon of darkness and chaos, Apop, is defeated every morning by the god of the sun, Ra. The Red Dragon is the emblem of Wales.
According to Chinese symbolism the Dragon is the most supreme spiritual power: the supernatural, the infinity, the spirit of change and transformation, nature’s rhythms, natural development, supernatural wisdom, and physical strength. The Dragon is the “celestial deer,” the Sun, Light and Life, the Sky, and the male power Yan. Dragons of the clouds are also the lightning and the nourishing rain and the seasons of spring and summer. The Light Green Dragon, Lun, which is the most supreme, lives in the sky and is a life spirit, celestial power, and supernatural power; and on the Earth, in Asian and Far Eastern cultures, it is the symbol of the emperor’s rule and the emperor. The Emperor Dragon Lun has five nails; his head points to the south and his tail to the north. He portrays the East and the life-giving rain. The Ordinary Dragon, Mann, has four nails and symbolizes terrestrial power. The Hornless Dragon, Li, lives in the sea and is master of the depths; it symbolizes the scholar. Kiyao lives in the mountains or the land and symbolizes the statesman.
In South America, there were several Mesoamerican civilizations that flourished and subsequently died out, were absorbed through conquest or marriage, or just mysteriously disappeared in South America. The Aztecs, Olmec, Toltecs, Zapotec, Mixtecs, Moches, Chimu, and Incas are the known groups. All had/have some sort of snake-god that usually represented rain/storms/fertility/wind; however, there are a few creatures that stand out from the snake-god list, and step over into the dragon list.
One of these creatures is Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent. Quetzalcoatl is arguably the most famous of all of the gods of the New World. No other figure has stirred modern imagination nearly as much, and the history of the interest in this particular figure dates to very early after the contact between native and Spaniard in Central Mexico. Quetzalcoatl is a Nahuatl word composed of two separate words joined together: “quetzal” (the quetzal bird of Guatemala is known for very long green tail feathers that were highly prized) and “coatl” (serpent). The simplest definition would therefore be “quetzal-bird serpent.” This meaning is seldom given, however, and the usual translation is “feathered serpent.” It is most likely that this “feathered serpent” label comes from the visual arts where there are representations of serpents covered in feathers, and they have been assumed to be related to Quetzalcoatl.
A different example could be Coatlique, the fearsome goddess of the duality of nature, who is sometimes shown as a human being, and sometimes represented as having two dragon heads and a skirt of snakes. It is important to mention that there are also many carvings of feathered serpents which are not Quetzalcoatl. Some of these have rattlesnake rattles on the ends of their tails, some do not. It is strange though, how many of these reptiles have feathered bodies rather than scales. Feathers represent birds, and birds fly. These beings are closely related to the Amphitere. This Mexican winged dragon has the wings of a quetzal bird and the tail of a serpent. It was associated with the wind and the rain. This was a benevolent being.
Another creature that can be related to dragons, even if it is not totally one, is the Piasa, which has its origin in North America. It was worshipped by the Algonquins and its features were such that it had the body of a dragon, the head of a person, a lion’s mane, and a tail twice as long as a person. This was a neo-dragon that lived near the Mississippi River. This dragon did not bother humans until it found dead ones and tried the meat. To its surprise, it liked the taste. It then hunted and abducted people to bring them back to its lair for dinner.
A lot of the stories take place in the past, way back when it was believed that dragons were rampant in Europe. But, these stories have put today’s views and opinions in them. The MOST basic delineation between modern/archaic dragons is the fact that ancient dragons were more commonly associated with water not fire. Even in Medieval times, they more often than not lived in a river or in the ocean. There were the precious few who were pyroprojectile, meaning they could send streams of flame from their snouts or throats, and they were described in western European lore as being the most dastardly and terrifying—these are the ones that have stayed with us in our literary heritage.
But—they are a wide variety of dragons and dragon personalities. If adopted when young, dragons bond with their human companions and protectors and as they mature, these dragons become helpers and friends to the human beings in their lives. But, a person must always remember that a dragon is “unto itself”—it needs not the friendship of human beings and it has all the ancient wisdom, cunning, and Deep Magic power to survive quite well on its own. If it chooses you as a friend, you are fortunate beyond measure.
We know that Draco has the Latin name for dragon and that Hogwarts’ motto in Latin says: “Never tickle a sleeping dragon.” Hagrid loves dragons and it’s possible that Hermione, being “of the earth,” may also possess similarities to dragons in some way. Dumbledore is also connected to dragons because he, with Nicolas Flamel, discovered the twelve uses of dragon’s blood.
JKR lists several types of Dragon in Newt Scamander’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Antipodean Opaleye, Chinese Fireball, Common Welsh Green, Hungarian Horntail, Norwegian Ridgeback, Peruvian Vipertooth, Romanian Longhorn, Swedish Short-Snout, and the Ukranian Ironbelly. In addition, we have discovered there are several types of other dragons or dragon-like creatures, and the genus of Sea Serpents.