Dragons and Serpents
The Celtic peoples often showed great reverence for dragons and serpents, depicting them by
the side of their gods. They came to represent wisdom and nobility. King Arthur even used the dragon as
part of the medallion he and all the "Knights" wore.
Even today, the welsh national flag has one similar to that of the picture , one
claw raised as a warning of its power and its neck arched in readiness. This respect clashed with the beliefs of
the Celtic new religion, Christianity.
According to both Christian and Jewish texts, they were incarnations of evil and
were said to bring destruction during the end of the world, as read in the Revelations. While the serpent was
blamed for bringing sin to man kind by tempting Eve into eating the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden
(Christian Bible - Genesis).
The legend of St. George, in which he defeats a dragon, perhaps represents Christianity
overpowering the Celtic religion. The image St. George crushing a struggling serpent or dragon under his feet was
widely used in Christian art, and again may symbolise Christianity's dominance over paganism.
Are these creatures merely fabrications of the boundless human imagination, or do they represent
something of great spiritual significance for all cultures? Many are the fabulous beasts created in the stories by
For thousands of years, we have told of fantastic creatures of supernatural powers,
some of the forces of good and others of the forces of evil. But of all these sensational monsters, none has
slithered into as many of man's legends than dragons and serpents.
These wonderful creatures vary in description according to culture, although many
striking features are retained throughout the written, oral and artistic traditions of the world. They are usually
depicted as gigantic snake-like reptiles, with a long, sinuous body armoured in green, blue or red
The head is typically massive, with a broad mouth full of enormous, sharp teeth and
a long, forked tongue. The snout is long and sometimes horned; the eyes are usually very large and cold. Often,
these creatures possess long ears and a frilled neck, resembling either a crest of feathers or webbed skin. The
body itself is usually decorated with an array of small, triangular spines extending from the head down the back to
the long, barbed tail.
They normally posses four, short limbs with long claws, although some serpents have
no legs at all. In some cultures, they are also equipped with enormous, bat-like wings; in others, they have the
ability to breathe fire. They can live in mountains, caves, seas, lakes and even the heavens.
The Chinese Dragons
Just as their appearances differ from culture to culture, these creatures represent many
contrasting ideas for different groups of people. Dragons are perhaps most well recognized in Chinese tradition.
The Chinese recognized them as one of the four sacred creatures to contain all elements of yin and yang - dark and
light - in addition to the Phoenix, the Unicorn and the Turtle.
The Japanese Dragons
are diverse legendary creatures in Japanese mythology and folklore. Japanese dragon myths blend native legends with
imported stories about dragons from China, Korea and India.
The Kojiki (dating back to about 620 AD) and the Nihongi (dating back to about 720
AD) mytho-histories have the first Japanese textual references to dragons. "In the oldest annals the dragons
The European Dragons
Dragons and serpents are often viewed as guardians of sacred places and objects. The ancient
Greeks and Romans, who revered them for their wisdom but feared them for their tremendous powers, both shared this
belief. One of the twelve tasks of the legendary hero Hercules (or Heracles) had to perform was to pick three
golden apples from a sacred tree, protected by a fearsome dragon or Serpent.
Stories are told of serpents so unimaginably vast that they encircled the world itself!
Jormungand the Midgard Serpent was one such monster, said by the Norse cultures such as the Vikings to live deep
under the sea.
So why have so many different cultures on Earth told stories of these giant, wonderful
A common explanation is that the ancient peoples were so inspired by the deadliness and beauty of
reptiles such as snakes, lizards and crocodiles; they began to imagine them as giant, magical beings with
supernatural powers. Indeed, we have named several species of reptile with their mythological persona in mind: the
Komodo Dragon, the Bearded Dragon, the Water Dragon and the Flying Dragon are all living lizards who bare
But all of these creatures are much smaller than the dragons of legend - even the largest lizard,
the Komodo Dragon, only measures a few metres in length. Additionally, these "dragons" have a very restricted
habitat, many only inhabiting remote islands or forests. They cannot be fully responsible for spawning the vast
widespread beliefs in dragons and serpents.
It is widely suggested that Sea Serpents and Lake Serpents are just ordinary aquatic
animals, such as eels, whales, seals or sharks. However, this theory also has a severe shortcoming, in that a large
majority of precise descriptions of aquatic serpents do not resemble any of these creatures in shape, behaviour or
movement. It must also be noted that there are far more reported observations of sea serpents than there are of
known existing sea animals, like beaked whales and giant squid.
Dragons and serpents have come to represent a huge variety of different ideas, but
perhaps the one prevailing symbolism that unites them all is man's fascination and fear of the unknown. As long as
mankind is plagued by mystery, our lakes, skies, seas and even our souls will never be freed from the clutches of
dragons and serpents.
Information kindly provided by - Megan Balanck
- Chinese Dragon
The Chinese Dragon is predominant through out Chinese cultures. Mainly associated with controllong water the dragon plays a large part of the ancient Chinese culture..
- Japanese Dragon
Japanese dragons are diverse legendary creatures in Japanese mythology and folklore.
- European Draqon
European dragons are legendary creatures in folklore and mythology among the overlapping cultures of Europe.
- Sacred Serpents
Throughout the world's history we find numerous references to "dragons and serpents". It is said that myths come from fact. Were there ever "dragons and large serpents" that wondered our world since man has been here?
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