Samhain – When Dragons Fly….

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It’s Samhain – Halloween – and Month of the Dragon 2014 is at an end. I want to thank everyone who has joined in with words and pictures and an abundance of draconic energy.dragon-chinafantasy-Milky-Way-night-moon-stars-flight-smoke-wallpaper MotD gets better – spreads the appreciation of Dragons further – every year, which warms the cockles of all of us here at WAFDE. And I hope between now and midnight you’ll drop by, leave a comment, and insure that your name is in the hat for signed copies of Dragons for Beginners and The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook.  9780738730455DKH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Dragons, sidhe, and all other creatures who cavort with the strange or go bump in the night, Samhain is as close to a holy day as it gets.

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Of course, at WAFDE, October 31 is a time for tricks and treats and baelfires blazing against the coming winter darkness.__halloween_dragon___by_dinopharaoh-d31lqz1

But it is also a day for looking fore and back, for embracing both the future and the past. With the barrier between this life and the next paper-thin, on this one night even those disposed to disbelief find themselves surprised by Dragons at every turn. Thus another generation of dracophiles is born.nature-dragon-3

While welcoming new-opened eyes, we also look into the darkness and celebrate the lives of Dragons past, of those who have gone before.the_wise_green_dragon_o_ka_fee_by_rubisfirenos-d4xrdp5

In the spirit of these great creatures – and as a final story from the weyrs, I offer a tale of Dragon’s End from The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook.

There is an island in the middle of the Sacred Sea. On this island grows a Great Rowan Tree, its branches aching upwards, lost in the clouds. Round the tree, tails entwined, sleep six Dragon Guardians, one from each corner of the Dragon World. When a Dragon has reached her end of days, she makes her way to the Island of the Great Tree. With fire and fang and the roar of a thousand-thousand wings, the Guardians honor her centuries of passions lived and send her on her way, up through silvered boughs to the Kingdom of the Eternal Dragon.

Non-Dragon types insist this is just a pretty fiction, of course. And yet…

zz-h…Set in the crystal waters of Lake Baikal is the island of Olkhon. On the island grows an ancient rowan tree. ‘Round the tree dwell the six Enchantments of the Weyr of the Eternal Dragon.

There is always truth in Dragon lore.

When the day comes – as it will – that the well-worn nest long filled with a Mountain of Wonder lies empty, you will feel the earth sigh and know it is the poorer for her passing. Hold tight to the memories of shared years and blazing passions, to her spirit filled with the thunder of a million stars.

Imagine her soaring strong across the Sacred Sea.

Hear in your heart the roar of the thousand-thousand.

Then… let her go.

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And come next Samhain, open your heart, welcome her spirit home.abstracts_dragons_1200x800i

 

A Dragon-Blessed Samhain to you all!

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AAD-Week: Dragons, Habitat Loss, and Mischief in the Night…

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Rocky Dragon - Dawn Delver

Rocky Dragon – Dawn Delver

Month of the Dragon is almost over and with it Adopt-A-Dragon Week. (Not that you can’t adopt a Dragon at any time; and we hope you will.)

While the more fortunate Dragons round the world are getting ready to raise a little hell tonight, there are others who are just hanging on by their talon tips. They are confronted by habitat loss and urban sprawl, by industry polluting the fishing waters and smogging up the skies. Dragons may live in balance with the world, but they are also great big fiery creatures who can’t help but need a lot of room over which to roam. Back a Dragon into a corner and you get a stressed out, unhappy Dragon.

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With that in mind, today we’re highlighting some of the weyrs most affected by recent human encroachment.


 MAHATAHOTRA ANJELYu

In the remnants of the once-vast rain forests of Madagascar, between the Mania River and the Parc National de Isalo, lies Mahatahotra Anjely: the weyr of the Terrible Angels. Until recently little was known about the Malagasy Dragons. They were only occasionally glimpsed above the canopy, or playing with lemurs at dusk, and otherwise kept to themselves. When deforestation threatened the indigenous fauna of the island, the Dragons rose to the occasion and started buzzing the lumbermen and generally throwing draconic spanners into the works. It has helped some, though not enough.

The green on the weyr’s banner is in remembrance of forests lost, and in hopes of forests yet to be restored. The orange and red are shades of the evening sky when the sun sets over the Mozambique Channel. The Dragon biting his tail is a symbol of the eternity of Dragon and Earth, no matter what.

DEPSANG WEYRz-j

Dragons are frequently driven to distraction by the foolish ways of humans, and none more so than the Enchantments of Depsang Weyr. Situated high in India’s Depsang Plains, the weyr overlooks the oft-bloodied mountains of Kashmir. From the days of bandits assaulting caravans on the Saser-La road to the sanguinary exchanges of more recent years, they have watched and waited for the indigenous peoples to come to their senses. Unfortunately, things have only gotten worse over time. Still they wait. It is an advantage of draconic longevity, being able to outlast much of our human stupidity.

This patience is evident in the Depsang Weyr standard. A centred Dragon sits, waiting, beneath a mountain sun blazing across a tri-color field. It is of note that the Karakalpak people of Uzbekistan use the same tri-color field on their flag – a link to a shared history, perhaps, along the trade routes of yore.

SAN LONG WEYRz-b

The Dragons of San Long – or Three Dragon – Weyr in central China are as close to urbanites as any in the modern world. Given the population of China, this is not exactly a surprise. Located on the outskirts of the historic city of Shashi in Hubei Province, the weyr dates back to the splendor of the Tang Dynasty. The Dragons are very conscious of their heritage; they’ve been known to lord it over younger weyrs to great effect. No one knows yet how construction of the Three Gorges Dam will impact the Dragons, but speculation is it won’t be good.

Red, white, and black, the flag displays the three Dragons in the weyr’s name, two curvaceous creatures on the red side panels, and, in the centre pale on a sable roundel, the pictograph for Dragon.

MOUNTAINS OF THE MOONz-f

Within sight of the fading snows on Mount Kilimanjaro one finds the weyr known as the Mountains of the Moon. Somewhat isolated by virtue of their location, the Dragons are, none the less, quite a gregarious bunch. Though staying away from the human problems in the region, they have been known to assist in anti-poaching efforts. It has been suggested that, if Dian Fossey had asked for their help with the gorillas, things might not have turned out as badly as they did.

The Mountains of the Moon Weyr celebrates one of the much-maligned pseudo-Dragons, the morose Bi-Polar Equator Jumper, who would certainly have gone extinct were it not for the weyr’s efforts. A B-PEJ is on the pale of jungle green and a compass to help him on his travels is placed front and centre on the tri-color fesses beside him.

CUESTA DE LOS TÍMIDO DRAGÓNESz-n

Of the known South American weyrs, the northernmost is found in the western foothills of the Columbian Andes, Cuesta de los Tímido Dragónes – Hill of the Shy Dragons. With soil enriched by the activities of the Ring of Fire, the weyr’s environs are rain-forest lush and home to a wide variety of cohabitants, everyone from humans, bears, and monkeys, to serpents, hummingbirds, and colorful little frogs. The Dragons feel quite at home. Why then “Shy Dragons?” This epithet comes from the habit the weyr Dragons have of flocking together – a most impressive sight. Safety in numbers, taunt those who know no better. “As you wish,” the Dragons reply unoffended. The truth is, they are just a very social lot, and find that flocking like the other winged creatures is the best way not to spook the whole neighborhood.

The weyr’s bandera shows a gaggle of seven small Dragons crossing a white field. A blue sky Dragon dancing on purple-on-blue stars urges them into the sky.

IYOYPE USORz-q

Long before the Japanese moved north from Honshu, long even before the Ainu moved south from Sakhalin, the snow macaques and cranes and foxes of Hokkaido shared their home with the Dragons of Iyoype Usor – Treasure Lagoon. The weyr is not on a true lagoon, more of a great geothermal pool in the mountains north of Sapporo, and the only treasure about are the Dragons themselves. Still, a name is what it is.

Though associating freely with the island’s indigenous creatures, the Dragons are cool, some might even say aloof, when it comes to interacting with people. The Olympics encroaching on their space in 1972 didn’t help matters: too much modern brouhaha disturbing their hot-spring mediations.

The Usor banner begins with a field of warm, earthen brown. A blue and white Dragon, all coolness and long-life, prances between two blue stars, reminders that, as the Weyr inhabitants say, “We are all star stuff, even Dragons.”

CONSOLE DOS DRAGONES REALzz-c

Deep in the rain forest of Brazil, where Boto dolphins swim with river otters and macaws light up the skies by the hundreds, the Japura flows into the Amazon. It branches through the underbrush forming what amounts to an inland island weyr: Consoles dos Dragones Real – the Island of the Royal Dragons. Descendents of members of the Second Migration, the Royal Dragons adapted quickly to their dense forest environment. They became smaller, leaner, more agile. They shed their heavy scales in favor of lighter, more leathern integuments. Even their diet changed to include more vegetation and nuts. In short, they turned into perfect rainforest denizens, able to move about through underbrush or canopy, not bothered by the steamy climate of their new home. Now they are busy making sure humans do not destroy that home. At the current rate of Amazon deforestation, this is not an easy task.

The standard of Consoles dos Dragones Real is deep forest green with diagonals of river blue. At its centre, a crown tops a Dragon head erased on an ebon roundel.


As you head out tonight with your Dragons for a little pre-Halloween mischief, Keep a good thought for all the pinched and harassed Dragons of the world. Surely there can be room enough for us all.

I end with a cautionary plea: make sure your Dragons only get up to a little mischief this October 30th. No wholesale destruction or mayhem. We don’t want all the positive PR we’ve been doing all year negated in a puff of ill-placed Dragonfire.

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AAD Week: Planet Out of Whack, Dragons in Need….

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Not every threat to Dragons comes at the tip of a sword or in the belly of a bomb. In fact, today, one of the greatest risks to their survival is one they share with the rest of us: climate change.

Unlike certain politicians who shall remain nameless, Dragons don’t need doctorates in climatology to know that we are in real trouble. Dragons have been around for a very long time. They have survived natural extinction level events, big freezes and global thaws, floods, droughts, and years without summers.5

They have watched and listened to the world around them, and their extensive knowledge puts them in a unique position vis-à-vis what has been happening over the past century. They know, for example, that what the planet is currently experiencing is not part of a natural cycle. They know that melting icecaps, rising sea levels, acid rain, holes in the ozone, and the accompanying loss of species, great and small, is a result of industrialization, over population, and the arrogance of one species (Homo sapiens) who believe they can use the world as they wish without negative consequences.climate_change_0

In time, Dragons on every continent will hurt from what we have been doing to our shared home. Right now, the weyrs most impacted are in the polar and boreal regions where glaciers are melting at an alarming rate and the wildlife who rely on them – and the Dragons who rely on the wildlife – are threatened. climateChange



For your Adopt-A-Dragon Week consideration:

LOHIKÄÄRME WEYRp

On the shores of the Greater Saimaa Lake in eastern Finland is one of the world’s most northern Dragon habitats, Lohikäärme Weyr. Here the Dragons nest in the sheer cliffs rising above the water – reminders of the last Ice Age when they shared the land with great mammoths and woolly rhinos. Now they cavort with the inland seals during long summer days and spin wild tales during the deep winter nights.

The Weyr’s banner is a study in blue and black with a frosty Finnish Dragon at the centre of a radiant sable sun.

 


TUNIIT WEYR r

The virtually unpopulated expanse of Canada’s Southampton Island is the perfect home to nesting Lesser Snow Geese and Canadian Frost Dragons. Frost Dragons are New World relatives of the Nordic Snow Dragons who came to the Americas following the Second Migration. A little smaller than their European kin, they are ideally suited to the environment of Southampton Island and Hudson Bay. They are also very protective of the many birds who use the isle as refuge and breeding grounds. The Weyr is named for the indigenous people of the area who, though now extinct, welcomed the Dragons in centuries past.

The Weyr’s flag shows an argent Dragon on a sable harpoon with six falling ermine/snowflakes, all set on a field of evening purple.


PENZHINA WEYRz-m

In the northern latitudes of Eastern Russia, not more than an afternoon’s Dragon flight from the Arctic Circle, the Penzhina River flows through Siberia into the Sea of Okhotsk. There, at the river’s mouth on the mainland side of the Kamchatka Peninsula, is Penzhina Weyr.

The Dragons of Penzhina like to think of themselves as hybrid beings: a lot of European Ice Dragon mingled with a little Oriental Sky Dragon. Though there is a lack of empirical evidence for their claim, the Dragons do display rather whimsical inter-species temperaments. They guard their neighbour bears and Unicorns and make snow Dragons well into May.

These capricious Dragons are represented by a black standard burning with two suns – one large and bright with Dragon fire, and one smaller, balanced by the yin/yang of the World Tree.


TONRAR PASSz-t

The glaciers and mountains of Alaska are a northern Dragon’s delight. Tonrar Pass Weyr is situated in the mountains southwest of Denali National Park. Like the land around it, it is one of the most expansive Weyrs in the world, embracing mountains, lakes, acres and acres of sub-arctic scrub, and woodlands. Sheltered from the bitterest of Alaska’s weather, it is home not only to Dragons, but also bears, caribou, marmots, wolves, and a variety of birds, nesting or simply passing through.

Until the advent of WAFDE and UNECESCO, the Dragons of Tonrar Pass spent much of their time keeping mineral hounds and oilmen at bay. Now they are protected, as is the wilderness around them, and they can devote their time to other pursuits – like stargazing.

Their flag is purple and white charged with a nonet of stars and a fiery sable Dragon.


If there is one beam of light in this dreary scenario, it is that Dragons have survived worse. Solace for them. If we don’t wake up soon, we may not be so fortunate.

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**In the tradition of Month of the Dragon, everyone who leaves a comment here at Dragon’s Nest has their name go into a hat. At the end of the month, a name will be drawn and the winner will receive signed copies of my books, The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook and Dragons for Beginners (both from Llewellyn Worldwide). Hope everyone is feeling lucky!

 

AAD Week: Near Eastern Dragons – The Hatchlings of War…

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It goes without saying that where the world is troubled, Dragons are troubled, and few regions have been as beset as besieged through the centuries as the Near East.

Long ago, when human beings still struggled with flint blades and bone needles, the Persian Gulf was a lush tract of land as large as Great Britain. There the One River branched into the Four – Pishon, Gihon, and the ever-popular Tigris and Euphrates – and beasts of every kind were plentiful. Even Dragons. The place was thick with Dragons. The descendants of Tiamat swam off the coast of Qeshm and basked in the golden sands where the day begins. They guarded the sweet waters and fruitful trees and kept the balance among flora and fauna. When humans moved into the neighborhood, the Dragons taught them the ways of the land, the names of the creatures. They showed them which plants gave life, and which ones took it. As long as tree and river, mountain and sea were holy, all was well. For in this primal grove the Dragons ruled with a benevolent paw. (Dragons for Beginners, p. 113)

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These were the ancient and noble Dragons of the Middle East. They played in the waters from the Bosporus to the Aral Sea and lit up the skies from the mountains of Hajjah to the Kazakh steppes. They adapted to the changing landscapes, becoming compact, sinewy desert Dragons who could coax water from the wind and thrive – when they must – on jerboas and acacia shoots. Hard as their lives have been, we have made them much harder, imbuing the sands they call home with blood and violence of human making.

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For Dragons have no use for sects and borders, for internecine grudges tracing back through millennia. They are just trying to survive. How they are faring at this is hard to say. There are only a handful of registered weyrs in the area, and persistent hostilities have made it impossible to get an accurate Dragon census in almost a century.

The following are currently regarded as the most threatened weyrs in the Middle East; their children are known as the Hatchlings of War. They were here before us and, by the grace of the Great Dragon, will be here long after we are gone. In the meantime, any aid we can offer through WAFDE, UNESECO (the United Nations Extraordinary Creature Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization), and AAD Programs is more than welcome.

Sadly, their numbers are growing around the world.persian tyle dragon


 

MEHRDAD WEYRw

The Dragons of Persian have a distinctive history dating back to the days of Sumerian Creation, when the great Dragon Kur consorted with gods and goddesses, notably, the goddess Inanna. Contrary to popular myth, Inanna did not slay Kur – the two got along quite well. Mehrdad – Gift of the Sun – Weyr has tried to keep the spirit of that relationship alive through the millennia. Located in the foothills of the Zagros Mountains, the Weyr is all but invisible to any but the most experienced eye. The Dragons prefer it that way, being greatly distressed by the inanely wasteful violence which has plagued the area in modern times.

The Weyr’s banner is a green field graced by a magical blue septagram and Kur, black and sinuous.

 

z-vEAN-NA GALZU BAR-GUN-GUN-NU 

Dragons were in the sandstone hills around Petra long before the Edomites had their kingdom or the Nabateans carved their great city. They were there when the waters still flowed and the valleys were green. The Weyr there today – Ean-na Galzu Bar-gun-gun-nu or Sanctuary of Sagacious Chameleons to the ancients of the region – consists (at last count) of just over a hundred Dragons. Since Hollywood invaded their territory to make “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” they have kept a very low profile, preferring quiet desert living to the flashy existence of their more conspicuous kindred. But if you are in the region and have the patience of Job, you might just catch sight of them.

Their banner is a bright yellow field quartered by blue and silver, a radiant sable sun blazing from the intersection. Two Ancient Dragons stand boldly in the corners.

 

ALTYN SIRKz-k

Romans and Dragons haven’t mixed since the time of Julius Caesar. It makes perfect sense, then, that, when the Legions moved in on the land of the Pharaohs, the Dragons of Egypt did the sage thing and relocated. Many of them traveled north, settling around the shores of the Caspian Sea. Waters teeming with sturgeon and people relatively Dragon-friendly – it was a good move. In the southwest lowlands of Turkmenistan, Altyn Sirk – Golden Circus – is a 21st-century remnant of that diaspora.

The Altyn Sirk flag is a symbolic mix of old lives and new. On mirrored worlds of Dragon green, Nile/Caspian blue, and fertile red-brown, two Dragons fly, separated only by the sable path of their migration. They are linked through time and distance by a green Ankh of eternal life.

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Adopt-A-Dragon Week…

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Every year, as Month of the Dragon winds down, the folks at WAFDE and the Dragon Conservancy reach out to dracophiles young and old with the Adopt-A-Dragon Program.

For those of you new to MotD and all it entails, a bit of history:

An integral part of Dragon Conservation, the Adopt-A-Dragon program was started as an offshoot of WAFDE and the Dragon Conservancy in the relatively peaceful decades following WWII. Growing steadily year by year, it came into its own at the end of the last century.hatchlings

Modeled after the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s National Wild Horse and Burro Program and the American Bear Association’s Friend of the Cubs, AAD is a way for Dragon lovers around the world to stay connected to these marvelous creatures and contribute to the continuance of Dragon welfare on a global scale. For a reasonable annuity (sliding scales available), Dragon-loving individuals can “adopt” a Dragon anywhere from the Himalayan Quad to the forests of Belize. You get a certificate of fosterage and a weekend pass to the Dragon Sanctuary of your choice.

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A recent adjunct is the KFD (Kids for Dragons) school outreach program, geared at students from the 6th-grade (first form, for our British friends) on up.* With parental consent – of course! – school groups can pool their resources and adopt a young Dragon. The fee is virtually nominal and AAD tries to hook classes up with Dragons from nearby Sanctuaries to facilitate visitations. As a scientific teaching tool and dispeller of negative PR, the program is without equal! And, for field trips, nothing beats going to see the class adoptee, watching her grow through the years from gangly dragonlet to full-winged, fire-breathing adolescent. If you or your school are interested in partaking of all KFD has to offer, contact your local chapter of WAFDE.

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Throughout this week, we are going to highlight certain weyrs which are especially distressed due to climate change and human interference – wars, habitat destruction, etc. Each has a story to tell, Dragons to treasure.

If you are interested in adopting a Dragon, take a tour of Dragon Nations, pick a weyr that appeals, and contact me here or through WAFDE’s Facebook page. Your certificate will be e-mailed to you, tout de suite.

Merlin's Dragon - Paul Youll
* Dragons can be a little too terrifying for very young children.
There are enough obstacles to our friends well-being without adding irate parents and the wrath of the psychiatric community worried about youthful nightmares to the mix.

 

Happy World Dragon Day!

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Four years ago, none of us at WAFDE would have guessed that World Dragon Day would fall within our annual Month of the Dragon celebrations. We are delighted beyond words!

Which brings me – of course – to words.

In honor of the day, I present you with some of my favorite Dragon quotes and pictures. For fun and the glory of Dragons!

Weyrworld - Pern Dragonriders

Weyrworld – Pern Dragonriders



 

I desired dragons with a profound desire.
…J.R.R.Tolkiendragon-bluered

 

I do not care what comes after;
I have seen the dragons on the wind of morning.
…Ursula K. Le Guin1390480_227082264119248_1389350472_n

 It is conventional to call ‘monster’ any
blending of dissonant elements. . . . I call
monster” every original inexhaustible beauty.
…Alfred Jarry423816-bigthumbnail

 

No, I would not want to live in a world without dragons,
as I would not want to live in a world without magic,
for that is a world without mystery,
and that is a world without faith.
…R.A. SalvatoreDragon shaman - Grey Seagull

 

Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.
…Rainer Maria RilkeDaenerys Targaryen - Dejan-delic

 

We were talking of DRAGONS, Tolkien and I in a Berkshire bar.
The big workman who had sat silent and sucked his pipe all the evening, from his empty mug, with gleaming eye glanced towards us:
“I seen ‘em myself!” he said fiercely.
…C.S. Lewis

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To have dragons one must have change;
that is the first principle of dragon lore.
…Loren EiseleyK

 

People who deny the existence of dragons are often eaten by dragons.
From within.

…Ursula K. Le GuinU

 

My soul is in the sky.
                ….William ShakespeareZ2

It’s a metaphor of human bloody existence, a dragon.
And if that wasn’t bad
enough, it’s also a bloody great hot flying thing.
…Terry Pratchett

Fire Breathing Dragon - Jezebel

Fire Breathing Dragon – Jezebel

To Whomever
These village fires
Still have meaning
O may your own most secret
& beautiful Animal of Light
Come safely to you.
           ….Kenneth Patchen

Many Dragons - Jackie Morris

Many Dragons – Jackie Morris

Happy World Dragon Day!


**In the tradition of Month of the Dragon, everyone who leaves a comment here at Dragon’s Nest has their name go into a hat. At the end of the month, a name will be drawn and the winner will receive signed copies of my books, The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook and Dragons for Beginners (both from Llewellyn Worldwide). Hope everyone is feeling lucky!

Casual Friday with Dragons

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Shawn MacKENZIE:

Hope everyone is having fun taking their Dragons to Work today. Here are a few thoughts on this foray into Draconic PR from a couple of years ago…enjoy.

Originally posted on MacKENZIE's Dragon's Nest:

Take A Dragon to Work Day –

 Work  is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste,  it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple  and take alms of those who work with joy.
…Khalil  Gibran

The third Friday in October is a day packed with fun, surprises, and, ideally, no small measure of positive Dragon PR. It is Take A Dragon to Work Day!

dragononstreet

For millennia Dragons have been feared and fought in large part because they have not been known. As the Red Queen instructed Alice, “It isn’t etiquette to cut anyone you’ve been introduced to.”

If you walk with Dragons, even for an afternoon, it is impossible to see them as the ravening monsters they’ve been portrayed as in myth and lore. A well mannered Dragon (and don’t even think of taking…

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How To Train Your Dragon Redux…

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With the November 11 DVD/Blu-ray release of How To Train Your Dragon 2 just around the corner – it was released digitally this week for all of us who just couldn’t wait – I asked my friend and fellow Dracophile, R.J.Robinson to pen a few words on the subject of Hiccup, Toothless, and the new, improved, Dragons of Berk.

Enjoy.How-to-Train-Your-Dragon-2-Wallpaper-New

How To Train Your Dragon 2 Review by R.J. Robinson.

This is a minor spoil-filled review, so if you haven’t seen the movie, be warned.

I consider “How To Train Your Dragon” to be Dreamwork’s best animated franchise. With two current full length films out, a few short films and a TV show, with a third season said to premiere on Netflix in Spring 2015, you can clearly see that the story of Hiccup and Toothless is far from over. And I’m glad for that. I saw the first film when I was nineteen. I fell in love with the score. The characters. Pretty much everything about the first movie. Now, before I start with the review, I’d like to say I saw “How To Train Your Dragon 2” after watching every episode of the TV show and the short films, before hand. So my experience watching this movie may have been different than others.

How-To-Train-Your-Dragon-2-Review-3-MamaMommyMom

HTTYD 2 takes places 5 years after the first film.The characters are older, and a little more mature. So is the film. It has matured. But just a bit. That is one of the things I like about “How To Train Your Dragon 2.” It makes a time jump, and we, figuratively speaking, grow up with the characters. The animation is crisp and better than ever. The score by John Powell is beautiful and always lifts your spirits! The flying scenes with Toothless are breathtaking. It’s like you’re flying on a dragon for the first time! 515491

I know this review seems very positive, and the film certainly does deserve praise. It narrowly avoids sequel-itis. The song sung between Stoick and Valka is truly a beautiful scene to behold – the TV show referenced Hiccup’s mother, once or twice. Even seeing the dragons again on the big screen was a wonderful thing to witness. I can go on and on about what I liked about this movie. I personally couldn’t really find anything wrong with it. But if I did find anything, I would only be nitpicking. I like that this series isn’t a kid movie. These movies are for the entire family. I can’t wait to visit The Isle of Berk, and see Hiccup and Toothless in 3 years. I give “How To Train Your Dragon 2” 4 stars out of 4.

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**In the tradition of Month of the Dragon, everyone who leaves a comment here at Dragon’s Nest has their name go into a hat. At the end of the month, a name will be drawn and the winner will receive signed copies of my books, The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook and Dragons for Beginners (both from Llewellyn Worldwide). Hope everyone is feeling lucky!

Dragons – Faerie-tale Monsters, Faerie-tale Heroes…

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Confabulation of Dragons

Confabulation of Dragons

Dragons and faërie tales have gone hand in paw since time immemorial. They anneal the mettle of would-be heroes, or, if a Dragon-by-spell, teach some haplessly ensorcelled prince or princess a valuable lesson. Western storytellers usually cast our friends as the heavies – either monsters in their own right or the minions of even darker forces. Dragons in the East are often treated with a gentler hand, more in keeping with the reverence bestowed upon their Cosmic ancestors.

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Today, I offer my slightly truncated rendition of an old faërie tale from Anatolia which I first discovered when researching Dragons for Beginners. Like its land of origin, it falls somewhere between the attitudes of East and West. Enjoy.

The Black Dragon and the Red Dragon.[1]

Long, long ago, we are told, there was a Turkish king, a Padishah, who was surely the most ill-fated man in all Anatolia. He had forty children, all beautiful and loved, and all stolen from him when they reached their seventh birthdays. No one in the whole world knew such grief! How could they? He was the king, and his children were the best and the brightest! One night his royal loss became more than he could bear; pulling his despair tight about him, he walked out into the desert. J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, “Not all those who wander are lost.” Sometimes we are just seeking. And sometimes, when the night of the soul is as starless as a black hole, wandering is the Universe’s way of shaking us up, opening our eyes, and returning us to the light.

For many days he wandered until, one day he saw in the distance what seemed like a great army standing ready for battle. As he drew nearer he was surprised to find the army was composed of Dragons of all sizes, the smallest being as large as a camel. “Woe is me!”he groaned. “What shall I do now? If I go forward I shall certainly be cut to pieces, and I cannot go back without being seen.” He prayed to Allah for deliverance from this danger.

It happened, however, that these were only newly-born Dragons, the oldest being only a few days old. Their eyes were still closed (poetic license, here, as Dragons are born with their eyes open), so they stumbled blindly around the desert, unable to find their way home. With a quick prayer of thanks, the Padishah gave the Dragons a wide berth and continued on his way.

Black Dragon - Art Fiction

Black Dragon – Art Fiction

That night, a terrible howling woke his uneasy sleep. It was the grief-stricken Dragon-mother calling her lost children. On seeing the man, she stood tall and thundered: “Human, what have you done to my little ones? Tell me quick or it will be the worse for you!”

Touched by her anguish – and not a little fearful – the Padishah showed respect in the face of power and related how he’d crossed paths with a veritable army of infant Dragons. Cautiously optimistic, the Black Dragon flew off and discovers that, lo, the king was right! There her children were, huddled together in the desert, frightened and forlorn. She herded them home and then, as was only fair, listened to the Padishah’s own grief that she might help him as he’d helped her.

Sand Dragon - Calavera

Sand Dragon – Calavera

When she heard of his stolen brood, she said, “Not to worry! Your children are in the Hyacinth Kiosk. Across this mountain is a desert where my brother lives; his children are bigger than mine and know the place well. Go to him, present my compliments, and ask him to escort you on your journey.”

The King did as she advised, travelling until he reached the desert where stood a Dragon twice as large as the other, a lick of flame emerging from his eyes strong enough to scorch any being who came within reach of it. The Padishah was convinced he was doomed for sure. Still, the love of his children drove him on, and at the top of his voice he shouted to the Dragon his sister’s greeting. Hearing the words the great beast opened his eyes and as he did so, it seemed as though the whole region was enveloped in flames. Too terrified to stand, the Padishah ran back the way he’d come and told the Black Dragon what had happened.

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Said she: “I forgot to tell you that I am called the Black Dragon, my brother, the Red Dragon. Go back and say that the Black Dragon sends greeting. As my name is known to no one, my brother will recognize that I have sent you. Then he will turn his back towards you, and you can approach him without danger; but beware of getting in front of him, or you will become a victim of the fiery glances of his eyes.”

Fantasy-Red-Dragon-2560x1600

The Shah did as he was told and the Red Dragon, with his back turned, said, “My son, if thou wouldst enter the Hyacinth Kiosk, cry aloud at the gate, ‘The Red Dragon has sent me!’ At this an Arab will appear: this is the very peri who has stolen your children. When he asks what you want, tell him that the great Dragon demands the largest of the stolen children. If he refuses, ask for the smallest. If again he refuses, tell him the Red Dragon demands himself. Say no more than that. Then return to me.”

Mounted on the back of the Red Dragon’s eldest son, the Padishah flew off to the Hyacinth Kiosk. At the top of his lungs, he shouted: “Greeting from the Red Dragon!” So mighty was the shout that earth and sky seemed to be shaken. Just as the Dragon said, an Arab appeared, holding an enormous club in his hand.

“What is the fuss?” he asked.

“The Red Dragon,” said the Padishah, “demands the largest of the stolen children.” “The largest is ill,” answered the peri.

“Then send the smallest to him,” rejoined the Padishah.

“He has gone to fetch water,” replied the Arab.

“If that is so,” continued the Padishah, “the Red Dragon demands thyself.”

“I am going into the kiosk,” said the Arab, and disappeared.

The Padishah returned to the Red Dragon. On hearing how the king’s mission fared, the Dragon went to see the peri himself.

“So-ho! my dear Hyacinther,” the Red Dragon yawped. “You have the children of this Padishah. Hand them over.”

“I have a request,” replied the peri, “and if the Padishah will grant it I will gladly return his children. Ten years ago I stole the son of a certain Padishah, and when he was twelve years old he was stolen away from me by a Dew-woman named Porsuk. This Porsuk has a son who loves me, and evil has been done me because I will not adopt him in place of the stolen boy. I am aware that the children of this Padishah are brave and handsome, and I stole them to mitigate my sufferings. If he gets me my love, I will return his.”

With the help of the Red Dragon and his sons, the Padishah retrieved the peri’s lost changling. As soon as he caught sight of the boy, the Hyacinth Arab embraced and kissed him, gratitude pouring from his lips to the friends who had restored him.

Keeping his word, he clapped his hands and stamped his feet on the ground and immediately forty birds flew up, singing merrily. A flock of birds is silhouetted against the sunrise outside the town of Kyzylorda in southern KazakhstanWith a sprinkling from the peri’s magic flask, the birds were transformed into forty lovely maidens and handsome youths.  “Behold your children, my good Shah! Take them and be happy, and pardon me the suffering I have caused thee.”

A pardon was the least the Padishah could give, so joyful was he at having his children back. So they head home, a family once more. And along the way, the Padishah entertained his children with tales of his adventures, of the power of Dragons.

Black Dragon  Tempest - Peter Prime

Black Dragon Tempest – Peter Prime

For in the course of the Padishah’s trek, he went from pitiful to strong, shattered to whole, thanks in no small part to the wisdom of two remarkable beings, the Black Dragon and her brother, the Red Dragon. They not only helped him find his children but made him a better king in the process. In details as intricate as a Topkapi arabesque, he learned about families, about love and loss and setting things right. The self-absorbed Padishah at the beginning of our story would never have thought it possible for creatures, let alone Dragons, to love their children as much as he. Yet, in the company of the Black Dragon and her brother,[2] he discovered that family is family, grief is grief as anyone with more than a passing acquaintance with Dragons knows. He learned to treasure the similarities between us—even Dragons and humans—rather than fear the differences.

In the end, the Padishah returns to his palace wiser and more compassionate for his adventures. The lost are found, justice is done; there is dancing and laughter, even forgiveness where it is due. In the happily-ever-after way of these things, one likes to believe the Shah issued an edict banning Dragon hunting in perpetuity. It would have been the right thing to do.

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[1] Complete text can be found in Kunos’s Forty-four Turkish Fairy Tales.

[2] And even the mischievous peri.

Kid-friendly Dragons and Their Tales….

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DRAGON%20&%20BOOKS

Over the years, I have spent delightful hours talking about Dragons, telling Dragon stories. There is no more receptive audience than children. Wide-eyed with wonder, they have an innate understanding that, not only are Dragons real, but that they are all around us, just waiting to be seen. Is it any wonder that there are a slew of marvelous Dragons in the annals of children’s literature? They crop up in Narnia and Middle Earth, in the faerie tales of the world that taught us such important lessons long ago.grimm dragon 1912 illustration

And their number keep growing – some good, some bad – an ever present influence during our formative years. Teaching us to be brave and full of wonder, to believe in the seeming impossible and always treasure the rare and unusual.0aba483fbfdc3c319aebd30951a87f93

Today I want to focus on just a few of my favorite Dragon books for kids – and their grown-ups, of course. They have both good stories and also wonderful conversations and pictures, for as Alice said, “What is the use of a book without pictures and conversation?” I hope you’ll share and enjoy.


Book of Dragons

The Book of Dragons – E. Nesbit

I grew up with this book long ago before Kindle and computers – the free way to get it now. A collection of whimsical tales of Dragons and their people. All very British and rather mild by today’s standards, but worth a look.

Tell-Me-a-Dragon-by-Jackie-MorrisTell Me A Dragon - Jackie Morris

This is a stunning book. Jackie Morris’s inspirational illustrations will lead you to that dragon within, and get kids thinking about telling their very own Dragon.

Many Dragons by Jackie Morris

Many Dragons by Jackie Morris


 

How_to_Train_Your_Dragon_(2003_book_cover)How To Train Your Dragon – Cressida Cowell

If you’re only familiar with the film adaptations – which are wonderful – do go back and check out Cressida Cowell’s original work. See where it all started with Hiccup, Toothless and the Dragons of Berk.

How-To-Train-Your-Dragon-2-Review-3-MamaMommyMom


002095There’s No Such Thing as a Dragon – Jack Kent

Fun tale about little Billy Bixbee who wakes up one day and finds a dragon at the end of his bed. While the little scaly one grows fast and furious, Billy tries in vain to convince his mother there is a Dragon taking over their house. But, as some grown-ups will, she just keeps insisting, “There’s no such thing as a Dragon.”

dragon-big


dragonologyDragonology – Dr. Ernest Drake

Ernest Drake and Candlewick Press have developed a wickedly lucrative franchise – including talk of an upcoming film – which does not mean they’re not fun and handsomely put together. The cryptoherpetologist in me has issues with some of Drakes facts, though the story-teller in me is fond of the Pocket Dragon Adventures.

 


The EggThe Egg – M.P.Robertson

The first of four tales about young George and his Dragon naturally starts out with an egg – a giant golden egg George finds in his mom’s henhouse. When a dragon hatchling emerges, their lessons and adventures begin.

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Followed by:
The Great Dragon RescueDragon Rescue

The Dragon Snatcher8904

The Dragon and the Gruesome Twosome1367423021_1144_dragon

Occasionally slight on the storytelling, but Robertson’s illustrations are great.4565


 

What were your favorite Dragon stories as a kid? Any new ones that strike your fancy, make your heart soar on Dragon wings? Please, tell us your Dragons!


**In the tradition of Month of the Dragon, everyone who leaves a comment here at Dragon’s Nest has their name go into a hat. At the end of the month, a name will be drawn and the winner will receive signed copies of my books, The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook and Dragons for Beginners (both from Llewellyn Worldwide). Hope everyone is feeling lucky!

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