Tell A Dragon Tale Week…

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Dragon Blossom - Laura Diehl

Dragon Blossom – Laura Diehl

Few creatures wend their way across the length and breadth of the literary canon with the brazen panache of Dragons. From Medieval allegory to modern fantasy, from bedtime stories to the spark of nightmares, Dragons in literature are as varied as they are in real life and quick a bit easier to find. With new works on and about our friends coming out with fiercesome regularity, it is only just that we devote a week to their tales, old and new.

Today, I begin with some personal favorites – and for those of you who know me, I beg your indulgence for having spoken of these books before.

drg greenJ.Bissell-Thomas.The Dragon Green (London: Robert Hale Ltd., 1936).

This was my first Dragon book ever, so it naturally has a special place in my heart. It is a tale of rare and wonderful Dragon Green, born from the great Gold Dragon’s egg in the blistering sands of the Kalahari Desert. Fearless and feisty, Dragon Green makes his way among ant bear (aardvark) and ostrich, giraffe and shark. Eager to grow up, he bargains with a witch, seeks the wisdom of a wizard, and falls in love with a princess. He is proud and funny, irreverent and loyal to a fault. This is a Dragon with more heart than sense and enough love to challenge even the strongest magic. A spiky-wiky Dragon of the first order. A Dragon to be emulated.

Though The Dragon Green is currently out of print, I have heard rumblings that this situation may soon be rectified. Until then, if you can find a copy at your favorite used-book store, snatch it up. It’s a treasure. (And the illustrations by Vernon L. Soper are delightful, too.)scan0003

 

 


EarthseaUrsula K. LeGuin. Earthsea Trilogy (Bantam, 1972 & many other editions)

The tale of Ged, from his earliest days as a bumbling rustic into his elder years as Archmage and Dragonlord, navigating the literal and political waters of Earthsea. Here is a man who comes to know dragons in all their wisdom and glory. From callow fear to mature wonder, he travels amongst them – especially in book three, The Farthest Shore.

As Ged so perfectly puts it: “And though I came to forget or regret all I have ever done, yet would I remember that once I saw the dragons aloft on the wind at sunset above the western isles; and I would be content.”


 

 

guards-guards-cov%20hardThen there is Sir Terry Pratchett’s uproarious Guards! Guards! (Harper Torch, 2001). A tale of Discworld and the city watch of Ankh-Morpork who are at odds with a Dragon summoned for a nefarious power grab. Any dracophile who enjoys Pratchett’s wry wit and satire, will enjoy Guards! Guards!.

I need say no more.

 

Finally – for today – because this is my blog and if anyone approves of blowing their own horn it’s Dragons, I offer:

DKHShawn MacKENZIE. The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook: Including the Myth & Mystery, Care & Feeding, Life & Lore of These Fiercely Splendid Creatures (Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2011).

Here be Dragons……

Not the slavering, whimsical monsters from childhood fancies, but real Dragons­—fierce, complex, wondrous, and wild. They do not require our belief; they never have.

With hard science, myth, and empirical wisdom, The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook is the draconic enchiridion for the modern world, providing everything you need to know about these extraordinary beings. From disparate theories of Dragon evolution and the golden geometry of their form to modern conservation efforts and how to release a well-weaned orphan back into the wild, this book answers all your questions, even those you didn’t know to ask. From awe-inspiring Cosmic Creators to wee pisuhänds guarding hearth and home, discover the habits and habitats of Dragons and pseudo-dragons both familiar and rare.

The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook shows us how human and Dragons are bound together and why Dragons are now—and ever-will-be—relevant: In their wildness lie lessons for us all.

and

Dragons for Beginners cover

Dragons for Beginners

Shawn MacKENZIE. Dragons for Beginners: Ancient Creatures in a Modern World (Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2012).

This essential, comprehensive introduction to Dragons is filled with what everyone must know about these extraordinary creatures. Whether a casual dracophile or a dedicated Dragon keeper, come explore what Dragons have to teach us about the world and our-selves. Discover how, with care and devotion, you can help save them from extinction. Welcome to Dragon Country!

 

But this is just the start. So many more books and tales to come throughout the week.

What are your favorite Dragon stories? Feel free to share!

And remember: 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. Hope everyone is feeling lucky!

Time to Chip In…

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For all their size and ferocity, Dragons walk through the world with a remarkably gentle step. They care for the planet and people who care for them with a playful enthusiasm. They also hate to be bored – bored Dragons are gloomy Dragons – and working with their people keeps them from drifting through the seas of ennui.

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Those of us who share our lives with Dragons love being on the receiving end of this altruistic energy. It’s also nice to know they appreciate how much we try to do for them and make a return on our efforts with draconic élan. As the sweet warmth of Indian Summer turns chill and pre-winter chores pile as high as the back-yard leaves, we are doubly grateful to have our Dragon friends around to lend a paw. It’s Chipping-In Weekend at last![1]dragons_at_work_by_club_kids-d3bd8ws

 

Who needs a leaf blower or smokers to keep the killing frost from the orchards when you have a Dragon at hand? And if your neighbors need a little help blasting out their gutters, or putting on the storms, there is nothing more sociable than offering an assist from your Dragon. And don’t forget the big community projects – earth works, construction, even large farming chores. Dragons are very knowledgeable about such endeavors, and it gives them a real sense of accomplishment to work side-by-side with their people.

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So, work hard, have fun. And at the end of the day, snuggle up with a cauldron of mulled cider and a good Dragon tale.

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[1] As some of you may have noticed, this year, in appreciation of the increasingly hectic pace of modern living, we’ve expanded Chipping-In Day to embrace the whole weekend. More time to get the harvest in, clean up after last week’s fairs, and enjoy quality time with our 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!

For the Dragon Who has Everything…

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Paris-Flea-Market

St Audrey Fairs are winding down. Morris dancers are hanging up their bells and venders, eager to unload their wares rather than cart them home, are slashing their already reasonable prices. When better to find that little something – bright, tacky, and absolutely unnecessary – for your Dragon?800x615_7345_Treasure_Hoarding_Dragon_2d_fantasy_dragon_portrait_picture_image_digital_art

It’s Gaudy Bauble Day – a time to revel in the cheap and garish! To remember that nothing pleases a Dragon more than a brand new sparklie.a-pile-of-jewels-both-real-stacy-gold

It needn’t be gold or encrusted with gems, just chosen with care and given with love. And if your neighborhood does not celebrate St Audrey’s tawdry, try an afternoon at the flea market. Treasures abide all around us. We have only to go looking for them.

Happy hunting!

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Dancing Dragon Day….

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From whisker to tail spade, Dragons understand the essential joy of dance. They embrace the rhythm of Earth and season, the ebb and flow of life, tapping talons and flapping wings in exuberant glee.

Weyrs in autumn are particularly suited to terpsichorean fun. Late August to the Autumnal Equinox is the time for courtship and mating. Bonds are made and celebrated in anticipation of hatchlings to come. By October, paired Dragons are settling in. They spend their time hunting (mom is eating for between 2 and 7), building nests, and lighting up the night sky with expectant fandangos.

Dancing Dragons - Linda Cole

Dancing Dragons – Linda Cole

With wonder and abandon, they are the truth at the heart of Rumi’s words:

When Lovers of Life get ready to Dance,
the Earth shakes and the Sky trembles.


**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!

Dragon Shopping at St Audrey’s Fair

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It’s time again for St Audrey’s Fair – October 15 – 17. This year the festivities overlap Dancing Dragon Day and end on Gaudy Bauble Day.

Sparklies - Pantherwitch

Sparklies – Pantherwitch

In short, draconic fun abounds!
For today, a look back at MotD’s past with a repost from Dragon’s Nest MotD, 2012.

Enjoy.

Hearken back to the grit and grimy days of England in the 7th century. Towns were few and far between and wolves and Dragons still ruled the wilds with fang and claw. Fun Anglo-Saxon times.

Detail from Vortigern, Merlin & the Dragons. St.Alban’s Chronicle

This was the age of deep superstition and early conflict between the budding Christian church and old-time Paganism. Of strict class structure and more rights for cattle than women. It was into this world that Princess Æthelthryth (Etheldreda to those more Roman and Anglo-Saxon) was born of a most saintly lineage – according to the Venerable Bede, she, her brother, and three sisters were all canonized. She was a comely aristocrat with a fondness for beads and trinkets and more interest in heaven than earth. In the way of Medieval women, she was also a pawn in politics and religion for much of her short life (636-679 CE). Still, she was blessed to be a woman of wealth and property and so had leverage most women lacked.

After numerous exploits including two marriages (tricky propositions when one vows to remain a virgin), minor miracles, Æthelthryth founded an abbey in 673 at the Isle of Ely, an historic district in Fenlands she’d received as a dower gift from her first husband, King Tondbercht. She remained there as Abbess until her death from an unsightly tumor on her neck she attributed to divine judgement on her youthful liking of necklaces, gewgaws, and baubles. 

What can this possibly have to do with Dragons, you ask? Was she personally familiar with our fierce friends? The strong anti-Dragon stance of the church would have made this highly unlikely. No, the connection comes posthumously, when, in honour of the saintly Æthelthryth – Audrey to those who knew her well – the people of Ely got together to celebrate her life with an annual fair. St. Audrey’s Fair. At these gatherings, in remembrance of Audrey’s jewelry obsession, simple, inexpensive trinkets were bought and sold. (The word ‘tawdry’ even comes from a bastardization of Audrey’s name.) Where better to pick up a little something for one’s Dragon without incurring a mountain of debt or the suspicions of the local constabulary?

 

St. Audrey Fairs are still held around the UK, and there is a growing effort among certain Dragon aficionados to spread the festivities to other corners of the world. Dates vary, from June 23 (Audrey’s Saints Day) to the more MotD-friendly time, October 16-17, Gaudy Bauble Day. Those who don’t have a proper St. Audrey’s Fair near by often substitute the experience with an afternoon of October tag-saling.

Hectic personal lives not to mention the advent of e-bay and other on-line vending venues have made actual ‘fairing’ more than a casual undertaking. Still, it’s autumn! The foliage is gorgeous and the air spiced with apples and woolly-bears. When better to go out with your Dragon and mingle with others of our kind among bins of dazzlers and sparklies.

It’s a great time to get a leg-up on your draconic Yule shopping ,too.

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Feathered Dragons of the New World…

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As any school kid knows, Columbus was not the first European to reach the Western Hemisphere. That was Leif Ericson almost 500 years earlier. But the Norseman’s voyage took him to the northern climes, where cold-weather Dragons frolicked with narwhals and hunted the Grand Banks for seal and sword fish. Hence we celebrate Frost Dragons on October 9th – Leif Ericson Day.

But, in 1492, Columbus was the first European to land in the tropical and subtropical regions of the New World. So it is, on Columbus Day, we celebrate the reclusive, rainbow-hued Feathered Dragons who were suddenly having close encounters with pale Europeans and not liking it one bit.

quetzalcoatl_dragon_by_dizturbed-d5xitwm

Quetzalcoatl Dragon – Dizturbed

Of the True Dragons, our plumed friends are the scarcest and least known, so I offer some basic information from The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook:

“Feathered Dragons are the smallest of the True Dragons…. They flit in and out of the rain-forest canopies, wrapping their lithesome tails round boughs of kapok and purple heart. In environments full of the little-known and very unusual, they are the epitome of both, so much so that some doubt they still exist….

Feather Dragon - Martydeath

Feather Dragon – Martydeath

      Compared to other True Dragons, our feathered friends, while not minute, are definitely on the miniature side. This is a strict function of habitat. Living in and on the edges of the planet’s dense rain forests, these exquisite beings cannot sustain the great size and bulk of their cousins. Theirs is a realm in which lightness and flexibility mean survival.

      Mature Feathered Dragons rarely grow to more than 6 meters in length or weigh much over 300 pounds – about 10% of that being their colorful, plumed integument. They have lean, reptilian musculature stretched over a hollow-bone frame. Scales protect belly and lower legs; feathers are everywhere else. Dense bristle feathers run from head to nape, forming wide facial discs and ornate crests radiating round barely visible hornlets which never develop beyond the nub stage. Lustrous contour feathers blanket the rest of their bodies.

af513d7a218a095aacec01c51cd9f2f3     Despite the Dragons’ enormity, these outer plumes are comparable to those of the large avians in their environs – macaws, harpy eagles, horn bills, and eagle owls. On the rare occasions such feathers make their way to the forest floor, they are generally assumed to come from more mundane moltings. This misconception affords the Dragons welcome protection from hunters’ sanguine ways. A fine undercoat of semiplumes – and careful preening – make Feathered Dragons naturally waterproof, just what they need to shed the weight of incessant forest showers or when cooling off in crystal cenotes. Where their range bleeds into semi-arid plains – lands deforested by climate change and human greed – this same plumage provides them with insulation against the daytime heat and nightly cold.

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Their shimmering wings span a good 3 to 3.5 meters, far and away the most impressive feathered array in the forests.[1] Using their broad plumed tail spades as rudders, they undulate – head to tail – through the skies, looking not unlike a sleek cetacean traversing an airy sea.”

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These are the gems of the draconic pantheon we celebrate today. Descendants of the Sovereign Plumed Serpent, of Quetzalcoatl and Kukulcan, they struggle to hold their place in a world foolishly erasing their habitat before it and its denizens are understood.

Quetzalcoatl - Sunimo

Quetzalcoatl – Sunimo

If you travel to the Amazon or the forests around Iguazu and the Canaima Uplands – areas still wild enough for Feathered Dragons to enjoy – look up through the canopy for an unexpected flash of color. It might just be an elusive plumed Dragon on the wing.

And you shall be a fortunate dracophile, indeed.

Colored Feathered Dragon - Nouri San

Colored Feathered Dragon – Nouri San


[1] In all of the avian world, only the wandering albatross has a wingspan to even approach the Feathered Dragon’s reach.


**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!

Nancy MacKENZIE – In Memoriam…

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Nancy MacKENZIE – 1934-2014.

Nothing is so fragile – nor so in need of celebration – as life.

This month, Nancy MacKENZIE, died of cancer at the age of 80.

She was a woman of grace and wit, with an infectious laugh and twinkle in her eye. She was also an artist, and this is the side of her I wish to share and celebrate today.

071003 N & Warren MacKezie gen RECEPTION_Matthew Cullen (49)

Nancy could take anything – twigs, wire, old onion bags, the castoff detritus of life, and turn it into a thing of extraordinary beauty. From three-dimensional wall hangings to sculpted garments with a stylized, futuristic flair, she created textile pieces which crossed the line between craft and art and pushed the boundaries of the medium. Feast your eyes and enjoy.

 

 

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p3b5a17d5fe8207dbce5dae7e7dff7be01_scale_296_519Spilling Overjahna_1382929358_Screen shot 2013-10-27 at 9.47.17 PM

 

I am honored to have known Nancy, as a friend and step-mom and artist. Even more, I am grateful to her for being my father’s love and companion, for sharing life’s adventures with him for the past thirty years.

She is missed. With love.

Falkor’s Festival of Lucky Dragons …

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All Dragons are lucky, though some are luckier than others. And Falkor is the luckiest of all.

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Luckdragons are a branch of the Asian Dragon family. They are long and sinuous, with shaggy heads, some leonine, some more canine in aspect. Like all Asian Dragons, they are wingless mysteries of aerodynamics, soaring playfully through the clouds, even dozing as they fly.Luckdragon_interpretation_by_who_stole_MY_name

They are not exceptionally strong or magical, but they are, tip to tail, preternaturally lucky. Whether you’ve lost your keys or your way, are taking a chance on love or the lottery, having a Luckdragon on one’s side never hurts. Of course, the help of a Luckdragon comes in many forms, and we mere mortals do not always recognize its benefits right away. Perhaps it is luckier for us to wander from the path now and then. We might just discover wonderful things, even blaze paths previously unimagined. Fortune can be fickle and we just have to trust that Dragons know best.

woodland find

Back in 2011, during the first Month of the Dragon, Falkor and his Luckdragon kin got one day on our calendar. Now they get three days of frolic, feasting, and pushing the bounds of fortune as far as is draconically possible. How times have changed. Or perhaps it is just our increased longing for luck in a precarious world.

I think I’ll give Falkor a scratch behind the ears and ask him.

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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 a signed copies of my books, The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook and Dragons for Beginners (both from Llewellyn Worldwide). Hope everyone is feeling lucky!

 

Dragon Eggs in Your Basket …

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It is a busy week here at WAFDE. Fire Safety Drills are a daily activity, Frost Dragons have been coming in from across the globe to confab about the alarming rate of polar meltage, and, with one day to go in the Falcor Fest, the Luck Dragons are feeling just a little under-mentioned (something which will be rectified tomorrow – sorry, Falcor!).

falkor

For today, we are putting the shell before the scale. It’s World Egg Day. Time to think about nest and incubation and the glorious fiery miracle of coming shell crackling!

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It is also a time to give a huge shout out to those fortunate Dragonkeepers who have had the rare fortune to find eggs in the wild and nurture them to hatching. There is always a degree of sadness involved in such instances – an abandoned clutch means a lost Queen which is a tragedy of draconic proportions. So for those tender nest surrogates out there, applause, applause, and keep up the noble work!

dragon-egg-magic-kingdom

For all of us it’s time to honor the Egg, the Cosmic Dragon Egg – Cradle of Life, Primal Feast, and First Shelter. Keep them close and warm and when they hatch, hug their occupants close! They are the new generation – the keepers of the draconic flame!

Day 2 Bearded Dragon

 


 

**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 a signed copies of my books, The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook and Dragons for Beginners (both from Llewellyn Worldwide). Hope everyone is feeling lucky!

Keeping the Dragon Fire’s Burning Safely –

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Rotisseried knights turned to a golden brown and draconic celluloid replete with pyrotechnic thrills are staples of the popular imagination. True, not all Dragons keep a lit wick in their arsenal, but let’s face it: that is a matter of fact not fancy. For all intents and purposes, Dragons go with fire like bangers with mash.

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Thus, the second week in October is a very important time for Dragons and their people around the world. It is Fire Prevention Week. The leaves are piling high and dry, the winds dancing through denuded branches. It is time to take your hatchlings and juveniles in hand and make sure they know the rules of smoke and spark; and refresher courses for older Dragons never go amiss.

Oops!

Oops!

In areas of extreme drought – multiplying all around us despite what climate-change deniers might say – strict adherence to safety standards is a must. The emergency crews of California and the southern plains have enough on their hands without having to worry about a frisky dragonlet who’s forgotten the basics. Not to mention it does Dragon standing no good if they’re blamed for turning Sequoias to cinders. So, no fire near the house. No fire near the fields. No fire near woods or leaf-piles. In short, fire only over water on windless days.

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And be sure to have your insurance premiums current, just in case.


**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 a 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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