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!

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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.”

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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.”

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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!

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.

Monster-Medieval-Dragon-2

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!

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