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We here at WAFDE are hardly strangers to made-up holidays. After all, many people probably think Falkor’s Festival is just the product of some fevered draconic imagination. a2f2e477e79e6983eaa008deac1b800dStill, among the official U.S. days off, Columbus Day stands out. Celebrating an Italian sailing under the flag of notoriously anti-Semitic Spain who got lost and subsequently opened the doors to the decimation of the indigenous people of the Western Hemisphere is historically disingenuousness at best. Every Dragon north of the Equator knows that the Vikings came to North America centuries before Columbus’s caravel convoy.

Dragon prow from a Viking longship

Dragon prow from a Viking longship

Today, we at the Nest want to honor not on the newcomers to the Americas, but those who were already here: the Dragons of the New World.

Dragons have inhabited the Western Hemisphere since the continents drifted and Feathered Serpents rose up during the Cretaceous Period. From the shores of Baffin Bay to the tip of Tierra del Fuego – why else would the Spanish call it Land of Fire? – they soared over taiga and mountains, skirting redwoods primeval and kapok branches. They greeted humankind as they trekked across the Bering Land Bridge and beached papyrus vessels on the eastern shores of South America.

Dragon - Arkaedri

Dragon – Arkaedri

And when the Europeans landed in this New World, they met Dragons both familiar and foreign. In the north, due in large part to the Trans-Atlantic Transmigration,[1] many Dragons would have fit neatly in among the clouds over the Alhambra or Richard III’s London.

But go south of latitude 19° N, and the draconic landscape changed radically. This is the realm of the Feathered Dragons, a k a the children of the Sovereign Plumed Serpent.

Sovereign Plumed Serpent - Creator of the world

Sovereign Plumed Serpent – Creator of the world

They flit in and out of the rainforest 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. But long before the Maya and Moche in the New World and the Dahomey and Khoisan in the Old, Feathered Dragons were catching the sun on their quills and dancing like living rainbows across the sky.  (The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook)

Quetzalcoatl - Sunimo

Quetzalcoatl – Sunimo

Their form fits their habitat, making them the smallest of the True Dragons, and not wanting to risk burning their wooded homes to the ground, sporting venom rather than fire.

Today, with the rain forests vanishing at a terrifying rate, no one knows how many Feathered Dragons remain in the wild. Indeed, a proper census of the South American weyrs has not been taken since the mid-1900s. In light of the way other species are disappearing, common sense tells us Feathered Dragons are certainly an endangered. It falls on us to take care of an environment as extraordinary and diverse as its inhabitants. Only then will they thrive – as well as the rest of the planet.

Feathered Dragon - Karla Egley

Feathered Dragon – Karla Egley

Happy New World Dragon Day!

 

[1] Trans-Atlantic Transmigration: An exodus of a passel of adventurous European Dragons who were fed up with the rampant anti-Dragon sentiments coursing through Britain and the Continent in the Dark Ages. Shortly after the Saxon invasion of the British Isles, they heeded the call to “Go west, young Dragons!” and crossed the Atlantic. In the New World they made their way amongst the enchantments of North America.

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