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Jabberwocky – Robert Ingpen

I have been a Lewis Carroll fan since I was younger than Alice. Through the years, I’ve followed many a White Rabbit, had tea with Dormice, Hares, and Hatters of questionable reason, and marveled at the wisdom of Caterpillars and the humour of Cats, Cheshire and otherwise.

During the Month of the Dragon, we like to tip our hats to Wonderland wonder on Jabberwocky Appreciation Day. In the past we celebrated on 10/6, aka Mad Hatter Day, just to keep all the Carroll-inean festivities together. This year, though, in part due to the long weekend, in part to craziness beyond our control, the Dragons suggested we push it to 10/7. And who am I to argue with Dragons?

Now, many people think of the Jabberwocky as the fierce, extremely unpleasant, creature in Through the Looking-Glass, with “the jaws that bite, the claws that catch.” He was the burbling beast of a young man’s quest who wound up at the end of a vorpal sword. Here at the Nest we take a more benign view and embrace the Jabberwock as a symbol of Dragons in all their infinite variety.

True Dragons and pseudo dragons, large and small, scaled, smooth, and feathered, there is no family, genus, or even species on this planet as diverse as Dragons. Just take a look at How To Train Your Dragon. Unscientific though they may be, one of the things I really enjoy about the HTTYD movies is the imaginative heterogeneity among the Dragons. What a colorful spectrum of draconic whimsy! It makes this Dragonkeeper’s heart soar.

While the True Dragons – European, Asian, and Feathered – receive the bulk of our attention this month (indeed all year round), Jabberwocky Day is devoted to the plethora of lesser dragons in the world.

Some are well-known, like wyverns

Winter Wyvern

and knuckers,

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Hurtling Knucker – Behane

basilisksRelated image and drakes.Related image

Others, like the ropen, amphitere, and kiaus, are as unknown as the remote biomes they call home.Image result for ropen sightings

From egg-tooth to tail spade, Dragons know innately the power of their multiplicity. They know it has helped them survive when less diverse species have gone extinct. It has made them stronger in imagination and fact around the world. It is through the lens of this personal experience that they look at the disturbing human obsession with tribalism and homogeneity and shake their heads.

“Don’t you get it?” they ask. “Difference is a boon, not a bane.”

And they are right. It is impossible to celebrate Dragons without celebrating their glorious variety. So to everyone out there who derides diversity out of fear or bigotry or just plain ignorance, think of how meager existance would be if all dogs were poodles or all Dragons green. How poor we would be without tree-skimmers and diggers, lake dragons and cookie-loving pisuhänds.Dragon Treasure

Difference not only makes life possible, it makes life worth living. 

And makes us appreciate our Jabberwockys all the more.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
      And the mome raths outgrabe.
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
      The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
      The frumious Bandersnatch!”
He took his vorpal sword in hand;
      Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree
      And stood awhile in thought.
And, as in uffish thought he stood,
      The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
      And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through
      The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
      He went galumphing back.
“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
      Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
      He chortled in his joy.
’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
      And the mome raths outgrabe.

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