“So you Americans have a holiday this weekend.
Mask up, social distance, be smart.
I will be watching.”
Another MotD has come to an end.
First, a hearty welcome to all new WAFDE members, and my thanks to one and all who have made MotD 2016 such a pleasure and success. You help to ensure a profound, eternal, Dragon presence in the world.
I have always thought it fitting that MotD ends on Samhain (Halloween). This is a very special day for Dragons around the world – though Westies and the lesser dragons in their ken tend to lay special claim to it. Indeed, as much as Dragons have holy days, Samhain is right up there at the top of the list.
On this night of ghouls and goblins, it is only right to look at a chapter from Dragon history full of blood and gore and nightmares that would make the strongest Dragon weep. I am speaking of the centuries of loss and grief heaped upon the enchantments of Europe known as The Dark Times. For some of you, this may be a familiar tale, yet, here at the Nest, we believe it is one worth repeating.
Technically the Dark Times ran from 2000 BCE to 1450 CE, though it was the indiscriminate dragon slaying of the Dark Ages that nearly drove Western Dragons from the face of the Earth.
By the 7th century, the Trans-Atlantic Transmigration , which had diminished the continental Dragon count by half, was deeply etched into the historical record. Gone were the havens of grove and spring and standing stone. The weyrs were on edge: Queens laid smaller clutches – stress even forced some to skip generations of hatching altogether. For most, it was coming down to fight or flight, and the former didn’t hold much appeal.
This was when the sidhe came to the rescue. They offered the Dragons of Europe a way out, a refuge in the Otherworld. And so it was that Dragons retreated into the mists – along with the unicorns and other rare and unusual beings – until the world of humans became more Dragon-friendly.
Except on Samhain. Once a year, when the veil between the worlds of sidhe and human thinned, and an expectation for the strange and unusual was in the air, the Dragons returned. In the umbra of streetlight and balefire, they flew over housetops and buzzed the frost rimmed pumpkin patches. They danced across the face of moon – often mistaken at a great distance for large bats – and played hide-and-seek with those who, attuned to the mystical, could actually see them. As night tipped towards dawn, a great lamentation coursed through the heavens, a keening for Dragons lost and lives left behind….
Then they were gone.
So it continued decade after decade, generation after generation. Then, in the 18th and 19th centuries, the tide began to change. Some say it was the strength of the Enlightenment, driving out the darkness of superstition, others the resurgence of mysticism and neo-paganism. Either way, it was the opening Dragons were looking for, the glimmer of hope that the worst of the anti-Dragon madness had passed. And from then on, every Samhain, more and more Dragons not only came through the veil, but chose to stay on our side of it.
October 31 is a time of somber and jubilant celebration. When we mourn Dragons gone and rejoice in their return.
As is noted in The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook:
It is now the twenty-first century. By the blessing of the Great Dragon, we made it past the Dark Times and farther than many thought possible.
Out of the darkness, Dragons roared, reminding us we need them. Reminding us of their right to be. With horns charmed and scales ashimmer, they walk amongst us. They share our lives and lend mystery to the mundane. They fill the skies and sing in thunderous tones for all to hear, “We are Everywhere!”
Wishing you all a very draconic Halloween. Keep safe, fly high. See you all next year.
And for those of you in the States, don’t forget to get out and vote on November 8th (or earlier if you can). Dragons may have little use for politics, but this election is vital for us and the planet. Including our spikey-wikey friends.
 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.
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.
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.
[repost from MotD, 2012]
It’s World Egg Day! Ta-da, ta-da!
True, it’s a little early in the yearly Dragon cycle for nesting/laying (a winter happening among True Dragons), and even earlier for the hatching fires of spring. But an egg is an egg, and we here at WAFDE are not above giving more familiar, accessible holidays, no matter how secular, draconic twists.
So, while some pepople use today to whip up omelettes and soufles, to tout the nutrition and elegant simplicity of the noble avian egg, we choose today to celebrate clutches of dragons in waiting. And the devoted Queens who tend them.
There are likely many Game of Thrones fans out there who think of Dragon eggs as small, transportable treasures. Rare gifts and emblems of power. In the real world, Dragon eggs are indeed rare and treasured, but they are hardly small. And they should never be gifted to secure kingdoms or power.
They are the quintessential Dragon hoard. Dragons will defend them with fire and fang. And if the Dragon parents don’t get you, the law will. The destruction or poaching of Dragon eggs is a felony around the globe, incurring heavy fines and prison time. At least.
This does not mean that eggs don’t occasionally, through no fault of Queen or Sire, get lost or abandoned. This is a matter of growing concern in areas ravaged by war or decimated habitat. (Yes, climate change is real and the weyrs around the world know its tragic effects first hand!) What to do?
When walking through woods or along cliffs, keep your eyes open, especially in autumn or late winter/early spring. If you discover an egg—or a whole clutch—the first thing you must do is note the location. Not only does this guarantee you’ll find it again, but it serves as valuable information for conservationists. That done, keep your distance. [Contact your local WAFDE chapter immediately!] Watch, and wait for forty-eight hours. There are times when a Queen, particularly a young Queen alone through no fault of her own, will nest in the open. Her needs for sustenance will force her from the nest on occasion, but she will return. If, however, there is no sign of Mother—or Father—Dragon after two days, something untoward has definitely happened. You can assume the egg is bereft of parental care and proceed to take it into custody.
…The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook, p. 206.
Tend your find with love and care. And be assured, though fire is needed for hatching, you won’t have to walk through it like a Tragaryen to enjoy your little Dragonlet.
Happy Egg Day!
In honor of the season and memory of sweet scents and good company, a few words from pens wiser than my own.
“But what is memory if not the language of feeling, a dictionary of faces and days and smells which repeat themselves like the verbs and adjectives in a speech, sneaking in behind the thing itself, into the pure present, making us sad or teaching us vicariously…”
― Julio Cortázar, Hopscotch
“…I give you the mausoleum of all hope and desire…I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all of your breath trying to conquer it.”
― Faulkner, The Sound & The Fury
From all of us at the Nest, wishes to you for a peaceful and memorable Thanksgiving.
Happy Samhain one and all!
The harvest is over and now the world tips into its darker half. It is also the Night of the Dead – when the barrier between this world and the Otherworld thins and can be crossed. Ghosts, goblins, elves, et al, walk abroad, welcomed by some, feared by others.
Dragons, of course, do nothing by halves. When they came back to us, they did it with a snort and a roar and a lively dance round Samhain baelfires. That we were having our own seasonal fun proves a bonus for all.
Of course, tonight has its somber elements, too. It is a time to feel the presence of those no longer with us, to honor their lives and their absence. Having lost so many of their kind during the Dark Times, Dragons are particularly cognizant of this.
One word of caution: If any Dragonlets are among your trick-or-treaters, do be careful not to give them too much sugar. As with children, it has a tendency to make them bounce off walls and that can create obvious problems.
One treat we’ve found to be a huge hit around the Nest is Chocolate Habanero peppers dipped in a glaze of pumpkin and Mexican chocolate. The mix of heat and just a little sweet is enjoyed by Dragons of all ages and keeps sugar-rush mayhem to a minimum.
Wishing one and all a wondrous Samhain. And to everyone at WAFDE and dracophiles the world over, our fiercest thanks for making this Fifth Month of the Dragon so memorable. May the Great Dragon smile upon you all.
O for the glories of autumn, the air laden with change and hidden wonders!
Five years ago, The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook, was about to be published. Quite an occasion, to be sure, but how to celebrate it?
I sat down with my draconic friends at WAFDE (the World Association for Dragons Everywhere) and here at the Dragon’s Nest. As one can imagine, that many dragons and their people together leads to quite a confabulation. By day’s end we decided it was the perfect time for Month of the Dragon to go public. “After all,” Boon the great Green pointed out, “there is so much knowledge to share, not to mention fun to be had, it seems very miserly to keep it all to ourselves.”
Dragons are always right about such things.
As I said, that was five years ago. Since then, our WAFDE membership and our MotD festivities have grown beyond my wildest imaginings. While we still post almost everything here at the Dragon’s Nest, as of year 3, we began also using the WAFDE page on Facebook. Now over 500 members strong, we’re able to reach an ever widening circle of dracophiles, not to mention eliciting participation on all fronts.
And then there are those which are more moveable feasts, not to mention any and all welcome additions from our WAFDE members. In short, anything can and will happen here in the realm of the Dragons.
Amid falling leaves and oranging pumpkins, we welcome the enthusiasm of old members and new. Month of the Dragon promises the sharing of draconic joy, pictures, stories, and wisdom. On Dragon wings, the sky’s the limit.
(Note: While WAFDE on Facebook is MotD central, we also spill over here at the Dragon’s Nest. The blog format allows for more extensive ramblings and photo arrays, so I hope you’ll drop by and check us out, too.)
It is the Ides of February.
A time to honor the she-wolf who cared for Romulus and Remus.
To celebrate the fading winter – we can but hope – and the fecundity of the coming spring!
So….run naked through the streets and howl to the heavens!
And if you want to give that special little red-haired girl a Valentine, that’s cool, too.