Jabberwocky Appreciation Day: The Benefits of Diversity

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https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2016/oct/16/wonderlands-the-whimsical-illustration-of-robert-ingpen-in-pictures

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,

Image result for knucker

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.

Image result for jabberwocky

 

 

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Kiss-a-Dragon Day: Promises to Keep…

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If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures
from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.  …St Francis

 

The Dragons around the Nest are not happy today. And normally they would be. It’s October 4th – one of their favorite days of the year. Not only is it the Feast of St Francis of Assisi, it is also Kiss-a-Dragon Day.

This is the day when, despite the anti-Dragon sentiments of the old Church, Dragons give a nod to the one Churchman who knew in his bones that from the least to the greatest – and who among us is greater than a Dragon? – we are all creatures of the Universe.

St Francis ~ Bellini embellished.

That we are all worthy of love, affection, and the greatest care. It is the day when we humans reach out in humble atonement for violent wrongs done to Dragons by church and knight and ego-maniacal warrior kings. When we bridge our differences not with cold steel but with a warm embrace.Image result for kissing dragons

 

Every year before now, the Dragons round the Nest and their friends around the world have taken to the skies. They were cautiously thrilled by the progress our species have made together. But this year they are angry and sad and crying out in the wilderness.Image result for lonely dragons

“How can humans be trusted to be kind to beings like us – or even cats and dogs and guinea pigs – when you are so vicious and cruel to each other? Have you learned nothing from your past? Have you learned nothing from us?” they asked. This isn’t politics, they insist. Dragons have no use for politics. This is wondering where our basic ‘humanity’ has gone.

I look at the blood in the streets of Las Vegas and Catalonia, at the catastrophic losses in Puerto Rico; I hear the deafening drums of war rumbling around the globe. I don’t know how to answer my scaly friends. Honestly. Because the Dragons are right. For all our positive human accomplishments – and they can be awesome – we are still a cruel, self-centered, superstitious species. We kill our own in madness and zealotry, and elect leaders who line their pockets and exploit their power all the while treating the most vulnerable of their people with callous disregard. 

So this year, perhaps Kiss-a-Dragon Day should not be one of silliness and mirth. Perhaps, listening to our Dragon friends, we should embrace each other in empathy and consolation. With tears as well as joy. In humble recognition that the worst in us is loose, and in the hopeful promise that the best in us can triumph. In the promise to replace contempt with respect, negligence with care, hate with love. A promise to follow the example of St. Francis and the wisdom of the Dragons. To live up to our better angels.

In the spirit of compassion and love – of making our world a better place – kiss a Dragon today. There was a bond between a dragon and its rider, a joining of the hearts and souls and minds for eternity. For a dragon did not choose just any person, but searched in their souls to hear the one whose blood sang the same dragon-song his did. (Beautiful! ***)

Month of the Dragon. October. 2017… When Only Dragons Will Do –

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The sun wasn’t even up this morning when the house dragons started racing across my bookshelves, nipping at cat tails, and creating all sorts of draconic mayhem.

I pulled the covers over my head, begged for another hour of sleep, but they were having none of it. It’s October 1, after all. Month of the Dragon has begun.

But it is 2017 – the world is very different than it was last year, especially here in the States. There is tension and pain, outrage and existential fear. These are Dark Times. The planet is angry: Monster hurricanes have hit Texas, Florida, Cuba, and islands across the Caribbean. Earthquakes have hit Mexico, monsoons have torn through Asia, and wildfires blazed from Canada to California.

And there is a pathological individual occupying the White House who thinks nothing of insulting allies and enemies alike, driving the world to the brink of nuclear confrontation, and is more concerned with athletes “knowing their place” than that millions of Puerto Ricans – citizens he swore to protect and defend – are struggling just to stay alive. 

Undead Dragon O Ka Fee by *RubisFirenos

In the face of all this, how should we here at WAFDE [World Association for Dragons Everywhere] and our friends celebrate MotD in 2017? 

Perhaps as we always have: With a defiant roar, an all-encompassing wing, and as much humour as we can muster. To that end, I’m kicking off the Month of the Dragon with a piece I wrote a few years back. A piece that reminds us why, perhaps now more than ever, the world needs every Dragon it can get.

On Wings Everywhere Ascending:
The Relevance of Dragons in the Modern World.

In the simpler times of long ago, our ancestors struck flint to tinder and, with deer on the spit and wolf cubs at their feet, watched shadow monsters dance across cave walls. They knew Dragons intimately and held them close. How could they not? With primordial majesty, Dragons ruled earth, sea, and sky; reminded us of the danger beyond the firelight, the world beyond comprehension. They were Awe personified, revered for their wisdom and at-one-ment with the Universe, dreaded for their strength and elemental energy.

Of course that was back in the day, in a world before writing or numbers, when the elaborate covenant of conservatorship between humans and other creatures was becoming quantified and definite:

Some we ate; some we wore; some we worked.
Some were admired; some loved; some feared.
Some were mundane; some supernatural.
And some were Dragons.

They lived through the sophistry of the Ancients, the persecution of the Dark Ages, the dispassion of the Enlightenment. Wars, industrialization, habitat loss—Dragons survived even monumental disbelief that would have crushed lesser beings. They fell back when they had to, returned—in a blaze—when they could, finding their niche in the world, their place in the human psyche.

As high-tech whirly-gigs and sub-atomic wizardry change the Earth in ways Merlin could never imagine, the question arises: Are Dragons, ancient and eternal, still relevant in this brave new world?

The simple answer is a resounding “Yes!”Dragon

Of course, as with all things Dragon, no monosyllabic reply, no matter how emphatic, will suffice. For some people Dragons never have been—and never will be—relevant. And that’s all right: Dragons have suffered such dismissive treatment since the beginning. As every dracophile knows, this is indicative of a human failing not a draconic one. If you refuse to see what’s right in front of your eyes, an imagination adjustment might be required (or a pair of glasses). But for the rest of us, Dragons are deeply ingrained in our DNA, capering through our psychological, spiritual, and physical lives: through Lore, Faith, and Science.

Lore, once contained in myth and epos, now resides in dream analysis and between the pages of fantasy fiction. In the past it taught us to see Dragons as lone monsters, rapacious, greedy, and generally up to no good. We made them keepers of our fear and testers of our valor. Slaying Dragons was a rite of passage for many a princeling on his way to becoming king. Today, actual facts about Dragons have taken the place of quaint oral tradition and grotesque whimsy. The recent boom in Cryptoherpetology (Dragon Studies) has allowed us to know our scaly friends well enough that they’ve become less creatures of nightmare and more inspiration for dreamers. We know, for example, that Dragons are not solitary rogues guarding their hoards but complex social beings who would far rather dine on salmon than knight. Absorbing such information, our psychic appreciation has evolved along quite liberal lines. True, the rare Freudian may still cling to notions of Dragons as the mentors of the unbridled id; yet, generally speaking, we’ve come to replace fear and loathing with respect and honor. Today, we embrace modern Dragons as totems of our courage, loyalty, and, yes, willfulness. Rather than shun them, we claim our inner Dragons with a discerning wink and prideful roar!

When it comes to faith, the egregious treatment European Dragons suffered at human hands is fortunately a thing of the past. Able to shed most of the demon-from-Hell baggage of the last six-thousand years, modern Westies are cast in a more benevolent mold, like that of their Asian cousins. We no longer need Dragons as allegories of evil. We have caused so much trouble ourselves in the past hundred years, to shift that burden onto Dragon shoulders, even figuratively, is disingenuous at best. More on point, it is erroneous. In a sign of our shifting spirituality, we see modern Dragons personifying justice, wisdom, magic, and a Jamesian “ineffability” of the mystical. They aren’t saints, by any means, but, in an age when science pushes us to explain everything, their wordless mysticism is a precious tonic for the soul.

Curiously, science has extended draconic relevance to those more familiar with our friends soaring through faërie tales than lighting up crepuscular skies. To even the most rabid non-believer, the practical information amassed by the Dragon Conservancy and the World Association for Dragons Everywhere, is clear evidence of how much we can learn from their wild way in the physical world. To begin with, unlike humans, Dragons are elemental and cannot choose to separate themselves from nature. As such, there is no greater barometer of the Earth’s health: where Dragons thrive, the planet thrives; where they languish, the planet and everyone on her are in deep trouble.

Abraxos's tail thumped on the ground, the iron spikes in it glinting. A giant, lethal dog. With wings.

By studying Dragons, from scale hue to clutch size and eggshell density, we see our world in miniature, with all its strengths and weaknesses. The multigenerational structure of a weyr (Dragon community), for example, is an excellent sociological template, and Dragon longevity and resistance to disease have intrigued doctors for years. On an environmental level, though the apex predators of their realm, Dragons never take more than they need and never have more young than their habitat can support, two rules of talon from which we could learn a lot. Combine that with their ability to adapt to even cataclysmic climate change and what they can teach us becomes downright prescient. Indeed, if the past is indicative of the future, the more we insist on divorcing ourselves from the natural world, the more we will not only cling to Dragons, but need them.

This is just the tip of the relevancy iceberg. (Check out The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook for an A-to-Zed treatment of the subject.)

Rachel Carson wrote, “Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.” Nothing is more beautiful or mysterious than Dragons. They are our connection to the Earth, to the jaw-dropping wonder of the Universe.

In this or any other world, that’s relevance.

elizabethscomstock: “ (x) ”

Happy Month of the Dragon. Remember: Sometimes only a Dragon will do.

Something wonderful….

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A delightful film that speaks for itself.

Off the Rails - Track 451

Because the news and the weather can be just too oppressive for words, here is a wonderful tonic for the soul: In a Heartbeat, a shot film by Beth David and Esteban Bravo. Enjoy.

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Join the Fight for #NetNeutrality

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From jk over at Off the Rails & the Secret Keeper. Another fight we can’t afford to lose.

Off the Rails - Track 451

The Fight has begun again to save #NetNeutrality. Our present government. [The Trump White House and all its cronies] (what a joke . they are the thieves in the night) they are trying to role back time and destroy the conclusive FCC determination in 2015 to proclaim protection of #NetNeutrality. And once again Trump is going after the destruction of another Obama initiative . this time #NetNeutrality . a protection which opens up the free use of the Internet by all . not just overstuffed conglomerates who want to rule the world with their greed and shut down the voices who want to expose the Truth of what is happening in the world. – j.kiley

The Open Internet rules put in place by the FCC in 2015 are based upon a solid legal framework that has been sustained by the courts. The FCC Net Neutrality rules effectively safeguard the open…

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Harry Potter and the Politics of Hate

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Great post from the secret keeper. We ARE stronger together.

the secret keeper

As J.K. Rowling’s rich allegory reminds us, intolerance is an inner battle.

Tagline from this short film. What is written below the video follows the same path.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Extremely important message carried throughout this short film and throughout J.K. Rowling’s writing and her lack of fear facing up to the bullies who aren’t brave enough to be the opposite of ‘Mean.’

For those Potterheads (like myself) . and for those not involved in this world . it makes no difference . the message needs to be heard . Beware of the Danger surrounding our world . it is Real as Real Can Be .

I am a member of The Resistance . being vigilant . not allowing myself to be hypnotized by the spewing rhetoric of the alt-right & the influences not-my-president is receiving from…

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‘Let America Be America Again’

Resistance is never futile.

the secret keeper

Let America Be America Again
Langston Hughes, 1902 – 1967

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I…

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“Take Your Broken Heart….”

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Off the Rails - Track 451

In a world that has felt crazy and out of control for a while now, it is a true delight to know that there are women in the world like the radiant Viola Davis and the incomparable Meryl Streep. Their words from this year’s Golden Globe Awards are both touching and eloquent. Faced with the reality into which we are all about to be plunged, Meryl Streep’s words resonate profoundly. They bear listening to and repeating again and again.

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Remembering John Lennon 💔

We can all use a little John Lennon….

Off the Rails - Track 451

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John Lennon – Instant Karma (We All Shine On)

Today, Thursday 8th December 2016, is the unfortunate Anniversary of John Lennon’s Assassination. It happened around 10:50 p.m. (EST) on 8 December 1980, as John Lennon and Yoko Ono returned to their New York apartment in the Dakota. Mark David Chapman shot Lennon in the back four times in the archway of the building. Lennon was taken to the emergency room of the nearby Roosevelt Hospital. John Lennon was pronounced dead on arrival at 11:00 p.m. (EST). Earlier that evening, Lennon had autographed a copy of Double Fantasy for Chapman.

1-over-john-lennon-%e2%98%ae

'maggie the cat' ‘maggie the cat’

I decided to simultaneously post on ‘Off the Rails – Track 451’, and ‘the secret keeper’, on the 8th of December, to show a solidarity for John Lennon as the Artist, Writer, Song Writer, Poet, Philosopher, and the remarkable Being we were blessed to experience in our life…

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