Tell-a-Dragon-Tale Week – Y Ddraig Goch of Yore

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Month of the Dragon is racing right along, and we have arrived at a favorite time of mine, Tell-a-Dragon-Tale Week. It is a time to gather in the mead hall and spin the most fantastic yarns of draconic daring-do. To talk of Dragon books and stories.

This year, prodded gently by my friend Karen Sanderson, I’m kicking off the week with a classic piece of Dragon lore: the tale of Y Ddraig Goch, the Red Dragon of Wales.

There are many stories about this noble creature, though one of the earliest is found in the Mabinogion. In the story of good King LluddRelated image

and his brother, Llefelys. It seems that long ago, Britain was cursed by three plagues, the second of which is to our tale.

Every May Day a terrible scream was heard across the land, from Anglesey to Land’s End, from Dubrae to Caledonia. Worse than a thousand Ban síde, the scream made grown men weep and all manner of creatures, two-legged and four, to go barren. Lludd was at a loss, but his brother, who was wise in the way of the mystical knew at once what to do.

“Dragons! The land is plagued with Dragons.” One very old (the Red Dragon of the Celts) and one a newcomer (the would-be usurping White Dragon of the Saxons and Angles). They were engaged in a terrible battle and it was their terrible screams that cut through the night.The only thing to do was to capture the Dragons and confine them underground at the heart of the land. 

Now, to capture two warring Dragons is no easy task, but, with the help of vast quantities of mead (Dragons do love their mead), King Lludd and Prince Llefelys were able to bind the Dragons and bury them deep underground on the southern verge of Snowdonia in Cymru. The mound that kept them contained is Dinas Emrys.

What images this conjures up! Daenerys Targaryen chaining Viserion and Rhaegal in a dungeon under Meereen [Mother of Dragons lost major cred with that move; than goodness Tyrion was wise enough to set them free.]

Then again, was it perhaps an ancient precursor of Yucca Mountain,where lethal forces beyond our control were going to be entombed until – in theory – no longer dangerous? But I digress…

Years later, King Vortigern, a first-class tyrant if ever there was one, wanted to build a castle atop Dinas Emrys. Everytime his builders tried to set the foundation, the earth trembled so violently the stones turn to rubble. His court “magicians” told him to sacrifice a child “born without a father” and sprinkle his blood on the hill. This would stop the tremors and bring him great good fortune, to boot.

So Vortigern searched far and wide until he found such a msyterious child.

The next day the king, his wise men, his soldiers and retinue, his artificers, carpenters, and stonemasons, assembled for the ceremony of putting the boy to death.

Then the boy said to the king, “Why have your servants brought me hither?”

“That you may be put to death,” replied the king, “and that the ground on which my citadel is to stand may be sprinkled with your blood, without which I shall be unable to build it.”

“Who,” said the boy, “instructed you to do this?”

“My wise men,” replied the king.

“Order them hither,” returned the boy.

This being done, he thus questioned the wise men: “By what means was it revealed to you that this citadel could not be built unless the spot were sprinkled with my blood? Speak without disguise, and declare who discovered me to you.”

Then turning to the king, “I will soon,” said he, “unfold to you everything; but I desire to question your wise men and wish them to disclose to you what is hidden underneath this pavement.”

They could not do so and acknowledged their ignorance….

“I,” said the boy, “can discover it to you if the wise men cannot.

And the boy told the king of a great chamber in which two mighty dragons, one red, one white, were engaged in eternal war with each other.

“…the red…is your dragon, but the white…is the dragon of the Saxons, who occupy several provinces and districts of Britain, even almost from sea to sea. At length, however, our people shall rise and drive the Saxon race beyond the sea whence they have come. But do you depart from this place where you are not permitted to erect a citadel, you must seek another spot for laying your foundations.” (Why the Red Dragon Is the Emblem of Wales; W. Jenkyn Thomas)

Red Dragon v. White – Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain

After executing his not-so-wise council, Vortigern took the lad’s advice and built his castle on a neighboring hill.  His life spared, the boy grew in fame and power and became know, in time, as Myrddin Emrys, a name later Anglicized as Merlin.

As most of us know, Merlin left Cymru for Cornwall where he offered his considerable services to Uther Pendragon and, later, his son, Arthur, a king who also rode under the banner of the Dragon.

In later years, a much better king than Vortigern, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, the last king of Cymru, constructed a great citadel atop Dinas Emrys. It was perhaps his reverence for the Red Dragon that made it possible for him to build without draconic interference. 

As for Merlin’s vision of the Red Dragon defeating the White, the mage was right for a time. Yet, eventually, as Geoffrey of Monmouth recounted, the White Dragon of of Britain – sometimes Anglo-Saxon, sometimes Norman – did overcome and subsume Y Ddraig Goch.

For the Cymry, though, the Red Dragon remains the soaring emblem of the land on flag and crest, watching over them with all his fierceness.

The English, perhaps recalling the strength of Y Ddraig Goch in centuries past, have not always approved. To which Dragons reply, “Tough talons! We’re here, we fierce, get used to it.”

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Dragon Art – Sunday Edition…

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Happy Sunday.

Dragon Art Weekend continues through morning frost and clear autumn skies. So when you need a break from the Sunday Crossword, pour yourself another cup of coffee and enjoy….

"One White Soul" by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

“One White Soul” by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

https://i.pinimg.com/736x/4a/a4/53/4aa453a204c2c8f0d04cbfc7b1533c92--dragons-den-here-be-dragons.jpg

Dragão da Névoa em sua forma física. Mais

driftwood dragon - James Doran

Driftwood Dragon – James Doran

https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/narutofanon/images/7/73/WDragon.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20140611013244

Bronze Dragon – Yoshida City, Japan

Hunting Party, Artur Mósca on ArtStation at https://www.artstation.com/artwork/dBD3X

Hunting Party – Artur Mosca

Mojave Desert Sand Dragon

Mojave Desert Sand Dragon

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/398076054544837617/

Far In The Direction – East Monkey

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Green Dragons – Norsk Wood Works

chinese dragon ink - Google Search

Fire inside by ~yoggurt on deviantART

Fire Inside – Yoggurt

 

Green Dragon – A Miscellany of Magical Beasts by Simon Holland

And for all those who are still looking for ways to help the people devastated by hurricane Maria, here’s a place to start.

 

 

Weekend Dragon Art –

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Leaf season is fading fast and I hope everyone is getting out and enjoying these crisp October days. Since I hope to be doing just that myself – along with tackling fall garden clean-up – I thought it would be fun to devote this weekend’s posts to some of the wild and woolly new Dragon art I have come across since last year’s MotD.

Enjoy.

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https://www.google.com/search?q=Dragons

https://i.pinimg.com/736x/1b/e1/a4/1be1a47e80301a3ade36d9d4677c28e6--mythical-dragons-fantasy-creatures.jpg

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Medieval Dragon

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Chinese Dragon – Vincent Coviello

This is really cool. Wat Sampron (Dragon temple) near Bangkok, Thailand.

Diwali Lights – Dragon Flights

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This year, Diwali – the Lunar festival of Lights – and Month of the Dragon happen to coincide and the Dragons of the Himalayan Quad couldn’t be happier. They are doing aerial somersaults from the Western Ghats to the shores of Lop Nur.

Diwali is a moveable feast, celebrated by Hindu, Jain, Sikh, and Buddhist across the globe. When it falls during MotD, it serves as a brilliant reminder that, though we may be more familiar with Western Dragons, we must never forget their wise, often-reclusive, Asian kin.

Fire Dragon – Vasylina

Occurring sometime between mid-October and mid-November, Diwali is a festival of joy, wishes, fireworks, and sweets – all thing Dragons embrace! It is also a time when intricate rice/flour paintings or rangoli are created on floors and in courtyards as sacred greetings for the gods. A bit of common sense advice: ask your Dragons to stay clear of the paintings, as they are fragile and can be dispersed with the slightest whoosh of Dragon wings.

Diwali is also the time to celebrate

light winning out over darkness,
good over evil,
knowledge over ignorance,
hope over despair.

Sky Dragon – Jackie Morris

In a year of increased fears and doubts about tomorrow, of lies exhaled as easily as breath by those who should be ashamed to do so, Diwali seems to carry a special significance.

Today we light a flame to honor the Inner Cosmic Light, the underlying Reality of All Things.

Including Dragons!Dragon, Kouji Tajima on ArtStation at https://www.artstation.com/artwork/wqE5g?utm_campaign=digest&utm_medium=email&utm_source=email_digest_mailer

 

Dance Into Flight…

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He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.    

….Friedrich Nietzsche

We had our first frost of autumn yesterday. The nasturtiums wilted fiercely, the woolly-bears came out in force, and Draconic must fills the air. Dragons have taken to the skies over the Green Mountains in joyful, romantic dance. Few beings have as innate an understanding of dance as Dragons, especially during mating season. They positively ripple with the rhythms of the elements, rising and falling on cool autumn breezes, tapping their talons on leaf-littered glens.

They understand the core of Agnes de Mille’s words,

To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful. This is power, it is glory on earth and it is yours for the taking.

In the East, we humans look to Dragons for festive inspiration, especially around the New Year. The fluid ins and outs of the ritual Dragon Dance exemplify draconic strength and flow of the season.

And so, today, honor the dancing Dragons. Embrace their wild abandon and wing-flapping two-steps. 

 

To paraphrase William Butler Yeats – he was writing of Fairies at the time, though might just as well have been speaking of our scaly friends:

Come…take me out of this dull world, for I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame.

So, go forth with joy and dance with Dragons.

 

 

For the Dragon Who Has Everything: A Bibble, A Bauble, A Day at the Fair…

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Baubles And Beads - 12of8

Baubles And Beads – 12of8

Back in darkly superstitious – and Dragon-rich – 7th-century England,

Cheerful yellow dragon - BnF Latin 10533 - http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b10318624f/f10.imagethere lived a very devout princess named Etheldreda. She was, by all accounts, a beautiful woman, and learned, to boot. In her younger years, she was fond of necklaces and beads, beautiful baubles of every description. While such finery was befitting a young royal expected to play a role in the political chess-game of the day, it was less apt for the saintly abbess she became once she’d extricated herself from not one but two unconsummated marriages and was party to numerous miracles. (Some say getting out of her connubial relationships a virgin was her greatest miracle of all!)

audrey

Etheldreda, aka Audrey, died in 679 in her early 40s (39-45, exact dates of birth were sketchy back then), young by modern standards. In the end, she succumbed to a great growth on her neck, which she attributed to divine judgment on her frivolous, necklace-loving youth. In recognition of this – and St Audrey’s pious legacy – St Audrey’s Fairs have become an annual tradition. Morris Dancers kick up their heels and colorful stalls are festooned with baubles and beads of less than stellar quality – downright tawdry, in fact – the word itself a bastardization of St Audrey.

 

As every Dracophile knows, Dragons have a warm place in their fiery hearts for baubles, tawdry or not. It is only fitting that, during the Month of the Dragon, we tip our hats to St Audrey and her deliciously tacky fairs. Thus, on October 16th, we celebrate Gaudy Bauble Day, a time to go to a tag sale or flea market or five-and-dime, and find a charming sparkly for your Dragon (or yourself). Remember, Dragons understand that their keeping is expensive, and so value the giving more than the cost. Gaudy Bauble Day is a celebration of the cheap and flashy – and a good time to do some early Yule shopping, too.

Time for Chipping In: All Paws On Deck!

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Month of the Dragon usually sets aside a weekend to get together with our scaly cohorts and tackle that autumn Dragon-do list we’ve all been trying to ignore. Cleaning gutters, blowing leaves (no burning, please), pruning trees, sweeping chimneys, and putting the storms on those upstairs windows. It is the draconic way of giving back and paying forward.

This year, in this as in so many things, is different. Fires, floods, and winds, disaster relief is under way around the world – and now Ophelia bearing down on Ireland. It all makes a few leaves in the gutter seem unimportant. With this in mind, the consensus among the Weyrs is to extend Chipping-In Day through the entire month of October and beyond as needs be. Related image

Even among non-believers, Dragons are there, watching out for the displaced and endangered. They lift the weary and make frightened children laugh. And when possible, they even find lost pets and keep them safe until they can be reunited with their humans.

It is a messy, troubled world out there, and just knowing that Dragons are around, lending a paw, somehow inspires the better angels of our own species and makes it all a little more bearable. Even if only in our imaginations.

 

 

 

Do You Believe In Dragons?

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Chances are, if you’re visiting the Nest, the answer is a resounding “Yes!!”

Dragon

But today is Skeptics Day. And skeptics abound even in the company of Dragons. I am constantly surprised by just how may people, despite all the evidence to the contrary, still think Dragons – large and small – are just elaborate figments of our imagination. Silly humans.Baby Dragon

Of course, as any Dragon will tell you, “If they don’t believe, you can’t make them.” Some people will simply not see what right in front of their eyes.

For thse of you who still languish in doubt, I off a bit of film from Game of Thrones that always makes me smile. Not only does it feature the brilliant Peter Dinklage, but it offers the evidence to the rankest skeptic. And, as David Hume said, “A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence.” Plus, I too, when a child, always wanted a Dragon of my very own.

In the face of so much wonder, skepticism simply dries up and blows away.

 

Where’s Falkor When We Need Him?

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Since this time last year the world has been rocked, rolled, and tumbled, careening this way and that towards the edge of utter chaos. From the Himalayan Quad to the Weyrs of Tierra del Fuego, Dragons who should be delighting in the change of season and attendant mating rituals are on existential alert. For all of us.

And so it is with an added sense of urgency that we raise an orison to Luck Dragons around the world, and wish one and all a Felicitous Falkor Festival.

[Note: Falkor’s Festival coincides with the feast of Felicitas, Pagan tutelary of good fortune. All is connected in the world of Dragons.]

Falkor, for those of you new to the way of Dragons, is the Luck Dragon in Michael Ende’s Neverending Story. A pluch, sinuous, floppy-eared Dragon who comes to the aid of Atreyu in his quest to keep the vile Nothing at bay. Named after the Japanese Dragon of good fortune, he exemplifies the positive attributes of Asian Dragons from the Arals to the Pacific Rim.ArtStation - Chinese Dragon-sketch, Zhelong XU

Though not particularly magical himself, Falkor has a way of bringing luck to those who persevere.

At a time when nuclear tensions are increasing around the globe, there is another Lucky Dragon worth remembering today. In March, 1954, the Japanese tuna boat, Daigo Fukuryū Maru – Lucky Dragon No. 5 – and her crew were irradiated by fallout from the U.S.’s massive Castle Bravo thermonuclear test in the Bikini Atoll.

Castle Bravo Nuclear Test – 1954

On a draconic level, The Lucky Dragon incident gave rise to Godzilla lore. More importantly, the ship and her crew joined Hiroshima and Nagasaki as vital symbols of Japan’s anti-nuclear movement. At a time when certain moronic world leaders are wondering why we have such abominable weapons if we’re not going to use them, it is more important than ever to remind them – every day if we must – exactly why we never can. 

In short, today we need the wisdom and benevolence of all the Luck Dragons in the world. We also need to persevere in the quest for global sanity and peace.The Dragons of the Marsh

Find your own personal Falkor, rub him/her between the ears, and hold tight.

May their good fortune bless us all.

 

Fire Dragons In a Tinderbox

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Autumn in one of my favorite seasons. The air cools, the woolly bears come out, and the landscape turns positively polychromatic. It’s also time for Dragon courtship, but that’s a tale for another day.

As the leaves color, dry, and fall, the October wilderness becomes a tinderbox. And, despite the increasing number and strength of hurricanes and monsoons pounding coastlines this year, the sea surges and floods, climate change has been making the potential for conflagrations much worse.

Now Dragons have a spectacular relationship with fire. In the realm of pop culture, one has only to think of the oohs and aahhs elicited by the magnificent Dragons in Game of Thrones’ “Spoils of War” episode to get a properly draconic tingle up one’s spine. Special effects can be breathtaking!

But it is important to remember that, in the real world, Dragons are remarkably careful with their flames. Aside from hatching time, Dragonfire is used in defense – usually last defense – and usually with a keen awareness of ones fragile surroundings. After all, Dragons rely on the woodlands for food and shelter and are inclined to act in their own self-interest.This jpeg image - Fantasy Fire-breathing Dragon Wallpaper, is available for free download

Of course, young Dragons just entering their fire-breathing years are not always as careful as they should be. Between the exuberance of discovery and the impishness of youth, accidents can happen.Related image It is incumbent upon their parents/guardians and Dragonkeepers to teach them proper fire safety and etiquette. When better to start than during Fire Prevention Week.

Right now, our hearts go out to the denizens of California. North to south, the state is ablaze and our fur, skin, feather and fin friends are all threatened. While Dragons were not responsible for this spate of wildfires, as creatures in the wild, they are nonetheless impacted by the devastation.

Keep safe. Quench embers and errant sparks and don’t let your Dragons flame near the woods.

Fire Breathing Dragon – Jezebel