Showing posts with label Christopher Columbus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christopher Columbus. Show all posts

Saturday 9 April 2016

Dragons and the Spring Thaw

Dragons and the Spring Thaw

Although the origin of Dragon Myths is not clear, their supposed existence can be traced as far back as 400 B.C. Some speculate that dinosaur fossil discoveries had a lot to do with advancing this belief. In any case the exciting stories of dragons can be found on every continent throughout history with the exception of Antarctica, for the climate there is an impediment for these creatures that like fire, live in water, but not ice water. 

And now the big question where Dragon does live?

A mythical creature, they are believed to live in wet, damp caves, at the centre of the earth, in forests, or in the middle of the ocean; preferably far, far away from any civilized settlement. If, on occasion, a castle is long since abandoned and permanently forsaken by any human beings, the Dragon my take up residence there and that’s how the legend of Dragons occupying certain castles came into being. But I digress; whether Dragons are viewed as villains or as benevolent creatures depends on the geographical location and the culture. Unfortunately in western civilization Dragons are always meant to perish. Dragons are perpetually represented as villains that are to be bested and killed by the indomitable hero that goes on a quest to rid this scourge of society (a terrible beast that breaths fire, has poisonous claws and guards great treasure) and is rewarded in the end by being granted the hand of a beautiful princess.

In Greek mythology the story of Perseus and the Dragon of Poseidon tells of a vain queen who almost sacrificed her daughter to the Dragon, had it not been for Perseus. We all have seen that movie.

At least the ancient Romans considering Dragons as mystical beasts that held the secrets of the earth, they looked to Dragons as a source of knowledge and used them as symbols of strength for their military.

Meanwhile, in England, stories are full of accounts of Dragons and how anyone who killed these terrible monsters was awarded with knighthood. In one such story there was a young man who fought a Dragon for the reward of bringing the king's daughter to his master for marriage. But Tristan was tricked by another man who coveted the princess’s hand. In the end Tristan cut off the Dragon's tongue as proof of his accomplishment and the lies of the other man were uncovered.

And let us not forget, during Christopher Columbus’ time, when the world was believed to be flat, Dragons were assumed to inhabit the oceans especially at the edge of earth, waiting to devour anyone who dared to trespass into the Dragon’ territory and sail that far into the ocean. Needless to say, this false belief deterred much sea exploration. Ancient maps furthered this belief marking the place where these Dragons supposedly lived, that is at the edge of the map, with an imprint,” Here Be Dragons”. 

Having said this, I cannot resist mentioning one more fable: “A Norseman fights off a sea dragon.” This story comes to us from Norway.

There was once a powerful King, who loved his daughter very much but had to leave her behind in the castle while he went away (probably warring) on a long trip. He left her in the care of a tiny Dragon who was to be her guardian. The princess was skeptical of the tiny creatures’ prowess, fearing that if danger manifested it could not protect her. However, the Dragon soon grew into a tremendous size. He grew so large in fact that he was able to wrap his body all around the castle and not let anyone in or out of it. When the king finally returned home, even he was not permitted inside the castle. The only recourse now was to kill this beast of a dragon. Even the mightiest warriors however remained hesitant to undertake this perilous task. As an incentive the desperate King offered his daughter’s hand in marriage to anyone capable of killing this dreaded monster. A few brazen souls went forth to encounter the Dragon but unfortunately no man in Norway was capable of this feat and all forfeited their lives prematurely. Eventually a youth from Sweden succeeded in this task and as his reward he married the princess and they returned to Sweden together to live happily ever after.

I favor the Asian view of the Dragon. Here they are celestial, spiritual beings that have religious and cultural importance. Dragons, endowed with supernatural or magical powers, possess certain wisdom and represent long-life. And Dragons most predominantly play a vital role in the outcome of the weather. This brings my narrative back to spring thaw, with lightning in the sky and the spring showers or the melting of ice. My thoughts naturally turn to the concept of Dragons big and small. Celebrating spring, I celebrate the Dragon.

Here are some pictures of spring thaw 2016: