Here Be Dragons

The first season of The Game of Thrones (so captivating!) ends with Daenerys Targaryen or Khaleesi having emerged from the funeral pyre with three newly-hatched dragons clinging to her body. A powerful sight. She personifies here the Great Mother, the maternal uoroboros (for more on this symbol see here: https://symbolreader.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/thinking-of-love/) in her more terrifying, fascinating and awe-inspiring aspect as the Dark Goddess. She is a fascinating character, who started in a seemingly losing position – exploited by her ruthless, ambition-consumed brother, married against her will, she used the situation to her advantage and developed her own, personal power. But in order to become the real lady of the dragons, to embrace her feminine power, she had to renounce and let go of two aspects. On that funeral pyre burnt two aspects of her old self: the corpse of her husband and the dark witch. She needed to understand that she is complete without a man, that no man defines her or owns her. Furthermore, she needed to renounce black magic – the use of her powers for evil causes or to try to change the laws of nature. Her sacred task is to guard the sacred natural laws. I have not seen the second season yet, so I do not want to know for now what kind of character she will grow into.

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The inscription ‘Here be dragons’ was used to indicate unchartered territories on ancient maps. Psychologically, we all have these unchartered and untamed areas of the psyche.

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In a great Book of Imaginary Beings Jorge Luis Borges writes this about the Eastern Dragon:

Generally, it is imagined with a head something like a horse’s, with a snake’s tail, with wings on its sides (if at all), and with four claws, each furnished with four curved nails. We read also of its nine resemblances: its horns are not unlike those of a stag, its head that of a camel, its eyes those of a devil, its neck that of a snake, its belly that of a clam, its scales those of a fish, its talons those of an eagle, its footprints those of a tiger, and its ears those of an ox. … . It is customary to picture them with a pearl, which dangles from their necks and is a symbol of the sun. Within this pearl lies the Dragon’s power. The beast is rendered helpless if its pearl is stolen from it. According to its will, the Dragon can become visible or invisible. In springtime it ascends into the skies; in the fall it dives down into the depths of the seas.

The Celestial Dragon carries on its back the palaces of the gods that otherwise might fall to earth, destroying the cities of men; the Divine Dragon makes the winds and rains for the benefit of mankind; the Terrestrial Dragon determines the course of streams and rivers; the Subterranean Dragon stands watch over treasures forbidden to men.

From that description the dragon appears to be a symbol of wholeness – it combines the powers of heavenly and chthonic powers and rules the four elements. There is no environment where a dragon would feel inept. The dragon seems to be an extremely universal symbol: it appeared in almost every culture, both in myth and legend of the cultures most primitive and most sophisticated. In Switzerland the famous mountain Pilatus is known as the mountains of dragons. I made a point of standing on top of it on my birthday. I walked through a corridor of caves and read plaque with fragments of dragon legends. They were quite poetic and I photographed all of them. One of them said:

So, one dark night as the pale moon is all but obscured by scudding clouds, a giant shadow might indeed sweep past, and a visitor to Pilatus may hear a distant flapping of leathery wings. Should a hint of healing energy drift his way, the visitor may consider himself a lucky man indeed.

Another one read:

Dragons are subterranean, winged, smoke- and fire-breathing creatures, hybrid go-betweens in a magical bond between heaven and the underworld, where they guard secret treasures and reign over fires and concealed palaces.

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Pilatus

According to Cirlot, author of my favourite Dictionary of Symbols, dragons are an amalgam of elements taken from various animals that are extremely aggressive and dangerous, such as serpents, crocodiles, lions and prehistoric animals. It is an expression of the amoral realm of pure instinct, chaos and dissolution. It is a primordial enemy of many heroes. The symbolism of the dragon is three-level: it combines “the highest level of spirituality; the intermediary plane of the phenomenal life; and the lower level of inferior and telluric (i.e. related to earth) forces.”

The word ‘dragon’ comes from Greek derkein – seeing, which explains why they are such good guardians and also suggests clairvoyance and the gift of prophecy. In alchemy, dragons fighting with each other illustrated the state of putrefactio (separating out the Elements, or psychic disintegration –a process in which the old decomposes, rots to make way for the new). Putrefaction is a disattachment from the past, allowing it to die, rot and ferment. Out of the darkness the new content may emerge and enrich the Soul.

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I find it quite interesting that the name of the Python that was killed by the God Apollo in Delphi, where subsequently the god established his oracle with the priestess called the Pythia, means “Rotter.” It was through slaying the Python that Apollo became a prophet. Wise kings throughout history have assimilated the dragon as their emblems, most notably Uther Pendragon (i.e. Chief Dragon), father of King Arthur.

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William Turner, Apollo and Python

Jung equaled the dragon with the terrible mother – the regressive forces that threaten to swallow the hero, i.e. the ego seeking individuation. Liz Greene reminds that the violent split that occurred between the Greek sky gods and the Mother Goddess is a natural development of consciousness and is reenacted in classical myth and legends in which a hero fights a dragon. She argues, however, that the time has come now in the evolution of human kind to resolve this dramatic split. Redemption of matter and instinct, the acknowledgement of their wisdom, is what the return of the divine feminine is about. The Virgin does not need to be rescued, she can master the dragon herself. All of us, irrespective of gender, must face our inner dragon.

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The Dragon of Krakow, my home town

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34 Responses to Here Be Dragons

  1. Red says:

    I love dragons, I have taken one as a protector in my dreams. Thank you for all the wonderful information you share in your posts. I truly enjoy reading them.

  2. Lehua says:

    Another perfectly timed post. Just finished reading Goddesses in Every Woman and I’m still processing the realization of being born an Artemis having cycled through so many of the other goddesses during my life. I’ve just exited a period with Aphrodite, in fact.

    Dragons are a very strong symbol in my life and I identify with so much from Daenerys’ plight. My chest swelled with pride when she rose from the ash.

    Thank you for this post. As usual, it has filled in the cracks between my thought process.

    • How wonderful you should mention the goddesses. I love it that in myth no goddess needs ever be saved from the dragon, what is more, Demeter had a chariot pulled by them, Medea ruled them. And then there is Daenerys – I felt proud for her, like you.

  3. Between the NBA and blogging I missed season one of The Game of Throne. Trust me, I feel left out…I hear it is great. But I missed little in this post Monika, it seems. Wow. The turbulence and raw power represented by the dragon…it takes no special imaginative powers to make the connection with the ego in an agitated state, threatened and defending itself.


    This Group, Apollo Run, titled their first album “Here be Dragons”.
    I (with reservation) decided to drop this video.. the choreography and situation reflect the intensity of my inside battle with dragons.

    Jim

    • That song, oh my God! Perfection.
      I have a quote from you by Liz Greene from The Astrology of Fate: “Perhaps we must all deal with this dragon at some time in our lives, but for Scorpio there is a kind of cyclical collision, a permanent and increasingly profound encounter with the dragon’s realm.”
      You must see The Game of Thrones. I have only just discovered it so I am in the proselytizing stage.

      • Haha You know what, I will need a good series to sink my mind into during my move. I’ll be caught up by September I would assume. Monika that quote was awesome. And dragon’s chambers always seem to be deep, and get deeper and hotter. I trained in the scorching California desert…in earthquake land. No problamo! (:

  4. There for sure Be Dragons in my psyche~ 😀

  5. LadyBlueRose's Thoughts Into Words says:

    I have a Dragon protecting me and my property..
    He has been here for about 4 years, a friend sent him
    when I had some very weird things happen to me and my zoo….
    This was a very good post, Thank you for sharing withme/us
    Take Care…
    )0(

  6. Oh, I think you understand Strength just fine — resolution of a dramatic split between two disparate and wholly other entities. Serendipitous! (Your post reminds me of this series of children’s books with which I was raised: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serendipity_(book_series). The instantiation of the series is a magenta dragon named Serendipity. 🙂

    • This is cool. I actually thought this coincidence has to do with yesterday’s full moon in Leo/Aquarius, which was squared by Saturn in Scorpio. I missed the Beast in Dali’s image.

  7. shreejacob says:

    I love dragons! Well the concept of them. The dragons of my world would be benevolent creatures here to help us 🙂
    It’s also quite true that we can look at dragons as the issues that we need to deal with, our personal demons in the form of angry dragons, and if that be the case then as we all should, they are there to help us become whole again and therefore learn to tame our dragons! 🙂

  8. Stuff Jeff Reads says:

    Great post! Daenerys is my favorite GOT character and I love how you expanded on the dragon mythology. Also, you made me realize I need to read more Borges. 😉

  9. Soul Fields says:

    Thanks again for an aah post. 😀

    It reminded me of an inner guidance picture I saw once of a cute, smiling and even a bit shy dragon. It was drawn like a cartoon picture (I am sometimes shown things as cartoon images), maybe to emphasize the cuteness, humor and the absence of something to be afraid of. It was an acknowledgment to myself of healing, taming of some of my inner dragons, also having a more collective meaning there back in time. On the other hand, in terms of healing and wholeness, an inner dragon can also be about being too nice, a submissive sub personality (a more obvious one or even hiding deeply behind strength and optimism, and so on).

    • I think you are right about the dragon telling us we mustn’t be submissive. It rings true personally, let me just say.

      • Soul Fields says:

        Okay…And “…or even hiding deeply behind strength and optimism…” was me (rejecting my sensitive side with more individual layers than I shared here, a bunch of qualities under the same umbrella). PS. I was joining in collective energy transmitting when I saw the image (not that I can recall all of them at all :D), that´s why it was a more collective theme, as balancing different kinds of feminine and masculine aspects is.

  10. Yaz says:

    I haven’t watched The Game of Throne, and do not know much about Dragons, but I love to read your interpretation of the metaphors.

  11. I have not seen the show but am hoping The Tudors comes back to TV because I love Tudor architecture. When I think about dragons, I visualize the Chinese celebrations in Chinatown. I love these colorful and jubilant celebrations! I also think of my many friends born under the year of the Dragon 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, etc They are dynamic, passionate, complex personalities that complement my Chinese zodiac sign. Dragons are cool, even if they are breathing fire 🙂

  12. renatembell says:

    This is so timely. Thank you. Last night there was a creature in my dream that I could only describe as “Godzilla”, but now that I have seen the image of the Dragon of Krakow, I may have to reevaluate for deeper meaning! Thank you for the continued inspiration.

  13. If one looks we see these wonderful Dragons all over. On coats of arms. Church walls 🙂 I always connected to Dragons somehow. Loved this indepth post xx

  14. Henry Jekyll says:

    Very interesting indeed Monika. The dragon is an image that seems to transcend cultural and geographic limitations. I came across a link a short while back that discussed the different symbolism associated with the European and the Asian dragon. I think you may find it interesting and thought I’d share.
    http://www.slideshare.net/angelchoi909/symbolic-meanings-of-dragons-between-east-and-west-pols-3620

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