For whatever it’s worth, according to Chinese astrology, I’m a Dragon. At the end of the day, I don’t believe this affects my personality nor demeanor. It is fun to ponder the concept, though.
The Dragon is the only Chinese Zodiac sign that is not a real creature. For instance the majority of 2020 and the early part of this year have been the year of the Rat. (We can interpret the Year of the Rat however we wish.) Aside from the Rat and the Dragon, there are ten other creatures in this roster.
However, today is an unofficial holiday called “Appreciate A Dragon Day” It’s one of those promotional commemorations that was started in 2004 to publicize Donita Paul’s novel Dragonspell. Why January 16th? I don’t know; maybe that was the release date of the novel. I’ve never gotten around to reading the book, because I haven’t prioritized getting a copy of it. Book or no book, I just like the idea of appreciating dragons.
It’s interesting that, for the most part, dragons in western folklore are fearsome, villainous characters. Such dragons have kidnapped pretty princesses and must be slain by chivalrous heroes in order to rescue the forlorn princesses. Western dragons are huge winged, fire-breathing critters that project a thunderous roar.
In the east, dragons are considered auspicious although they do demand respect. They’re somewhat smaller than western dragons. They are akin to “guardian angels” in some respect. Eastern dragons are the protectors of the gods and valuable treasure. They don’t roar, they emit musical sounds like bells and gongs.
Dragons are found in almost every culture. European dragons, Egyptian dragons, Native American dragons, Chinese dragons. They are varied in their depiction and symbolic meanings. Although there are numerous dragon myths, the eastern varieties fascinate me most, such as those of China and Tibet. These cultures are steeped in dragon lore.
“I’m kind of honored to be a dragon lady. The dragon is a very powerful, mythical animal.”–Yoko Ono
The dragon can be interpreted as the assertive side of spirituality. When we are engulfed in a dark night of the soul, it is the dragon that energizes our inner-being and lifts us away from ennui. Dragons represent our secret aspirations being manifested. I wonder if the aspirational aspect of dragons is why Elon Musk named his rockets “Dragon”. There’s the urban legend that Musk so named the rocket after the Peter, Paul, and Mary song, “Puff the Magic Dragon”. That’s a dragon of a different sort.
While pondering the brass Chinese Dragon hanging on the wall in my music room, I wondered about more profound meanings of dragons. The fearsome western dragon apparently represents our inner fears about ourselves and our perceived faults. We have our own, personal dragons to slay in order to proceed with life. In effect, we have to rescue ourselves from ourselves. Our highest self is the proverbial damsel in distress who must be released from the bondage of the western dragon.
The Eastern Dragon is more of a higher force or catalyst that inspires our best selves. It is less a form of entertainment but a symbol representing the strength of beneficial wisdom and caring. Such a dragon is so highly revered that it is the symbol of China. This type of dragon is not to be feared and slain, it is to be admired and respected.
Regardless of the type of dragons we imagine, they are figures of our pipe-dreams about inauspicious or auspicious actions that are presented to us in life. They are western dragons to conquer or eastern dragons to emulate. Since we are all citizens of the world, we can ponder the meanings of all the dragons we encounter. Dragons are wonderful metaphors that can open and free our minds. They are fantasy yearning to be manifested.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes astrophysicist and cosmologist, Martin Rees. “The bedrock nature of space and time and the unification of cosmos and quantum are surely among science’s great ‘open frontiers.’ These are parts of the intellectual map where we’re still groping for the truth–where, in the fashion of ancient cartographers, we must still inscribe ‘here be dragons.'”
I vote for the eastern dragon over the western dragon. No contest.
Interesting post, it is strange how the western and eastern dragon are so different to each other.
The dragons seem to reflect the underlying philosophies of traditional western and eastern civilizations.