Having spent all week working on the main illustration of my “Saint George and the Dragon” manuscript, I decided today’s symbol would be the Dragon. The word “dragon” in ancient Greek means “snake.” Many dragon images, past and present, are endowed with snake-like looks and qualities. In Greek mythology, there are many different types of dragons including several that are snake-based like the Hydra and Python, of water and of earth, respectively. In western cultures, dragons are often associated with evil but in East Asia, they are commonly considered beneficiary. The dragon’s ability to fly and breathe fire may stem from an origin belief that meteorites were dragons streaking through the sky. The link between dragons and meteors is strengthened by the Celtic story of King Arthur in which Uther took the surname Pendragon (“chief-dragon”) after he saw a dragon-shaped comet (although some say it was his elder brother who saw it). According to Carl Jung, winged dragons represent the transcendent symbolism of the snake and the bird. Combine that with either water, another transcendent symbol, or fire, a destructive symbol, and the dragon becomes the epitome of transcendence. But a dragon can also symbolize primal force, destruction, devouring, as well as wisdom and longevity (in Oriental culture).
I have always loved dragons. I wore a dragon head pendent for years and decorated my room extensively in dragon art. As a teenager, I was lucky enough to be the subject of a dragon-based illustration by my good friend and incredible artist, Robin Wood. That portrait became later became a Dragon Magazine cover!
Jung, Carl G., ed. Man and his Symbols. London: Aldus Books, 1964.
Shepherd, Rowena and Rupert. 1000 Symbols. New York: Thames & Hudson, 2002.