Sheri’s February Musings

This month I've been musing about dragons. What is it about them that has fascinated us throughout history and continue to fascinate us to this day? And, what exactly is a dragon, and how did their legend get born?
 
There are wingless dragons called wyrms, or wurms, or even worms, great serpents that are said to resemble snakes. There are horned dragons, dragons with wings, those who spew fire, and those whose breath freezes the world. At one time, dragons were associated with the gods, said to be creatures of the elements: water, air, fire, and earth, and endowed with the power to do great good or terrible ill.
 
We have tales of dragon magic and dragon gold, dragon lairs that are sometimes deep within the bowels of the earth, sometimes high upon a mountain peak. We have stories of dragon tears (rain) and dragon's breath (mist), and dragon's that guard the secrets of time. There are dragons that shift to human form and walk amongst us, and dragons that are so old that they have simply lost interest in our world and have lain down and allowed the countless dust of countless ages to cover them whole until they resemble nothing more than hillsides that occasionally rumble and shake, but never truly awake. Dragons fly, they crawl, they burrow and nest, they lounge around on a bed of gold or as some cultures suggest, are the real source of those mysterious fairy rings.
 
The notion of dragons is almost universal in ancient cultures, with stories and depictions of them appearing all over the world. I'm fond of the gallant knight battling the great fire-breathing monster to save the fair damsel in distress. Now mind you, she's only in distress because her village has decided to sacrifice her to an angry beast to save their own hides, but I like the legend anyway.
 
We write of dragons, whisper of them, dream of them, and immortalize them in song and art. Even the Greek historian Herodotus wrote of flying serpents in both ancient Arabia and Egypt. Did he see these beings and record them for all of prosperity? I don't know, but the practical part of me supposes that dragons where born, and then given life in countless song and story as a way for ancient cultures to explain the very real bones they might and probably did encounter. Bones, you say? Dragon bones? Possibly, but I suspect they encountered dinosaur bones and their imaginations filled in the rest.
 
Now, having said that, the child in me says maybe, and maybe not. I think we need dragons, in all their glory, and in all their many forms, because we need the fantastical in our lives, we need to believe in the impossible–we need to dream.
 
Until next time, Sheri