July 23, 2008 at 1:31 am (General)

Dragon Boat, Summer Palace, Beijing

Dragon Boat, Summer Palace, Beijing

I took advantage of Netflix to get a Discovery Channel program that I missed–on Dragons, since they’re my current obsession. One thing I learned from the program is that dragon myths are found all over the world. Whoever wrote the program’s script assumed that was because people found dinosaur bones and decided they were from dragons. In fact, in traditional Chinese medicine, they still use powdered “dragon” bones. The narrator said that these were dinosaur bones–which were probably not good for you because they were now mostly silica, after having been in the ground for years.

I also learned that there are some differences in dragons around the world. European dragons tend to be fierce, dangerous creatures who breathe fire and kill people. Chinese dragons breathe cool mist instead of fire. They are more likely to be benevolent and protective and bring wealth and good fortune. By at least the 2nd century BC, dragon images were painted on tomb walls to ward off evil spirits.

Dragons are also found in Latin American cultures. And with their sharp teeth, claws, scales, and wings, they are thought to portray a mixture of the three main predators of that region–eagles, snakes and jaguars.

The program had all sorts of rational and scientific explanations for dragons. I prefer to think that there are dragon myths all over the world because these creatures existed. Really, how could they be so pervasive in mythology if they are totally made up? Dinosaur bones are one thing. But would people all over the world make an intuitive leap from bones to an actual beast diving down from the sky, breathing fire–or mist?  Or am I living in a fantasy world? 

So what about dragons as shifters? Do they figure into the mythology, too? Or is that a modern invention of the authors who love writing about shifters and want to experiment with a new and dangerous kind of alpha hero?

You’ll be pleased to know that when I Googled the subject, the first reference was to THIS very blog.

But I soon came to some other references. And I found that–hot damn–for centuries Asian dragons have also been considered shapeshifters who can take human form and mate with humans. How about that? Our lusty modern ideas aren’t so new, after all.



  1. MORE ON DRAGONS said,

    […] rebeccayork wrote an interesting post today on MORE ON DRAGONS. Here’s a quick excerpt: […]

  2. Jackie (Literary Escapism) said,

    I love dragons!! We need some more dragons. I was just saying this yesterday in my review of Yasmine Galenorn’s Witchling.

  3. teresadamario said,

    I seem to remember seeing a movie not too long ago – the concept was the child was born with a specific mark which identified her as the mate to the dragon which protected the small Chinese town. As she grew, the girl grew terrified, and fell in love with a human. When the dragon came for her, she ran, and she and her lover committed suicide. Wish I could remember the story! It was about reincarnation, and the boy was reborn as protector to the dragon’s mate again. In that one, the dragon didn’t turn shifter, but instead, she became a bright white lite and the two merged as one. I think I like the shifter idea better.

    If anyone’s seen the movie, let me know!

  4. Rebecca York said,

    Interesting idea about being the mate of the dragon. But I wish she could have worked out the relationship with the dragon, instead of going the suicide route.

  5. Cathy said,

    As I’ve said before, I love dragons. I own 15 movies about dragons (animated, comedy, si-fi). I don’t remember either of these. Names anyone? I want to watch!!
    I have bought 3 dragon shifter books in the last month. Love them, not enough out there for me. Also bought about 13 YA books since Jan. for my 10 year old granddaughter who won’t read anything but dragons right now. I plan to read these too, someday.

  6. trisha telep said,

    The publisher I used to work for published a bunch of books about dragons. One title I remember was: How to Raise and Care for a Dragon (a how-to book on raising a dragon from an egg, what to feed it when it hatches, how to avoid having it incinerate you when it gets to be a teenager, etc.). Everybody loves dragons. They are big, powerful and breathe fire. What’s not to like?

  7. Marcia said,

    I’ve always liked dragons for their fantastical appeal. My first introduction to them was with The Neverending Story’s luck dragon. His escapes me at the moment, but as a kid, he was the best dragon on TV. Even better than Puff. But then again Puff has a bad reputation, so we won’t go there. 😉

  8. Savanna Kougar said,

    Wonderful info, Rebecca. I think dragons did exist, and probably still exist, even if in another dimension now. There’s just too much in myth and legend about dragons. Also, too many people simply feel an affinity with dragons. I do, especially baby dragons.

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