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.