DRAGONSby Claire Russell
Many people believe in Dragons, and it is said that they were once a common sight everywhere - in the skies, the sea, and on the ground.
But nowadays they have sadly become a rarity with very few sightings, even in Gr.Britain, where they used to exist in abundance. In fact we are told that they have never, or rarely ever been seen in North America, Australia, the Pacific Isles, or Tropical and Southern Africa.
In the east however, where these creatures have always been revered and honoured, people insist that they can still be seen. And, even in the western world dragon amulets and images are quite easily found, for they are supposed to bring long life, good fortune and marital happiness.
It is also believed that dragons are a symbol of the Earth Goddess, and represent her powers of fertility and wisdom.
The word "drakon" comes from the verb "to see" or "to watch". Hence, dragons have long been regarded as guardians of wisdom,
Because of their loyalty, they were often used to protect magical items such as the "Golden Fleece" and the "Golden Apples of Hesperides", and even the virtue of wives and young maidens.
They have also been noted for their keen eyesight, and all are supposed to be wise and sharp-eyed.
Dragons are reptiles, although some species may be warm blooded. They are fiercely territorial, and protective of their mate, and in some cases their young.
Most of them have an internal organ or gland, which allows them to "breath fire", but this is usually only used as a defensive action or warning, and sometimes during mating rituals.
Apart from these attributes, there are many differences between the various types.
Most species are carnivorous, but only eat occasionally on such things as deer, oxen or sheep. Some eat fish and some of the smaller kind eat insects, berries, fruit and vegetation.
Several species of dragons fly, but not all with the aid of wings. As with some birds the prevailing winds and the earth's magnetic field are often used.
Dragons can reach sexual maturity from 25 years, in some species, to 300 years in others. They lay egg clutches ranging from one to 30, although some water types may give birth to live young.
Unusual earthquakes or earth lights have been blamed on dragons eggs hatching.
Parental care varies from species to species. Some give no care at all, whilst some will care for their young for 50 years or more, even carrying them on their backs as they fly from place to place.
Dragons used to be found in a wide range of habitats - mountains and hills, valleys and woods, rivers and lakes, seas and the sky. This gives rise to an array of species or types.
Although rare, dragons are around today. They can be found in lakes and rivers, ancient woodland, remote places and magical elemental areas. They need to have a natural space with trees and plenty of nooks and crannies, free from chemicals.
All prefer to be near water and, contrary to popular belief, often use water to hide, as it renders them almost invisible, yet will not put out their fire.
Dragons used to be hunted when plentiful, as their bodies where thought to give a whole host of magical and supernatural items.
Dragons heart was eaten to understand the beasts of the wing.
Dragons tongue would allow the consumer to outwit any man in an argument.
Dragons blood was thought to guard against injury from the blade.
Dragons teeth, when buried, gave rise to the Sparti, an almost unstoppable violent fighting force.
The Dragon's Hoard
In later times, Dragons were portrayed as denizens of the Devil, breathing "Hell fire and Brimstone". They were said to be cruel, miserly, jealous and merciless; hoarding jewels and treasure, and even stealing away young maidens.
.... enter the "Dragon slayer", who bravely battled these beasts to save the people; never mind the chance of gold or a young maiden!
We are told that the truth, however, is more mundane. The Dragon's hoard serves only as bedding and nothing more sinister. Bearing in mind that they could combust most normal bedding materials, this seems quite logical.
Do they really exist?
It is said that dragons, like many other species have been hunted almost to extinction, and it is no wonder they are rarely if ever seen.
So much so that many believe they don't exist at all, and should be left in the realms of myth and imagination.
However, we are assured that they do still exist, but hide away from human contact in much the same way as those of the threatened animal and elemental kingdoms.
They are sometimes attracted to people, but only those with "open and good hearts", for they are said to have feelings just like us, and their magical powers can allow them to see into the "very soul" of the individual.