Dragons of the Westby Claire Russell

To clearly classify Dragons is quite difficult, for the East and West have different methods of interpretation.

In the West, dragons are generally denoted by their body form and/or habitat. In the East, however, they tend to describe the dragon's 'duty', guardianship, or purpose, as forms of classification.

Below are listed some of the better known types and habitat of Western Dragons.

WORM SERPENTS

THE GUIVRE

This dragon looks more like an enormous snake. It has no wings or other limbs. It does however have a huge dragons head, which has both horns and beard. It can be found in wooded areas, preferably near water and even in wells.

THE AMPHIPTERE

This is a dragon of the air. It has no limbs other than wings, and is found in desert lands. It is reputed to guard frankincense, questioning the motives of those wishing to harvest the resin.

There are still reported sightings of sea serpents and giant snakes. These can also possess legs and wings.

HERALDIC DRAGON

This form is the more widespread and classically shaped dragon. It is often a huge beast, with formidable teeth and claws - although smaller forms are sometimes found.

They walk on all four feet, and have an "arrow head" shaped barb on the end of their tail. There is a ridge, or crest of spines along its back, but their wings are normally relatively small.

THE WYVERN

(also associated with Heraldry)

This dragon has two legs and powerful wings, with a long serpentine tail.

Sadly, the legends of this benevolent, life giving, creature have all but been lost, and it is now portrayed as a savage, warlike and envious beast, that often brings sickness and pestilence.

See Wyvern Page

AIR DRAGONS

Dragons can be found in many habitats, and most can fly, but some - like the Amphiptere - spend much of their lives in the air, landing on high remote places to bear and tend their young.

Some of these air- bourne creatures will have heavy beards and ruffs, which help with camouflage against the clouds.

WATER DRAGONS

There are many forms of water dragons. Some are totally aquatic, whilst others are amphibious. Most dragons like to be near water, and they can take on many forms, from the serpent to the more "classical" shape. Swamps also provide homes for various small, squat types, and ridged backed and bearded serpents. "Knucker" holes in England are reputed to be bottomless dragon ponds.

Caves are probably the most well known and popular haunts of dragons, as they afford a private and cool, dark refuge, away from the interfering eyes of humans. Not all mountain dwellers live in caves, but they are a favoured location, as it gives the creature a marvellous vantage point from above and, if we look carefully up into the skies, we may even see one dive off a peak straight down onto its prey, before doing a swift about turn, and swooping back to roost in its den.

It has been suggested that sightings of dragons are just a figment of an over active imagination but, if they are seen, then perhaps they are a residue left over from the dinosaur times. Many people from very different backgrounds, however, insist that they do see them, and not as rarely as we might imagine.

Whatever the case may be, stories about Dragons and their magical powers continue to attract the curiosity of us all. And, who knows, perhaps one day science will find proof that they really do exist, and the Loch Ness Monster has just been a very shy Dragon all the time!

Image © Twin Serpents = Kahnpeq: Heraldic = Keith Patrick: Wyvern = Lilith World (see credits)

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