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The catalyst of cosmical forces

 

The Devil

 

The psychic Dragon

 

Dragons and alchemy

The catalyst of cosmical forces

The Dragon is often the first creature to roam the universe just after the Creation. Sometimes he is even responsible for the creation of the universe (Amon/Amam in Egypt, Ophion in Greece, the rainbow serpent in Australia and Africa, Ananta/Prajapam in India…). He is the frontier between our world and beyond.  His death sets free creative forces that found and molder civilizations. The serpent Vasuki when strangled by the asuras and the gods create the ocean, the sun, the moon, the Goddess and Amrita, the elixir of immortality. Ourobouros circles the earth and represents the endless series of destruction and creation.

As the myth developed in the western world, dragons came to represent the chaos of original matter with the result that with man's awakening conscience a struggle arose, and the created order constantly challenged the dragon's power.

The dragon also represents the Word which was in the beginning and which created and now sustains all things . 

In creation myths, Incubation or sexual intercourse between a mortal female and a dragon-god (who embodies fertility) gives birth to a hero who will be the first of its people . 

Defeating the dragon in some stories allows regeneration of the land, of the seasons, of relationships and whole countries. The killing of a dragon not only deliver the place from his nuisances but is often the first stone of a new city. Like Cadmos seeding on the ground of the future city of Thebes the teeth of the dragon he killed, the hero turns the death of the dragon into positive forces . 

The following is a detailed list of the cosmical fights between the hero and the dragon. In the case of Egypt, Seth is first a hero then became a beast.

 

Greece

Apollon Python

Herakles Hydra of Lernea

Zeus Typhon

 

Egypt

Ra Apophis

Seth  Apophis

Horus Seth

 

India

Indra Vritra

 

Norse

Thor Jormungandr

Siegfried Fafnir

 

Celtic

Beowulf

 

Sumer-Babylon

Illuyankash Hupashiya

Baal Mot

Gilgamesh Humbaba

Marduk Tiamat

 

Christian

St Michael the Beast of the Apocalypse

St Georges

 

 

 

The Devil

In Christian symbolism, the dragon has long been associated with the "serpent of old", the devil, also known as Satan.

In the Bible, the dragon was considered as an idol. The story of Daniel shows that Christian faith overcome any beast from hell.

After Daniel exposed the idol Bel as a fraud, the king led Daniel to a dragon which the Babylonians worshiped, saying, "Behold thou canst not say now, that this is not a living god: adore him therefore." To which Daniel replied, "Give me leave, O king, and I will kill this dragon without sword or club. And the king said: I give thee leave. Then Daniel took pitch, and fat, and made lumps, and put them into the dragon's mouth, and the dragon burst asunder. and he said: Behold him whom you worshiped. "[Dan 14:23-26 Douay-Rheims] After killing the dragon, Daniel was thrown into the lion's den for six days and survived.

Its strong connection with the cult of the Great Goddess made it more than a local idol. Thus, the dragon which was a powerful symbol in many places in the same way as fairies, witches and other benevolent monsters was declared an enemy by the Church and became a creature of the Devil, an incarnation of the evil forces. This transfiguration is already present in Greek mythology: Appolo slew Python, prophetess of the oracle of Delphi, Herakles killed the Hydra and Ladon, the son of Mother Earth; even the Eden serpent is represented with a human face which is an attribute of the Earth Goddess.

Tales of battles between heroes and dragons personify the triumph of good over evil and sometimes dramatize the victory of a community over the plague or a natural disaster. They can also betoken a personal struggle against sin or illness.

Dragons are popular attributes of many saints including St. George of the Cappadocia, St. Philip the Apostle, St. Martha of Tarascon, St. Radegund of Poitiers, St. Victor of Marseille, St. Andrew of Aix-en-Provence, St. Armentaire of Draguignan, and St. Michael the Archangel. These saints and Christ are often shown crushing a dragon under foot and thus representing the triumph of Christianity over the forces of evil, and the banishment of paganism from a land.

The emperor Constantine ordered a representation of himself killing a dragon with his lance made to memorialize his conversion to Christianity.

Medieval artists occasionally replaced the familiar serpent under the Virgin Mary's foot with a defeated dragon to pictorialize the Genesis prophecy: "He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel." [Gen 3:15].

The gaping "Jaws of hell", which is classic in paintings and sculptures of the Middle-Ages, belong to the anatomy of a fire-breathing dragon.

Probably ther most infamous dragon in hystory, the Hydra of The Apocalypse is described as being a great red dragon with seven heads, ten horns and seven crowns upon his head. In the Koran, the dragon of the Apocalypse is named Dabba.

In parts of Africa where the dragon is also considered as an evil power, the monster was believed to be the result of the unnatural union of an eagle and a she-wolf.

Nevertheless, the oriental dragons in the East part of the world still retain their virtues of wisdom, fecundity and benevolence

 

 

 

The Psychic Dragon

 

Dragons are dual creatures that symbolize the unconscious. In dreams they sometimes represent the fear of death. In most magic ritual dragons are used as symbolic doors to other dimensions. 

A popular figure, the dragon in the center of the labyrinth symbolizes the evil part of the unconscious (shadow). 

The dragon in the tower

The myth of the hero that delivers the princess from a tower guarded by dragon symbolizes the freedom of the young male who masters his anima (the princess) and the regressive forces of the mother to access plain relations with women. The tower is the symbol of the phallus . 

St Antony from Egypt (251-356 AC) had terrible visions of dragons and other monsters sent by the Devil.  In the case of temptations, the dragon often represents the woman and the prostitute, forbidden to the saint/monk. 

The amphisbaena is a two-headed dragon which heads are always in conflict. It represents the inner struggle between the conscious mind and the destructive forces of the unconscious (shadow). 

Mircea Eliade interprets the act of eating as a regressus in uterum which precedes a second birth . It is linked with knowledge and wisdom which are virtues of the original and ancient Dragon. When  the hero is swallowed by the monster (giant, dragon, …) he gains wisdom and knowledge of the secrets of nature.

 

 

 

Dragons and alchemy

 

Alchemy is a mixture of philosophy and science, which has been practiced for centuries, and is still practiced today. It works at two levels: the physical, and the metaphysical. At the metaphysical level, it works to purify and transform humankind. At the physical level, it works to purify and transform metals. The first step of the transformation of metals is creating a philosopher's stone. This stone can then be used to transmute metals into alchemical gold. When a substance has been purified, it becomes philosophic.

 

Allegory

Allegories describe chemical reactions and the like, using symbols. The dragon is one of these symbols. For example, a green dragon devouring the Sun means that the gold was dissolved in aqua regia (royal water), a mixture of nitric and hydrochloric acids. Also, the gold probably contained copper, which turns the acid blue-green. (A green lion eating the sun can also been used for this representation). This symbolism was used as a way of preventing all but the most dedicated from deciphering the meaning.

 

Caduceus

The caduceus consists of two serpents entwined around a central rod. It is the symbol of Mercury. This symbol was developed from the myth of Mercury, the messenger of the gods, who intervened in a fight between two serpents. When he intervened, the serpents twined around his wand. In Greek times, the caduceus sometime had wings, to symbolize the volatility of mercury. Alchemists also call mercury chaotic water, abysmal water, sylvery water, and Philosophical Basilisk.

Philosophic Mercury is sometimes represented by a serpent, or winged dragon.

 

Cinnabar

Cinnabar is a naturally occurring mercuric sulphide. In it's natural state, it is a red crystalline solid. Chinese and Arabian alchemist's extracted mercury from it. The word 'cinnabar' comes from the Persian for 'dragon's blood'.

 

Nagayuna

Nagayuna is the Indian branch of alchemy. The aim is to preserve the elixir of life, in order to unify the body's energies. The symbol of the naga (two entwined serpents) is used to represent the link between the earth and the heavens, and the transition from the lower levels to the higher. This symbol can be found outside temples, on stone tablets (called 'nagahals' or 'nagakals')

 

Twelve Keys

The Twelve Keys were written by Basil Valentine (who may or may not have been real) in the 14th century. They depict how to prepare the prime matter for making the philosopher's stone. The keys show the King (ordinary gold), and the Queen (ordinary silver), who undergo separate adventures, before combining. Serpents appear several times in the keys. One of the appearances is in the ninth key. Part of the ninth key shows three serpents: the principles of Mercury, Sulphur and Salt.