Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
View your shopping cart Shopping Cart | My Account | Help | Become a Fan on Facebook Become a Fan | Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us | Watch Us on YouTube Watch Us | Subscribe to our RSS Feeds Subscribe
Browse ProductsAuthorsArticlesBlogsEncyclopediaNewslettersAffiliate ProgramContact UsBooksellers
Advanced Search
Article Topics
List of Articles
RSS Data Feeds
Mission Statement
Use of Our Articles
Writers' Guidelines

Email Exclusives
Sign up to receive special offers and promotions from Llewellyn.

Get the Latest Issue of New Worlds

November/December Gift Guide 2015 Issue

New Worlds Catalog

Get the FREE app for your tablet and mobile device. Now available in the iTunes Store†and the Google Play Store

Also available as a PDF File.

Click for more information about New Worlds or to receive issues via mail.

The Llewellyn Journal
Print this Article Print this Article

On Wings Everywhere Ascending: The Relevance of Dragons in the Modern World

This article was written by Shawn MacKenzie
posted under Pagan

In the simpler times of long ago, our ancestors struck flint to tinder and, with deer on the spit and wolf cubs at their feet, watched shadow monsters dance across cave walls. They knew Dragons intimately and held them close. How could they not? With primordial majesty, Dragons ruled earth, sea, and sky; they reminded us of the danger beyond the firelight, the world beyond comprehension. They were Awe personified, revered for their wisdom and at-one-ment with the Universe, dreaded for their strength and elemental energy.

Of course that was back in the day, in a world before writing or numbers, when the elaborate covenant of conservatorship between humans and other creatures was becoming quantified and definite:
Some we ate; some we wore; some we worked.
Some were admired; some loved; some feared.
Some were mundane; some supernatural.
And some were Dragons.

They lived through the sophistry of the Ancients, the persecution of the Dark Ages, the dispassion of the Enlightenment. Wars, industrialization, habitat lossóDragons survived even monumental disbelief that would have crushed lesser beings. They fell back when they had to, returnedóin a blazeówhen they could, finding their niche in the world, their place in the human psyche.

As high-tech whirly-gigs and sub-atomic wizardry change the Earth in ways Merlin could never imagine, the question arises: Are Dragons, ancient and eternal, still relevant in this brave new world?

The simple answer is a resounding "Yes!"

Of course, as with all things Dragon, no monosyllabic reply, no matter how emphatic, will suffice. For some people Dragons never have beenóand never will beórelevant. And thatís all right: Dragons have suffered such dismissive treatment since the beginning. As every dracophile knows, this is indicative of a human failing, not a draconic one. If you refuse to see whatís right in front of your eyes, an imagination adjustment might be required (or a pair of glasses). But for the rest of us, Dragons are deeply ingrained in our DNA, capering through our psychological, spiritual, and physical lives: through Lore, Faith, and Science.

Lore, once contained in myth and epos, now resides in dream analysis and between the pages of fantasy fiction. In the past it taught us to see Dragons as lone monsters, rapacious, greedy, and generally up to no good. We made them keepers of our fear and testers of our valor. Slaying Dragons was a rite of passage for many a princeling on his way to becoming king. Today, actual facts about Dragons have taken the place of quaint oral tradition and grotesque whimsy. The recent boom in Cryptoherpetology (Dragon Studies) has allowed us to know our scaly friends well enough that theyíve become less creatures of nightmare and more inspiration for dreamers. We know, for example, that Dragons are not solitary rogues guarding their hoards but complex social beings who would far rather dine on salmon than knight. Absorbing such information, our psychic appreciation has evolved along quite liberal lines. True, the rare Freudian may still cling to notions of Dragons as the mentors of the unbridled id; yet, generally speaking, weíve come to replace fear and loathing with respect and honor. Today, we embrace modern Dragons as totems of our courage, loyalty, and, yes, willfulness. Rather than shun them, we claim our inner Dragons with a discerning wink and prideful roar!

When it comes to faith, the egregious treatment European Dragons suffered at human hands is fortunately a thing of the past. Able to shed most of the demon-from-Hell baggage of the last six-thousand years, modern Westies are cast in a more benevolent mold, like that of their Asian cousins. We no longer need Dragons as allegories of evil. We have caused so much trouble ourselves in the past hundred years that to shift that burden onto Dragon shoulders, even figuratively, is disingenuous at best. More on point, it is erroneous. In a sign of our shifting spirituality, we see modern Dragons personifying justice, wisdom, magic, and a Jamesian "ineffability" of the mystical. They arenít saints, by any means, but, in an age when science pushes us to explain everything, their wordless mysticism is a precious tonic for the soul.

Curiously, science has extended draconic relevance to those more familiar with our friends soaring through faŽrie tales than lighting up crepuscular skies. To even the most rabid non-believer, the practical information amassed by the Dragon Conservancy and the World Association for Dragons Everywhere, is clear evidence of how much we can learn from their wild way in the physical world. To begin with, unlike humans, Dragons are elemental and cannot choose to separate themselves from nature. As such, there is no greater barometer of the Earthís health: where Dragons thrive, the planet thrives; where they languish, the planet and everyone on her are in deep trouble.

By studying Dragons, from scale hue to clutch size and eggshell density, we see our world in miniature, with all its strengths and weaknesses. The multigenerational structure of a weyr (Dragon community), for example, is an excellent sociological template, and Dragon longevity and resistance to disease have intrigued doctors for years. On an environmental level, though the apex predators of their realm, Dragons never take more than they need and never have more young than their habitat can support, two rules of talon from which we could learn a lot. Combine that with their ability to adapt to even cataclysmic climate change and what they can teach us becomes downright prescient. Indeed, if the past is indicative of the future, the more we insist on divorcing ourselves from the natural world, the more we will not only cling to Dragons, but need them.

This is just the tip of the relevancy iceberg. (Check out The Dragon Keeperís Handbook for an A-to-Z treatment of the subject.)

Rachel Carson wrote, "Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life." Nothing is more beautiful or mysterious than Dragons. They are our connection to the Earth, to the jaw-dropping wonder of the Universe.

In this or any other world, thatís relevance.

Shawn MacKenzie
Shawn MacKenzie (North Bennington, VT) had her first Dragon encounter when she was four years old, when she happened upon an a copy of The Dragon Green by J. Bissell-Thomas. A sci-fi/fantasy writer, she is an avid student of myth, religion, philosophy,...  Read more


The Dragon Keeper's Handbook
The Dragon Keeper's Handbook
Including the Myth & Mystery, Care & Feeding, Life & Lore of these Fiercely Splendid Creatures
Shawn MacKenzie
$15.95 US,  $18.50 CAN | Add to Cart
Dragons Tarot
Dragons Tarot
Lo Scarabeo
$22.95 US,  $26.50 CAN | Add to Cart

Please note that the use of Llewellyn Journal articles
is subject to certain Terms and Conditions

A few years ago, my youngest son was arguing with his friend about the age of Honey, our wild golden retriever. His friend insisted that Honey was five, because the dog had been alive that many years. Said Gabe, "Sometimes Honey is really one, like when he chews our shoes; sometimes he's 89, like when he pretends he's too old to listen when you... read this article
How to Successfully Navigate a Mercury Retrograde
Psychic Vision: 3 Easy Ways
An Accessible Guide to the Thoth Tarot
How Strengthening My Spirituality Helped Me With My Cancer Diagnosis
5 Ways to Embrace Your Home as an Archetype of the Divine Feminine

Most recent posts:
A Fresh View of Judgement
In my opinion, the Judgement card needs a rename as much as the Hierophant. It is such an important card and so many people seem to misunderstand it....

Wishing On a Falling Star: My Favorite Chakra
Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Cyndi Dale, author of a number of books, including The Complete Book of Chakra Healing and the new...

Thank you, Carl
Letís start by saying I canít believe Iím writing another remembrance on this blog. Iíve lost too many authors in the 10 years Iíve worked for...

Love in the Stars Love in the Stars
Find Your Perfect Match With Astrology

By: Brad Kronen
Price: $21.99 US,  $25.50 CAN
Llewellyn's 2016 Witches' Datebook Llewellyn's 2016 Witches' Datebook
By: Llewellyn
Price: $11.99 US,  $14.99 CAN
$9.59 US,  $11.99 CAN On Sale!
Llewellyn's 2016 Witches' Calendar Llewellyn's 2016 Witches' Calendar
By: Llewellyn
Price: $13.99 US,  $16.99 CAN
$11.19 US,  $13.59 CAN On Sale!
Wicca Wicca
A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner

By: Scott Cunningham
Price: $14.95 US,  $16.95 CAN
Llewellyn's 2016 Astrological Calendar Llewellyn's 2016 Astrological Calendar
83rd Edition of the World's Best Known, Most Trusted Astrology Calendar

By: Llewellyn
Price: $14.99 US,  $17.99 CAN
$11.99 US,  $14.39 CAN On Sale!