Some legends tell us about dragons – eerie, malicious creatures that devour humans, blow up ships and generally rejoice in misery of others. But these legends do the dragons unjust.
History is often enough written by the victors. Many legends entwine around historical events or reflect the spirit of their time, so they show the dragons from the victor’s view. Since the beginning of the occidental civilization, the dragon stands for chaos and uncontrollable forces from ancient times; they have to give way for a new order to arise. The Christian tradition praises the dragon fighters, like Archangel Michael and St. George. In the High Middle Ages, in the height of chivalry, Minnesong and heroic epics, the dragon had become the epitome of evil – a fight man against dragon was at the same time a fight between good and evil. For more on dragons during the Middle Ages, see Dragons and Lions in the Castle?
The victorious dragon fighter was considered a hero and assumed he had a right to an outstanding position in society. So speaks the legend about Siegfried of Xanten, the hero of the Nibelungenlied. At that time, Siegfried had killed a dragon who lived in a cave on the Drachenfels. Afterwards, he had hidden the Nibelungen treasure captured before for a while in this cave. Later he fetched it and gave it to his wife Kriemhild as a wedding gift. Yet, it did not bring them happiness: soon there was only hate and a fight that cost many lives. Siegfried himself was murdered.
So far the side of the winners. Today we hear to read other tunes in the Siebengebirge, too. Finally, the dragon of the Drachenfels is given an opportunity to tell his version of the Siegfried legend. If you are on top of the Drachenfels, just go and visit him. And there is Brann, an elder dragon lady living at the Drachenfels. When once a human woman approached her in a friendly way, she was completely surprised. “Thank you, that is very nice of you,” she had said, “but the last time I had contact with you humans, it was very, very different. They were afraid of me and thought that I ate humans, particularly young women like you.” (The Dragon Lady of Drachenfels). With Brann and all the other dragons from the Seven Mountains we see what the dragons symbolize: trust in our own strength, confidence and willingness to accept all sides of our own personality and go our own way, sometimes even over go beyond ourselves.
Often we hear of dragons who watch over a treasure. In fairy tales, it was gold, silver and jewels. Today, the dragon reminds us that there are still treasures to discover within ourselves. The dragon fire is life energy, imagination, the ability to look beyond one’s own backyard. So, if we keep decrying the dragons, we take away more from ourselves than we could ever take away from the dragons.
Dragons are magic creatures with many special abilities: they can fly, spit fire and live in all four elements. Dragons stand sentinel over the beginning and the end of time, they stand at the threshold between the worlds and can walk in our material world as well as in the world of fairies and nature spirits. Our physical laws just do not apply to them. So, who could ever really kill a dragon?
In our days, dragons are considered as mythical creatures, they have long been banished into the realm of fantasy. We find them – in almost all shades from eerie ogre to belittled dragon baby with comforter – in many fantasy stories and comics. Or as aged, a bit run down tourist attractions. At least that’s what be believe .. Yet, that is only a very small part of reality, and people who lack imagination might settle for it. But please remember: dragons are magic creatures, our physical laws do not apply to them.
If you walk through the Seven Mountains today, you will not come across fire spitting dragons. How could they, after all we are in the middle of a nature park. But you will feel it. If you feel wholesome, full of strength, if suddenly your imagination is running wild and a way out of a messy situation opens up.
Open not only your eyes and ears, but also your heart, and listen with all senses!