Lately I’ve become fascinated with dragons.  They resonate with a deep part of my soul that seems both primitive and divine. They are at the same time magical and dangerous, beautiful and disgusting, awe inspiring and terrible.


Dragons are not only magical, but fraught with controversy.  Historically, Western culture has regarded these creatures as monstrously evil. St. John refers to them as Satan Himself.  Dragons were so dangerous and formidable, that only the superheroes of the Middle Ages, (St. George and Beowulf), could vanquish the malevolence they personified.  IMG_1507


Eastern culture however, reveres the dragon as a symbol of change and transformation.  The Oriental Dragon carries potent and auspicious powers, and is seen as a revealer and protector of truth, as well as visionary being who is able to see far into the future to bring forth new possibilities.   Because dragons fuel their own inner fire they are metaphors for strength, courage, fortitude and wisdom.


But starting in the mid 20th century, something strange happened.  In 1938 the Western dragon began a makeover.  It was in that year that Kenneth Graham published a children’s book called “The Reluctant Dragon” where a child makes friends with a dragon and then has to convince adults the dragon is not evil in order to prevent its death. This book was very popular and became a movie in 1941 with many remakes after that. Then, in 1968 Anne McCaffrey published the first of her “Dragon Riders of Pern” series.  These books introduced a life-long human-dragon partnership that is not only beneficial to humans but vital to human survival.


Pete’s Dragon, in 1977, tells the story of an orphan who flees an abusive family with the help of a dragon.  The Neverending Story published first in German in 1979 and then in English in 1983 also features a benevolent dragon. This book was made into several movies as well, the first in 1984. Thus began a shift which grew slowly until the end of the century.


While the 20th century started the trend, the beginning of the 21st century has seen an explosion of what are now called “dragon fantasy” books and movies, the most popular of which all have themes around dragon-human partnerships (for example, Mulan, Spirited Away, How to Train your Dragon, Eragon, and Avatar, to name just a few). Along with their presence in literature and film, we see dragons in art too, even in the tattoo parlor.  It seems I’m not the only one who is fascinated with dragons.


Although these new dragons are still large, intimidating creatures, their real psychological power lies in two unusual characteristics.  The first is the ability to unify opposites without diminishing the outstanding features of either polarity.  Part of their psychological draw is the mystery inherent in the “coincidence of opposites”. They connect and encompass two opposing ideas, in this case, good and evil, without diminishing the power of either.  Dragons seem to represent the ability to bring two conflicting concepts into a single symbol.


The dragon can be both scary and friendly, formidable yet kind, fiery as well as compassionate.  While many humans may be intimidated by them, those who are pure of heart are worthy of their friendship and help. Dragons offer their assistance freely.  They can never be deceived, coerced or manipulated.


Dragons also have the ability to breath fire at will.  This characteristic is a psychologically powerful metaphor because it presents a being who knows how to create its own energy (power) and can then consciously manage and direct it.  Such a creature (or person) has a grounded strength of great magnitude and must be commanded the deepest respect because they need nothing from anyone and thus have nothing to fear.


Why are dragons so popular today?  What does this shift in thinking about dragons mean for us.  How do we use dragon energy to move ahead at this crucial time in the evolution of humanity?


In astrology our rising sign refers to how we relate to, and communicate with the external world.  Dragon Rising calls on us to learn how to generate our own energy so that we can relate to those around us without regressing into polarization.  It calls on us to celebrate diversity and use it for the benefit of all. It asks us to claim our dragon energy so that fear does not have a chance to take hold.  It reminds us that even those who disagree with us need to be respected and honored.  It encourages us to reject the win-lose attitudes of the past in favor of win-win for everyone.


I believe the dragon is rising in popular culture in order to encourage us to summon our own Inner Dragons. People who know how to generate energy are empowered.  They need not steal energy from anyone or anything.  They do not need to accumulate material goods or money to feel valuable or worthy.  They do not need to denigrate or make fun of others to feel OK with themselves.  They have a keen sense of what is right and what is real and cannot be deceived, manipulated or seduced into feeling like a victim.  They do not need to divide the world into Us and Them.  In a nutshell, they do not need to polarize.


But even those of us who know how to generate energy can be drawn into a fight.  All to often we allow indignation and outrage to justify vilification and blame.  Even if we eschew physical violence, we can perpetuate emotional violence by referring to those who do not hold our views with derogatory and disrespectful language.


When this happens, call upon your Dragon Self, that part of you that is so strong and powerful it does not need to make enemies of anyone or anything.  In this place you can listen with understanding, explain with compassion and counsel with wisdom. Anger and outrage are unnecessary because you know the only real danger is fear itself.


Tyrants can only flourish when people are afraid.  They are constantly exhorting their followers to be afraid of everything, (the press, immigrants, people of color, liberals, scientists, terrorists, the UN, etc.)  They know they can be successful only if they divide, only if they encourage and promote polarization through fear.  Dragon Rising asks us to access and glory in our own inner power, but then use it with gentleness, compassion and respect so that all those who would abuse power have no fear left to feed on.


When we refrain from the seduction of vilification, we enfold humanity in a protective embrace. When we replace division with appreciation we wrap the world in Dragon energy.


One Response to Dragon Rising

  1. Patricia says:

    Good read, Bev. The conclusions about fear were particularly interesting to me — accepting my own inner power gives those who would abuse their power nothing of me to feed on. Recognizing/reclaiming the power we do have in our own lives can be difficult, however.

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