What’s Your Dragon?

What is the fascination with all things ‘DRAGON OF THE EASTERN SEA“? Well, I had the time, so I decided to find out.

After doing a lot of reading online about dragons, (there is a massive amount of information out there) I found there are essentially two major categories of dragons; Eastern and Western. These categories were established many centuries ago and they have distinct differences which are reflect the culture of the regions.

Eastern (Oriental) dragons are mainly benevolent while Western (European) dragons are the ones who want to do harm, the ‘mean’ ones. Eastern dragons have long, snake-like bodies with four legs and they do not fly nor do they usually breathe fire like their Western counterparts. Most often Eastern or Oriental dragons are depicted with a pearl in their mouth, in their claws or even under the chin. The pearl gives the dragon its power to get to heaven. I also learned that there are both male and female dragons; one distinction here is that the male holds a war club in its tail while the female holds a fan (not a frying pan!).

Now, the Western dragons are very different; they are cruel, breathe fire and ice and sometimes they spit acid. Dragons are very often used to frighten people by warning that one could be eaten by a dragon! What child would not be afraid? However, there are also adults who worry they might run into a dragon on the hunt for a tasty human since we are their diet of choice. The Western dragon is the one most often thought of when people hear the term ‘dragon’. They are depicted as reptilian beasts with wings like bats and four legs and they may walk on all fours or on the hind two legs only and use their forelegs. Their heads are crocodile shaped and most often have horns or elaborately shaped, colored ears.

How do cultures vary in their attitudes about dragons? Of course, there are many who fear them but another culture believes the dragons are superior to human beings and that by slaying one, they would bring gifts. It is also believed that after eating the heart of a dragon (Ugh!) you would understand the birds. Now what is the attraction there? And why birds? There is a belief that by rubbing dragon blood on your skin you can get some protection from stab wounds though how you would know you were about to be stabbed and where you could readily get a little dragon blood is not explained. Now here is one that you might find helpful in some relationships since it would give you the power to win in a battle of words How? Just eat the tongue of a dragon. Make sense?

Eastern dragons, in contrast, are loved, revered and are very often the objects of prayer. They are gentle, beautiful and wise as opposed to the ugly, threatening and feared Western dragons.

While Western dragons live in caves and hoard all of the riches they have accumulated (by nefarious ways, I am sure) the softer, gentler Eastern dragons are usually found near water and most actually live in the water. Even today there is a place called the “Isle of the Temple”, in Japan’s Inland Sea, where pilgrims often stop over to meditate and pray to their dragon deities. It is believed that both male and female dragons have actually mated with humans and that these descendants have become some of our great rulers. Hirohito, the famous Emperor of Japan, traced back through 125 generations of his ancestry to the Princess Fruitful Jewel, daughter of a Dragon King of the Sea. Many Emperors of Asian countries have claimed to have some dragon ancestors.

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