Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Biggest Study (Ivan Sanderson's Files) on Dragons
Survey of Dragon mythology, last of four parts:

[ I am reproducing most of the text from Part 4 (not ALL of it) because of a few interesting sightings included that I had not touched on before, but basically the author of the article is taking a metaphysical view of the problem whereas I am seeking a practical one-DD]

The Big Study

Another Master-Otter?

"DRAGON": A Mass of Confusion, part last.

Here we go on this last confused flight. Any attempt to learn about truly complex subjects never ends. I'm going to simply quit looking for more shards of evidence and ideas and leave the rest to you. I was in the middle of the last blog entry when a friend sent me another dragon claim --- you can never achieve "completion" so don't try. I have friends who never publish anything because they are always waiting to "wrap it all up". Not a chance.

Here are the first third cases claimed by some to be dragon encounters --- just my randomly collected files, remember. These are obviously the really old ones. To me, six of the seventeen sound like they could be dragons as defined in our series. There are seven others which are iffy. Unfortunately, none is a particularly strong case in the UFO sense of a well-documented sighting. Since they are really old, I suppose we shouldn't expect them to be. There's just barely enough here to keep our hopes up.

One of the things that I like most on that list is number 5, the dragon of Burley Beacon and Bisterne. This tale is about a very respectfully built dragon, legs and wings and reptilian and large, which has very inconvenient behaviors for the local populace. If one could take anything at all about this story at face value, the encounter took place in the 1400s, which in theory would be plenty "modern" enough for us to have good "history" and therefore credibility. In the tale, a historical character, Sir Maurice de Berkeley, confronts and slays the inconvenient monster, both he and his hunting dogs perishing due to the battle. Since that conquest, the Berkeley family became lords of that area's manor, and the dragon took its place on the family crest. The legend was consistently maintained for centuries thereafter. [The "Dragon is two-legged with feathered wings and is therefore a large bird]

If the culture of the times was like current US culture [even without our communications technology], the Berkeleys couldn't have gotten away with just making up such an "unusual" claim, and so we'd have good reason to believe that we had a good dragon story on our hands. But what if that is just what you did to create a family-establishing legend in those times and places? I don't know that culture. I cannot say. Some expert could.

Another prize of the era is of course this: the 1619 claim by Athanasius Kircher that a winged dragon AND a winged serpent flew from Mount Pilate to Lake Lucerne [Switzerland] and that's just that. Love it, but WHO said it, and why are we to believe it??

Here's the rest of these things [I told you that my files weren't too hot on this critter]. I have about five more cases which intrigue me more than most, and at least a couple of handfuls of maybes. Compared to Little People encounters, Sea Serpents, UFOs this topic is starving for evidence. Number forty is a full-fledged dragon rising from the ocean. If I had a dozen more I'd be in business.

That's the trouble with the narrowly-defined true dragon, rather than the great big reptile. There ARE a few dragons which ascend beyond being just big reptilians, but they are few.

Japan contributed a smallish Dragon recently [2003] when this Lake "lizard" crawled out of the water and flew away. Was it well-observed? Multiple-witnessed? If so, it would be a mini-dragon. And we'd all be happy. [This was in Japan and was most likely a large lizard designed like a Draco lizard with webbed-rib-wings: such creatures had been rumoured in China for ages]


By the way, Ulrich Magin, in his fairly recent book Investigating the Impossible has as his second chapter as pretty good candidate for an ocean-going Dragon [winged and all] from 1922 near Istanbul. I just read this so it's not in my files, but it's as good as any.
[This appears to be a Plesiosaurian Sea-monster with winglike front flippers in motion out of the water, a type of sighting that occurs infrequently the whole world over]


Possibly related to that tale is the reported experience of a modern scientist, while attending a workshop in 1984. This meeting was a naval presentation [he was in at the time] and the subject matter was not very exciting. It was about 11am and well into the orientation lecture when the officer began to see the floor beneath himself and the other officers in the room becoming transparent. He was not asleep in any way, as he remembered every word of the lecture "loud and clear", but his experience of the "floor environment" was radically changing despite the above-the-floor scene remaining exactly the same.

What he was now looking at below the floor was a set of apparent "connections" between every individual in the room with the back of a great animal --- yep, a dragon. Each man was attached to that great dragon through which seemed to flow an animating energy of life. He felt powerfully alive. The dragon, which seemed to extend forever, had a tiled/fitted scaly back composed of subtle jewel-like colors. It was "impossibly beautiful". Staring at the beauty, he then saw the beast writhe a bit, lift up its head, and momentarily stare back at him. The view of the dragon lasted several minutes until the floor again began "solidifying" and the vision was gone. "Strange days indeed. Most peculiar, Momma", as John Lennon said.

F.W. Holiday in his Dragon and the Disk seems to have a totally different idea. After searching the Scottish Lochs and the Welsh countryside for years, Holiday sees that the dragons and the Balls-of-Light phenomena are somehow one. Although I like Holiday's originality of thought process as he pursued these mysteries, and have an instinctive itch telling me that somewhere in all of that mish-mash some truth lies, I still can't make any hard connection. Paul Devereux seems to be able to, as he has his Earth line energy concepts, and even called his work the Dragon Project. But I'm still not quite getting it. Strangely enough, in a recent book, Solomon Islands Mysteries, it seems that people in that part of the world have the exact same idea. And, as I have difficulty with any hypothetical cultural transferences between the Solomons and Wales or Loch Ness, that is even more intriguing.

But what does it actually mean? Are Earth energies [the physical textbook kind] generating brain-boggling electromagnetic fields [Michael Persinger and John Derr's hypothesis], and scrambling consciousness, burping up dragons? And the BOLS are just secondary physical side-effects? Or are the BOLS faerie, and the "dragons" or whatever else from "there"? Remember that Teodorani believes that the only sustainable hypothesis to cover the behavior of the BOLS he studies is that they somehow contain consciousness. Cue John Lennon again.

Let's go into a different Out Proctor Hollow. The above is a very early painted rendition of what Pierre Marquette saw of the Piasa Bird on that expeditition. Hmmmm.... just look at that thing for a moment....

" As we coasted along the rocks, frightful for their height and length, we saw two monsters painted on these rocks, which startled us at first, and on which the boldest Indian dare not gaze long. They are as large as a calf, with horns on the head like a deer, a frightful look, red eyes, bearded like a tiger, the face somewhat like a man's, the body covered with scales, and a tail so long that it twice makes a turn of the body, passing over the head and down between the legs, and ending at last in a fish's tail. Green, red, and a kind of black are the colors employed."

Not exactly a European dragon but certainly in the ballpark. My intuition is that the things were pictorially somewhere between the two renditions above.

The Sioux have a legendary creature, sometimes painted on rockfaces, called the Unktehi. It seems properly cryptozoological if not trending towards prehistoric or dragonish.[This one is a Mishipizhiw, Algonquin analogue of thhe Unktehi and what had most likely been painted on "Piasa Rock"]

Apparently there are more than one place where the Unktehi is drawn, indicating some significance to me. I've taken one such drawing and added wings --- an illegal move by me, but I'm meditating..... not completely far off Piasa Bird imagery. [Yes, forget the wings: Unktehi were contrasted with winged creatures and fought against them. Some at least seem to be based on fossil dinosaur bones]

Could the pre-European Native Americans known of a dragon-like creature? If so, what does that do to our ideas as to whether anyone ever had true "external reality" encounters? As I said, folks: I'm trying as hard as I can on this one.

And with that: what then is this alleged Native American pictoglyph from Wupaki Park all about? Is it legit? A modern fake? Half legit with modern additions? Too bad that I at least don't know, as it is a fine, albeit crude, rendition of a dragon in my eyes.[Actually it is a water monster and it could be "Blowing like a whale": Both Mishipizhiws and Unktehis were actually water-monsters]

So even here Out Proctor, I'm still haunted by Beowulf's Bane. Where did it come from? It doesn't seem like a reverie of the Lifeforce of the World, but more like an awesome cousin of the equally awesome Piasa Bird. [Which was not a bird. That part was a hoax]

Desperate for inspiration, I'm turning to my least favorite Catholic saint, Augustine. Despite being a theological misfire of calamitous proportions on several major topics, he was a highly curious man with many contacts. And in an unfinished treatise on the creation of the world, Augustine stated flatly that dragons existed and that the pagans have known this for a long time.

When Augustine uses the word "pagans" he is usually referring to certain Greco-Roman area cults, one of which he himself belonged to as a youth. But Augustine also knew well the "paganism" of the British, as his main theological opponent, the one who tested his thinking most severely, was a British monk named Pelagius. In fact there was a lot more "commerce" between Britain and Rome back then than one imagines [we are speaking of the c.400AD era here --- the Dark Dark Ages]. What sort of dragons was Augustine hearing about, that convinced him of their reality? By the way, he speaks of these things as natural beasts from the creation, not icons of Satan.

[This is another twolegged winged dragon more than likely based on a large pheasant of foul reputation and identical to the Wyvern if not also to the Cockatrice]
I'm getting an itch that he's talking about this. You're allowed to get itches Out Proctor.

Going back to the beginning: Tiamat vs. the gods of Order. The Tiamat legend gets a serious change of imagery with the Mesopotamian ascendance of the later Babylonian-Assyrian empire. By 700BC The battle isn't between goodness and a giant sea monster, but between Bel [good guy god] and a winged dragon... or maybe a Griffin.{Second guess is correct]

Here's another cylinder seal of that era. The fight now takes on a decidedly dragonish flavor, as the opponent is properly winged, and yet continues the flavor of the serpent/reptilian Tiamat in the back of one's mind. And... the griffin, which seems very close to our ancient dragon at this point, is a guarder of treasures as well.

Here we have an illuminated manuscript representing the biblical story of Daniel "defeating" the dragon, which is clearly a direct Old Testament steal from the old Bel and the Dragon Mesopotamian story. Our dragon here, happily in its cavern has a more dragony than eagle-like head, and one sees many legends running together on details.[This one is more likely a big monitor lizard]

Dragons and Griffins --- not really so different in appearance. Throw a Wyvern into the middle and you have rather smoothly translating physical set. How does this play into our story, though? I can't claim to have strong opinions about that. The legends, powerful legends possibly resting upon real sea serpent and monster encounters were there. They were so ubiquitous that they were in the minds of Bible writers and people like Augustine. Right with that were the Griffins. Based on encounters? All this was a stew existing in the scandinavian and british minds. The Beowulf poet lived in that legendary environment. He plucked it out. Was it a plucking of an idea based upon encounters? Or was this only a very emotive image of awesome force?

Lots of griffin, wyvern, dragon image exists. Shreds of claims and testimonies exist. The Piasa Bird stands there mocking. Dragons.... did any entity from faerie ever decide to manifest in that form? Where are the encounter stories? [Ironically the Piasa bird seems to be the only one of this series that was not originally a bird]

I'm out of here. Dragons DO exist Out Proctor.... but I still don't know about anywhere else.

Till next time, and next topic: may your lives be full of wonders and only beneficent dragons.