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Thursday, 10 July 2014

Review on Dragons and Fairies

Hi dear friends and followers. Today we will take a review on dragons and fairies that we have covered, thus far, before continuing into the Native American legends and traditions.

Review on Dragons and Fairies

A brief history of dragons



The history of dragons is not an easy subject. Frankly, dragons appear in earliest recorded history. Nobody ever thought about where they came from, just as few people research where frogs come from. They just are.

However, there are few current stories about dragons, unless you include the Loch Ness Monster. Today, many people think that dragons are just legends and fairy tales. Until the early 20th century, people took dragons veryseriously.

The earliest written tale of dragons may be the Sumerian/Babylonian/Mesopotamian creation legend, Enuma Elish, in which Mummu-Tiamat is sometimes represented as a dragon/goddess of the ocean or waters.

This story corresponds to the Bible account in Genesis 1:12 (NRSV) which mentions “sea monsters.” Dragons appear throughout the Bible, first as literal beasts in the Old Testament, and then as symbols of evil forces in the New Testament.

Dragons are mentioned steadily throughout written history, through the 20th century. In AD 67, Roman historian Octavus Livy described a battle that he had witnessed, involving a “leviathan” or dragon. Pliny the Elder mentioned dragons in his histories, too.

In the Dark Ages, generally prior to the 12th century, a dragon tormented Drachenfels, Germany and another was seen at Isle St. Marguerite in France. The latter dragon reportedly killed over 3000 people. He may be the same dragon as Drac, who lived in a cave near Beaucaire, France on the Rhone River.

The leading tale claims that St. Patrick banished both snakes and dragons from Ireland. However, in the 11th century, Tristan reportedly killed a dragon to win the hand of Isolde in marriage, perhaps for his uncle Mark. During that same time, yet another dragon terrorized Kiev, Russia.

In 1222, two years after Henry III’s coronation, dragons were seen over London, England. At the time, the dragons were blamed for ravaging thunderstorms and the flooding which resulted. That is the same year that St. George’s Day became a National Holiday in England, named for the famous dragonslayer.
(Although St. George probably lived in the third and fourth centuries, his dragon tales were popularized far later, in 14th century England. According to a leading legend, he killed a dragon in Pagan Libya, and the entire town immediately converted to Christianity.)

We can find many dragons as we casually browse history:
Two dragons fought near Canterbury, England, with many witnesses in 1449.

A dragon was killed on Vatican Hill in Rome in 1669.In 1942, the German U-boat Reichland reported a dragon-like sea serpent.

These accounts continue, far more than could be catalogued here. However, these tales follow one after another in steady succession, many with credible witnesses.

The most recent dragon lore may be the 1966 story of a British military unit practicing survival techniques in the Atlantic Ocean. According to this story–which may be urban legend–paratrooper John Ridgeway saw a huge, dragon-like sea serpent rise about him from the ocean.


However, this account may borrow from a more documented story from the VietNam war, involving an exchange between a soldier named Ridgeway and a helicopter called “Dragon.”

Regardless of the accuracy of individual dragon stories, the preponderance of evidence is surprising and almost overwhelming.

In the face of so much history, the bigger question is: Why don’t we believe in dragons today?


Fairy comes from the Old French word faerie. The word has been overused to describe a supernatural being. There is a great deal of difference in classifying a being as a fairy from the medieval literature and those from modern literature, especially those belonging to the Celtic tradition.

There are other traditions such as that found in English, German and Slavic folklores.

Today, when we think of fairies, we often visualise them as tiny, supernatural beings with wings and glowing with uncommon light in today's children fairy tales. And they also possessed some sorts of strange magical powers, like Tinklebell in the story of Peter Pan or the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella. The modern fairies, between the 18th and 20th century, comes from oral tradition before they were transmitted into writing.


The fairies are supernatural beings that can be best described by the Greek word - daimon, which means "spirit". They are not divinity, ie. god or goddess, in the usual sense of the word, and yet they are not mere mortal; often, it is easier to classify them as minor divinity.


However, if we look at the idea of fairies, then you would find that have been around a lot longer than everyone expects. Perhaps the earliest form of faeries can be found loosely in the mythical beings in Greek mythology, such as the nymphs, satyrs and sileni. The nymphs from ancient Greek myths can be considered as fairies and they existed as early as the time of Homer writing the Iliad and the Odyssey. Even the river gods in Greek myths can be classified as fairies. These are spirits or minor deities of nature or of the natural phenomena.


And then, there are household or guardian spirits that can be found in Roman religion and mythology, such as the penates, lares and genii.

The Norse versions of the fairies are the wide variety of elves and the dísir that exist in the Teutonic traditions. The Valkyries could also be classified as fairies.


It was during the time of Queen Elizabeth I of England, where William Shakespeare (1564-1616) had popularised fairies in English folklore, in his play Midsummer Night's Dream, with the characters Oberon, Titania and Puck (Robin Goodfellow). Earlier than Shakespeare, Chaucer (1342-1400) mentioned that the land of Britain was filled with fairies before the time of King Arthur.

In the Arthurian legends, the divine or fairy figures also appeared in abundance. Morgan, Arthur's half-sister, seemed to be great sorceress and healer, was often called Morgan le Fay; her nickname Fay, which means "Fairy". 

And then there is this Lady of the Lake. Arthur's wife, Guinevere, or Gwenhwyfar in the Welsh tradition, also appeared to be a fairy, as well as the sovereignty goddess. Many knights were either born from fairies or they took female fairies as their lovers. Even Merlin was only part mortal.


Brief History of Fairy Realm


Then you would discover that that these images of fairies are not the only kind. There were all sorts in fairy tales and folklores. Some are benign, while others are maligned and hostile to mortals. Some were seen as fair, while others were considered ugly and monstrous to look at. They can come in all size and sizes - tall or short, fat or skinny, so there is really no clear definition of fairies may look like. Different types of fairies may also have different types of magical powers.

So, what are these fairies? Where do they come from?

To understand what they are, we should look at some of those found in Celtic mythology and other Celtic traditions. But, then you would discover that fairies are not just confined in Celtic traditions. Many cultures and civilizations have their own versions of fairies.

There are enough kinds of fairies to confuse anyone, because sometimes writers have associated one fairy with a different kind.

In Celtic religion, there was Celtic deities in Gaul (France and Belgium), Hispania (Spain) and Britannia (Britain) during the Roman occupation of these regions or provinces. 


But the situation changed when Christianity spread to the west and north. These deities that were worshipped before the conversion to Christianity were reduced to the status of fairies in Celtic mythology and folklore.

So in Ireland the gods in the Tuatha De Danann were degenerated to the roles of fairies (eg. Dagda and Lugh), people living under the dune mound or fabled islands, or even within underwater domains. Similar degeneration occurred with old deities in Wales, Scotland and other surviving pockets of Celtic kingdoms (such as Cornwall, Brittany and island of Man).


These earlier Celtic traditions of fairies, the former Irish or Welsh deities were also not fairies in the usual sense. They looked very much like human, in size and shape, except that they have special magical powers and they seemed eternally young, but they don't have wings. The Dananns or their Welsh counterparts were usually seen as race of fair people. They can die just as mortals can, but their lives could last hundreds or even thousands of years.

The problem is that sometimes, the Christian authors have also turned them into beings serving the Devil, and that the fairies were actually demons. However this view is no longer shared, today.

These medieval fairies are different from the common folklore and fairy tales of today. The Tuatha de Danann is nothing like the brownie, leprechaun and goblin of these later traditions.


Thank you very much for visiting my blog my dear friends. I hope that you have found the section on Native American legend and traditions of the little people an interesting topic to read. Will resume tomorrow. Thank you.

With love from your Fairy Lady  ♥❤




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