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Mythical and Magical Creatures Pt. 4

During early Christian times in Europe, dragons were seen as the guardians of burial places and sacred sites, in England there are many Anglo-Saxon burial mounds named after dragons. During Christian times dragons began to be regarded as evil and many of the Christian saints slew the much feared dragons. St George was one of the most famous dragon slayers. In Cyrene, Libya, a dragon moved near the town’s water supply and would not give the townspeople water, unless a young female was given to the dragon every day. When the princess was to be sacrificed, St George appeared and killed the dragon, numerous hills were later named on behalf of St George. At Uffington Hill, between Oxfordshire and Birkshire England, there is a Dragon Hill where St George killed a dragon and no grass grows where the blood was spilled.

St Romain of Rouen, killed a dragon called La Gargouille, that was threatening the area around the River Seine in France. St Romain gave the dragon’s name to the gargoyle figures seen on the outside of mediaeval cathedrals in Europe. The Archangel Michael is portrayed dressed in armour, crushing a dragon underfoot. In the Radnor Forest area of Wales, four local churches dedicated to St Michael, encircle the forest to keep the slumbering dragon, the last in Wales, trapped in his lair so long as the churches stand.

Typhon, the serpentine god of the winds and Echidna, half nymph serpent and mother of Medusa and her Gorgon sisters, spawned most of the dragons in the Ancient Greek world. Ladon was the guardian of the golden apples on the Tree of Life, which gave immortal life in the magical garden tended by the beautiful Hesperides nymphs. The garden belonged to the consort of Zeus the father god, the goddess Hera. The Earth Mother Gaia gave the tree to Hera on her wedding day. As one of his twelve labours, Hercules killed the dragon.

The dragon Nidhogg (dread bitter), lived in Nifleheim, the realm of ice and snow, he devoured the corpses of those who had been evil in life. Yggdrasil the World Tree, contained the nine realms 586964_moms_feng_shui541131_stone_statuethat made up the Norse universe, this included Asgard, realm of the gods which was near the top of the tree, the realm of humans in the center, Midgard, and Nifleheim were the regions of cold and darkness at the base of the tree. This is where the dead escended who were not chosen to live with the gods. Nidhogg gnawed at this root in between devouring the corpses of criminals or evil doers. It was Nidhogg who was held responsible for earthquakes in the Viking world. Nidhogg’s behavior was predicted to contribute to the literal fall of the world of the old gods and race of old human gods, it was prophesied that an earthquake would shake the tree causing it to be uprooted, this event would culminate in the battle of Ragnarok.

Fafnir was a Norse and German dragon who had a fabulous hoard of treasure in the cave in which he lived. The dwarf Regin persuaded his godson Sigurd to find and kill Fafnir so they could claim his treasure. Sigurd stabbed Fafnir when the dragon left his cave to drink at a nearby pool, Sigurd then stabbed his brother and roasted him, some of the hot fat dripped on Sigurd’s finger. He licked the burn and then understood the language of the birds, the birds told him that Regin intended to kill him as well. Because he had been made aware, Sigurd beheaded the dwarf then claimed the wisdom of the birds and the treasure.

Beowulf was a king whose servant stole a golden cup from a dragon’s den, the angry dragon came in pursuit. Along with his warriors Beowulf pursued the dragon, but in fear all of the warriors ran away except Wiglaf, a young warrior. Together Beowulf and Wiglaf defeated the dragon but Beowulf was fatally wounded and buried in a place overlooking the sea, the treasure was buried with him. Because the treasure was taken from a dragon guarding it, it was considered cursed.

In Finnish mythology birds were the servants of Siclulintu, the soul bird. The birds carried human souls into their bodies at birth on behalf of Siclulintu and carried them back when the person died. The Caladrius is known as a bird of prophecy, it was very rare and only kings could own one. The bird had the ability to look into the eyes of a sick person and carry the illness away to the Sun where it was burned. If the bird believed that nothing could be done to save the sick person it would not look into their eyes.

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