DRAGONS IN CELTIC MYTHOLOGY

Celtic mythology considered dragons as powerful beings, and that's why they usually appear next to the gods. They have been part of its civilization for centuries. The Celtic culture covers Scotland, Ireland, Gaul, French Brittany and northern Spain.

Sometimes dragons appear on the flags and shields of soldiers, for example the Welsh flag. At other times, they are carved on the bow of many ships. As an example of their bravery, various Celtic warrior armies have a division called dragons. It is said that King Arthur, a Breton lord, had a dream about them and on the day he died, he dreamed that he was fighting several dragons. As you can see, dragons are always associated with strength and power.

For the Celts, the dragon is the guardian of the secrets and treasures of the universe. His belief is consistent with most Western mythologies. The difference is that while for many, dragons guarded earthly treasures, gold and jewels, for the Celts, these treasures were associated with higher things. The Celtic tribes believe that dragons protect the earth and all beings that live on it.

Celtic Dragon Open Mouth

Myth - Dragons and Celts

The dragon has been a mythological and legendary creature for centuries throughout the world. In his book "A View of Atlantis" (1969), John Mitchell says: "On every continent of the world, the dragon represents the principle of fertility. The creation of the earth and the appearance of life are the result of the combination of these elements. The first living cell was born from the earth and was fertilized by the sky, wind and water. From this union of ying and yang, the seed that produced the dragon was dispersed. Every year the same process takes place.

It is strange to speak of ying and yang when referring to the Celtic dragon, as this is Eastern terminology. Although the terms are from the East, the concepts are not. Mitchell observed how the ancient practice of Feng Shui in China contributed to the harmony of the landscape and people in Celtic culture. He also noted that geomancy had been practiced in ancient England. When a Celtic, especially a Druid, walked the land to do an activity (building, celebrating a vacation, etc.), they would speak the law of the land. Today, we use the same word, but with a different meaning. When today we talk about "law of the land", we usually imagine the shape of a hill while the river flows, it has a more concrete and literal meaning.

1. Celtic legends

However, for the ancient Celts, the law of the land was related to how cosmic forces flowed and affected the region and vice versa. The Celtic people believed that dragons were creatures of the parallel world and that their power and presence affected the land. Mitchell also stated that "the places associated with the dragon legend, the midribs of stationary fertility, always seem to coincide with sites of ancient holiness.

The path of the dragons was at the center of the energy stream. If there was a point where the dragon crossed often, a point where the paths crossed, or a point where the dragon stopped to rest, these became places of power. Stonehenge is thought to be one of these places. Furthermore, some believe that the Celtic cross is a symbol of the crossroads and in turn shows how the circle of life must focus on this power.

2. Celtic symbols

King Arthur Pendragon himself had dreams about dragons, although it is not clear what color they were. He had these dreams at the time of Mordred's conception and before his death. In his final dream, he is devoured by dragons, and in the battle that followed this dream, Sir Mordred kills him. It is believed that when a king sees dragons, it means that ruin will come to his kingdom.

3. Arrival of religion

With the introduction of Christianity in the Celtic countries, the role of dragons changed. Some people believe that there were no dragons in Celtic mythology until the arrival of the Bretons, mainly because there were no records of them in Celtic peoples until that time. However, it is more likely that the records were kept according to oral tradition in Celtic stories. The "sudden" appearance of the dragons, when the Christians invaded their lands, can easily be explained by the meticulous effort they made to create written records.

The Apostolic Church used local beliefs to adapt them for its own benefit, as in the case of St. George for example. In this one, the great power of the dragon is a metaphor for the power of the devil. Traditional symbolism holds that Saint George killed the dragon (Satan) to save the girl (Christianity).

Today, the dragon is very popular in the Celtic revival movement, especially among historians and craftsmen. It should not be forgotten that dragons never went out of fashion for the Gauls, as their flag proudly displays the image of the red dragon and its motto: "The red dragon leads the way".

Celtic Dragon Myth Dungeon

Legends of the Dragon in Celtic Mythology

1. First Legend of the Dragons in Wales

Legend has it that the myth of the fire-breathing dragon was born in Wales. Several pockets of firedamp gas were discovered by miners working in a torch mine, causing explosions. The baffled miners claimed that these explosions were caused by an underground creature. From this moment began the legend of huge beings that fired the fire and lived in caves and underground caves. These beings were destructive and many villagers claimed to have seen them.

2. Merlin the Magician

In Historia regum Britanniae, written by Godfrey Monmouth in 1130, one of the first dragon stories appears. King Vortigern wanted to build a castle on a hill, but every time they started it, the earth shook and the walls fell down. The king consulted his wise men and they advised him to pour the blood of an orphaned child on the ground. They found a child and when they were going to perform the sacrificial rites, he interrupted the ritual, and told them that his blood would not silence the tremors because they were produced by a dragon that lived under those hills. The king's warriors searched and found this mythological being hiding in caves, as the boy had said, and killed it. This child was, no more and no less, than Merlin the enchanter.

3. Master Stoorworm

One of the most important legends concerns the dragon Master Stoorworm. It is said that he was a huge sea serpent who spent the day hunting his prey to satisfy his voracity. Every morning, his yawns made objects in the city disappear. It was because his tongue was pulling and he was taking these objects at random.

One day, the king of the city, tired of this gluttonous snake, said that whoever killed the dragon would take his daughter's hand as a reward. Several knights tried, but the dragon's enormous size frightened them just by looking at it.

Then a boy who was neither a warrior nor a knight appeared. He said he could end the suffering of the city. He got into a boat with a pot and some peat and waited patiently for the dragon to awaken from its sleep. The dragon yawned the first time and the boy and the boat were sucked out. The boy paddled to his liver, where he used the peat and pot to set it on fire. The dragon died. His teeth became islands and his body is what we now call Iceland.

4. Dragons and Snakes

For the Celts, dragons are descended from snakes. For this reason, snakes and dragons are often linked in Celtic mythology. Snakes are sacred animals. The Wuivre is the most representative Celtic symbol. It is composed of two snakes linked and surrounded by a circle. A snake for a Celt represents the fertility of the world, the mother earth that begets, capable of losing its skin and being reborn stronger.

5. Druids and dragons

The dragons of the Celtic myths were wise, that's why they followed their footsteps to become druids. These were the so-called "dragon paths" that had to be followed to understand the laws of the world. They believed that these roads, where a dragon had passed or rested, were magical points that linked the earthly to the Celtic God. Contemplation and meditation in these places were essential to obtain the desired gift and knowledge of the druids.

Celtic Dragon Spits Fire

Types of Dragons in Celtic Mythology

In Celtic myth, there are essentially two types of dragons. One of them coincides with the western version of them. They are beings with large bat wings, with four legs and a huge body. And the second type of dragon is a sea dragon, a kind of sea serpent, which may or may not have wings, but never legs.

1. Afang and Addanc

They are both sea dragons and perhaps that is why both tend to be confused, when in reality they are different.

The Afang is a mysterious being that has almost never been seen. His existence is known from the legends told by the druids in their moments of meditation. As mentioned earlier, the initiation into Druidism has a part where they have to walk the path of the dragons. This path takes them through mystical places that have great meaning to them. It was during one of these visits to the lakeside that the Afang was seen. This majestic being could be the ancestor of the famous Loch Ness monster.

The Addanc is a dragon that lives in lakes or in the sea, and is part of Welsh mythology. He is a being that instills great fear among the villagers because of his size, and because of the stories that are told about unsuspecting youths who went swimming in his property and were never heard from again. He never really attacks people, he just takes advantage of their naivety. Legend has it that he once let a young girl sleep on his lap. The villagers, seeing him like this, tried to stop him and woke him up. The dragon stirred and fought, and in that fight he crushed the poor girl.

2. The Howling Beast

It is an evil creature born from the union between a princess and a demon. Known as the howling beast, because its cries are compared to 30 howling dogs. Extremely fast in its movements and very violent, it does not hesitate to attack with ferocity anyone who approaches. The legend through accounts and poems in Welsh language tells that this mythological being bit King Arthur and that only Merlin could save him, because the venomous bite of this dragon can only be cured by ancient magic.

Celtic Dragon Mythical Cult

The Dragon at the Heart of Celtic Culture

Out of curiosity, the Celtic ancestors were the first to illustrate dragons in a circle. In these illustrations, the dragons appeared to be wrapped around themselves, so that their tails touched their mouths. This circle represents life going on, never ending. Today, you can find many dragon tattoos inspired by this symbol that can represent the cycle of everything.

The figure of the dragon plays an important role as a God and/or guardian, or as a powerful monster and enemy according to the different Celtic cultures. It is attributed qualities and abilities such as the possession of great wisdom and knowledge or great greed and avarice that lead it to devastate entire populations and to accumulate gigantic treasures.

As a result, the image and figure of the dragon has varied and been interpreted in many different ways in Celtic tradition. Ancient Eastern cultures imagined giant winged reptiles; this may have been due to contact with gavials, crocodiles and alligators and the discovery of dinosaur fossils mixed with other flying animals.

For the Celtic peoples, the Dragon was a forest deity, whose strength could be controlled and used by magicians. For the Celtic conquerors of Britain, it was a symbol of sovereignty. During the Roman occupation of the island, it adorned war banners, becoming a heraldic and then military symbol.


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