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Dragons - the origin

hilary

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Chinese alligators at night:
[video=youtube_share;Pue983IxyIA]https://youtu.be/Pue983IxyIA[/video]

(On second thoughts, if it's all the same to everyone, I think I'll skip the pet alligator.)
 

Trojina

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Yes it's clear from that video how the Chinese alligator differs from other alligators.

There is a tiny one winging it's way to you first class. Hope you have a pond
 

li chien

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Dragons symbolise the unfolding of heavenly order and movement... they express the infinite geometry of chaos as they fly across the sky as clouds and plunge into the earth and rivers as water or then return to the heavens from the depths of Earth as evaporation. Their movement is imbued with effortless elan no matter where they traverse. A bit like Hildegaard of Bingen's feather on the breath of god. For all that I wonder if it's easier to see a dragon in the unfolding movement of a cloud or a river as it responds to the landscape than it is to be inspired to see a dragon in a relatively humanly scaled creature like an alligator that is occasionally, spasmodically explosive and also very gravity bound in it's movement and nature.

Also alligators do seem to me much more creatures of instinct and emotion and possibly more a familiar to the ways of the underworld than they are to the order of the heavens even though the Egyptians and Mayans both gave alligators to creation and the sun in their mythology.

I do wonder if we see manifestation of the unconscious being inspired by the literal here and so therefore an alligator gives birth to the tale of a dragon or instead rather we are just reminded in part of the absolute precepts of the universal patterns that we all carry in our unconsciousness in the varied forms we encounter in our reality.

Just as the water trigram can also be quite literal but is even more perfect as a representation of the form of water as the shape of the infinite geometry of nature and how dragons express that as water in the sky as clouds and water on the earth as rivers. So maybe we can't see the dragon but we certainly can feel them and see where they have been.
 
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svenrus

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Legge got dragons for a picture of The great Man; I can't see The great Man in alligators

:flirt:
 

Trojina

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Dragons symbolise the unfolding of heavenly order and movement... they express the infinite geometry of chaos as they fly across the sky as clouds and plunge into the earth and rivers as water or then return to the heavens from the depths of Earth as evaporation. Their movement is imbued with effortless elan no matter where they traverse. A bit like Hildegaard of Bingen's feather on the breath of god. For all that I wonder if it's easier to see a dragon in the unfolding movement of a cloud or a river as it responds to the landscape than it is to be inspired to see a dragon in a relatively humanly scaled creature like an alligator that is occasionally, spasmodically explosive and also very gravity bound in it's movement and nature.

Certainly for me a dragon is more 'in the unfolding movement of a cloud or a river' the energy behind that movement that is, than in an alligator.


Also alligators do seem to me much more creatures of instinct and emotion and possibly more a familiar to the ways of the underworld than they are to the order of the heavens even though the Egyptians and Mayans both gave alligators to creation and the sun in their mythology.

Quite

I do wonder if we see manifestation of the unconscious being inspired by the literal here and so therefore an alligator gives birth to the tale of a dragon or instead rather we are just reminded in part of the absolute precepts of the universal patterns that we all carry in our unconsciousness in the varied forms we encounter in our reality.

But could one say all fantastical creatures that don't appear to exist on the planet, unicorns, mermaids, centaurs, fauns, could we say all these were 'inspired by the literal' too then.. To me, at least in regard to dragons, seems kind of the wrong way about. I don't think alligators gave rise to the tale of a dragon at all. Human imagination, seeing with the inward eye, visions ...these are more likely to be the origin of the dragon than alligators which do not inspire me with dragon thoughts at all. I don't think access to the realms beyond our own is so limited we could not conceive of a dragon without needing to see an alligator. Also of course dragons were in stories and myths where there were actually no alligators to inspire them. Possibly not exactly the same kinds of dragons but these dragons from different parts of the world have more in common with each other than with alligators IMO.

Just as the water trigram can also be quite literal but is even more perfect as a representation of the form of water as the shape of the infinite geometry of nature and how dragons express that as water in the sky as clouds and water on the earth as rivers. So maybe we can't see the dragon but we certainly can feel them and see where they have been.

Agreed. it feels reductionist to me to take a creature that looks a little bit like a dragon and from that say that is the very source of the dragon in the I Ching. Each to his own but I don't think this is one I'm ever going to be convinced of. Apart from anything else it simply doesn't feel true to me so personally I'm not buying this alligator theory although I am selling baby alligators, two for one offer on at the moment, buy now while stocks last
 

hilary

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Well...

I can imagine looking at the river, the flow of it, perceiving that this is a kind of energy-creature - or hearing spring thunder, seeing rising clouds, understanding there is a specific kind of spirit at work. (I think even we moderns can do something a bit like this - be aware that this tree is a person, that the thunder is a voice.)

What does this spirit look like? How can we picture it?

Well... look at the strange, immensely long-lived animal that appears in the watery places in spring (and makes that noise at night). Perhaps that expresses something of the nature of the water...
 

li chien

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I figure my view would be coloured by where I come from and also what I do... I live on a mountain ridge surrounded by a lake (with thankfully few alligators) encircled by the fluid rolling Australian horizon and sky. I work in landscape design and came to study yi only in the last 8 years or so but for many years before this used Taoist concepts (as best as I could) to design to better marry the form of the built environment with the landscape... so a terrestrial notion of what Dragon is and feels like and especially where Dragon meets Tiger has always represented the heart of landscape to me.

We recently had a contingent of Chinese Landscape Architecture students and their teachers out here visiting for an exchange... we went through several landscapes with them including a traditionally designed Southern Chinese Scholar Garden and discussed how tradition meets contemporary Chinese design process.

When we were looking at some large feature rocks in a constructed lake that had been put there as classical representations of Dragon, Turtle, Phoenix, Tiger as well as a Chin Ling the fascinating thing that struck was how alive these principles still are in contemporary China even after the intervening years since the cultural revolution. I would imagine that it may always be easier for a person of inherited Eastern culture to innately get what a Chinese dragon is but also still figure the themes can be shared and fundamentally universal in nature.

Interestingly I had the fantastic experience of being walked through an Australian landscape by a traditional elder from our culture who identified the serpent that was woven into the river from the dreaming. A brilliant overlap in understanding.
 

boyler

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... besides the Dragon as an spiritual/divine animal (representing east, wood, spring, and all scaly creatures) and/or metaphor, ancient Chinese knew about a dragon as a real animal (in fact they differentiated several kind of dragons) and clearly distinguished it from alligators, snakes, and/or water lizards, but 3000 years ago they were already rare ... the dragon that is most usually referred in some ancient text is a horned one, called (龍) ...
 

charly

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... besides the Dragon as an spiritual/divine animal (representing east, wood, spring, and all scaly creatures) and/or metaphor, ancient Chinese knew about a dragon as a real animal (in fact they differentiated several kind of dragons) and clearly distinguished it from alligators, snakes, and/or water lizards, but 3000 years ago they were already rare ... the dragon that is most usually referred in some ancient text is a horned one, called (龍) ...
Hi, Boyler:

Do you mean that dragons were real animals already rare in early China? Or that ancient chinese had clear that alligators, snakes or lizars were not Dragons?

I believe that fancy creations don't start from nothing and if the human mind can conceive a marriage between a two legged cow and a two legged horse (1) why not ancient chinese might conceive four legged snakes, or horned flying alligators?

I CJKV dictionary there are more than 50 or 60 kinds of dragons. I remember only a few:

伏龍 fu long, Hidden Dragon: a worthy person that passes unnoticed, a sage retired from the world.
潛龍 qian long, Concealesd Dragon: a useless, wasted talent.
蒼龍 cang long, Azure Dragon, the chinese Dragon Constellations.
龍子 long zi, Descendant of Emperor.
龍女 long nü, Dragon Lady, a good, worthy or wise woman. Maybe not without sex appeal.
蛟龍 jiao long: River Dragon thar rule over rain and floods.

Maybe some of them were real persons, like Dragon Lady. (2)

All the best,

Charly

________________________
(1) Remember Clarabelle and Horace Horsecollar:
mickeyfloyd2a.jpg

Source: http://yesterday-tomorrow-and-fanta...14/12/walt-disneys-mickey-mouse-by-floyd.html

(2) Dragon Lady by Milton Caniff:
Dragon_Lady_San_4.jpg

Source: http://www.comicbookreligion.com/?c=22076&Dragon_Lady_Lai_Choi_San

Ch.
 
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boyler

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Do you mean that dragons were real animals already rare in early China? Or that ancient chinese had clear that alligators, snakes or lizars were not Dragons?

... both ...

I believe that fancy creations don't start from nothing and if the human mind can conceive a marriage between a two legged cow and a two legged horse (1) why not ancient chinese might conceive four legged snakes, or horned flying alligators?

... well, AFAIK, there is just one known recorded case of breeding dragons (in which case they were obviously real animals), but I think they had nothing to do with human intervention ... they were probably, even then, a species at the verge of extinction, and, of course, they might not look like at all as we picture them now ...

I CJKV dictionary there are more than 50 or 60 kinds of dragons. I remember only a few:

伏龍 fu long, Hidden Dragon: a worthy person that passes unnoticed, a sage retired from the world.
潛龍 qian long, Concealesd Dragon: a useless, wasted talent.
蒼龍 cang long, Azure Dragon, the chinese Dragon Constellations.
龍子 long zi, Descendant of Emperor.
龍女 long nü, Dragon Lady, a good, worthy or wise woman. Maybe not without sex appeal.
蛟龍 jiao long: River Dragon thar rule over rain and floods.

... these are all (except the last one) metaphorical (use of term "dragon") ... when I was talking about different kinds of real(?) dragons, I meant something like these:
龍 dragon (long)
蛟(虬) horned flood dragon (jiao (qiu))
螭 hornless dragon (chi)
... I suppose the first one (龍) is a general name for all(?) kinds of dragons ...

Maybe some of them were real persons, like Dragon Lady. (2)

... as for dragon lady ... it has different meaning in the East (positive), and in the West (negative) ... in the East, a negative equivalent would be a tiger lady ...
 

heylise

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I do wonder if we see manifestation of the unconscious being inspired by the literal here and so therefore an alligator gives birth to the tale of a dragon or instead rather we are just reminded in part of the absolute precepts of the universal patterns that we all carry in our unconsciousness in the varied forms we encounter in our reality.
Deep in our subconscious are archetypes, which want to be expressed. Every age finds its own images. Some simply happen in someone’s mind, and when they are universal enough, a culture will pick it up. Other archetypes get “recognized” in everyday things. A stone which represents the soul, a butterfly is suddenly a message from someone who died, a dog as the ‘helper’-image. Even movie stars – Marilyn Monroe fills in the archetype of ‘Woman as innocent seductress’ or something like that.

It happens all the time, in the past mostly through shamans, but nowadays usually through artists or scientists. We don’t listen to shamans anymore, we safely put them in asylums and try to heal them. http://www.yijing.nl/books/Tucker.html

I don’t think it really matters where an image comes from. It is important if it can be recognized by many people, if it is universal for its time. I don’t know what came first, the dragon in the constellation or the alligator as season-indicator. The tail of the celestial dragon has also been recognized as the curled tail of a scorpion or a snake. All peoples saw well known images in the stars. I think Orion has been seen as a man in many places all over the world.

I think the alligator and celestial dragon got linked together because they did similar things. Coming out in spring, and disappearing again at the end of the growing season. When I imagine a typhoon raging over a swamp, pulling jets of water and plants and animals up, the link between heaven and the water-creatures becomes even stronger. Farmers lived with the life cycle of the alligator, and also with the stars changing position.

Maybe I am an earth-person, I see a wider meaning in simple images than in big sophisticated or elaborate ones. I have a lot of respect for nature, and all of it can be a bearer of a beautiful meaning. From an ant to an elephant to a cluster of grass to a huge mountain.
 
S

svenrus

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Volcanos, thunder and lightning, hurricanes, earthquakes etc. I find more possible for
an imagination of the Dragon; the Dragon: a fantasyphenomena created by our
earliest ancestors to explain those mighty natural events.
(C.S.A. Williams, in his book Chinese symbolism and art Motifs notice: "..... it may be
noted that the crocodile was worshipped by the ancient Egyptians and the theory
has been advanced that the Chinese dragon is merely a modified form of the
alligator found occasionally to the present day in the Yangtze River
, for the
emergence of the latter from hibernation synchronises with the coming of spring,
when the dragon is believed to be exerting its beneficient influence; it is,
however, difficult to trace an anology between this fabulous animal and any other
natural species, for the body of the dragon seems to be distinctly serpentine, its head
is made up of parts of those of various other animals, the teeth are those of a
mammalian carnivore, while the legs and claws are those of a bird
. ........" [Castle
books USA 1974] )
 
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heylise

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Interestingly I had the fantastic experience of being walked through an Australian landscape by a traditional elder from our culture who identified the serpent that was woven into the river from the dreaming. A brilliant overlap in understanding.
I think the images of water, which moves like a serpent, coiling, and of the clouds and storms which often do the same, and of snakes and alligators, they are all together a big set of images which fill in what already lives deep in human minds. Or maybe rather deep in our instincts. They connect us with an archetype. The dragon represents that archetype, and of course it is BIG, like all archetypes are big. Bigger than alligators or snakes and even rivers. Dreaming connects us with those images.

“Woven into the river”, I like that, it is beautiful. The big images are woven into everything we recognize, rivers, clouds, rain, sunlight, trees, the entire world we experience. I doubt we could see or deal with anything which doesn’t have those images woven into it. We can only see what we are "made" to see.
 

heylise

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cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0" border="0" width="580" style="width: 580px"
|-
| Nile crocodiles are exceptionally good at holding their breath and can, when sitting at rest underwater, hold their breath for up to two hours.
blank.gif

|-
How's that for hex.1 bottom line! Makes for a long time of not acting.

I know, the Nile is far from China, but alligators and crocodiles are quite similar animals and probably have many traits in common.
 

charly

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cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0" border="0" width="580" style="width: 580px"
|-
| Nile crocodiles are exceptionally good at holding their breath and can, when sitting at rest underwater, hold their breath for up to two hours.
blank.gif

|-
How's that for hex.1 bottom line! Makes for a long time of not acting.

I know, the Nile is far from China, but alligators and crocodiles are quite similar animals and probably have many traits in common.
Hi, LiSe:

They are also exceptional in cutting the breath.

The chinese alligator looks more amiable, at least they are small.

A 鼉龍 tuo2​long2, chinese alligator from the Bencao Sangmu, as said at the foot:

FullSizeRender-20.jpg

Source: http://paleoporch.com/2015/04/

All the best,

Charly
 

bradford

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Things like these are all over the world.
17992282_1281385301953059_5727060422801313149_n.jpg
 

surnevs

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dfreed

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David W. Pnkeniers "Astrology and Cosmology in Early China"
Thanks for sharing. I very much liked this, from his conclusion:

" .... At that time 'nature' was not differentiated from the human world .... one should (or can) see this nexus of associations as an example of the 'dynamic totalistic weaving of nature, society, myth and technology' characteristic of Neolithic and early Bronze Age thought."

And Hilary added this to the discussion:

"I can imagine looking at the river, the flow of it, perceiving that this is a kind of energy-creature - or hearing spring thunder, seeing rising clouds, understanding there is a specific kind of spirit at work. (I think even we moderns can do something a bit like this - be aware that this tree is a person, that the thunder is a voice.) .... Well... look at the strange, immensely long-lived animal that appears in the watery places in spring (and makes that noise at night). Perhaps that expresses something of the nature of the water ...."

This makes me wonder: were dragons based on (or styled after) alligators, or were they based on dinosaur fossils, or perhaps they are representational images of curving, moving rivers, or they ate from dreams, or snakes, or they are mythic creatures who live in rivers and fly through the skies, and are awakened by thunder in springtime ....? And I think the correct answer is: Yes, All of the Above (and then some).
 
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heylise

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"Yes, All of the Above (and then some)"
I like that!!
Feels like life instead of science. (I like science - but most of all when I see that life agrees)
 

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In the really old books, Dragons are also mountains. So much that some authors(that was David Walters I think) say in a normal conversation for landscape even today, mentioning dragon is same meaning as pointing to a mountain.

The way the dragons are described is the way a mountain is suppose to look to be beneficial for a nearby residence(although there are complex principles on where it needs to be situated and how it must moves down to the residential areas, for the Qi to be beneficial).

And Water Dragons... There was a long while when this has been forgotten, and the whole study of geomancy there was revolving around height. There is a saying, if something is even a few cm above the ground it is considered a "Mountain Dragon". Few cm below and its consider "Water Dragon".

Yet there is a classic book about the Water Dragon(its in the net, actually here http://www.davidyek.com/yifengshui/-water-dragon-classics-2)
Where Dahong(legendary Feng Shui practitioner from 400-500 years ago) resurrected the old views and again bring the Water Dragon in the plains as a fundamental path in Feng Shui(even though it isn't exactly wrote by him).

So now in Feng Shui we have Mountain Dragon and Water Dragon, related to height. But we also have Water Dragon in the plains that is connected to how a rivers turn and enclose a space.

And of course, the Azure Dragon as representing Wood/East/Rising Yang is fundamental in almost all Chinese Metaphysical systems including Feng Shui.

As far as calendar goes, Dragon(Chen) is the 5th branch of the Calendar and Yang Earth Branch carring the Tomb/Storage of Water and Earth idea.

Overall, a lot of Dragons all over the place.
There were some sources with all different types of Dragons and are a lot. Then there are creatures like Pi Xiu that are half Dragons, half something else...
 
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veavea

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What counts as a dragon? If a Chinese dragon has no wings and doesn’t breathe fire, is it the same kind of creature as the western dragon or do we just use the same terminology? I must admit I watched an episode of ‘ancient aliens’ (dreadful show, not because of the basic premise but because of the ridiculous leaps of logic and non-sequiturs) which was discussing the African dogon people and their understanding of cosmology which connects to amphibious beings (who may or may not be from space, I’ve only read about it in The Sirius Mystery = another less than scholarly interrogation, although I have yet to read The Pale Fox which promises to be a bit more sensible) - ANYWAY, the relevant episode of Ancient Aliens connected dogon cosmology and the amphibious wise ones to various other world cosmologies and also connected to the word ‘dragon’.

I was drawn to this thread because I yesterday asked the Yi what other kind of life existed in this universe. 1.4.5>18. The image in my head? A dragon coming from the watery depths and up into the air. Less literally - pure creative potential?
 

Gmulii

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What counts as a dragon? If a Chinese dragon has no wings and doesn’t breathe fire, is it the same kind of creature as the western dragon or do we just use the same terminology? I must admit I watched an episode of ‘ancient aliens’ (dreadful show, not because of the basic premise but because of the ridiculous leaps of logic and non-sequiturs) which was discussing the African dogon people and their understanding of cosmology which connects to amphibious beings (who may or may not be from space, I’ve only read about it in The Sirius Mystery = another less than scholarly interrogation, although I have yet to read The Pale Fox which promises to be a bit more sensible) - ANYWAY, the relevant episode of Ancient Aliens connected dogon cosmology and the amphibious wise ones to various other world cosmologies and also connected to the word ‘dragon’.

I was drawn to this thread because I yesterday asked the Yi what other kind of life existed in this universe. 1.4.5>18. The image in my head? A dragon coming from the watery depths and up into the air. Less literally - pure creative potential?

I can personally recommend Sitchin. This is good start:

After he passed away all sorts of shady people started explaining the mistakes he made in translation or the problem they had with different things he stated... No one ever addressing that through the years while he was alive he had provided very difficult to ignore evidence for his base point of view even without bringing Harington in.

Anyway, what counts as Dragon... My Chinese is still on its very first steps, but looking around I would guess we consider dragon this - 龍, with some backup of this 龙.

What does that mean... Chinse Bazi masters I have watched, say its just this:
Komodo_dragon_with_tongue.jpg


And to be fair the 12 earthly branches all have Images of existing animal, Horse, Snake, Rat etc. So I'm kinda leaning in more to some explanation like that. Not as much for alligators, but for some sort of big lizard that may still exist today like the komodo dragons(I don't know the species name in English, I know it in may language).

I do agree looking at ancient history there is alot that may bring us to look in unexpected places for an answer, sometimes, but in this case I think the answer may actually be very trivial and lizardy in existing way.
 

dfreed

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yesterday asked the Yi what other kind of life existed in this universe. 1.4.5>18.
It seems you asked in the past tense: what life used to exist in the universe, not about what life exist now, is that correct? That's a big difference.
 
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veavea

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It seems you asked in the past tense: what life used to exist in the universe, not about what lives exist now, is that correct?
Hello, no my wording precisely was ‘what other kind of life exists in the universe’, present tense 😃 (I meant, other than on Earth)
 

veavea

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I can personally recommend Sitchin. This is good start:

After he passed away all sorts of shady people started explaining the mistakes he made in translation or the problem they had with different things he stated... No one ever addressing that through the years while he was alive he had provided very difficult to ignore evidence for his base point of view even without bringing Harington in.

Anyway, what counts as Dragon... My Chinese is still on its very first steps, but looking around I would guess we consider dragon this - 龍, with some backup of this 龙.

What does that mean... Chinse Bazi masters I have watched, say its just this:
Komodo_dragon_with_tongue.jpg


And to be fair the 12 earthly branches all have Images of existing animal, Horse, Snake, Rat etc. So I'm kinda leaning in more to some explanation like that. Not as much for alligators, but for some sort of big lizard that may still exist today like the komodo dragons(I don't know the species name in English, I know it in may language).

I do agree looking at ancient history there is alot that may bring us to look in unexpected places for an answer, sometimes, but in this case I think the answer may actually be very trivial and lizardy in existing way.
(I can’t work out how to quote sections rather than whole thing 🤨)

They are just called Komodo dragons in English, apparently they are a type of monitor lizard but I don’t think they have any other English name… not that I am a lizard expert. maybe ‘generic reptile’ could be substituted for dragon, or maybe amphi-reptilian…?!

Crocodilians are very old, as old as dinosaurs, I think? (Sorry if I’m repeating what someone else has said in this thread.) There were significant crocodile cults in ancient Egypt - ooh just found this interesting piece about Papua New Guinea:


And yes, I will try Sitchin, I do know of it. Thanks for the recommendation!
 

dfreed

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(I can’t work out how to quote sections rather than whole thing
Two ways: you can either just select the section you want to quote and then a 'quote' option should pop up; click it, then go to a new post, then select 'insert quotes' (which is what I did here). Or, you can just quote the entire thing and then go in and edit it - delete, change ....
 

dfreed

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I can personally recommend Sitchin. This is good start: Twelfth Planet: Book I of the Earth Chronicles
Are you recommending this book because it's about ancient civilization and aliens, or because we might learn something about dragons from it? Or both?

Personally, I'm very suspect - to say the least - of a book where the introduction tells us that we were all supposed to die back in Dec. 2016 because the 12th planet, Planet Nibiru was getting to close to us. And since it's now 2021, I put that squarely in the New Age 'load of malarkey' category.
 
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dfreed

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What counts as a dragon?
It seems you've offered up some very good possibilities here:

dragons have no wings and do not breathe fire,
they are amphibious wise ones,
they are pure creative potential?
... and all this, and all of the above.

Or ... in your reading, with Line 1.4, trigram (three-line figure) Active-Heaven changes to Wind; and with Line 1.5 trigram Focus-Heaven changes to Flame. So dragons can also be Sun-like and Wind-like: offering us warmth, direction, clarity, and a chance to explore Creative possibilities - even if they sometimes have to do a bit of leaping, gliding, landing, and soaring along the way! And maybe we're the dragons when we act dragon-like?
 

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