Honey thinks about dragons

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May 1, 2013 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground 

By Honey van Blossom

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste.)

I bought a bronze turtle good luck totem in Chinatown in San Francisco.  The totem is comprised of a large turtle, and on her back is a little turtle.   The big turtle has a dragon’s head and delightfully awful dragon feet stepping on coins.  The totem will bring me prosperity and prestige.

A placard elsewhere in the store for a dragon said that in China, a dragon symbolizes good fortune.   Dragons come from the sky.  They make the rules.

Animal signs in Chinese astrology include the dragon along with the rabbit, rat, ox, tiger, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

If the Chinese animal signs were an IQ test, which one does not belong?

The English word “dragon” derives from Greek δράκων (drákōn), “dragon, serpent of huge size, water-snake.”  Dragons feature in European, Australian and Asian myths.  The word “dragon” (Hebrew: tannin) is used throughout the Old Testament, and most directly translates as “sea or land monsters.” In the Book of Job, the author describes great creatures likes the mega fauna that used to roam the earth.

The Welsh language, according to some researchers, is related to Basque, long considered a language isolate.   The Basque language so far appears related to several of the many Caucasus languages (There are over 100 Caucasian languages.).   The Welsh Red Dragon was a good dragon, counterpoised against the English White Dragon.  Y Ddraig Goch  The oldest recorded use of the dragon to symbolize Wales is in the Historia Brittonum, written around AD 829, but it is popularly supposed to have been the battle standard of King Arthur and other ancient Celtic leaders.

Dinosaur-like creatures are featured on Babylonian landmarks, Roman mosaics, Asian pottery and royal robes, Egyptian burial shrouds and government seals, Peruvian burial stones and tapestries, Mayan sculptures, Aboriginal and Native American petroglyphs (carved rock drawings), and many other pieces of ceremonial art throughout ancient cultures.   The evidence we have is that dinosaurs vanished 64-66 million years ago, except for their descendants, –birds — and relatives like the crocodile.  The chickens my grandsons devour are great-great-exponentially great grandchildren of dinosaurs.

Colchis was an ancient kingdom described on Internet as Western Georgia, which was sited at the eastern end of the Black Sea.   Part of what was Colchis is Rize, Trabzon Artvin in modern Turkey.   The South Caucasian Mountain languages called Kartvelian may be related to the Basque language (long considered a language isolate) and ancient Celtic languages.  About 33,000 people in a strip of land bordering Georgia still speak Laz, one of the Kartvelian languages.

When Herodotus  — the “father of history” born in what is now Bodrum in modern Turkey –visited the Kingdom of Colchis in the fifth century B.C., he found wooly haired dark skinned people.   Recent genetic studies indicate the first people to inhabit China – before the emergence of Mongoloid people – were black.

In Euripedes’ (Euripedes lived c. 480-406 B.C.) play Medea, Medea is a sorcerer – one of the many women in history accused of magic because of her skills with plants — daughter of the king of Colchis.

Jason arrives with the Argonauts in Colchis is search of the Golden Fleece.   The Golden Fleece is the golden hair of a winged ram, which the king of the Colchis sacrificed, and he hung the fleece on an oak tree.

The oak tree in Celtic and Scandinavian myths is the world tree, with its roots extending deep into the earth and its arms stretching to heaven.  In legends, it is a ladder from our world into the supernatural world, like the Home Tree of Pandora in James Cameron’s imaginative world of Pandora.

“We don’t need some new machine that sucks up CO2 and puts it in the earth. We already have one. It’s called a tree,” said Cameron on Earth Day when he planted a Crape Myrtle tree in Los Angeles.

The fleece symbolizes innocence and spiritual purity.  Gold is truth in ancient legends but I think it at least as likely that the flying gold ram symbolized the sun, which is God, and that what Jason sought was God.  The haloes around images of saints started as symbols of holiness – God light and gold – long before the Catholic Church.

Jason lusted for glory, so his story ends badly.   The myth is one of human corruption of goodness and betrayal of nature, not just of Medea, whose name may be the beginning of words related to medicine, which begins with plant medicines.

Medea betrays her father the king of the Colchis for Jason by giving the dragon guarding the fleece a sleeping potion, and they flee to Corinth.

Medea learns Jason is about to marry Creon’s daughter Glauce.  Creon orders her and their children to leave – apparently, Medea acted out.

Glauce accepts a wedding dress and crown from Medea.  They burn her, and she dies.  Medea then murders her children.   She escapes on a chariot drawn by two dragons, which were given to her by her father – in this piece of the myth, her father is not the King of Colchis but the god Helios, the Greek sun god and the sun itself.

A Dream of Passion is a 1978 Greek drama film directed by Jules Dassin, Mercouri’s husband.  The story follows Melina Mercouri as an actress playing Medea who seeks out a mother, portrayed by Ellen Burstyn, in a Greek jail for murdering her own children.   Mercouri comes to understand that Burstyn’s mind, a conventional American mind, is the prison, and that this prison led her to her horrible actions.

Dassin was blacklisted in Hollywood during the production of Night and the City in 1950. He was not allowed on the studio property to edit or oversee the musical score for the film. He also had trouble finding work abroad, as U.S. distribution companies blacklisted the U.S. distribution of any European film associated with artists blacklisted in Hollywood.

It is easy to see a connection between Dassin’s flight to Europe as a result of the Red Scare, and the underlying theme of the conventional and ignorant mind of the American in the Greek jail in A Dream of Passion: American gullibility fostered by the military-industrial complex destroyed its creative children.

Classical Greek mythology suggests that ancient Kolkhs (Colchis people) practiced somewhat highly developed medicine that must have impressed the Mycenaean Greek travelers at the time. Some historians of medicine suggest that the modern medical science’s principle “Contraria contrariis curantur” (opposite cures the opposite) dates back to ancient Kolkhs and their healer and sorceress princess Medea, acquiring its final form in the classical Greek.

So how is it that so many people from different parts of the world believed in the existence of a dinosaur-like beast?  Many millions of years separated the extinction of dinosaurs and the emergence of human beings.

Early people may have discovered dinosaur fossils and built stories around them.   Recent discoveries in the Caucasus Mountains support this possibility.

In 1925 the teacher and naturalist from Kutaisi P. Chabukiani discovered cretaceous period dinosaur’s foot-prints in Sataplia.

More recently Chechnyan scientists claimed to have found the largest collection of dinosaur eggs in a remote area in the northern Caucasus.

In 2010, scientists from Ilia Chavchavadze Tbilisi University have discovered 100 million year-old dinosaur remains. The sensational discovery was made in the west of the country in the canyon of the Abasha River. At first, two distinct tracks, presumed to belong to a dinosaur, were discovered in the rocky soil of the canyon and then the remains of a herbivorous dinosaur were dug out. These remains provided the basis for a hypothesis promoted by the Georgian scientists that three previously unknown species of dinosaurs existed in the Mesolithic Period and became extinct 60 million years ago.

From Google maps, it appears that the Abasha River was in the Kingdom of Colchis.   Sataplia is further inland, at a distance from the Black Sea, in Georgia.

According to paleontologists, the Caucasus looked entirely different in the age of the dinosaurs: it was an archipelago of big islands with a tropical climate.

Recently, archeologists discovered human skulls near Tiblisi in Georgia that are 1.8 million years old.  These early humans were far more primitive than the Homo erectus humans that were, until this discovery, believed to be the first people to migrate out of Africa about 1 million years ago.  The only human fossil to predate the Dmanisi, Georgia specimens are of an archaic species Homo habilis found only in Africa, which used simple stone tools and lived between about 2.5 million and 1.6 million years ago.

 

Human beings migrated to China beginning about 1 million years ago.  China is exceptionally rich in dinosaur remains.

 

Inasmuch as early humans were nomadic, it is easy to see how they developed stories around dinosaur foot prints, bones and eggs, and that the stories traveled along with elements of earlier languages to the west, as far as Wales, and to China.

In another Greek myth, Prometheus credited with the creation of man from clay and the theft of fire for human use. an act that enabled progress and civilization. He is known for his intelligence, and as a champion of humanity.

The punishment of Prometheus as a consequence of the theft is a major theme of his mythology, and is a popular subject of both ancient and modern art. Zeus, king of the Olympian gods, sentenced the Titan to eternal torment for his transgression. The immortal Prometheus was bound to a rock, where each day an eagle, the emblem of Zeus, was sent to feed on his liver, which would then grow back to be eaten again the next day.

I assume myths, like the story of The Fall in Genesis, grew from more ancient stories, stories long before the invention of writing, that were attempts to make sense out of what was barely remembered, remembered in caves on winter nights during climactic changes, passed on from generation to generation through oral poetry, singing, music and art.

The dragon may have endured as part of the mythmaking that spread around the world simply because they found dinosaur fossils and footprints inexplicable.

On the other hand, the bits and pieces of these very ancient stories suggest the possibility of what is now a fantastic science fiction-like explanation for dragons.

The import of Genesis is that it tells about the transition of human beings from nomadic hunter-gatherers to sedentary and then agricultural people.  It marks the tremendous shift in world outlook from one in which all species were connected and respected to one where man is given stewardship of nature.

In the myths, dragons come from the sky.  They are tyrannical.  They are associated with the sun.   Man begins out of clay in the Caucasus Mountains.  Fire is invented in the Caucasus Mountains.   Medicine begins in the Caucasus Mountains.

My tentative hypothesis is that there once were dragons – hard skinned, winged lizard-looking rulers that came to the high mountain range not far from the Black Sea, and that they arrived from the sky.

 

 

 

 

 

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