About the Author
Joy Phillip has been a practicing witch since her initiation in 1991. She has been studying metaphysics for most of her life, ever since her grandmother got her interested in New Age Mysticism. From there, it was a short step to Wicca and studying magick. With this interest, she started working on the Astral Plane exclusively and doing all her magickal works there. Very soon, the dragons introduced themselves to her in 2008 and really started working with her in the months after that. She was formally brought into a Dragon Family as an associate member about mid 2009 and asked to try to bridge the gap between humans and Dragons. Since then, her life has been busy and hectic as her dragon family’s duties have started meshing with the duties she has in her human family.
Note from the Draig Sidhe Path
On the subject of Dragonkin…. The Draig Sidhe Path has no position on the subject of Dragonkin. This document by Joy is part of a Pagan 101 project with a Draig Sidhe slant. We do believe that members, if they have not already, can become a channel for a dragon (or your inner dragon). This topic is covered in the book “Sea, Land, Sky: A Dragon Magick Grimoire” by Parker J Torrence.
The True Nature of Dragons
by Joy Phillip
First, forget what you think you know about dragons. The Draig Sidhe path is not “How to Train Your Dragon”, “Dragonriders of Pern” or any other fictional dragon stories. This path is about gaining a personal relationship with REAL dragons such our world has not seen in a literal age. Some of the dragons we will be working with are literally older than the planet. Many of the beings you know as aliens, deities, angels, spirits and many other names are really dragons.
Most people start their journeys with dragons by finding them in a Fantasy novel or a Role-Playing Game of some sort. Seeing them in movies and on television, lead models or brightly painted tchotchkes, maybe seeing American Dragon Jake Long on Nickelodeon is always a possibility too. From there, searching for the myths of dragons, stories and tales of what dragons are and what they do are common.
But I want you to forget all that.
Dragons as we will be working with them are primal forces of our world. They are part and parcel of what we have here and how things have formed. You have heard them, you have seen them, and you may not even know it.
Dragons, as many of us of the Draig Sidhe know them, have always existed and will always exist. When the planet first cooled, Dragons were there to take control of those parts of the world that concerned them. They each pledged to keep an eye on the four primal elements, Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Those elements are the building blocks of all creation, and everything is made up of those four elements.
Now, of course, I’m not talking about the world you can touch with your hands. There are 120 elements or more in that world. Carbon and Sulfur, Nitrogen and Helium, and many more besides. The physical world is not what I’m discussing in this book.
Magic is energy, created by living things. It is part of every atom, it is part of all the stars, it is the unifying force that physicists are looking for. It is all that is, and everything is part of that energy. The smallest string of the String Theories all the way up to the Known Universe all have this energy in it, and it cannot be separated from it without destroying the physical.
Dragons are part of that energy, by virtue of their being alive. We are part of that energy as well.
There is some anecdotal evidence (meaning unverified stories told by so and so and passed down as “My friend’s second cousin’s roommate’s best friend heard from his aunt five times removed who still lived in the old country…”) that points to the Dragons, and for that matter many other mystical beasties, having had physical bodies here at one point in time. Most of that evidence is mistaken identity, such as mistaking Dinosaur bones for Dragon bones. Because those stories can’t be proven by anything other than rumor, we discount them.
However, in conversation with the Dragons themselves, it turns out that even before the dinosaurs roamed the Earth, the Dragons did live here. They lived as most might think they did, competing for territory, hunting, breeding, having a time of their own. They were the dominant life form for some time. They could use their magic and their other abilities to avoid the many extinction events that happened.
But as the climate changed and mammals started rising as an intelligent species, the dragons withdrew further and further away from life. Finally, the greatest among them discovered a way to take the physical forms they had into another world, the world of the Astral Plane.
They withdrew totally. They took all their society, all their achievements, the relics of their existence, even the bodies of their dead, and moved to the Astral Plane. There they stayed, keeping an eye on life on the Earth, and watching us. From time to time they might send some of their members to Earth to check and see what is going on there, and to report back. Just as the Sidhe, the Unicorns, the Elementals, the Selke and other “mythical” species did. In every case, the Astral was vast enough to allow the different species to live separately with no need to compete for territory or to come into direct contact with each other if they didn’t want to.
And there they passed the time and live now, withdrawn from THIS reality and THIS plane, but existing and flourishing in their own enclaves of existence.
For some, the rise of Humanity came as a surprise and it caused all kinds of problems. For others, the invasion of human souls to the Astral, as we became more aware and created religious myths to explain magic and energetic connections, was expected. So now we are in a time of cooperative exploration. Humans have mostly dominated this planet that all these other beings have lived on for so long. They withdrew to the Astral, and now we are finding our way there as well. It is inevitable that we will meet these other species at some point in time.
This is the core philosophy you MUST understand as you take these steps into the realms of Magic. The beings you meet there have been around for aeons. They have been alive as a society since before the Earth’s crust cooled and the oceans gathered. Before the first plankton opened itself up to the sun, these beings were there. In a very few cases, some of these beings were ejected into this plane by the Big Bang from the worlds they inhabited before then, and they remember it. So, yes, they’re older than you can imagine and they are completely and utterly alien.
Don’t fall into the traps of thinking of these creatures as the stories paint them. Unicorns aren’t solely interested in frolicking in groves with virgin girls, and Dragons aren’t bloodthirsty treasure grabbing mindless monsters either. EVERY quality you see in Humanity, you will find in these beings. There is the noble and the venial. There are good dragons and not-so-good dragons. There are dragons that could care less about gold and there are dragons that hoard stuffed animals. It depends ENTIRELY on the individual being and what their interests are. I know one young dragon that uses his horde to create beautiful gem encrusted jewelry for other Dragons and races that he meets to wear. His work is being sought after.
Some very few have elected to remain here on the physical world, but you won’t ever recognize them as anything other than features of the natural world. One such example is the Appalachian Mountain range. I was told that once upon a time, three Dragon Brothers had a competition to see who would take which land mass as Pangaea broke into pieces. Up for discussion, the land masses that would become the North American and the South American continents. These three brothers each wanted the part they decided on, and it was seen that the South American continent was going to be superior. It was agreed that the losers would get to compete over the North American continent. The fight lasted for years, but finally, one brother was thrown down, mortally injured and he lay where he fell, and slept to recover his strength. He became the mountain range known as Appalachian.
The winner was also injured, and he took the South American area, but when he revealed himself to those that were living there, they started worshiping him, and sacrificing to him in blood, since he was bloodied in his fights. And because deities take on the aspects of their worshipers, Quetzalcoatl was born. The last brother, moved to the North American continent to the mountains in the northwest and the chains of mountains in Canada and recover in the rarified air, flying around all day, trailing electrical energies off him to the skies. And thus, Thunderbird was born.
Now mind you, this is only what I have been told by the Dragons themselves, and it is up to you to decide if it rings true to you. But this story makes sense to me.
The very first idea you should carry away from here is that humans don’t understand dragons at all. There are some small aspects of Dragons that we understand and can comprehend, but most of what we know we didn’t get right. It is also a truism that we try to understand others through the lens of our own experience, so studying Dragons or other species will ALWAYS be influenced by our Human understanding.
It has been theorized that there are four different kinds of intelligences that we know of. The first is a human-like intelligence, ones that think like we do, have similar emotions, that understand things in the ways humans do. The next is less than human, most often seen as animal intelligence. We know they are capable of intelligence, but it is mostly here/now centered, short term and learning tricks over and over. Monkey see, monkey do. Then there is greater than human intelligence, or intelligences like deities. It has more than we know and can see more of the realities than we can. It may or may not care about Humans, but it is larger than we are. The Collective Intelligence would be one of these, or the Race Memory, or the Collective Unconscious of Jung.
The last is other than human intelligences, like a computer intelligence or an alien intelligence. This is where Dragons fall. They may think and reason as we do, but their reasons for doing anything are their own. They have their own way of understand the universe, their own way of seeing the universe and their own way of transmitting their understanding of the universe to each other.
To a Dragon, there is no space. They can travel as freely from Earth to Alpha Centauri as you or I might move from the Living Room to the Bedroom. They can see a larger portion of the multiverse than we can, and they use magic like you or I would use our fingers.
Thinking that because you have memorized the fifty kinds of Chinese dragons and can tell the difference between a Chinese Imperial Dragon, a Chinese Dragon and a Japanese Dragon from a Western Dragon makes you qualified to speak for the dragons here, is a concept you need to give up. Just as you say “All dragons have…..” there will be fifteen dragons that decide to mess with you by having everything except that. I have known fire breathing dragons, gas breathing dragons, and some dragons that don’t have a draconic breath weapon.
One small dragon I know got surprised and breathed and turned a rat that had invaded his bedroom into a stone paperweight. Then he felt so bad about killing that one that he went and found the reincarnation of that rat to apologize to it.
The takeaway of this is that you cannot make a blanket statement of “All Dragons are…” in any case. Not even all dragons know each other. And the appearance of each dragon can change from encounter to encounter. All you can do is to expect the unexpected with Dragons and understand that they will be themselves, despite what we want.
Also, don’t think that just because you studied a Dungeons and Dragons manual that you can use that as a basic template for the study of real dragons. Colors do not show you what the “alignment” of the dragon is. I know a dragon who is red as red can be, with all the colors of the flame on his body someplace. From bright red, to orange, to yellow, white, and super hot blue, they are all there. He claims to be an Earth dragon, although he flies as long as he doesn’t look down (scared of heights). He’s also the type of dragon who, if he steps on your shadow, will apologize profusely, move off the shadow, apologize some more, and then try to make amends so you won’t be mad. He’s basically the draconic equivalent of a Canadian.
You also must understand that the stories about Dragons are written by humans for humans, and as such paints the Dragons as either less than us or as more concerned with our life than they are. It’s a human trying to feel better about being less than the Dragons are.
This is why I say “forget everything you know” about Dragons, because it is tainted as a human taint any story about another species.
This does not mean that you don’t know Dragons. You have met them, you have seen them, you have probably worked with them in your religious rituals.
Dragons of modern day, as I have said, are features of the Earth, the Sea, the Sky. You have seen these dragons flying around in the clouds. If you have ever looked at the sky and seen a cloud shape that looked like a dragon, most likely that WAS a Dragon. They have been shown over and over as seen in the following pictures.
These are just a few examples, and keep your skepticism ready, because Photoshop exists. It is very easy to edit these images and make it look like they are a dragon.
The currents of the Oceans, like the Gulf Stream current, are Dragons. I’ve seen and talked to the Dragon of the Gulf Stream, and he’s huge, chasing his own tail around and around the sea. And there are many other such places in the water that they live and play and move. Ever had a wave come and play with you, splashing and soaking you even though all the others didn’t? That’s most likely a water dragon having a go at you.
Earth dragons are easy. Mountains, mountain ranges, fault lines are where they live. Mount Fuji is a dragon, as sure as you are breathing. He lay down, curled up, napped and when he woke, a mountain had grown around him. Same with Mount Rainier, Mount Saint Helens, and many other solitary mountains. Smaug was just living in a mountain, he could have been the mountain at one time.
I know that there was a huge earthquake in Fukushima, and in China. Those two incidents were caused by Dragons, one turning over and the other getting very upset and screaming at the stars. Both caused much destruction and pain, and there are still consequences today.
Most dragons have an elemental association. It seems to be something they pick some time in their first 100 years or so. They can have more than one. You can have a Fire Breathing/Water/Metal dragon. Any combination of the Primal Elements you can think of, including Chinese and Indian elements, exist and can be chosen by the Dragon in question. It’s best to just assume that any Dragon you meet can do magic, breathe fire, swim, and fly. Just about everyone I know who have worked with Dragons have said the same thing.
But wait, it gets better….
Most of the deities you know of, are really dragons.
Think about this for a minute.
The deities I know of that are Draconic include
- The Morrigan
- Rhiannon of the Birds
and a whole lot more. If a deity predates any modern religion, you can almost be sure that it’s a dragon that is being worshiped as a deity. I also speculate that such gods as Modok, Loki, Ba’al and many others are actually Dragons as well, but I don’t that know for a fact.
There are also popular stories that can be looked at in different lights. The story of Merlin and the Red Dragon and White Dragon fighting in the cave? Know that story? Go look it up. Okay, I know those dragons personally, and they didn’t mean to have children sacrificed, they intended to see if they could knock down those castles as a test of their cussedness. They did it only because they wanted to see if it could be done. The Red Dragon went on to become the Dragon of Wales, and he’s named (get this) Finn McCool. He’s engaged to be married to that white dragon and they are in the formal stuff before the marriage which will go for about another two hundred years.
Formal Draconic society is a whole order of magnitude more formal than the most rules bound court here is. When you live for millennia, childhood lasts for many centuries and danger comes from boredom, and very strong emotions can be deadly.
The takeaway for this section is that if you have a deity that doesn’t have a specific animal form (like Herne with the Deer/Bear or Inari with the kitsune and Anansi as a spider) then ask Them if They have a Dragon form, chances are they may.
Most Nordic deities don’t have a draconic form, since the Wyrms were the enemies of the Aesir and Vanir and were killed as fast as possible. However, the Midgard Serpent IS a dragon, so is Fafnir.
Now, let me be frank with you all. You are human. They are dragons. To them, you are about the same as an ant is to you. Short lived, a nuisance, a pet, something much less than they are, and something that it’s fun to mess with. Don’t ever think that you are equal to a dragon at all, and don’t start falling into the trap that you think that you are super special to the dragons, unless they do a whole ritual HERE and on the Astral, you are probably a science project for them.
There are many who believe that they are dragons incarnate, meaning they are a dragon soul in a human body. Many call it being “DragonKin”. My *personal* opinion on this is that most often it is a case of mistaken identity, misinterpretation, and in nearly all cases, an identity tried on for a while when a person is trying to find their metaphysical self. It is not nearly as common as many in the magical communities would have you think it is. This is possible, and the dragons themselves have to do a lot to cause this to happen (and there will be memories of the event) but most likely (and using Occam’s Razor on this) it is not something that has happened. Some of the exercises that will be in this book will help you separate a “feeling of dragon” from you and determine if this is your entire soul, or just a very strong affinity to the Dragons.
Be content to learn from the Dragons and have them contribute to your magick and your rituals. Try not to build it up to something more.
All that said, however, if you have the chance to become part of the Draconic society, you WILL know it, it WILL be a big deal to the Dragons, and you WILL have tons of problems as a result.
Remember that while we humans revere those heros such as St. George the Dragonslayer and Beowulf, to the Dragons they were the same as if a fire ant had bitten and killed you. A small insignificant creature came in and killed one of them, that’s unheard of, remember one thing, these stories are human. Were they the victor or did they make it up? While dragonslayers are murderers in draconic eyes, I find it hard to believe they wouldn’t have wiped out humans in revenge.
Working with Dragons
All this having been said, you can work with the dragons in your rituals. You just have to remember a few things:
- Be respectful
- Understand that if they say “no” then they mean it
- You are always seen as less than them, but you might be indulged
- Dragons are always individuals
As a consolation, if you can’t find a Dragon of Air to work your ritual, because the one Air Dragon you know is busy, you may be able to find another. There are many of dragons around, and one may help if only so they won’t be bored on this Friday night. It’s helpful if they are allied with your dragon friend.
Personal relationships are what are important. Craft a friendship with the Dragons, as many as you feel you want to. I started with the White Dragon of England, talked to her, learned about her, tried to introduce her to my world (and found out that she was trying to prank me). I practiced magic and fighting with her, we went on hunting missions together. We studied and just jammed with magic and on the Astral planes. I slowly started finding out about her family, and I was granted some territory to administer in Fuji’s name on the Astral. I met her Father and her Grandfather, met her siblings, played with them, was named godparent to some of her cousins because of the relationship I had built with all these dragons.
Those connections are key, and they are at the heart of Dragon practice. You may not be a dragon, but you can use the dragon’s power in your rituals and in your magic, but you have to have a relationship with them, and you have to be polite and ask for their help.
When you start this process of building a relationship, you will probably be associated with one of the Draconic families. They will pick you, you won’t be picking them. If you are invited to join the clan as an associate member, a soldier, a friend of, a companion, make sure you understand what will be expected of you, and what you can expect from them. It is like taking a job as a retainer in a medieval king’s retinue. There are expectations on both sides, and you MUST know all the ins and outs. If in doubt, talk to your deities about this step.
This does nothing other than make you a member of their household, with their protection, and with some favors due as a friend of (whomever). You will be expected to also follow orders and obey commands, and probably do some magic work for them as well.
One thing to understand, on the plane that the Dragons live on, magic energy is the currency. Your personal magic can be used to buy things, pay off debts, to convert into actual coins, and to use in other locations (such as if you wished to buy an Elven blade, you could trade your personal energies for that). By the same token, if you are tired and you have a coin reward from your sponsor, you can absorb it into you to re-energize you.
Understand that the dragons of an area will take on the qualities of that area. Meaning that a Japanese dragon will reflect how the Japanese people act. They will be ambitious, they will be a warrior culture, they will be calm and centered, they will be ready to do things in a harmonious way, but also ready to just take what they want. The best of Shinto methods of living in the world and Buddhist philosophy.
Conversely, Chinese dragons will be loud, threatening all kinds of things, bluffing and making grandiose statements. But when they get quiet, then you need to watch out, for they are now plotting. You can negotiate anything from them if you bargain hard enough, and you can always come to an agreement. Make sure you have covered every contingency before you sign on the dotted line, they will take every advantage possible.
Western dragons of the European areas are Celts, Gaulish strongly overlaid by Germanic and Teutonic strains, there are the Norse/Scandinavian, and more. The land mass there, Germany, Spain, France, and many of the other states there, plus England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland were all Celtic countries at one point in time. So take all the Celtic customs you know, bend them for local folkways and that’s pretty much how the dragons in that area work and live.
North American dragons are, complex, just as the residents of the North American continent are. Each subculture of America and Canada are represented in the North American dragons, as mentioned in the story of the three dragon brothers. There are some dragons who live in the regional South of the US, and they embody both the best and worst of that area. Same for the Northeast, Midwest, Texan/Mexican area, the fishers of Louisiana and more. The South American dragons tend to be Incan, Mayan, Aztecan, and Caribbean. The Haitian culture has really affected the Dragon of that island (remember the Serpent and the Rainbow? The Serpent is probably a dragon in disguise and snakes were a recurring motif in the cultures of the Indigenous peoples).
As you can probably imagine, they all get along about as well as those same cultures in our world. Like tends to gravitate to like and they tend to isolate themselves from others.
One characteristic that seems to be consistent across all of draconic culture is their attitude toward any child of any species. Draconic society nearly reveres children because it is very difficult for a dragon to conceive. My understanding is that getting pregnant and carrying an egg to the point of laying it takes several years of our time, and it is very easy to lose an egg before it is laid. Even after laying, it is very easy for an egg to become dead due to many factors.
So for Dragons, just getting a child is difficult, and so those children are treasured. The concept of child abuse is foreign to them in the same way that we would find giving birth to a child through hatching an egg would be foreign to us. A Draconic child is loved and protected, while being harshly educated.
On the one hand since children are so rare, they are pretty much coddled and indulged in nearly everything. But on the other hand, in private, they are given to tutors and helpers and caretakers so the parent’s aren’t dealing with them, and the twisted ideas of those caretakers are how the children are raised. Imagine Nero with a child to raise from birth to about 15. Or Vlad Dracul, or Jack the Ripper. In private, I have heard of young dragons who had strong elemental affiliations being praised and belittled in the same breath. Told that they will burn the house down and that they can’t get angry, buckets of sand and water everywhere. Not told how to control, just that they MUST control. Air dragons that had bullwhips snapped at them to remind them to keep their feet on the floor and placed in windowless closets for punishment. Water dragons ridiculed for leaking water and told that they are pissing everywhere, and made to feel shame for it. And on and on. But in public, when the godparent/parent/ruler comes by, they are dressed up and shown to their best effect, they are awarded pats on the head, maybe some small gift of esteem, then shoved back into the tiny room they call their “suite”.
I won’t judge this system, for the very rich and the nobility of humanity have been doing this same thing for millennia. There are a few, however, who are trying a more holistic approach and letting the dragon child actually BE a child, playing and studying and discovering as our children do. It’s a radical idea, yet I believe this could be a far better way. Only time will tell.
Now, all the previous being said, I am only basing this on what I have actually seen and stories I was told by dragon children living in the Japanese culture, and they were being groomed for a very noble place once they reach adulthood. I have not had direct experience of this from other cultures, and so I can only report on what I know. It is possible that the Dragons of Canada are actually kind and gentle and just as loving as humans can be to our children.
So there you have it, Dragons are like us and utterly alien. They have plans we can’t conceive and we are able to out think them in simple things. They consider us little better than the feeder mice for a snake, or a guppy in a tank, or one ant of an ant farm, or one “sea monkey” out of hundreds that were bought through a comic book ad. But we are also ones who change the world faster than they do, and have ideas that are different than “traditions says that…”
We need Dragons, and Dragons need us. Building a relationship with them is the important part, and once that is done, it is exactly like going over to your best friend’s house and playing video games, and doing a “witch” ritual out of a book. It’s a learning process with them, and for every dragon who is X, Y and Z, there will be three dragons that are not any of that.