Monday, March 28, 2011

Time for Some Dragonlore

Excerpted from Dragonlore

by Ash "LeopardDancer" Dekirk

Chapter 1: Dragons of the World

Dragons Of The Americas

What do you think of when you hear the word dragon? Probably Europe or China, yes? It never occurs to most people that dragonlore occurs in the Americas with just as great a frequency as it does elsewhere. Dragons are present in large numbers in the Native cultures of the Americas. Think for a moment. Surely you have heard of the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl? The great feathered serpent? Quetzalcoatl and his predecessor, Kulkulcan are types of dragons similar to the amphiteres we saw in European myth. An even older variation of this same feathered dragon is Palulukon.

Dragons of every variety roam the wilds of the Americas. Likely, if you live in the United States you have dragons in the ancient (or not so ancient!) lore of your home state. And if you live in Central or South America then your local folklore is likely rife with them!

North America

*Amhuluk: This dragon of Oregon myth was a sea serpent with horns on its head. One of the amhuluk’s favorite things to do is lure people close to the water and then drown them. The amhuluk is believed to undergo a series of transformations, each one leaving it even more formidable than before. This dragon is associated with thieves, but the reasoning is lost to the past.

*The Ancient One: This sea serpent of Piute myth dwells in Lake Pyramid. The Ancient One, like the amhuluk, enjoys snagging people from the shore and drowning them. Whenever the Piute see whirlpools in Lake Pyramid they avoid it as it means the Ancient One is about and looking for victims.

*Angont: The angont is a sacred serpent-dragon found in Huron myth. The angont is a viscious and poisonous dragon known for causing disease, illness, and disaster. Indeed, the very flesh of this dragon is poisonous, much like poison dart frogs. The angont lives in desolate places such as caves, wild forests, and the depths of lakes.

*Az-I-Wu-Gum-Ki-Mukh-Ti: This dragon of Inuit myth has a walrus-like head, a dog-like body, and dog-like legs/feet, a whale fluke for a tail, and black scales. This immense beast can sink ships with one blow from its tail and is much feared by the Inuit fishermen.

*Gaasyendietha: This dragon of Seneca myth is believed to have come from the meteors that fall from the heavens to crash in the earth. For this reason it is also known as the meteor dragon. The gaasyendietha is a huge dragon that dwells in rivers and lakes. Meteor dragons show up in the popular anime series and card game Yu-Gi-Oh as the Meteor Dragon and Black Meteor Dragon, the latter of which is a most powerful creature.

Gloucester’s Sea Serpent: This 45-55-foot-long beast was reportedly spotted in the Boston Harbor. It had a horse-like head and moved as most sea serpents are given to move—more like an inchworm than a snake.

*Gowrow: The gowrow is a 20–30 foot long lizard-like creature found in the legends and lore of Arkansas. This dragon has giant tusks protruding from its jaws and is believed to be a subterranean dragon, coming out from caves and fissures to feed. The last recorded sighting of a gowrow was in 1951, in the Ozark Mountains.

*Haietlik: This serpent dragon of the Nootka and Clayoqut Indians is called the Lightning Serpent. This dragon has a serpentine body and a horse-like head. Haietlik dwells in the lakes and waterways. Pictograms of the Haietlik adorn the rocks in the area so as to promote successful hunting and fishing.

*Horned Serpents: These dragons can be found all over North America. They are hugeserpent dragons sporting one or two horns upon their heads. The horned serpents are gilled water dwellers, however, they can also breathe out of water. The horned serpents are the mortal enemies of the Thunderbirds.

*Kikituk: This dragon of the Inuit is saurian in appearance. It is a huge creature with four feet, but lacking in wings, much like the European drake.

*Kolowisi: A dragon of Zuni myth, the Kolowisi is an enormous, water-dwelling serpent dragon with horns adorning its head and fish-like fins in place of feet and hands would be and along its back.

*Meshkenabec: This giganitic sea serpent had plate-sized scales of a ruby red color and a wedge-shaped head. Meshkenabec was slain by the warrior Manabozho.

*Msi-kinepeikwa: A serpent dragon of Shawnee myth, it also called kinepeikwa. This dragon grows slowly and through metamorphoses much like its Asiatic brethren. Each transformation takes place by shedding the previous form away, much like a snake sheds its skin or a tarantula sheds its exoskeleton. In the first stage kinepeikwa is a fawn with one red horn and one blue one. The final transformation leaves behind a massive, lake-dwelling serpent dragon.

*Ogopogo: This sea serpent dwells in Canada’s Lake Okanagan. It is roughly 70 feet long, with the horse-like head so commonly seen in sea serpents. Ogopogo has numerous fins running along its serpentine body.


*Piasa: The name Piasa means “destroyer.” This dragon is a hodgepodge of animal parts, much like the Asiatic dragons. They are said to have the head of a bear, the horns of an elk, scales like a fish, and bear’s legs with an eagle’s claws. The Piasa has a mane around its head and shoulders and sports a tail that is at least 50 feet long and can wrap around the body three times. The Native Americans call this dragon Stormbringer or Thunderer. In 1673 Father J. Marquette saw a rock painting of the Piasa along the Illinois/Mississippi River. This painting, fitting the above description, was painted in natural blacks, reds, and blues. Unfortunately, in the year 1876, a land developer destroyed the rock sculpture in his greed to build yet more buildings. The current Piasa rock painting located along the Mississippi River near Alton, Illinois is a reconstruction of the one Marquette reported seeing. This 48x22 painting is located on a 100x75 section of the bluffs. PIC #16

*Pal-rai-yuk: This Alaskan dragon has six legs on a long, snake-like body. Spikes run along the dragon’s spine. The pal-rai-yuk lives in the rivers and waters of Alaska and the Inuit peoples would paint its picture on their canoes before using them so as to serve as a ward against the fearsome beast’s attentions. PIC #17


*Palulukon: These dragons are part of the plumed serpent family of amphiteres along with the dragon gods of Meso-America. They are powerful dragons, but are neither good nor bad. They just are. The palulukon are weather workers and represent the Element of Water. They are in charge of bringing the rains and it said that the world is carried through the cosmic ocean on the backs of two of these colossal beasts. If mistreated the palulukon can wreak much damage by unleashing natural disasters such as drying up wells, rivers, and water holes and allowing the rains to cease falling. They may even cause earthquakes to happen.

*Polar worms: These are dragons of Inuit legend like the wurms of Europe. These were long serpentine creatures with dragonesque heads and ferocious tempers.

*Sisiutl: This two-headed supernatural sea serpent has the ability to shapeshift into a self-propelled canoe. To maintain his energy he has to have a steady diet of seals.

*Stvkwvnaya: A dragon of Seminole myth, the stvkwvnaya is also called a tie snake. These dragons are huge serpentine creatures with a single horn sprouting from their foreheads. The horn of the stvkwvnaya, when powdered, was believed to be a powerful aphrodisiac. The only way to get a stvkwvnaya’s horn was to summon it and chant to keep the beast calm.

*Tatoskok: A sea serpent that also goes by the more modern designation of Champ. It lives in Lake Champlain and is believed to be one of the horned serpents by the Abenaki. Tatoskok is roughly 30 feet long with a horse-like head. This sea serpent has been spotted many times over the years and a popular explanation is that like Nessie, it is a remnant of a plesiosaur, basilosaurus, or other prehistoric beast.

*Tcipitckaam: Also called the unicorn serpent, this horned serpent species has a serpentine body, a horse-like head, and a single spiraling horn jutting from its head. It dwells mainly in lakes. Some tcipitckaam have been described as resembling a drake in appearance, having a stockier body and four stubby legs, but still sporting the spiraling horn on its head.

*Teehooltsoodi: This dragon of the Navajo is kin to the ying-long of China. It has a slinky, otter-like body and buffalo-like horns on its head. The teehooltsoodi live in rivers and can cause them to overflow.

*Uktena: This dragon, found in Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina, resembles a giant serpent. The uktena has the girth of a large tree, with stag horns on its head, giant eagle wings, and scales that gleam like fire. It has spots of color all along its body and can only be killed by wounding it at the seventh spot from the head. The uktena sports a gem in its forehead, called an Ulun’suti. This gem, as with the Asiatic dragon pearls, is a source of power. If a man can claim an Ulun’suti he can become a great worker of miracles and wonders. However, to try and seize the gem is a great folly. The uktena’s gaze can daze a man and make him run towards the serpent instead of away from it. In addition the uktena has a poison breath that can kill instantly.

*Wakandagi: An unusual dragon of the Mohawk Indians. It is possessed of a long slinky body, a slender tapered muzzle with sharp teeth, deer antlers on its head, and hooves for feet in place of claws.


Meso-America

*Chac: This dragon of Mayan myth controls the rains and rules over all the waters. He required a sacrifice in order for the rains to come, but he repaid the human sacrifices with his own blood. He has a long, serpentine body scaled like a fish and catfish whiskers at the end of a tapered snout. Stag horns adorn his crocodilian head, as do deer-like ears. Chac is often depicted holding his lightning axe in one paw.

*Coatlcue: A dragon of Aztec mythology, Coatlcue represents women’s fertility and fecundity. She is also known as Chihuacoatl or “Serpent Skirt.” Coatlcue is often depicted as a hydraesque creature with a serpentine body and two heads. This form sometimes sported claws and at other times did not. In another form she is a human-looking female with a necklace of severed human hands and a skirt of writhing serpents. A statue of Coatlcue can be found at La Troba University in Melbourne.

*Itzamna: This dragon-god of the Mayans was the son of the Sun god Hunabku. Itzamna is a patron god of doctors, of writing, and learning, much as Hermes is to the Greeks and Thoth to the Egyptians.

*Kulkulkan: The Mayan equivalent to Quetzalcoatl, this plumed serpent god was a bit more bloodthirsty. He required sacrifice whereas Quetzalcoatl allowed it to be voluntary.

*Lord Nine Winds: The Mixtec equivalent to Kulkulkan and Quetzalcoatl. Like the previous Plumed Serpent gods, Lord Nine Winds is an amphitere. He is a creator god as well.

*Quetzalcoatl: The Aztec feathered serpent god, controls the winds and rains. He is the God of Knowledge and of the finer crafts and arts. Quetzalcoatl is credited with creating the calendar system. Other names for the well-known specimen of the amphitere family are Ehecatl and the Lord of the Dawn. Quetzalcoatl has multicolored scales and feathers. He is often depicted soaring through the sky, creating a rainbow. The serpent god was also known to take the form of a human on occasion. Quetzalcoatl was believed to have departed from this realm for the east, traveling on a raft made from serpents and would one day return. The Aztecs viewed the coming of Cortez and his Spaniards as the return of the Great Plumed One.

*Xiuhcoatl: Called the Turqoise Fire Serpent, Xiuhcoatl is the Aztec god of droughts. This dragon is very serpentine and has a head at each end, with an upturned snout much like a hog-nose snake.

South America

*Bachue: A dragon goddess of the Chibcha peoples of Columbia. Long ago she emerged from Lake Iguaque in the form of a human. With her she brought a small boy who she later married and had six children with. Thus they were the progenitors of the human race. Once these humans had grown up and learned to live on their own, Bachue turned her mate and herself into dragons and they returned to the depths of Lake Iguaque, where they still dwell today. Bachue is the goddess of agriculture and the harvest, as well as the goddess of famine.

*Faery dragon: Also called fairy dragons, fey dragons, or penny dragons, this type of dragon is prevalent in South America. They range from the size of a mouse to about a foot in length. The faery dragon resembles a classical dragon of Europe in build but there are several important differences (besides the size, that is!). Penny dragons sport two sets of dragonfly or butterfly wings. They have longer, more tapered snout, large iridescent eyes, and are colored to blend in with their surroundings in the same manner that moths, butterflies, and other insects do. However, if the light hits them just right, the faery dragon’s hide will shine with a rainbow of colors.

*Iemisch: This Patagonia dragon is much like the tatzelwurm of Europe. It has a serpentine body with the forequarters of a fox. The iemisch will use its body to ensnare victims and crush them like a boa or python.

*Ihuaivulu: This South American dragon dwells in volcanoes. It has a slinky, serpent body with burnished copper and red scales. The Ihuaivulu is a South American version of the hydra and sports seven heads. As a volcano dweller, it can breathe fire.

*Iwanci: A sea serpent from the Equadoran Amazon basin, this dragon is a shapeshifter with two forms. One is Macanci, the water snake. The other is Pani, the anaconda.

*Lampalugua: A drake that inhabits Chile, it has dusty-reddish scales and preys upon both livestock and people.

Ashley “LeopardDancer” DeKirk, Professor of Lore and Divination at the Grey School of Wizardry, has extensive knowledge of myth and folklore around the world. She holds a B.A. in anthropology, specializing in dragonlore and Asiatic/Native American myth. Professor DeKirk is a Dun’marran Priest who lives with her three cats, Rufus, Drizzt and Bakura.

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