An Annotated & Illustrated Collection of Worldwide Links to Mythologies,
Fairy Tales & Folklore, Sacred Arts & Sacred Traditions
by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.

Common Themes, East & West:

Dragons & Serpents

Note: also see Myth*ing Links' new 2012 pages:
The Dragon in Art, Literature & Culture, East & West
Dragon & Tiger in Chinese Starlore, Constellations, & Zodiac,

Ouroboros from 1760
(Tail-swallowing Serpent, symbol of time and eternity)
Alexander Roob's The Hermetic Museum Alchemy & Mysticism, page 402.
(Slightly modified by Jung Institute of Los Angeles & negativized by me)

Evening of 8 January 2012
Author's Note

When I created my Myth*ing Links website for my Pacifica Graduate Institute students in 1998, this page was one of my first.  I love dragons but I don't think I wrote "Author's Notes" in those days.  The original page had only 2 images (the one directly above and "Serpent" by Sigitas Mickevicius below) and 11 briefly annotated links (I've since added 6 more and included more excerpts).

I had no idea that four years later, in October 2002, I would buy my first house, a century-old, ivy-clad house in a small town in my homestate of Michigan. Because of all the ivy and surrounding trees, I named my house "Green Man Abbey" after the powerful Green Men carved into pulpits and choir stalls in medieval European churches. That connection with language, song, art, trees, and numinous otherworldly dimensions entranced me. Thus, since I am a nature mystic, to name my house "Green Man Abbey" was entirely appropriate.

But in my view, dragon-energy is the feminine manifestation of the Earth Spirit, intimately allied with Green Man-energy (in the Chinese zodiac, the sinuous dragon, ruler of sky-beasts, is also viewed as yin). Because of this, the first gift I bought for my house was a lovely, dark-hued Celtic-looking mirror flanked by a dragon on either side, each holding a receptacle for a tea-candle. I ordered it from my apartment in California and it was already waiting for me after the realtor's closing in Michigan. Hanging that dragon-mirror in my front hall and lighting the two candles that night was my first ritual act in this empty house. Dragonesses and Green Men -- it's all about balance.

And so, I now continue the dragon-dynamic of this page, exploring still more nuances and magic ..... I hope you will enjoy it <smile>.

[Added 1/8/12]: This is a very long 1999 paper (44 pages), "The Divine Serpent in Myth & Legend" by Robert T. Mason, Ph.D., D.D.  It covers in intriguing detail countless serpent myths from around the world. Unfortunately, nothing has been footnoted nor is there a bibliography. Still, for non-scholarly purposes, this is a worthwhile site. Here are some excerpts from Mason's first 3 pages:
Since the very beginnings of time, on every continent of this earth where humanity has worshipped divinity the serpent has been recognized and accepted as a god. From Africa's steaming jungle to the icy wastes of northern Europe; from the fertile crescent to the deserted outback of Australia the serpent has been worshipped, feared and adored. Serpent mythology is arguably the most widespread mythology known to mankind....

...Myth for the early human usually referred to those realities which were known by experience, be it archetypal, unconscious, or based upon the cultural and ritual beliefs of human civilization. An esteemed 'egg-head' mathematical scientist, Albert Einstein once said: " Knowledge is experience; anything else is just information"....

Originally myths were not expressed in verbal or written form because language was deemed inadequate to convey the truth expressed in the story. The myths were enacted, chanted, painted, costumed, danced, sung and imagined, sometimes in hypnotic or hallucinatory states. In this manner the creative energies and relationships behind and beneath the natural world were brought into the conscious realm The myth was believed to not only to tell about but to create a chain from the metaphysical world to the physical one....

Joseph Campbell is quoted as saying: "Throughout the inhabited world, in all times and under every circumstance, the myths of man have flourished; and they have been the living inspiration for whatever else may have appeared out of the activities of the human body and mind. It would not be too much to say that myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into human cultural manifestation"....

In Jung's view, the snake, as a chthonic and at the same time spiritual being, symbolizes the unconscious.... Jung stresses the fact that the snake is a cold-blooded vertebrate and with that fact alone the true psychic rapport that can be established with practically all warm-blooded animals comes to an end. Like the Gnostics of early Christianity who identified the serpent with the human medulla and spinal cord, Jung regards the serpent as the psychic representation of the profoundly unconscious functions which are governed by these organs. I think that perhaps this is why the serpent is so often seen as a divine creature, a sort of god which lies behind all human functioning.

The mysterious dynamism of the snake, its extraordinary vitality and its seeming immortality through the periodic rejuvenation of shedding the old and appearing new each year must have instilled a sense of awe and invoked a powerful response in our earliest ancestors, the Neolithic agriculturist. The snake was consequently mythologized, attributed often with powers that could control the entire cosmos. Everywhere we find the snake, or its representation, the spiral, on primitive pottery. Vases show forth gigantic snakes winding over the whole universe, or over the sun, moon and stars; elsewhere the snake appears below a growing plant or coils above the belly of a pregnant woman. The snake was the symbol of energy, spontaneous, creative energy, and of immortality....

Cambodian Naga (i.e., serpent/dragon)
Scroll down to the 3rd link below for more on Cambodian Naga-s
[Added 1/8/12]: Opening with a focus on films involving evil reptilian aliens, and wanting to set the record straight that earth's own serpent mythology tends to depict reptiles in a positive light, "Jan JM" in November 1998 (updated 2005) posted this well-researched, illustrated page. From the opening section:
...The fact that in these files the reptilians are associated with the Nagas of the ancient Vedic tradition is one of the reasons I have decided to write this article. I wished to add to the wealth of information by using the Vedas as very valuable, yet so far underused resource, together with other sources....
Much worldwide lore is provided although my favorite section (and the most extensive) is on the rich and engrossing serpent-divinities (naga-s) of Hindu mythology.  Unlike Mason's site (above), references are provided. [1/11/12: for much more on Naga-s and reptilian aliens, see my new page: The Dragon in Art, Literature & Culture, East & West.]
[Broken link 1/8/12 -- I tried Wayback Machine but they're having problems loading it.  Meanwhile, an excerpt from Soror Ourania's work will be found at the above Illuminati-News site. Fortunately, the Illuminati site is much more fully developed than this one was.]
This page by Soror Ourania looks at the mythology of the naga (Sanskrit for "serpent") in various cross-cultural contexts.  The essay is brief, some of the data is shaky (e.g., alleged linguistic connections between ancient India and Mexico, etc), but it's nevertheless an interesting site.
[Added 1/8/12]: This is "The Nagas in Ancient India." Here is an intriguing excerpt:
...The Nagas are much more prominent in modern Cambodian culture and in nearby countries than in India today.  Cambodian Nagas look quite different from the typical representations found in India, where the Nagas are generally shown like Sesanaga, being multi-headed or standing with collar fully extended. In Cambodia, however, the Nagas are generally more frightening and often associated with flames, like many of the Buddhist Nagas are depicted.

According to their tradition, the Cambodian people as a race were born of the Naga Princess who married Kambu, the Indian brahmana, thus creating the merged line of humans and reptilians. Even today, Cambodians describe themselves as being "born from the Naga".

Many of the Naga depictions found in Cambodia, such as those at the famous Angkor Wat temple region, are seven-headed serpents. They represent the seven different races said to be found in the Naga society....

Note: see the Illuminati site above for Sanskrit meanings of naga -- in addition to serpent and various other concepts, naga also means "seven," a number that comes up repeatedly in naga and dragon myths.

Detail of  bookcover for:
The Artist's Way at Work: Riding the Dragon
[Added 1/8/12]:  This is a tantilizing 2001 book review by Georges T. Dodds of The Serpent's Tale: Snakes in Folklore and Literature, edited by Gregory McNamee (from University of Georgia Press). In discussing mankind's "strange love/hate, repulsion/fascination relationship with snakes," Dodds writes:
...Snakes, in Western culture, have tended to be portrayed in a less than favourable light: tool of the devil in Genesis, ungrateful and nasty in European folk tales, engine of suicide for Cleopatra, etc.  Besides the fact that snakes are fascinating animals in terms of their adaptation to environments as dissimilar as sea and desert, as well as with respect to their physiology, it is not in every culture that they are the pariahs we take them to be. If nothing else The Serpent's Tale, a collection of 50 accounts of snakes gleaned from all over the world, should open one's eyes to the wide range of snake-human relationships which have existed across the world and through time.... The majority of tales come from aboriginal people, particularly those of North America. In these, the snake takes on a number of roles, from fierce and ravenous, to sly like a fox....

"Elegance Dragons"
2012 card from Purple Moon: unnamed artist
[Broken link 9/16/00; new URL found 1/8/12]
This page from Jennifer Walker's charming "Here Be Dragons!" retells Greek, Norse, German, British, Native American, and Ethiopian myths of dragons.  She also includes excellent related links to many of these tales. Her other pages include an illustrated listing of various types of dragons.
[Broken link 9/16/00; new URL found 1/8/12]
This is another excellent illustrated page from Jennifer Walker's "Here Be Dragons!" site.  This time she looks at many films on dragons, commenting on each plot.  She has a good eye for illustrations and offers useful related links for each film.
[Added 1/8/12]: From "The Circle of the Dragon" comes a fabulous listing of countless dragon webpages (last updated September 2011 -- a link to the Wayback Machine is provided in case a site is defunct).  The creator of the page, Kylie 'drago' McCormick, has a wide range of other linked pages on dragons in mythology, science, etc.  This looks like a great place to explore.
[1/8/12:  taken from Wayback Machine's late 1998 archives: more recent links either wouldn't load or no longer had illustrations.]
"Dragons & Dragon-Killers" is an interesting little page by Chris Witcombe that looks at the energy flow underlying European and Asian stories of dragon-killers.  He writes:
The power or energy of the lung-mei, or dragon current...has been represented visually by the image of the dragon. The dragon is a familiar image in China, and also figures prominently in one form or another in the legends of many cultures around the world. Frequently, these legends tell of the killing of the dragon, which is a vital part of a cycle of birth and death and the re-animation and fertilization of the earth.
The site is illustrated and offers several excellent, related links at the end.

By Utagawa-Kunisada-II
Kapan, 1860
Site TBA
[1/8/12:  in Wayback Machine's late 1998 archives: more recent links either wouldn't load or no longer had illustrations.]
"Geomancy" is another illustrated page by Chris Witcombe in which he looks more deeply at Feng Shui and the lung-mei, or dragon-current.  A long list of useful Feng Shui sites is included at the end.
[Link updated 16 September 2000; 1/8/12: Site is now in Wayback Machine's 2001 archives]
This site, "Riding the Wind: Dragon Style Gung Fu," looks at Chinese martial arts -- especially one style of Gung Fu -- as a form of dragon-energy.  It's detailed, well written, and I found it fascinating. [1/8/12 note: if this link has problems, try Shaolin's new dragon-webpage at: The "look" is different but content seems to be the same. The Wayback Machine, however, provides the page I first posted here, which I prefer.]
This site explores the Chinese astrological sign of the Dragon. Unfortunately, the style is strictly "pop culture."  [More detailed astrology sites are listed under my Lunar New Year  and Star Lore  pages.]
[1/8/12: Site is now in Wayback Machine's archives]
[1/8/12: annotation expanded]: This is an essay on the symbolic role of the dragon as it appears on Vietnam's Coat of Arms (illustration provided on the webpage: also included are the three other creatures on this Coat of Arms: unicorn, tortoise, and phoenix.) An excerpt on the dragon:
...[In Vietnam]: A dragon is said to breathe a kind of smoke which can be transformed at will into fire or water. It lives with equal ease in the sky, in the water, or underground. It is immortal and does not reproduce, because the number of dragons always increases with the metamorphosis of the "Giao Long", which are fabulous reptiles Ñ half lizard and half snake Ñ that automatically become dragons after ten centuries of existence.

Despite its awesome appearance, the dragon does not incarnate the spirit of evil, and the Vietnamese have always considered the dragon as a symbol of power and nobility. That is why the dragon was chosen as the special symbol of the emperors....

(Note the mysterious multiple eyes & faces in the pale head)
Lithuanian artist, Sigitas Mickevicius (1962- )
120x95, oil on canvas, 1995
[Courtesy of Kukas Gallery,Vilnius, Lithuania: link updated 9/16/00]
[1/8/12: it times-out; Web Archive pulls it up but specific works won't load -- hopefully, it'll get fixed.]
[1/8/12: this was a Geocities site, a service that "died" years ago. Last year, a Finnish reader wrote me that pages were being rescued by replacing the "g" with an "r." Fortunately, these are among them.]

This is the haunting and powerful Baltic tale of "Egle, Queen of Serpents" from Sacred Serpent, a Lithuanian site (also see below). Home page: Click on the opening black illustration for more info and related articles.  I have double-listed this site and annotated it more fully on my Baltic page under Lithuania.  Note: these are Geocities sites, which means there will be intrusive pop-up "banners" on each page -- look for the "x" in the top right corner, click on it, and the ad will vanish.[1/8/12: all that spam is now gone <smile>. ]

Egle, Queen of Serpents
(see above)
[1/8/12: also a rescued former Geocities site -- see above.]
Again from the above Lithuanian website comes this fascinating, carefully researched page by Vilija Witte on the mythology of the harmless grass-serpent, or zaltys, revered for its kindness and healing powers in the Baltic region of northern Europe.
[1/8/12: Site is now in Wayback Machine's 2000 archive -- I can't get the stories to load, however: Wayback keeps re-directing to an annoying page on Hong Kong tourism. Hopefully, it'll get fixed.]
[Added 24 January 2000]:These are terrific "interactive" animated stories on Asian & European dragons -- the eight little "chapters" each take a few minutes to load, but they're worth the wait (you can choose versions with or without sound).  [This is double listed on my Lunar New Year 2000 page.]
[1/8/12: link is dead but if you google the authors' names, you'll find links to their published book on serpents]
This brief but lively University of Massachusetts site by Scott Jackson and Peter Mirick looks at ancient serpent mythology as well as at modern snake "myths."  The authors look at the positive, healing aspects of serpent mythology as well as at the fear and negativity surrounding these creatures.
ALSO SEE Myth*ing Links':

The Dragon in Art, Literature & Culture, East & WestJanuary 2012

Dragon & Tiger in Chinese Starlore, Constellations, & ZodiacJanuary 2012

Lunar New Year 23 January 2012: Year of the Water DragonJanuary 2012

Lunar New Year 24 January 2001: Year of the Metal Snake

Lunar New Year 5 February 2000: Year of the Metal Dragon

Menu of Common Themes, East & West:
[Note: these will always be out of date -- see my home page for latest additions]

Animal Guides
Creation Myths
Crones & Sages
Dragons & Serpents
Earth Goddesses & Gods
Floods, Storms, Rainbows, & Other Weather Wonders
Added Summer 2000:
Weather-Working Introduction
An experimental, on-going ritual in cyberspace
Food: Sacrality & Lore
Green Men
Landscape: Sacrality & Lore   (Mountains, Wells, Springs, Pools, Lakes, Caves, Labyrinths, Spiral Mounds, Crop Circles, Stone Circles, Feng Shui)
Nature Spirits of the World
Rituals of Puberty
Sacred Theatre, Dance & Ritual
Sky Goddesses & Gods
Star Lore & Astrology
Symbols, Signs, & Runes
Time: (Calendars, Clocks, Natural Temporal Cycles, Attitudes toward Time, & Millennium Issues)
Trees & Plant Lore
Tricksters, Clowns, Magicians, Jesters & Fools
Weaving Arts & Lore(Cosmic Webs, Spinning, Spindles, Clothing)

Please note that I cannot help with homework but if you have comments or suggestions,
you'll find my email address at the bottom of my home page.

This page created 1998 with Netscape Gold 3.01.
Technical assistance: William Weeks
Text and Design:
Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000-2012 by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.

Latest Updates:
30 May 1999; 24 January 2000; 16 September 2000 (updates + checked all links);
2 October 2009: removed old Webcom email and made 2 or 3 minor format changes.

8 January 2012: almost all these links were broken! So I've been updating and adding new ones all day.
I've mostly kept my comments from 1998 but did have to make a few minor tweaks and add new links and art.
Launched at 8:35pm EST.
11 January 2012: made further tweaks + added links to my new Lunar New Year dragon pages.
15 January 2012:  added Japanese woodblock-dragon art, but I haven't been able to identify the site where I found it --
might be from Chris Witcombe but Wayback Machine won't let me in, so I can't check.
Also switched art in Naga section: it now begins with large Cambodian dragon, which is easier to find.