This month’s myths centre around the archetype of the dragon and invite us to look at ways of dealing with the dragons which confront us on our journey through life.
Indra and the Dragon
Once the mighty priest Tvashtri, out of dislike for the god Indra, created a three-headed son to take over Indra’s throne. This son was a pious ascetic who appeared to be mastering the universe with his three heads, which made Indra uneasy. After futilely tempting Tvashtri’s son with dancing girls, Indra slew the radiant young man with a thunderbolt and ordered that his three heads be cut off.
Enraged, Tvashtri made a colossal dragon named Vritra to destroy Indra. This serpent reached up to the heavens and swallowed Indra. But Indra tickled its throat and leapt out to resume battle. The dragon proved too strong and Indra had to flee. At length he went to the god Vishnu, who advised him to compromise with the dragon. The serpent agreed to peace, provided that Indra did not attack it with solid or liquid, or attack it by day or night. Indra, however, nursed his resentment and tried to get around this agreement.
One evening at twilight Indra saw a huge column of foam containing the god Vishnu, so he hurled this at the dragon, who fell dead. The gods and men rejoiced at the serpent’s death, but Indra bore a great sin for killing a priest’s son.
From the Vedas
Roman Mud Dragon
Outside of a Roman city, a dragon made its lair in the mud pits. For centuries, the dragon protected the city, destroying any enemy that attacked. The dragon demanded a high price to act as the city’s guardian. Every month the city had to perform a ritual that ended with a virgin bringing a basket of food to the dragon in his mud cave. The girl had to hand feed the dragon and if her purity flagged while feeding him, he ate her. If she did not flinch, the dragon would return her to the city unharmed.
“An instinct for dragons” by David E Jones
Daniel and the Dragon 1:23-27 (NRSV)
Now in that place there was a great dragon, which the Babylonians revered.
the Babylonian king said to Daniel, “You cannot deny that this is a living god; so worship him.”
Daniel said, “I worship the Lord my God, for he is the living God.
But give me permission, O king, and I will kill the dragon without sword or club.” The king said, “I give you permission.”
Then Daniel took pitch, fat, and hair, and boiled them together and made cakes, which he fed to the dragon. The dragon ate them, and burst open. Then Daniel said, “See what you have been worshiping!”
Bel and the Dragon 1:23-27 (NRSV)