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Saturday, 25 April 2015

THE GIFT

THE GIFT



Hi dear friend and followers, today I am presenting to you a short and humorous story, take five and sit back and relax and enjoy, thank you for visiting my blog


B.J. Neblett

It had been another quiet day; the kind of day most would find boring.

No visitors…

No friends…

No children playing…

Not even the usual insurance agents were stopping by; just a quiet, lazy warm spring day ending with a gentle shower.

The cool raindrops against her windows woke Emily from a long afternoon nap. Unlike most, Emily enjoyed the rain. It always made her feel clean, fresh and shiny new. But she hated the winter. With a shiver, Emily remembered the day she first came to St. Christopher’s.

“Now, when was that… last year?” Emily laughed to herself, “Humm… batteries must be failing…” No, it was last November. How could she ever forget the harrowing ride in the cold and blowing snow? Several times the driver had expressed his doubts of whether she’d make it or not. But she had made it, and after an extensive examination Emily was wheeled to a comfortable corner of St. Christopher’s. Here it was warm and quiet and Emily enjoyed her stay.

Emily yawned and turned to find a companion had been brought in while she slept. The female next to her was young, no more than sixteen or so, with an attractive cream color and soft chestnut accents.

“Hi,” Emily said warmly, “my name is Emily.”


“Who asked…?”


Emily brushed the rude reply aside. “That’s a pretty nasty bruise.”

The newcomer stared blankly into space, ignoring the comment. Battered and bandaged, she had a rough sort of beauty about her that could only have come from a hard life on the streets. Emily felt for her. She’d seen mistreatment often and it sickened her. Why were people so thoughtless towards those they cared about? Emily couldn’t understand. She had been lucky. In forty-five years, Emily had always been treated with love and tenderness and respect.

“I’m sorry; I just thought you might like to talk.”

“Why…?

“I don’t know. You look like someone who could use a friend.”

The sixteen-year-old laughed sarcastically. “Friend… just what I need… another friend!”

“Why are you so bitter?”

“Why in the hell are you so damn nosey?” the teen snapped back.

Emily retreated a bit. So young, she thought. What could possibly turn someone so young and so pretty so bitter?

Time passed. The two rested in an uneasy silence. Finally, the teen spoke. “Look,” she said quietly, blinking back a tear, “I’m sorry, really… It’s just… I’m just not used to having anyone be nice to me.” She forced a smile. “My name is Ginger.”

“That’s a very pretty name… nice to meet you, Ginger. Guess I came on kinda strong. I haven’t had anyone to talk with for a while. It’s been kinda lonely. If you’d like to talk, I’m here.”

For the first time, Ginger looked at her companion. “Thanks. Maybe I would. Have you been here very long?”

“For some time… after a while you lose track. The days seem to run together.”

“This is my first time. I’m scared. Is it bad… what’s wrong with you I mean? You don’t mind my asking, do you?”

“No, I don’t mind. I guess it depends on who you ask. Some say it’s not too serious, some say I’m terminal.” Emily took a deep breath and sighed. “I don’t think I’ll be leaving here; at least not through the front door, anyway.”

Emily’s candor took the youngster by surprise. “How can you be so casual about it? I mean, you’re still so attractive, you have such a classic beauty.”

“Only on the outside, kid; like they say, ‘beauty’s only skin deep.’ It’s what’s on the inside that counts. This old body of mine may have been well taken care of, but it’s been around the block plenty of times. Some of my parts are just plain worn out.”

“And the thought of never leaving doesn’t bother you?”

“No, not really…” It was nice to have someone to talk with again. Emily began to feel a deep affection for the battered teen. “Actually, I will be leaving,” she added, “in a sense anyway. I’m a donor for transplants, a kind of immortality.”

“Oh, that’s so wonderful.” Ginger’s voice softened. “You know… all I’ve ever had was my body. I’ve never felt anything inside. I’ve never known anyone nice like you. Even when I was born I went unwanted for almost three years. I’ve never had any security. My only memories are of being passed from hand to hand.”

“It must have been very hard for you.”

“Yeah… I guess I’ve been around the block a few times myself. As I grew older I began to realize that all anyone ever wanted me for was my looks. It was as if I didn’t even exist inside.”

Emily’s heart fell. She wanted to reach out and comfort Ginger. She wished she could somehow make things better for the troubled teen. “It’s alright, honey. I promise everything will work out. Why don’t you try and get some sleep?”

“Ok, I’ll try. Thanks for being here, Emily.” For the first time in her life, Ginger felt as if she had a friend, someone who cared about her. She made a silent wish that they could always be together. And then she drifted off to sleep.

When she awoke late the next morning Emily was gone. Ginger knew she wouldn’t see her friend again. But she knew that somehow Emily would always be with her. Later that day, two men came to get her. As they wheeled her into a large room, Ginger overheard them talking. After some conversation, they both agreed that with some time and work Ginger would be better than ever.

**********

“Wow! She’s really cool, Bill. When did you get her?”

“My dad and I picked her up yesterday from a lot across from St. Christopher’s Wrecking Yard. She’s my graduation present.”

“Oh, she’s beautiful!” the freckled teen exclaimed, “So sleek… just look at those lines!”

“Yeah… I guess she is…” Bill replied, “Not bad for sixteen years old. The salesman told me they had to do a lot of body work to bring her back to life.” He walked around the cream colored custom sports car and proudly opened the hood. “But it’s what she has inside of her that counts. The original motor was shot. It was replaced with this one, a classic itself. Forty-five years old when they removed it and running like new. After a complete rebuild and a few modifications, it’s stronger than ever. It should last a couple of lifetimes, properly cared for and maintained. The mechanic said the old engine slipped into her like they were made for each other.”

“She’s really something special, Bill, inside and out; and what a great name!” He pointed to the delicate lettering just below the driver’s window. “Ginger…”

“I don’t know,” Bill said, rubbing the fender lovingly. “She looks more like an Emily to me.”
**********
Bio:

BJ Neblett is the author of Elysian Dreams, a contemporary romantic fantasy and Ice Cream Camelot, a memoir exploring life during the early 1960’s, seen through the eyes of a young boy. He hosts two blog sites: www.hereforaseason.blogspot.com for poetry and www.bjneblett.blogspot.com for stories and other writings. BJ was asked to write a memory about JFK for the Kennedy Library. His stories are featured in eFiction Magazine, Romance Magazine and Northern Liberties Review, as well as Short Story Me. Presently BJ is working on a follow up memoir; a sequel to Elysian Dreams, and more short stories. BJ’s writings have been compared to Haruki Murakami and Isaac Asimov.

Thank you very much again, dear friends, for visiting my blog. Please share your thoughts with us, if you will. have a great day.
ڰۣIn Loving Light from the Fairy Ladyڰۣ


KEEPING IT REAL by FRIZZY LIZZY


KEEPING IT REAL by FRIZZY LIZZY
Hi, dear friends and followers. Welcome to my blog I am pleased to see you here, take five and enjoy.  


Hello, again, it's me, Frizzy Lizzy. I'm a bit late, but at my age and with as many kilometers on me as I have, that's to be expected. My mind gets there long before the rest of me does. And such is life these days.

I never had any children. It just never happened for me. I put that care and energy into my work instead of rearing children and most of the time it was worth it for me. I worked for some really nasty and difficult people and in some very demanding situations, but when there was fun to be had, I found it and had a great time.

Business travel is seldom fun unless you have been sent to visit a division vice-president in a city distant from yours and the airline sends your luggage elsewhere. That happened to me when I was sent from Washington, DC to visit our division in Omaha. I landed safely, but I found that my bags, which were properly tagged, went to Phoenix!

All of my “meet the division president” attire was in another city and the airline was apologetic. They gave me an allowance for $25 for emergency clothing. This was in 1984 and even back then, $25 did not buy much.

I met with the “the big man” and told him why I was not wearing a business outfit. He accepted my explanation and we went on about our business.

The fun part came on the trip home. The airline found my bags. They apologized once more, and the flight attendant asked me if I would like to fly in first class. I told her that my ticket was for coach class, but she assured me that the upgrade was free and a gesture of reconciliation for the loss of my things.

I moved up to first class and I had two seats all to myself. I'm sitting there like the Queen of Sheba and who do I see boarding? It was the division president, his finance manager, and his operations man. They looked at me in disbelief as I sat in first class and they walked to their seats in coach.

After we took off, I had a few cocktails and prepared myself for a supper of fillet mignon with asparagus and rice pilaf as they ate a sandwich back there in coach.

When we landed the finance guy looked for me and asked how I got into first class. I was feeling little pain and I told him not to worry, that it would not be on his variance report. He got a pissy look on his face and left.

I stayed at that job for two years or so. The rest of it was not much fun, but I did meet a fellow who liked how I did what I did. We both left that firm, me for a position with a government agency, and he for a company that was growing like an undisciplined wart.

Five years later he talked me into going to work with him. That was a fun job!

The contracts I managed called for me to go to Boston from Washington for periodic progress meetings with the client's staff.

My first trip to Boston was not remarkable. I flew there, rented a car, navigated the traffic, got lost looking for my hotel, and had supper delivered to my room by the hotel's room service.

The next time I was to fly there we had a snowstorm in the region and all flights from Washington were canceled. The fellow who had hired me told his secretary to get me a ticket on the train to Boston, Club Car service! I was quite happy to see that!

I walked to the subway and rode to the railroad station, got my ticket, and found a nice, comfy chair in the club car that was close to the bar. As soon as we left the station, I walked up to the bar and spoke with the nice, young man behind it. I gave him $50 and asked him to make sure that my glass was never empty as I sat in that chair and watched the snowy world go by.

Not only did he keep my glass full, he saw to it that I had snacks and sandwiches and kept me current as to where we were.

When we got to Boston I asked him for my tab. He said, “What tab?”

About a year later I was sent to Florida to visit a facility that my employer (the same employer that sent me to Boston) had acquired. I flew down there and rented a car at the airport, then I drove to my hotel and checked-in.

The next day I began a physical audit of what was present in their facility. Machinery, raw materials, work-in-process, finished work, consumable goods, you name it, I recorded it. That kept me busy for a full day and more.

A day later, the fellow who had hired me to work for him arrived. I met him at the airport and we went to that facility. Over lunch, he told me of a change in plans.

There was a sports car, a Porsche Carrera, that was to go back up to Washington. I offered to drive it back for him. He reached into his coat pocket and gave me an envelope. I looked inside and found a ticket for the Auto Train, the train that would carry both myself and the car from Sanford, Florida to Lorton, Virginia. The ticket gave me a roomette with my own bed and all food and drink included!

We parted ways that afternoon. He flew back to Washington and I drove the Porsche like a madwoman, to Sanford and the Auto Train.

After boarding the train and being shown which room was mine, I went to the club car and had a drink. While I was sitting there, watching the winter night descend upon the observable world, someone asked me if I would like to play poker. Immediately I joined with five of my fellow passengers in a small-stakes, enjoyable game. As we played we had some drinks and snacks and we shared the fellowship of those who live in the present because there is no other place to be.

An attendant announced that supper was to be served in the dining car. I was famished and needed no urging to leave the poker table!

Supper was broiled red snapper fillet with a nice sauce, rice, and mixed vegetables.

I noticed that there were plates available, more plates than there were passengers. I asked the server what they would do with them. She told me that they would be thrown out. Feeling guilty and liking the supper a lot, I ate two more plates before sitting down to some coffee and dessert.

The evening passed gently on the train; so gently that I don't recall going to my room, but I did. The porter turned my bed down for me and I fell asleep to the rocking motion of the sleeping car.

When I woke, I found a copy of that day's newspaper a coffee, and a bagel with cream cheese, all waiting on a tray at the door to my room.

I wish every day was as much fun as those trips were for me.


Thank you very much again, dear friends, for visiting my blog. Please share your thoughts with us, if you will. have a great day.
ڰۣIn Loving Light from the Fairy Ladyڰۣ

Friday, 24 April 2015

The Real Dragon

Hi dear friends and followers, thank you for for visiting my blog, today we discuss the similarities of dragons and dinasaurs.

The Real Dragon

“The dragons of legend are strangely like actual creatures that have lived in the past. They are much like the great reptiles which inhabited the earth long before man is supposed to have appeared on earth. Dragons were generally evil and destructive. Every country had them in its mythology.” (Knox, Wilson, “Dragon,” The World Book Encyclopedia, vol. 5, 1973, p. 265.) The article on dragons in the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1949 edition) noted that dinosaurs were “astonishingly dragonlike,” even though its author assumed that those ancients who believed in dragons did so “without the slightest knowledge” of dinosaurs. The truth is that the fathers of modern paleontology used the terms “dinosaur” and “dragon” interchangeably for quite some time.

Stories of dragons have been handed down for generations in many civilizations. No doubt many of these stories have been exaggerated through the years. But that does not mean they had no original basis in fact. Even some living lizards look like dragons and it is easy to see how a larger variety of such an animal could frighten a community. Have you ever seen an old dinosaur film where they used an iguana in a miniature town set to create the illusion of a great dragon?

In 2004 a fascinating dinosaur skull was donated to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis by three Sioux City, Iowa, residents who found it during a trip to the Hell Creek Formation in South Dakota. The trio are still excavating the site, looking for more of the dinosaur’s bones. Because of its dragon-like head, horns and teeth, the new species was dubbed Dracorex hogwartsia. This name honors the Harry Potter fictional works, which features the Hogwarts School and recently popularized dragons. The dinosaur’s skull mixes spiky horns, bumps and a long muzzle. But unlike other members of the pachycephalosaur family, which have domed foreheads, this one is flat-headed. Consider some of the ancient stories of dragons, some fictional and some that might be authentic history of dinosaurs.

Written about 2,000 B.C. the famous Epic of Gilgamesh records the slaying of the monster Humbaba in Mesopotamia. Humbaba was the terrifying guardian of the Cedar Forest of Amanus. The powerful Mesopotamian god Enlil placed Humbaba there to kill any human that dared disturb its peace. Humbaba was a giant creature, terrifying to look at. Sometimes he is pictured as a large, humanoid shape covered with scale plates. His powerful legs were like that of a lion, but with the talons of a vulture. His head had bull’s horns and his tail was like a serpent. Alternatively, some sources give Humbaba the form of a dragon that could breathe fire. (Drawing to the left by Fafnirx.)

Daniel was said to kill a dragon in the apocryphal chapters of the Bible. King Cyrus challenged Daniel’s refusal to worship the idol Bel. Daniel revealed to the king a conspiracy on the part of the priests to eat the food offered to Bel, making the god seem real. Not only were the deceptive priests executed, but Daniel was allowed to destroy their idol and a dragon that was being worshipped. In the brief narrative of the dragon (14:23-30), Daniel killed the dragon by baking pitch, fat, and hair to make cakes that cause the dragon to burst open upon consumption. In the Hebrew Midrash version, other ingredients serve the purpose of destroying the dragon.


After Alexander the Great invaded India he brought back 
reports of seeing a great hissing dragon living in a cave. Later Greek rulers supposedly brought dragons alive from Ethiopia. (Gould, Charles, Mythical Monsters, W.H. Allen & Co., London, 1886, pp. 382-383.) Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia (“Dinosaur” entry) explains that the historical references to dinosaur bones may extend as far back as the 5th century BC. In fact, some scholars think that the Greek historian Herodotus was referring to fossilized dinosaur skeletons and eggs when he described griffins guarding nests in central Asia. “Dragon bones” mentioned in a 3rd century AD text from China are thought to refer to bones of dinosaurs.

Ancient explorers and historians, like Josephus, told of small flying reptiles in ancient Egypt and Arabia and described their predators, the ibis, stopping their invasion into Egypt. (Epstein, Perle S., Monsters: Their Histories, Homes, and Habits, 1973, p.43.) A third century historian Gaius Solinus, discussed the Arabian flying serpents, and stated that “the poison is so quick that death follows before pain can be felt.” (Cobbin, Ingram, Condensed Commentary and Family Exposition on the Whole Bible, 1837, p. 171.)
The well-respected Greek researcher Herodotus wrote: “There is a place in Arabia, situated very near the city of Buto, to which I went, on hearing of some winged serpents; and when I arrived there, I saw bones and spines of serpents, in such quantities as it would be impossible to describe. The form of the serpent is like that of the water-snake; but he has wings without feathers, and as like as possible to the wings of a bat.” (Herodotus, Historiae, tr. Henry Clay, 1850, pp. 75-76.) This is a remarkable description of a pterosaur! In his third volume Herodotus goes on to tell how these animals could sometimes be found in the Arabian spice groves. He describes their size, coloration, and reproduction. It seems that venomous flying serpents were infamous for living in frankincense trees. When workers wanted to gather the tree’s incense, they would employ putrid smoke to drive the flying reptiles away. (Note the illustration below to the the left.) Herodotus has been called “the Father of History” because he was the first historian we know who collected his materials systematically and then tested them for accuracy. John Goertzen noted the Egyptian representation of tail vanes with flying reptiles and concluded that they must have observed pterosaurs or they would not have known to sketch this leaf-shaped tail. (Goertzen, J.C., “Shadows of Rhamphorhynchoid Pterosaurs in Ancient Egypt and Nubia,” Cryptozoology, Vol 13, 1998.)Above center is an image of the Wawel Dragon (erected during recent times). According to legend this dragon lived in a large cave under Wawel Hill in the early 8th century. The cave (which is today a popular tourist attraction) is on the banks of the Vistula river in Kraków, Poland. Wawel Cathedral is a 900-year-old Catholic church in the town that still proudly displays (in a hanging bundle) the large bones which are rumored to have belonged to the local dragon. 

The oldest known account of the Wawel dragon story comes from the 12th century work by Wincenty Kadlubek. It tells how the lair of this oppressive reptile was located near what was then the capital of Poland. According to Polish folklore, the dragon was finally killed by a poor cobbler’s apprentice named Skuba, who cleverly offered the dragon a lamb stuffed with sulphur. Skuba was rewarded with the hand of the king’s daughter in marriage because of his act of deliverance.Charles Gould cites the historian Gesner as saying that, “In 1543, a kind of dragon appeared near Styria, within the confines of Germany, which had feet like lizards, and wings after the fashion of a bat, with an incurable bite… He refers to a description by Scaliger (Scaliger, lib. III. Miscellaneous cap. i, “Winged Serpents,” p. 182.) of a species of serpent four feet long, and as thick as a man’s arm, with cartilaginous wings pendent from the sides. He also mentions Brodeus, of a winged dragon which was brought to Francis, the invincible King of the Gauls, by a countryman who had killed it with a mattock near Sanctones, and which was stated to have been seen by many men of approved reputation, who though it had migrated from transmarine regions by the assistance of the wind. Cardan (De Natura Rerum, lib VII, cap. 29.) states that whilst he Aldrovandus' Winged Dragon of Ethiopia

resided in Paris he saw five winged dragons in the William Museum; these were biped, and possessed of wings so slender that it was hardly possible that they could fly with them. Cardan doubted their having been fabricated, since they had been sent in vessels at different times, and yet all presented the same remarkable form. Bellonius states that he had seen whole carcases [sic] of winged dragons, carefully prepared, which he considered to be of the same kind as those which fly out of Arabia into Egypt; they were thick about the belly, had two feet, and two wings, whole like those of a bat, and a snake’s tail.” (Gould, Charles, Mythical Monsters, W.H. Allen & Co., London, 1886, pp. 136-138.) The Italian historian Aldrovandus also claimed to have received in the year 1551 a “true dried Aethiopian dragon” a watercolor of which appears to the left. At first glance, one is tempted agree with Gould that the wings are ridiculously small. But perhaps in transporting from Ethiopia the wings broke off or disintegrated and thus had to be added from the artist’s imagination. The positioning of the wings and the legs is also wrong.

The first century Greek historian Strabo, who traveled and researched extensively throughout the Mediterranean and Near East, wrote a treatise on geography. He explained that in India “there are reptiles two cubits long with membranous wings like bats, and that they too fly by night, discharging drops of urine, or also of sweat, which putrefy the skin of anyone who is not on his guard;” (Strabo, Geography: Book XV: “On India,” Chap. 1, No. 37, AD 17, pp. 97-98.) Strabos account may have been based in part on the earlier work of Megasthenes (ca 350 – 290 BC) who traveled to India and states that there are “snakes (ophies) with wings, and that their visitations occur not during the daytime but by night, and that they emit urine which at once produces a festering wound on any body on which it may happen to drop.” (Aelianus, Greek Natural History:On Animals, 3rd century AD, 16.41.)

The Chinese have many stories of dragons. Books even tell of Chinese families raising dragons to use their blood for medicines and highly prizing their eggs. (DeVisser, Marinus Willem, The Dragon in China & Japan, 1969.) To the left is a pictures of a fossilized dinosaur egg compared to a chicken egg and to the right is a double-yoked Protoceratops dinosaur egg (which would have yielded twin dinosaurs). Marco Polo wrote of his travels to the province of Karajan and reported on huge serpents, which at the fore part have two short legs, each Two-legged Dinosaur acambaro figurine

with three claws. “The jaws are wide enough to swallow a man, the teeth are large and sharp, and their whole appearance is so formidable that neither man, nor any kind of animal can approach them without terror.” (Polo, Marco, The Travels of Marco Polo, 1961, pp. 158-159.) Marco Polo goes on to describe how the local citizens of the area hunted and killed these creatures. He noted that the reptiles were nocturnal (assisted by “eyes larger than a loaf”), dwelling in “caverns” during the day to avoid the heat. After they had killed their prey, Polo wrote that they would find a water source such as a lake, spring, or river. Their massive bodies left “deep impressions” in the paths “as if a heavy beam had been drawn along the sands.” Since the creatures predictably followed these same rutted paths, the natives buried large “wooden stakes tipped with sharp iron spikes, which they cover with sand” (p. 159). Apparently these spikes so severely wounded the creatures that they died soon thereafter. It is interesting to note that two-legged dragons have also been reported in Europe (see the Aldrovandus story below) and depicted in the ancient Acambaro art found in Mexico (see on right). Some of the Chinese dragon art is remarkably like dinosaurs.























It is interesting that the twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac are all animals–eleven of which are still alive today. But is the twelfth, the dragon merely a legend or is it based on a real animal– the dinosaur? It doesn’t seem logical that the ancient Chinese, when constructing their zodiac, would include one mythical animal with eleven real animals. “The interpretation of dinosaurs as dragons goes back more than two thousand years in Chinese culture. They were regarded as sacred, as a symbol of power…” (Zhiming, Doug, Dinosaurs from China, 1988, p. 9.) Shown to the top left is a dragon (click to enlarge) that was cast in red gold and embossed during the Tang Dynasty (618-906 AD). Notice the long neck and tail, the frills, and the lithe stance. Shown above in the middle is a ferocious Ming Dynasty (1368-Chinese Shell Dragon of Xishuipo, 1644 AD)

dragon statue that is part of the Barakat Gallery Collection. China’s oldest known dragon depiction is a curious discovery found at the ancient Xishuipo Cemetery Ruins along the Yellow River in Henan Province (see right). There, three artistic dragons (along with tigers and other animals) composed entirely of white shells were placed alongside human remains. No doubt this indicates a burial place of some very important ruler from the beginnings of the Chinese culture. The Xishuipo site dates back several thousand years, yet the dragons shown are surprisingly like modern renditions. This shows the dragon concept did not slowly develop through Chinese history from a simplistic, primitive mythological figure. This would make sense if they were, in fact, modeled after living creatures.

“Among Serpents, we find some that are furnished with Wings. Herodotus who saw those Serpents, says they had great Resemblance to those which the Greeks and Latins call’d Hydra; their Wings are not compos’d of Feathers like the Wings of Birds, but rather like to those of Batts; they love sweet smells, and frequent such Trees as bear Spices. These were the fiery Serpents that made so great a Destruction in the Camp of Israel…The brazen Serpent was a Figure of the flying Serpent, Saraph, which Moses fixed upon an erected Pole: That there were such, is most evident. Herodotus who had seen of those Serpents, says they very much resembled those which the Greeks and Latins called Hydra: He went on purpose to the City of Brutus to see those flying Animals, that had been devour’d by the Ibidian Birds.” (Owen, Charles, An Essay Towards a Natural History of Serpents, 1742, pp. 191-193.)


During the Medieval period, the Scandinavians described swimming dragons and the Vikings placed dragons on the front of their ships to scare off the sea monsters. The one pictured above is based upon the 1734 sighting by Hans Egede. As a missionary to Greenland, Egede was known as a meticulous recorder of the natural world. Numerous such stories have been recorded from the age of sailing ships (1500-1900 A.D.).

The familiar legend of Saint George slaying a dragon is prolific throughout European art and history. Likely it have some basis in fact. St. George is the patron saint of England (though the actual story was brought from the east by the Crusaders). Indeed the “dragon” pictured is the dinosaur Baryonyx, whose skeleton has been found in England.



Famous in the annals of British literature is the poem of Beowulf, the heroic Norse warrior who killed a number of dragons. In the end he died in the process of vanquishing a winged dragon. Dragons were even described in reputable zoological treatises published during the Middle Ages. For example, the great Swiss naturalist and medical doctor Konrad Gesner published a four-volume encyclopedia from 1516-1565 entitled Historiae Animalium. He mentioned dragons as “very rare but still living creatures” (p.224). The story is told of a tenth century Irishman who encountered a large clawed beast having “iron on its tail which pointed backwards.” It had a head similar to a horse. It also had thick legs and strong claws. Could this have been a surviving Stegosaurus? (Ham, K., The Great Dinosaur Mystery Solved, 1999, p.33.)

Aldrovandus is considered by many to be the father of modern natural history. He traveled extensively, collected thousands of animals and plants, and created the first ever natural history museum. His impressive collections are still on display at the Bologna University (the world’s oldest university) where they attest to his scholarship. His credentials give credence to an incident that Aldrovandus personally reported concerning a dragon. The dragon was first seen on May 13, 1572, hissing like a snake. It had been hiding on the small estate of Master Petronius. At 5:00 PM, the dragon was caught on a public roadway by a herdsman named Baptista, near the hedge of a private farm, a mile from the remote city outskirts of Bologna. Baptista was following his ox cart home when he noticed the oxen suddenly come to a stop. He kicked them and shouted at them, but they refused to move and went down on their knees rather than move forward.














At this point, the herdsman noticed a hissing sound and was startled to see this strange little dragon ahead of him.Trembling he struck it on the head with his rod and killed it. (Aldrovandus, Ulysses, The Natural History of Serpents and Dragons, 1640, p.402.) Aldrovandus surmised that dragon was a juvenile, judging by the incompletely developed claws and teeth.The corpse had only two feet and moved both by slithering like a snake and by using its feet, he believed. (There are small two-legged lizards that do this today.) Aldrovandus mounted the specimen and displayed it for some time. He also had a watercolor painting of the creature made (see upper right).

In Medieval times, scientifically minded authors produced volumes called “bestiaries,” a compilation of known (and sometimes imaginary) animals accompanied by a moralizing explanation and fascinating pictures. One such volume is the Aberdeen Bestiary, written in the early 1500s and preserved in the library of Henry VIII. Along with the newt, the salamander, and various kinds of snakes is the description and depiction of the dragon: “The dragon is bigger than all other snakes or all other living things on earth. For this reason, the Greeks call it dracon, from this is derived its Latin name draco. The dragon, it is said, is often drawn forth from caves into the open air, causing the air to become turbulent. The dragon has a crest, a small mouth, and narrow blow-holes through which it breathes and puts forth its tongue. Its strength lies not in its teeth but in its tail, and it kills with a blow rather than a bite. It is free from poison. They say that it does not need poison to kill things, because it kills anything around which it wraps its tail. From the dragon not even the elephant, with its huge size, is safe. For lurking on paths along which elephants are accustomed to pass, the dragon knots its tail around their legs and kills them by suffocation.

Dragons are born in Ethiopia and India, where it is hot all year round.” Flavious Philostratus, the third century historian provided this sober account: “The whole of India is girt with dragons of enormous size; for not only the marshes are full of them, but the mountains as well, and there is not a single ridge without one. Now the marsh kind are sluggish in their habits and are thirty cubits long, and they have no crest standing up on their heads.” (Philostratus, Flavius, The Life of Apollonius of Tyanna, 170 AD.) Pliny the Elder also referenced large dragons in India in his Natural History.

The 16th century Italian explorer Pigafetta, in a report of the kingdom of Congo, described the province of Bemba, which he defines as “on the sea coast from the river Ambrize, until the river Coanza towards the south,” and says of serpents, “There are also certain other creatures which, being as big as rams, have wings like dragons, with long tails, and long chaps, and divers rows of teeth, and feed upon raw flesh. Their colour is blue and green, their skin painted like scales, and they have two feet but no more. The Pagan negroes used to worship them as gods, and to this day you may see divers of them that are kept for a marvel. And because they are very rare, the chief lords there curiously preserve them, and suffer the people to worship them, which tendeth greatly to their profits by reason of the gifts and oblations which the people offer unto them.” (Pigafetta, Filippo, The Harleian Collections of Travels, vol. ii, 1745, p. 457.)

St. John of Damascus, an eastern monk who wrote in the 8th century, gives a sober account of dragons, insisting that they are mere reptiles and did not have magical powers. He quotes from the Roman historian Dio who chronicled the Roman empire in the second century. It seems Regulus, a Roman consul, fought against Carthage, when a dragon suddenly crept up and settled behind the wall of the Roman army. The Romans killed it, skinned it and sent the hide to the Roman Senate. Dio claimed the hide was measured by order of the senate and found to be one hundred and twenty feet long. It seems unlikely that either Dio or the pious St. John would support an outright fabrication involving a Roman consul and the Senate.

The Anglo Saxon Chronicle gives a dire entry for the year 793. (In those days it was common to take glowing, flying dragon activity as an omen of evil to come.) “This year came dreadful fore-warnings over the land of the Northumbrians, terrifying the people most woefully: these were immense sheets of light rushing through the air, and whirlwinds, and fiery, dragons flying across the firmament.” Reliable witness reports of “flying dragons” (pterosaur-like creatures) in Europe are recorded around 1649. (Thorpe, B. Ed., The Anglo Saxon Chronicle, 1861, p.48.) This remarkable book also describes an encounter with a dragon in 1405: “Close to the town of Bures, near Sudbury, there has lately appeared, to the great hurt of the countryside, a dragon, vast in body, with a crested head, teeth like a saw, and a tail extending to an enormous length. Having slaughtered the shepherd of the flock, it devoured many sheep….In order to destroy him, all the country people around were summoned. But when the dragon saw that he was again to be assailed with arrows, he fled into a marsh or mere and there hid himself among the long reeds, and was no more seen” (p. 60).

The woods around Penllyn Castle, Glamorgan, had the reputation of being frequented by winged serpents, and these were the terror of old and young alike. An aged inhabitant of Penllyn, who died a few years ago, said that in his boyhood the winged serpents were described as very beautiful. They were coiled when in repose, and “looked as if they were covered with jewels of all sorts. Some of them had crests sparkling with all the colours of the rainbow.” When disturbed they glided swiftly, “sparkling all over,” to their hiding places. When angry, they “flew over people’s heads, with outspread wings, bright, and sometimes with eyes too, like the feathers in a peacock’s tail”. He said it was “no old story invented to frighten children”, but a real fact. His father and uncle had killed some of them, for they were as bad as foxes for poultry. The old man attributed the extinction of the winged serpents to the fact that they were “terrors in the farmyards and coverts.” (Trevelyan, Marie, 1909, Folk-Lore and Folk Stories of Wales, p. 168-169.)

An example of an ancient dragon story is given below(click to enlarge and read some text.)

The prolific 17th century writer Athanasius Kircher’s record tells how the noble man, Christopher Schorerum, prefect of the entire territory, “wrote a true history summarizing there all, for by that way, he was able to confirm the truth of the things experienced, and indeed the things truly seen by the eye, written in his own words: ‘On a warm night in 1619, while contemplating the serenity of the heavens, I saw a shining dragon of great size in front of Mt. Pilatus, coming from the opposite side of the lake [or ‘hollow’], a cave that is named Flue [Hogarth-near Lucerne] moving rapidly in an agitated way, seen flying across; It was of a large Mount Pilatus Dragon by Kirchersize, with a long tail, a long neck, a reptile’s head, and ferocious gaping jaws.

As it flew it was like iron struck in a forge when pressed together that scatters sparks. At first I thought it was a meteor from what I saw. But after I diligently observed it alone, I understood it was indeed a dragon from the motion of the limbs of the entire body.’ From the writings of a respected clergyman, in fact a dragon truely exists in nature it is amply established.” (Kircher, Athanasius, Mundus Subterraneus, 1664, tr. by Hogarth, “Dragons,” 1979, pp. 179-180.) Such bioluminescent nocturnal flying creatures are known in some regions still today. (See the Ropen page.) Might they not be the basis for the “fiery dragon” lore from ancient civilizations around the world?

John Harris was a scientific man that edited the first encyclopedia. He gives a singularly account of the capture of a dragon: “We have, in an ancient author, a very large and circumstantial account of the taking of a dragon on the frontiers of Ethiopia, which was one and twenty feet in length, and was carried to Ptolemy Philadelphus, who every bountifully rewarded such as ran the hazard of procuring him this beast.” (Harris, John, Collection of Voyages, vol. i, London, 1764, p. 474.) But this pales in comparison to the account St. Ambrose gives of dragons “seen in the neighbourhood of the Ganges nearly seventy cubits in length.” (Ambrose, De Moribus Brachmanorum, 1668.) It was one of this size that Alexander and his army saw in a cave. “Its terrible hissing made a strong impression on the Macedonians, who, with all their courage, could not help being frighted at so horrid a spectacle.” (Aelian, De Animal, lib. XV, cap. 21.)

As western pioneers colonized tribal lands around the world, reports of dragons continued to come back to Europe. It became standard practice for cartographers to identify the unexplored regions at the periphery of their maps with the cryptic words: “Here be dragons!” But as civilization took hold even in remote regions, the changes to the ecosystem and hunting down of predators took its toll on the remaining dinosaurian remnants.

Author Charles Gould sought to dispel supernatural notions and give a sober account of the dragon. “The dragon is nothing more than a serpent of enormous size; and they formerly distinguished three sorts of them in the Indies. Viz. such as were in the mountains, such as were bred in the caves or in the flat country, and such as were found in fens and marshes. The first is the largest of all, and are covered with scales as resplendent as polished gold. These have a kind of beard hanging from their lower jaw, their eyebrows large, and very exactly arched; their aspect the most frightful that can be imagined, and their cry loud and shrill… their crests of a bright yellow, and a protuberance on their heads of the colour of a burning coal. Those of the flat country differ from the former in nothing but in having their scales of a silver colour, and in their frequenting rivers, to which the former never come. Those that live in marshes and fens are of a dark colour, approaching to a black, move slowly, have no crest, or any rising upon their heads.” (Gould, Charles, Mythical Monsters, W.H. Allen & Co., London, 1886, p. 140.)

The seventeenth century Bible scholar Samuel Bochart penned an in-depth study of the animals in the Bible. He describes how winged serpents are not only a thing of the Old Testament but were still alive in his day: “If on your travels you encounter the serpent with wings who circles and hurls himself at you, the flying snake, hide yourself because of its reputation. Lie down when the snake appears and guard yourself in alarm for that snake’s manner is to go away calm, considering it a victory… There are winged and flying serpents that can be found who are venomous, who snort, and are savage and kill with pain worse than fire…” (Bochart, Samuel, Hierozoicon: sive De animalibus S. Scripturae, Vol. 2, 1794.)

On April 26, 1890 the Tombstone Epitaph (a local Arizona newspaper) reported that two cowboys had discovered and shot down a creature – described as a “winged dragon” – which resembled a pterodactyl, only MUCH larger. The cowboys said its wingspan was 160 feet, and that its body was more than four feet wide and 92 feet long. The cowboys supposedly cut off the end of the wing to prove the existence of the creature. The paper’s description of the animal fits the Quetzelcoatlus, whose fossils were found in Texas. (Gish, Dinosaurs by Design, 1992, p. 16.) Could this be thunderbird or Wakinyan, the jagged-winged, fierce-toothed flying creature of Sioux American Indian legend? This thunderbird supposedly lived in a cave on the top of the Olympic Mountains and feasted on seafood. Different from the eagle (Wanbli) or hawk (Cetan) the Wakinyan was said to be huge, carrying off children, and was named because of its association with thunder and lightning–supposedly being struck by lightning and seen to fall to the ground during a storm. (Geis, Darlene, Dinosaurs & Other Prehistoric Animals, 1959, p. 9.) It was further distinguished by its piercing cry and thunderous beating wings (Lame Deer’s 1969 interview).

Evolutionary Zoologist Desmond Morris wrote, “In the world of fantastic animals, the dragon is unique. No other imaginary creature has appeared in such a rich variety of forms. It is as though there was once a whole family of different dragon species that really existed, before they mysteriously became extinct. Indeed, as recently as the seventeenth century, scholars wrote of dragons as though they were scientific fact, their anatomy and natural history being recorded in painstaking detail. The naturalist Edward Topsell, for instance, writing in 1608, considered them to be reptilian and closely related to serpents: ‘There are divers sorts of Dragons, distinguished partlie by their Countries, partlie by their quantitie and magnitude, and partlie by the different forme of their externall partes.’ Unlike Shakespeare, who spoke of ‘the dragon more feared than seen,’ Topsell was convinced that they had been observed by many people: ‘Neither have we in Europe only heard of Dragons and never seen them, but also in our own country there have (by the testimony of sundry writers) divers been discovered and killed.'” (from the forward to Dr. Karl Shuker’s Dragons: A Natural History, 1995, p.8.)

Evolutionist Adrienne Mayor spent considerable time researching the possibility that Native Americans dug up dinosaur fossils. But some of the reports she received make a lot more sense if these early Americans interacted with actual dinosaurs, not yet extinct. There is no evidence for sophisticated Ancient Paleontologists. An old Assiniboine story tells of a war party that “traveled a long distance to unfamiliar lands and [saw] some large lizards. The warriors held a council and discussed what they knew about those strange creatures. They decided that those big lizards were bad medicine and should be left alone.

However, one warrior who wanted more war honors said that he was not afraid of those animals and would kill one. He took his lance [a very old weapon used before horses] and charged one of the large lizard type animals and tried to kill it. But he had trouble sticking his lance in the creature’s hide and during the battle he himself was killed and eaten.” (Mayor, Fossil Legends of the First Americans, 2005, p. 294.) This story conjures up credible visions of the scaly hide of a great reptile, something Native Americans would not know from mere skeletons. It was once thought that Woolly Mammoths had flourished in North America prior to the arrival of humans. But the discovery of sites where many mammoths were killed and butchered has established the co-existence of men and mammoths. Perhaps similar evidence involving dinosaurs will be forthcoming.


The atheistic astronomer Carl Sagan once remarked: “The pervasiveness of dragon myths in the folk legends of many cultures is probably no accident” (Sagan, Carl, The Dragons of Eden, New York: Random House, 1977, p. 149). Indeed he felt compelled to address the similarity to the great reptiles of the Jurassic era and “explain them away.” How could Sagan do this? Peter Dickinson stated, “Carl Sagan tried to account for the spread and consistency of dragon legends by saying that they are fossil memories of the time of the dinosaurs, come down to us through a general mammalian memory inherited from the early mammals, our ancestors, who had to compete with the great predatory lizards.” (Dickinson, Peter, The Flight of Dragons, New York: Harper and Row, 1979, p. 127). Thus Carl Sagan believed that we evolved not merely our physical bodies, but also memories “uploaded” from our mammalian ancestors!

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Thursday, 23 April 2015

Top 10 Medieval Urban Legends

Top 10 Medieval Urban Legends

Hi dear friends and followers. I am pleased to see you her and today's story, or should I say stories is about Medieval legends, take five and enjoy.

Here are some bits of information that might help you to settle a few bets, or at least to settle your own curiosity about things medieval. Enjoy the reading!

Who doesn’t love a good legend? They are obviously extremely popular owing to the millions of spam emails that fly around the internet every day filled with the latest urban legend waiting for snopes to debunk it. This list looks at some more historical legends which, believe it or not, some people still believe to this day. It seems that no amount of snopesing can debunk them; perhaps listverse will fare better.10

10
Incubus and Sucubus

An incubus is a demon in male form supposed to lie upon sleepers, especially women, in order to have sexual intercourse with them, according to a number of mythological and legendary traditions. Its female counterpart is the succubus. An incubus may pursue sexual relations with a woman in order to father a child, as in the legend of Merlin, and some sources indicate that it may be identified by its unnaturally cold penis. Religious tradition holds that repeated intercourse with an incubus or succubus may result in the deterioration of health or even death. A number of secular explanations have been offered for the origin of the incubus legends. They involve the medieval preoccupation with sin, especially sexual sins of women. Victims may have been experiencing waking dreams or sleep paralysis.

9
The Lost Tribes

Palestine The Tribes.JpgThe Ten Lost Tribes of Israel refers to the ancient Tribes of Israel that disappeared from the Biblical account after the Kingdom of Israel was destroyed, enslaved and exiled by ancient Assyria. Many groups of Jews have doctrines concerning the continued hidden existence or future public return of these tribes. This is a subject that is partially based upon authenticated and documented historical fact, partially upon written religious tradition and partially upon speculation. There is a vast amount of literature on the Lost Tribes and no specific source can be relied upon for a complete answer. Some scientists have researched the topic, and at various times some have made claims of empirical evidence of the Ten Lost Tribes. However, religious and scriptural sources remain the main sources of the belief that the Ten Lost Tribes have some continuing, though hidden, identity somewhere. It should be noted that the Book of Mormon suggests that the Native Americans are from two of the lost tribes.

8
Fountain of Youth

The Fountain of Youth is a legendary spring that reputedly restores the youth of anyone who drinks of its waters. Florida (ironically) is often said to be its location, and stories of the fountain are some of the most persistent associated with the state. Eternal youth is a gift frequently sought in myth and legend, and stories of things such as the philosopher’s stone, universal panaceas, and the elixir of life are common throughout Eurasia and elsewhere. Unfortunately, earlier native versions of the legend (from before the Old World became old) are not known outside of what snippets Spanish chroniclers managed to preserve of what is sure to have been a rich tradition.

7
The Wandering Jew

The Wandering Jew is a figure from medieval Christian folklore whose legend began to spread in Europe in the thirteenth century and became a fixture of Christian mythology, and, later, of Romanticism. The legend concerns a Jew who taunted Jesus on the way to the Crucifixion and was then cursed to walk the earth until the Second Coming. The exact nature of the wanderer’s indiscretion varies in different versions of the tale, as do aspects of his character; sometimes he is said to be a shoemaker or other tradesman, sometimes he is the doorman at Pontius Pilate’s estate. The origins of the legend are debatable; perhaps one element is the story in Genesis of Cain, who is issued with a similar punishment — to wander over the earth, never reaping a harvest again, but scavenging.

6
Pope Joan

Pope Joan (also called La Papessa) is the name of a legendary female pope who supposedly reigned for less than three years in the 850s, between the papacies of Leo IV and Benedict III (though there were only two months between the two reigns). She is known primarily from a legend that circulated in the Middle Ages. Pope Joan is regarded by most modern historians and religious scholars as fictitious, possibly originating as an anti-papal satire. The story of Pope Joan is known mainly from the 13th-century chronicler Martin of Opava – writing 500 years after the alleged Popess. Most scholars dismiss Pope Joan as a medieval legend. The Oxford Dictionary of Popes acknowledges that this legend was widely believed for centuries, even among Catholic circles, but declares that there is “no contemporary evidence for a female pope at any of the dates suggested for her reign,” and goes on to say that “the known facts of the respective periods make it impossible to fit [a female pope] in”. For those who are wondering what would happen if this were true (or were to ever be true): nothing; a female is not able to be a priest and a Pope cannot be crowned unless he is a priest first.

5
Robin Hood

Robin Hood is an archetypal figure in English folklore, whose story originates from medieval times, but who remains significant in popular culture where he is known for “stealing from the rich and giving to the poor” and fighting against injustice and tyranny. His band includes a “three score” group of fellow outlawed yeomen – called his “Merry Men.” The origin of the legend is claimed by some to have stemmed from actual outlaws, or from tales of outlaws, such as Hereward the Wake, Eustace the Monk, Fulk FitzWarin, and William Wallace. There are a number of theories that attempt to identify a historical Robin Hood, but for various reasons (such as the popularity of the name in the Middle Ages), it is unlikely to ever come up with any evidence that suggests he is not just a legend.

4
The Holy Grail

According to Christian mythology, the Holy Grail was the dish, plate, or cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper, said to possess miraculous powers. The connection of Joseph of Arimathea with the Grail legend dates from Robert de Boron’s Joseph d’Arimathie (late 12th century) in which Joseph receives the Grail from an apparition of Jesus and sends it with his followers to Great Britain. The development of the Grail legend has been traced in detail by cultural historians: It is a legend which first came together in the form of written romances, deriving perhaps from some pre-Christian folklore hints, in the later 12th and early 13th centuries. The early Grail romances centered on Percival and were woven into the more general Arthurian fabric. Some of the Grail legend is interwoven with legends of the Holy Chalice.

3
King Arthur

King Arthur is a legendary British leader who, according to medieval histories and romances, led the defence of Britain against the Saxon invaders in the early 6th century. The details of Arthur’s story are mainly composed of folklore and literary invention, and his historical existence is debated and disputed by modern historians. The historical basis for the King Arthur legend has long been debated by scholars. One school of thought, citing entries in the Historia Brittonum (History of the Britons) and Annales Cambriae (Welsh Annals), sees Arthur as a genuine historical figure, a Romano-British leader who fought against the invading Anglo-Saxons sometime in the late 5th to early 6th century, but the lack of convincing early evidence is the reason many recent historians exclude Arthur from their accounts of post-Roman Britain.

2
The Children’s Crusade

The Childrens Crusade.JpgThe Children’s Crusade is the name given to a variety of fictional and factual events which happened in 1212 that combine some or all of these elements: visions by a French or German boy; an intention to peacefully convert Muslims in the Holy Land to Christianity; bands of children marching to Italy; and children being sold into slavery. A study published in 1977 cast doubt on the existence of these events and many historians now believe that they were not (or not primarily) children but multiple bands of “wandering poor” in Germany and France, some of whom tried to reach the Holy Land and others who never intended to do so. Early versions of events, of which there are many variations told over the centuries, are largely apocryphal. Recent research suggests the participants were not children, at least not the very young. The confusion started because later chroniclers, who were not witness to the events of 1212 and who were writing 30 years or more later, began to translate the original accounts and misunderstood the Latin word pueri, meaning “boys”, to mean literally “children”. The original accounts did use the term pueri but it had a slang meaning, similar to how the term “country bumpkins” is used as a derogatory term in the rural United States.

1
Prester John

The legends of Prester John, popular in Europe from the 12th through the 17th centuries, told of a Christian patriarch and king said to rule over a Christian nation lost amidst the Muslims and pagans in the Orient. Written accounts of this kingdom are variegated collections of medieval popular fantasy. Reportedly a descendant of one of the Three Magi, Prester John was said to be a generous ruler and a virtuous man, presiding over a realm full of riches and strange creatures, in which the Patriarch of the Saint Thomas Christians resided. His kingdom contained such marvels as the Gates of Alexander and the Fountain of Youth, and even bordered the Earthly Paradise. Among his treasures was a mirror through which every province could be seen, the fabled original from which derived the “speculum literature” of the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, in which the prince’s realms were surveyed and his duties laid out. Despite the non-existence of Prester John, the medieval belief in the legend affected several hundred years of European and world history, directly and indirectly, by encouraging Europe’s explorers, missionaries, scholars and treasure hunters.

JAMIE FRATER, APRIL 22, 2009

This article is licensed under the GFDL because it contains quotations from Wikipedia.

JAMIE FRATER

Jamie is the founder of Listverse. He spends his time working on the site, doing research for new lists, and cooking. He is fascinated with all things morbid and bizarre.

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