Thursday, February 5, 2009

Were Dragons Real?

This week the finding of the skeleton of a giant snake in South America stirs the imagination. Reporters said that it would have been longer than a bus, thick enough to be about waist high on a man, and could probably have swallowed whole cows or other creatures of that size.

Could it be that when ancient people saw such creatures they referred to them as dragons? Dragons are found in folklore and myths from around the world, and were said to live on land, sea and some could fly through the air.

In earlier posts on this blog, we considered the intersection of myth and reality in terms of people. Some say that the characters of myth were real people whose feats and adventures were told and retold long after their death until they became larger than life. Some say that perhaps, for example, Odin, Freya and Thor might have been real warriors of the Norse. In the U.S. what we know of Johnny Appleseed, Robert Johnson, Thomas Jefferson or the Salem Witch Trials may or may not be true and historically accurate.

Storytelling is as old as humankind, and judging from our hunger for stories, as much a needed part of our evolution as food and shelter to our survival, right there along with singing, herbal healing and seasonal rituals. Stories are important to help us understand the world and our place in it. As the giant snake might suggest, when we come face to face with something bigger and more different than we have experienced before or something that exceeds our expectations, stories are sure to follow for a long time to come.

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