Those Legends Of Dragons And Sea Monsters
By James Donahue
There was an exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History in New York that attempted to explain
mythological beasts from legend by suggesting they were, in reality, glimpses of real animals coupled with a lot of imagination.
For example, the display suggests that the old story by sailors of seeing mermaids at sea was induced
by visions of a manatee on a rock and the fact that sailors of old spent months at sea without the companionship of women.
As uninviting as the manatee might appear to us, consider the creative illusion a man at sea might have had while viewing
such a creature resting on a rock from a distance. If he wanted it to have a nude female form, then it was so.
This is an example of just how our mind can not only distort our view of the world around us, to meet
our beliefs and perhaps our needs at the moment, but also might be a way in which we each can change the reality of our own
personal universe. Thus, for the sailors who wanted to believe, the manatee on a rock at sea became the beautiful form of
a woman with the tail of a fish.
More difficult to explain, however, are the stories of the giant dragons, sea serpents and other beasts
said to have been confronted by the knights and sailors of old as they ventured out in exploration of the unknown.
As they enter the museum, visitors first see a 17-foot-long green European replica of a dragon . .
. the type of beast that legend claims Saint George slew. Elsewhere in the exhibit can be seen the colorful Chinese dragon
hanging from the ceiling. And then there is the giant head and tentacles of the old sailor's most feared creature, the kraken,
which appears to be rising from the floor.
While the museum attempts to find a logical explanation for such myths, we know that there are many
things on this planet that cannot be easily explained. The stories of dragons and sea monsters are among them.
The museum's answer to the stories is that people have been digging up dinosaur bones for years, and
the traders that once traveled by camel across the Gobi Desert often cameupon the fossilized remains the the protoceratop
dinosaur, that are found there, possibly mistaking it as the remains of a mythical creature with the head and forelimbs of
an eagle and the body of a lion. They called it a griffin.
While archaeologists disagree, we believe it is possible that humanoids were on this planet at the
same time as the dinosaurs, and since we evolved from those origins, there is a cellular memory of these mighty beasts. Thus
it was natural for the stories to emerge, especially from the mind of early humans who told stories for entertainment while
sitting around the evening fire.
The stories that matter become part of the folk history of an area, and consequently are passed down
from parents to children. My wife and I observed this very story-telling going on even today when we lived for a while with
a Navajo medicine man and his wife near Red Rock, Arizona. They told "winter stories," passed down to their children during
the winter months while confined to their homes because of the cold weather that swept the high desert.
Some of the winter stories have been included in another article in this website. They attempt to
explain why strange plateaus of land are found all over the area, atop giant rock formations that appear to have been pushed
up out of the earth. According to legend, that is exactly what happened. When you look at those formations, the stories really
make sense . . . in a very odd kind of way.
Thus the stories about giant krakens that rise up out of the sea and tear ships apart with their tentacles,
about St. George riding off to slay the dragon that was terrorizing the people of old England, and the dragon god that smiles
down on the Chinese people, may have origins that date back before written human history.
There is a memory, but it is planted deep in our cells.