Y Ddraig Goch, ‘the Red Dragon’ has been with me for some time; for longer than I have had names and faces for my gods. I spent most of 2009-2010 writing a fantasy novel about a warrior-magician who served a red fire dragon to bring an end to the oppressive regime devastating his world.
A fantasy author I was in a writing group with bought me a statue of a red dragon as a birthday present and she has sat beside my fire ever since. I hadn’t paid much attention to her or the red dragon I stuck above my writing desk to remind me to keep practicing my Welsh.
Then I started dreaming about dragons: two female serpents devouring Manchester Cathedral; a figure with two female torsos but serpentine from the waist down; a vampire hunter from an old Anime film merging with numberless heads, wings, claws, in a cave of dragons; being gifted a full-length dragon-skin coat that allowed me to change colour like a chameleon.
I read The Rain Wild Chronicles by Robin Hobb where dragons drink magic from a well of silver.
I was led back to that old tale about Britain’s dragon fighting against the dragon of the Romans, the red Welsh dragon fighting against the white Anglo-Saxon dragon. Fascinating stories that have lost their origin, I thought as I made the connection between the pit Lludd dug to hold them at the omphalos, ‘navel’, of Britain and the omphalos at Delphi where a python or drakaina resided. Drakainas are female serpents or dragons with women’s features.
There are dragons in most of our world myths and unfortunately they nearly always get slaughtered. Marduk slays Tiamat, Indra slays Vritra, Apollo slays Python. Less violently Britain Y Ddraig Goch and her sparring partner simply get laid to sleep. Although this isn’t the case for the majority of their kindred who are killed off by various ‘knightly’ dragon-slayers.
If Y Ddraig Goch belonged to an older substrate of myth than Lludd and Llefelys what was it?
An answer of a kind came to me in a meditation.
Going Down to the Dragon
I walk in a line of people wearing Roman style tunics and sandals going down to the dragon.
We are descending a spiral stairway carved by the dragon’s tail.
Torches have been lit with fire from the dragon’s breath by the servants of the dragon.
We are guided by the shadowy ones who served the dragon in life and now serve her in death.
I recall there was once an awenydd who could speak the words of the dragon by translating them directly from the reptilian depths of the dragon’s brain before she had spoken a single sound.
The Romans killed the awenydd and nobody knows the language of dragons anymore.
But we all hear the dragon’s scream and feel its effects – weakened warriors with pale skin, barren women, barrener fields, inexplicable outbreaks of madness, an endless paralysing terror.
We fear she demands a sacrifice.
We enter the cavern to see her ruby-winged with mead-gold eyes and dagger-like teeth and claws.
Her presence is immense, filling the cavern like a teeming treasure horde animated by a soul so old…
Who would not want to lay down their lives for her?
Something tells me there is more to being devoured by a dragon than being torn apart and swallowed.
Torches glint in the dragon’s eyes as she stands before the omphalos, the navel of Britain, the well of Awen.
A remembering awakens deep at the base of my brain as two shadow people pull me forward.