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Dragons & Dragon-Killers

The power or energy of the lung-mei, or dragon current (See Geomancy), has been represented visually by the image of the dragon. The dragon is a familiar image in China, and also figures prominently in one form or another in the legends of many cultures around the world. Frequently, these legends tell of the killing of the dragon, which is a vital part of a cycle of birth and death and the re-animation and fertilization of the earth.

Several local festivals of ancient origin in Britain continue to re-enact the killing of the dragon. Dragon-killers, often well-known members of local families, were celebrated. Some these dragon-killers, at an early date, were 'Christianised' and made into saints, the best known being St. Michael, St. George, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret. All over England there are hills and spots remembered locally where the dragon was killed. Dragon Hill, near Uffington, is one example where St. George, the patron saint of England, is believed to have killed the dragon, its spilled blood falling where grass has never since grown.

Places associated with the dragon legend are often also sites of ancient sanctity. And, because of this sanctity, many of them were 'Christianised', which sometimes included building a church on that spot. The site is often on top of a mound or flat-topped hill, and the church is usually dedicated either to St. Michael or to St. George.

(left) Raphael, "St. George killing the Dragon", 1505

Churches and chapels dedicated to St. Michael are often found on the summits of high points in the landscape. A line of such hill-top shrines dedicated to St. Michael, or to other dragon-killing saints, such as St. George and St. Margaret, runs across southern England from the north-east to St. Michael's Mount near Land's End in Cornwall.

(right) Martin Schongauer (c. 1450-91), "St. Michael killing the Dragon"

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