What does it symbolise?
This is a discussion on Dragon Archetype within the Jungian Theory forums, part of the Other Personality Theories category; What does it symbolise?...
What does it symbolise?
Shenron from Dragon Ball
The dark and unwanted side of the psyche thats hidden or avoided to supply short term peace but long term conflict.
Ah the dragon.
The symbol of evil, of everything that can and will destroy you.
The predator that lurks in both the concrete and abstract.
It comes in many shapes.
It needs to be slayed, before it eats you.
But often people try to keep it as a pet.
Because it just seems simpler.
So it is glorified and kept on a pedestal.
The eating part is never pretty.
(Certainly not as harmless as the gif I chose to use)
The dragon has many names. Snake, demon, devil, monster, leviathan, behemoth etc
In the end it is all the same and it should be respected for the malicious force it represents.
The last post was my initial reaction to the topic.
I'd like to insert one more post with a more researched view.By being impulsive and not preparing, one will lose everything one values."...one after another, the Divine children are handed over to Behemoth, i.e. conscious
values are exchanged for sheer impulsiveness and stupidity. Conscious values are
greedily devoured by crude and barbarous tendencies which were hiterto unconscious;
thus Behemoth and Leviathan erect an invisible whale (the unconscious) as symbolizing
their principle, while the corresponding symbol of the Epimethean kingdom is the
page 335,- Carl Jung, Psychological Types
The dragon will eat all that one values and wish for one by one.
Every little issue one lets go of without resolving, falls into the unconscious,
there it festers under the influence of the dragon and grows into a beast.
This of course have many layers, but simplified it is like that.The dragon is something that one enters into a deal with, as soon as one gets complacent."Instead of taking for granted, as every rationalist and optimist is inclined to do, that a good state will be followed
by a better, since everything tends towards "upward development", the man of
blameless conscience and universially acknowledged moral principles makes a
compact with Behemoth and his evil host, and even the divine children entrusted
to his care is bartered to the devil."
page 228-229, Carl Jung, Psychological Types
Things doesn't improve on their own, it improves by constantly battling little and small dragons.
As soon as one lays down ones sword the upwards progression stops.
The dragons circle closer, and no matter how noble ones past deeds where,
they are all just traded away, given up to the dragon.
In other words everything of worth and value in ones life is given up.The way this most often happen is by the soul-less routine."Prometheus the artist, the soul-server, disappears from human ken; while human
society in obedience to a soul-less moral routine is delivered over to Behemoth, the
antagonistic, destructive outcome of an outlived ideal. At the right moment Pandora
(the soul) creates the saving jewel in the unconscious, which however, does not reach
mankind because men fail to understand it. The change for the better takes place only through the intervention of the Promethean tendency, which by virtue of its insight
and understanding brings first a few, and then many individuals to their senses."
page 319, Carl Jung, Psychological Types
By doing the same thing over and over, the dragon gets to adapt.
If you strike and parry the same way over and over, the dragon soon gets wise,
and it will eat you mid-strike.
Usually, especially on a collective level, it is only in the belly of the beast
that we discover "a jewel", a new way of acting, a new ideal.
In other words a new way of fighting the dragon.
This will be turned into a routine and the circle starts again.In many ways the dragon is the unchecked force of nature,"God is like the behemoth and the leviathan; the fruitful nature giving forth
abundance,--the untamable wildness and boundlessness of nature,--and the overwhelming
danger of the unchained power."
page 70, Carl Jung, Psychology of the Unconscious
that catch up to us as soon as we lower our guard.
It is the side of God that shows no mercy.The dragon lies in the depths of the unconscious, and once the world gets stale,"There, where the deep sources of the ocean are, the leviathan lives; from there the
all-destroying flood ascends, the all-engulfing flood of animal passion. That
stifling, compressing feeling of the onward-surging impulse is projected
mythologically as a flood which, rising up and over all, destroys all that exists, in
order to allow a new and better creation to come forth from this destruction."
page 125, Carl Jung, Psychology of the Unconsious
it springs forth as a flood to wash away the old and bring in the new.
It is at the same time a destroyer and a creator.
Hence if one keeps oneself vigilant and armed, when the dragon arrives,
one will reap the benefit of the treasure the dragon brings,
rather than being swept away in the flood.This is where it gets a bit complex."We can see from the example of the Leviathan how the great "fish" gradually split
into its opposite of the highest God and hence his shadow, the embodiment of his evil
side. With this splitting of the monster into a new opposite, its original opposition
to God takes a back seat, and the monster is now in conflict either with itself or
with an equivalent monster (e.g., Leviathan and Behemoth). This relieves God of his
own inner conflict, which now appears outside him in the form of a hostile pair of
brother monsters. In later Jewish tradition the Leviathan that Yahweh fought with in
Isaiah develops a tendency, on the evidence cited by Sheftelowitz, to become "pure"
and be eaten as "eucharistic" food, with the result that, if one wanted to derive the
Ichthys symbol from this source, Christ as a fish would appear in place of Leviathan,
the monstrous animals of tradition having meanwhile faded into mere attributes of
death and the devil. This split corresponds to the doubling of the shadow often met
with in dreams, where the two halves appear as different or even as antagonistic
figures. This happens when the conscious ego-personality does not contain all the
contents and components that it could contain. Part of the personality then remains
split off and normally mixes with the unconscious shadow, the two together forming a
double--and often antagonistic--personality."
page 119-120, Carl Jung, Aion
Yet when we keep Jungs personality psychology in mind it simply means this.
The opposition of N-S and T-F.
When you hold an attitude in mind and makes it your guiding principle,
the opposite of the principle becomes your evil side,
split off into the unconscious shadow.
Most of your dragons will spawn from this split of part.
So an ISFP like me while having Feeling as a conscious value,
will continualy meet dragons spawned by all the thinking I've neglected to do.
Only by facing the source of the lesser dragons, (lesser being problems in my life),
namely thinking, can I hope to defeat my dragons on a somewhat permanent basis.
And only by constantly being vigilant can I ensure that it doesn't return.The Leviathan/ Behemoth dragon pair is two sides of the divine God-image."If we apply this experience from the domain of practical psychology to the
mythological material under discussion, we find that God's monstrous antagonist
produces a double because the God-image is incomplete and does not contain everything
it logically ought to contain. Whereas Leviathan is a fishlike creature, primitive and
cold-blooded, dwelling in the depths of the ocean, Behemoth is a warm-blooded
quadruped, presumably something like a bull, who roams the mountains (as least in
later tradition). Hence he is related to Leviathen as a higher, superior creature to a
lower, inferior one, rather like the winged and the wingless dragon in alchemy. All
winged beings are "volatile," i.e., vapours and gases, in other words pneuma."
One lives in the sea of the unconscious and the other in the air as breath (pneuma).
Behemoth is hence accessible through the conscious control over the breath,
while the Leviathan is more of less out of our grasp most of the time.
Since consciousness has a somewhat tentative grasp on Behemoth,
he is felt as more benign than the more alien and uncontrolable Leviathan.
Which seem to bring with it all sorts of disasters in forms of "floods"
that wash away everything of value.
MMm...I'm trying to construct an interpretive presentation on mythical animals and I have looked in historical cultures (they do exist in every culture, Jung is right and there's so much overlap it's absolutely stupid) and what's interesting to me though, that some of these things DO vary by culture...in Mayan culture they have an entire league of panther gods or mountain lion gods of some sort, they obviously found them a very powerful animal in nature, and constructed the idea of a terrible, evil bat-god (why, I do not know, why are harmless bats scary but murderous jaguars our best friends and messiahs?) ...anyway, this evil bat-god from Mayan culture was apparently either the inspiration for Batman or (this would make Jung happy) Batman is actual a transcultural interpretation of this super powerful half-bat, half-man who kills in the night.
So dragons...I think Jung tended to lump a certain class of mythical creatures, not just dragons but things like Minotaur being wild animal inner nature that needed to be contained, controlled, and that's why they're battled with in varying mythology.
I think it's interesting that both David Lynch and Rob Zombie used The White Horse in what I think are respectively some of their most powerful works. The White Horse also represents this evil animalism, this wild, unchecked passion...but unlike dragon and Minotaur there's purity there, innocence, authenticity...it's almost like a different perspective on our wild natures or dark sides. You'll notice that Christians in the West tend to favor the dragon interpretation.
Dragon chinese culture symbolise powerful figures (the Emperor), wisdom, the earth or heaven. It usually have a more positive symbolism than western counterparts.
What seems to still be common is both the power and a link to 2 seemingly opposites (material vs spiritual)
I didn't read anything yet from Jung works about the dragon archetype, so it is only my own interpretation.
Last edited by Noyau Obscur; 05-15-2019 at 01:45 PM.
The way I'd see it is a subcategory of the snake archetype. The dragon can breathe fire, be on land, fly through the air, and swim in the sea, so in this case, the dragon/snake archetype can be in any element and acting as a catalyst for any change (fire).
This is beside the point, but it's always irked me how warriors are often depicted battling dragons with swords. Might as well be armed with a toothpick or a letter opener! Yes, that was a reference to Peter Jackson's 'The Hobbit'. A knight with a sword stands no chance against a dragon.
This is the fantasy.
This is the reality.
If you want to do the job right, use the right tool.