Dragon symbolism is common in Western and Eastern cultures and represents the beast par excellence, the adversary, and the devil. The dragon symbol also means water, clouds, rain, floods, sin, or evil. It is the sea monster of the Hebrews. Let us get an in-depth understanding of dragon symbolism.
Table of contents
- Dragon Symbolism and meaning
- Dragon Native American Symbolism
- Dragon Eastern Symbolism
- Dragon Christianity Symbolism
- Dragon Celtic Symbolism
- Dragon African Symbolism
- Dragon in Dreams
- Dragon Encounters and Omens
- Dragon’ Mythology and Folklore
- Dragon Spirit Animal
- Dragon Totem Animal
- Dragon Power Animal
- Dragon Tattoo Meaning
Dragon symbolism and meaning
What do dragons symbolize? The dragon has become the enemy, evil, and reincarnation of the Devil in Christianity during the last millennium.
In China, this mythical creature was believed to have existed in the form of a prehistoric monster living in the Yangtze River.
In Egypt, the dragon was thought to be associated with the crocodile. It was also the symbol of water, cloud, rain, floods, and sin or evil.
In Christian Art, the ‘jaws of hell’ were depicted as the dragon with open jaws spewing out flames. Dragons have also been linked to fire, and hence, passion.
In China, the dragon took on spiritual significance. It was linked to water – which can be good and evil when it causes floods. Soon the dragon came to be linked to the greatest blessing – rain giving and the blessing of the Rain Gods.
In many parts of the world, the dragon symbol stands for sovereignty, royalty, and power. It is also symbolic of floods, clouds, and rains. In the East, dragons have different symbolic meanings based on their colors.
The yellow dragon is most revered; it is the essence of Divine, manifesting power. The blue dragon symbolism is the vital spirit of water. The dragon also has the power of transformation and invisibility. (1)
Dragon Native American symbolism
Some Native American tribes had legends about a dragon-like creature called the Thunder Lizard. This may have been inspired by the Native Americans’ discovery of dinosaur bones.
Native tribes along the Coast of California told stories about dragons and their role in the formation of the Earth by a dragon and a God. Before the present Earth was formed, two Gods – Nagaicho and Thunder – created the earth and put rocks, flowers, clouds, and fire.
But soon, it rained and flooded everything. All living things got washed away in the floods and everything became dark. The Earth dragon then flew with Nagaicho on its back. When it walked under the ocean, it formed ridges and islands.
Then Nagaicho applied clay between the dragon’s horns and created grass, mountains, hills, and forests. He then grew acorns, seaweed, abalones, mussels, and other foods for humans.
Later, he created the Native Americans as the first people on the earth. These people then changed into their animal namesakes. (2) In Arnold Krupat’s Native American Autobiography –
An Anthology, the author describes the dragon as an evil symbol that would devour the children born to women. One woman, the mother of the Native hero Apache, successfully hid her baby in the cave. Later, Apache grew up and killed the dragon with his arrows.
Dragon Eastern Symbolism
The best known Chinese symbol is the dragon. It expresses a wide range of meanings. The five – footed dragon is associated with the Emperor and Imperialism, power and majesty. According to Chinese mythological stories, the dragons are associated with the sky.
The Chinese believe that the sky is divided into nine palaces – each ruled by a dragon. These nine dragons are often depicted as ascending or descending the sky amid rain, lightning, thunder, and whirlwinds.
Thus dragon meaning here relates to the Dynamic Powers of the Universe. In Chinese Art, a common motif shows two dragons symbol playing with a flaming pearl. The pearl represents the sun or moon.
Five-clawed dragons are imperial symbols in China, and often popular as body art or tattoos. Out of the 12 signs of the Zodiac, the dragon is highest among the zodiac animal’s hierarchy.
In Vietnam and many Eastern countries, there is a myth that humanity may have resulted from dragons. Here too, we see the dragon viewed as representative of power and emperorship. Much of the Japanese dragon symbolism has come from China too.
A deity – Taka-Okami – was born from pieces of fire God Kagu-Tsuchi’s body. This Dragon God resides in the mountains. Similarly, there is Kura-Okami – the Dragon God of the valley – the snake or Dragon God that controls the rain and snow.
Dragon Christianity symbolism
What does the dragon mean in the Bible? It means the enemy of God. It is an animal that devours people. The dragon is an animal that destroys all good and evil. It makes wars.
Dragon cares for no one, not even itself. In the Bible, the Dragon Christian meaning is the name or the power of Satan. Dragon is the owner of False Prophets and the Anti Christ. The Dragon rules and lives in Hell.
It controls all evil in the world. In the Bible, the dragon is the adversary of God. In Revelation, the dragon is there to finish what the beast and false prophet started. The beast in the Bible can also be translated as the dragon.
The dragon is in charge of the beast. On the last day of earth, the dragon will be loose and will roam the earth freely. There will be no protection from the dragon on the last day.
In Christianity, dragon is used as a metaphor to describe power. The Biblical meaning of the dragon makes for complex study because it is difficult to understand its meaning.
The word dragon is there in the Bible, but it is a comparison of the way people rule the nations. We must remember that we have power over evil dragons, as long as you are living in the will of God. (3)
Dragon Celtic symbolism
Dragon beliefs are found across Eurasian cultures, including biblical tradition. Although most of the dragon words in the Celtic literature are borrowed from Irish and Welsh languages, that does not mean that dragon lore was not long-established among Celts.
Today, red dragon symbolism is associated with Celtic leaders and, partially according to myth and partially according to history, it symbolizes their right to power. The Draig Goch or Red Dragon is the national symbol of Wales.
The Hero in Peredur of Arthurian killed a treasure-guarding dragon while the hero of the Cattle Raid of Froech killed the water-dragon to obtain magic berries.
Thus, in Celtic literature, the dragon is typically included as an obstacle for the heroes. Not all dragon symbols evoked evil, though. Celt warriors used dragon insignia in a battle to denote power, triumph, strength, and royalty.
Dragons are imaginary and composite creatures and are depicted as reptilian monsters with huge claws and a fiery breath. Chinese dragon symbolism is omens of good fortune.
But, in Europe, dragons are inhabitants of remote or underground realms and often an amalgamation of Germanic and Celtic motifs with Christian dragon symbolism of evil, demon, and Satan.
Female dragons are usually a rarity, but there exists in Ireland, the myth and legend of a she-dragon. (4)
Dragon African symbolism
In Egypt, the dragon was considered as the personification of forces of water, at once fertilizing and destructive. The dragon’s most important power was its ability to control water. When benevolent, it brought rain and fertilization thanks to the river’s overflow.
When hostile, it unleashed floods and deluges. In the beginning, this benevolent image of dragons was predominant. That is why; the ancient dragon symbol became synonymous with fertility Gods and heroes and kings.
Later on, though, in Egypt, the dragon came to be identified with Seth, the murderer of Osiris. This symbolism of the dragon preceded Christianity. In Egypt, one also gets to observe the transition from Horus to Christ and from Seth to Satan.
In Africa, the dragon was primarily linked with the power of water. (5) Dragons and serpents are linked together and often represent each other symbolically.
For in China, the dragon was believed to cause the eclipse by swallowing the sun, while in Africa, tribes believed that a huge serpent did the same. The dragon also inspired political movements. In America, African Americans loved the black dragon symbolism of strength.
The Black Dragon Society was formed in 1930 and needless to say that it shocked the white Americans psyche. The Ethiopian Pacific Movement and Peace Movement of Ethiopia also claimed to be affiliated to the Black Dragon Society.
Dragon in dreams
The psychological meaning of the dragon is guarded self-realization. This is because; the mythological meaning of this mighty beast is the guardian of the treasures in heaven.
Therefore, dreaming of a dragon means you need to overcome your fear before you can realize your Inner Wisdom. Also, a dragon is a dark, negative, and evil symbol in the Bible. So a dragon dream can mean that you have dark, destructive tendencies that you are afraid of.
A dragon also eats the babies of mothers. So, if you have a negative attachment to your mother, then a dragon dream may be indicative of that. (6) Dragon meaning in dreams can also have two extreme representations.
It means gold and treasure, which symbolize the material wealth of the earth but also can be found within satanic realms.
A dream of a dragon can symbolize undue attachment to material wealth, which can lead to loss and sorrow in the long term. However, in the spiritual realm, dragon dreams can also refer to the achievement of some sort of enlightenment.
Your dragon dream could also be saying something about your sex drive. Dragons have a strong association with fire and, therefore, passion. Jung states that in mythology, only heroes overcome dragons. Thus, slaying a dragon in dreams could mean overcoming the enemy.
Dragon encounters and omens
A dragon is a divine animal and an omen of a man’s rise to the position. The dragons being such important omens in the Orient, it is no wonder that Imperial proclamations often were issued on account of their appearance.
In China, the dragon is the fifth sign among 12 signs of the zodiac. They are harbingers of wealth and good fortune. In the rest of the world, dragons are mythical creatures and keepers of lakes, rivers, and caves.
In many legends, they have been assigned to guard the treasure. A dragon symbol is universal – its legends are present in many parts of the world and across cultures.
This is at once a primitive being and also oriental and classical. In some legends, dragons bring with them plagues, disease, rains, and floods.
A Dragon omen represents power, life energy, transformation, communication, connection, freedom, and the universal way.
It is also symbolic of clouds. The clouds are like the dragons and observing them helps us learn the rich symbolic meaning of dragon on deeper and deeper levels.
Since heroic knights slay evil dragons to rescue beautiful damsels or gain treasures, dragon omen and dreams may mean the struggle between the noble and ignoble parts of the self. (7)
Dragon mythology and folklore
The dragon is the giver of rain in China. People worship the dragon when there is a drought. In Ethiopia, it was believed that dragon flesh would be the best medicine to prolong life.
The Basques still believe in the existence of a three-headed dragon that brings some calamity such as war. In China, there is a belief that the dragon has a precious stone in its crown.
This is the antidote to every poison, but it must be taken when the dragon is still alive. In almost every culture, the dragon is the symbol of fire and passion. In legends and folklore, it is the guardian of precious treasures.
The hero of folklore has to slay the mighty dragon and save the princess and get the treasure. (8) Medieval alchemists and physicians greatly believed in dragon superstitions.
They believed that a dragon living in the forest was the greatest source of medicine, but it spewed venom so powerful that no creature could survive it. Even the basilisk does not equal him.
During an eclipse, in many parts of the world, there is a belief that the dragon has swallowed the sun (or moon). Making loud noises with the help of drums and utensils, people can scare the dragon away so he can ‘return’ the celestial body.
Dragon spirit animal
When a dragon spirit animal shows up, you are on your way to a great spiritual transformation. Yes, you will be vulnerable, but you will also develop the strength and power needed to take risks.
A dragon is a symbol of fire and passion. So you need to discover your passion. Find out what activities or hobbies ignite that fire in you. Then go ahead and do those activities!
A dragon is also a symbol of wealth and prosperity. He is bringing some treasure in your life. Use those gifts wisely and also take out some time to dive deeper into Earth meditation.
Through meditation, ask your dragon spirit to show you the way. He will guide you. Dragon spirit animal shows up when you feel a strong connection to the Earth, Fire, and the Sky.
Someone with a past-life connection can also get a dragon as their spirit guide. Call upon your dragon spirit animal when you are afraid of some new undertaking or when you feel you need a mystical or magical creature to help you.
The dragon is watching over you. He is your guardian angel. So do not be afraid. Everything will fall in place and you will manifest all your desires. (9)
Dragon totem animal
Although a dragon spews fire and venom and has been used in the Christian tradition as a symbol of evil, in the Druid and other traditions, it represents healing and the power of transformation.
The dragon totem animal urges us to use our powers of healing and better ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Few creatures embody the spiritual transformation as much as the dragon does. If you wish to walk the spiritual realm, the dragon totem is the perfect guide for you.
Walking with the dragon totem will help you experience the liberation of the self that defies words. Use the wisdom of the dragon to walk through life-path challenges.
Meditating on your dragon totem guide will help you remove blocks that cause physical ailments. Dragon medicine is healing and protection. It will bring you gifts that can help you tide over all kinds of challenges.
The dragon will bring passion and fire in your life. Since the dragon brings rain and is linked to the water, spend time near water bodies. This will be good for your health and well-being. The dragon is also symbolic of the clouds and sky. It is connected to the fire element.
Dragon power animal
In Christianity, the winged dragon symbol is evil. But in Asia, the wingless dragons are generally considered as friendly creatures that ensure good luck and wealth.
If a dragon power animal shows up in your life, know that you are an extremely powerful person, both physically and mentally. After all, this mighty beast does not turn up for just anyone.
In China, for safety during travels, people often carry a dragon charm. The magical and mystical beast will protect you from harm and ensure that you are safe. People with dragon power animal are fiery and passionate. They also have a tendency to confront their enemies directly.
They often leave scorched earth and inflamed hearts behind them. Dragon power personality types also emanate energy from every part of their being.
They are passionate about everything they do and love challenges. So, you will find them going on the conquests of power. Changes and challenges are a part of life, but the dragon will take one through it.
Stay fit and healthy and drink plenty of water; for your power animal is associated with water and clouds. Release the past and let go of all old ways. Meditate on your dragon spirit to integrate body, mind, and spirit. (10)
Dragon tattoo meaning
Different tattoos may take on a different meaning according to culture, color, and style. Similarly, the symbolism of dragon tattoos covers a wide range of meanings. For the Japanese, dragons represent balance and wisdom.
In China, the dragon is the symbol of good luck, wealth, and fortune. In Christians, dragon tattoos might be looked upon as the symbol of Satan or the Devil.
Likewise, most Europeans would consider dragon tattoos to be part of a cult or symbolic of evil, negativity, and destruction. Depending on the tattoo design, the dragon can symbolize fire, passion, and energy.
An earth dragon symbolizes power, fire, potential, and riches. An air dragon depicts embracing change and transformation. Dragon tattoos are also symbols of magic, sorcery, witches, and knights.
They even stand for romance, adventure, thrills, and ambition according to pop culture. Thus, a tattoo can be a very personal choice of expression. In order to make the right decision regarding a dragon tattoo, go through several designs.
Dragon tattoo designs can be expressed in numerous styles, colors, and depictions. The western concept of a dragon tattoo is poles apart from the Eastern concept of dragon symbolism. So choose your tattoo artist and your design wisely.
In Asian culture, dragon symbolism is rather important. The dragon is one of the twelve signs in the Chinese zodiac and usually a symbol of strength, good luck, royalty, and power. However, dragon symbolism changes to evil, destruction, and Satan across the west and even in Europe. We hope this brief guide helps you discover the exact meaning of the dragon and the reasons why it may be showing up in your dreams.