“Dancing With Dragons” – A Book Review.
For as many “critiques” I have read, on-line and elsewhere, concerning the book, “Dancing With Dragons”, I sometimes wonder if some of the detractors of this written work have any joy or appreciation for the works of others. Sure, we all have our differences in opinion and different ways of doing things. THAT is what makes life the most interesting! My problem comes about when one’s “esteemed” opinion comes out as downright hostile towards the differences of others’ beliefs and/or ritual methods.
So, please allow me the time here to give my own critique, as less-biased as I humanly can. Then shall we?
First off, Ms. Conway’s book, “Dancing With Dragons” IS perhaps the one book of its kind that went into publication on the subject matter of actually working some of the “dragonic art”. Though I am not limited to the practices of Wicca, or its varied traditions ( I actually incorporate quite a bit from several different Wiccan “traditions” in my own practices ), I find this book very interesting in the way information and ideas are presented. The book is well organized and very easy and enjoyable to read. I think this would be a good book for those who are unfamiliar with the concept of the dragon archetype and its ancient legends and lore.
Though this working-with-dragons methodology seemed a little bit “off the wall” in some of the chapters and passages, there were some very interesting points made clearly when it came to some of the ritual material. With much of it based on the Wiccan methodology, it should be fairly easy for the average Wiccan practitioner who has a strong interest in dragons, to incorporate this into his/her own practices. I found the inclusion of some reference data and correspondences in the appendices to be very helpful. Though, the references were a little few for my needs, but having at least some basic correspondences handy within one book makes size and space considerations for it a bit of planning. The “Dragon Script” was an interesting addition. Though she claimed that they came from one of her prior teachers, I DO see some interesting possibilities in using them, as they have a very symbolic character – good for meditations and sych.
I really appreciated some of the tidbits about the legends and mythologies of dragons and their “following” in some of the other cultures. I have learned a few new things about dragons of the past cultures because of some of the mythology I had no prior knowledge of, which she included in her book. There were some very neat drawings and artwork of dragons, a few of which I had seen before, that gave an interesting perspective of how the ancient peoples may have “viewed” or imagined these entities, creatures, or “natural energies”. I would recommend that anyone looking into working with the dragon-archetypal forces, do some good research into the various legends and mythologies of dragons around the world. There are some similarities of thought behind the dragon-archetype and the forces that are often associated with being “dragonic”.
Some may view the book as being completely “off” when they refer to the author’s take on “elemental dragons”. Please allow me to put to rest where I stand on the thought of elemental dragons:
The Chinese mythologies of dragons, being around for over five-thousand years, viewed that they thought of dragons as being of, like, or masters of particular elements. Chinese medicine, under the “five element” system, recognized certain dragons were peculiar towards certain elements, and wary of certain other elements. They expressed elemental strengths and weaknesses, even about the dragons, in the texts of their recorded belief systems. Other cultures around the world also expressed that one or more “dragonic” spirits, deities, etc. had a certain affinity for one or more specific elemental forces in nature. My own belief holds that dragons can work ANY particular magic they wish, but may choose to be the master of one specific elemental force. Many other pantheistic beliefs have it that certain deities “have charge over” certain activities and certain natural forces, so why not dragons too?
Further on the “elemental responsibilities” of certain dragons, Ms. Conway did well to explain each group, clan, or whichever, in her own terms, certain attributes that can be recognized from certain dragons. Why would there not be some similarities in dragons of the skies between say, Huracan – of the South Pacific – held as responsible for the hurricanes and other sea-based storms, with Typhon – the Egyptian personification of chaos, destructive storms (like Typhoons) – in dragon form. Ladon, the dragon who guarded the golden apples of Greek mythology, could have thought of as either reminiscent of an agent of fire or earth by the common characteristics that are often afforded those elemental forces. I would probably, personally, describe some of the dragons I image a little differently ( there again, we each hold our own beliefs on the matter ). However, the descriptions she gives of how she “sees” the dragons of her practices come out crystal clear.
Some of the ritual and ceremony material seemed pretty basic. However, this IS a book intended for those new to working with dragon forces and the “dragonic art”. She gives some very good guidelines and beginner-material for proposing “dragonic rituals” in one’s own practices. I do agree with her take that practice and regular meditations and relaxation work are very important. This should be a “no-brainer” for anyone looking to become a good practitioner of the arts. After all, HOW can one truly be able to work effective magic by instigating changes about them, if their minds are too chaotic to pay attention to the needed changes from within?
In conclusion, I would say that this book was an interesting read and well worth the time in acquiring it. Though some of it may seem a little “soapy” and somewhat opinionated (I would expect this from most creatively-written works anyway), there is a lot of good information for the curious minded and researcher in ancient legends, lore, and mythology. This has to be the first book published on actual ideas for workings using the dragon-archetype and dragon energies. Some of the ritual material was creative and well-applied as far as the methodology and set-ups. I would consider this form of workings to be more of “dragonic wicca”, but that is okay with me. The aspects of wicca are there and clearly understandable. This, alone, makes it simple for others to incorporate these rituals and ceremonies into their own practices.
Unfortunately, there are some who see more of a “dogmatic” approach to doing rituals and ceremonies in a practice. That is also fine, for group settings like covens, circles, groves, etc. However, the solo practitioner has his/her own methods that will work equally well. Just as many other religious systems have “splintered off” new and unique “traditions”, so would wicca and even the “dragonic arts” practices. I already see many different organizations practicing their brand of “dragonic arts” across the web. Just plain proof that there is no singular answer on how to do something in the area of magics.
This is a book I would recommend to those who have interest in the mysteries of dragons, and would like some ideas on how to go about workings with them and their power. Take this book as a “primer for ideas” and not as the “bible” of dragonic practices. As one gets more comfortable in his/her art, he/she can surely come up with some new and innovative material of his/her own.
BTW, I also LOVE the “Celtic Dragon Tarot” also by D.J. Conway (and unfortunately, I forgot the name of the co-author of them). These were some of the most beautiful tarot cards with dragons on them I have ever seen! I use them heavily for my own divination practices.
– Rev. Dragon’s Eye