Is it even possible to have a fairy tale without one?
Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White…
It seems that nearly every fairy tale has at least one cursed person (usually a princess) and that there’s always another person (usually a prince) that must come, break the curse, save the princess, then rule the kingdom with justice and wisdom. But where did the idea of the curse come from?
The Cambridge dictionary defines cursing (paraphrased) either as saying rather naughty things to someone else, or, “to say magic words intended to bring bad luck to someone.” The idea of the malevolent curse is ancient. Egyptian tombs had curses chiseled into their entryways and on tablets scattered throughout their winding passageways (www.ancient-origins.net). When Howard Carter found the tomb of King Tut, of all the original excavators, Carter was the only survivor. Everyone else bit the dust. Even Lord Caernarvon, the benefactor of the dig, perished at the hands of mysterious ailments after visiting Tut’s resting place. Many chalked it up to the Curse of the Mummy.
Many cultures world-wide have beliefs in magic—both good and bad. Sometimes it’s the same magic and it’s the wielder who causes the good or the bad, other times it’s the magic itself. Even the Bible mentions curses. In Exodus (chapter 20), it talks about generational curses—that the LORD will visit the sins of the fathers upon the children for multiple generations. But the next verse also offers the way to “break the curse.” Repentance and turning to the same LORD breaks the curse and brings restoration (www.bible.net).
On an excavated 1,600-year-old Italian lead tablet, an inscribed curse was found wishing for the destruction of a man and his wife. The curse specifically asked for their hearts, livers, and buttocks to be destroyed. Yes, please destroy the rear ends of my enemies. That will show them (www.ancient-origins.net).
Curses seem to have changed over time (and really, don’t most things?). They’ve gone through the changes of the medieval-type fairy tale, enacted by vengeful stepmothers or nasty witches. Today they’re still most closely associated with witchcraft or superstition.
What do you think? Are curses real then and/or now? Pop up to the grey “comments” button and let me know what you think. Also, make sure no one gives you the evil eye!
The sun glinted off George’s helmet as he readied his spear. Aiming at the dragon’s heart, he spurred his horse forward. The princess screamed and flames engulfed George as the dragon reared back its head. Armor heating, George flung a prayer heavenward and plunged his spear into the dragon’s breast, rescuing the princess and defeating his mighty foe once and for all.
St. George is arguably the most famous of all medieval saints associated with a dragon. He is the patron saint of England (also of Portugal, Greece, Georgia, and Lithuania!), credited with slaying the mighty dragon, and in Christian terms, he slew the devil, freeing England from the clutches of Satan, turning the country to the true religion and saving it from eternal peril (https://www.ancient-origins.net/history-famous-people/exploring-famous-legend-st-george-and-dragon-005794).
This story is recorded in infamy, but what if it’s not just a story? What if there really was a knight named George and he really did slay a dragon? Is it possible that dragons didn’t all die out millions of years ago as modern science tells us? There are an awful lot of depictions of St. George killing the dragon that match up superbly well with known dinosaurs from the fossil record. How could these medieval artists have matched these animals so completely unless they’d seen them for themselves? It’s only been in the past century or so that dinosaur skeletons have been recreated with any amount of accuracy with the further knowledge anatomy. Let’s take a closer examination.
In the middle ages, it is important to note that when the word “dragon” was mentioned, everyone knew what the storyteller was speaking about—without description. This ideal of a dragon was prevalent enough, that even when crucial to a story or legend, often very little description is spent on the beast itself, as everyone was already familiar with this phenomenon (https://www.medievalists.net/2017/04/seven-things-didnt-know-medieval-dragons/). How do multiple societies become so familiar with this central idea without ever seeing such a creature?
Let’s take a momentary rabbit trail. Did you know that the word “dinosaur” was first invented in 1842? Sir Richard Owen, an English paleontologist who was part of Darwin’s well-known Beagle expedition, discovered giant fossil remains of what he called “terrible lizards.” He called them dinosaurs (https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-lancashire-31623397). Any guesses as to what these creatures were previously termed? Ah, yes. Dragons. Do you think the world’s dinosaurs, proven in the earth’s fossil records could be the same creatures that roamed the earth and terrorized villages and were called dragons? Could they have lived alongside humans? We’ll look at this more in a later post.
Did you know that a bone belonging to a Tyrannosaurus Rex was found in Montana—and that there were blood vessels and soft tissues preserved inside it??? If these bones were millions of years old, these tissues wouldn’t be present. It stands to reason that these giant beasts may have actually walked the earth with humans. And given rise to the world-wide phenomenon of the dragon (https://answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2013/08/17/dragons-everywhere/).
By the time of the medieval age, these giant lizard-like beasts seem to have faded largely into symbolism to show good defeating evil. But what about Bishop Bell’s tomb? He died just before 1500, and his tomb clearly depicts dinosaurs (www.creation.com/bishop-bells-brass-behemoths). Or what about the newly discovered temple remains of Ta Prohm deep in the Cambodian jungle (not quite European, but still compelling)? With a coinciding date of 1186 and a clear depiction of a stegosaur, as well as carvings of swans, monkeys, a water buffalo—all clearly known animals. Was the stegosaur a contemporary of this temple and the people who built it (www.icr.org/article/jungle-covered-ruins-may-hold-surprising/)?
Regardless, the European dragon has reached far and wide and still shows itself in modern fantasy and imagination world over.
Let’s have some fun in the comments (go to the top of the article, click the grey “Comments” button)! What’s your dragon name?
Smoke curled from the beast’s nostrils, floating up and turning the air acrid. I readied my sword.
Sir Reginald III, Earl of Facts, Fantasy, & Fascinations was the most genteel dragon I’d ever had the pleasure of meeting. He sat opposite me; his steaming cup of tea held delicately in his claws. “What do you think of my proposition?” he asked me. I gulped.
Why do you think European dragons have achieved such wide-spread popularity?
Urquhart Castle sits a silent stone sentinel, guarding the vast waters before it. Waiting, watching, for a glimpse of its most famous inhabitant. The Loch Ness Monster.
Nessie, possibly the most famous mythological marine creature in the world, is said to exist deep in the murky waters of Loch Ness near Inverness, Scotland. Many people claim to have seen this large, long necked, flippered friend. Some sightings date as far back as Pictish stone carvings (think back before Rome invaded England! That’s old!). A 565 AD biography of St. Columba contains the first written mentions of Nessie. It’s said that our mysterious beastie chomped a swimmer and was poised to go after another, but St. Columba commanded it back, and the creature obeyed (www.britanica.com).
Loch Ness, with a depth of close to 800 feet, and a length of nearly 23 miles, has plenty of places for a giant marine creature to hide. The loch is filled with fresh water and holds a larger volume of fresh water than any other lake in Great Britain (www.history.com). What if Nessie really has been hiding for centuries? Could it be possible?
Let’s look for just one minute at a real creature that has indisputable proof of existence in the fossil record. Meet the plesiosaur. Plesiosaurs had a small head, long willowy neck, a plump, rounded body, and four flippers (www.britanica.com). Sound a bit like the common description of our favorite loch-loving friend?
What if dinosaurs didn’t all die out however many years ago? What if some of them survived? Maybe even secretly thrived? Could Nessie be one such creature? Scientists are still discovering new land and marine animals every year. Why couldn’t Nessie have escaped notice? Especially in the deep shadowy waters of a giant lake, or if the Nessie population is small.
The most famous Nessie photograph, captured in the early 1930’s, was proved to be a hoax in 1993. However, it’s important to note that of the three men who concocted the toy submarine-based photo, one of them claims to have seen the Loch Ness Monster and remains a believer (http://www.unmuseum.org/nesshoax.htm).
What do you think? Is Nessie real, or has she always just been a hoax? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! Go to the top of the post, click the grey “Comments” and it’ll take you right there.