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Dragons in Spain

Scott Corrales's picture

By Scott Corrales
Latin America Correspondent

Spain isn’t often associated with dragons – beyond the dragons of heraldry on the shields of Castilian nobles – but Catalonia also has a tradition of dragons that forms part of not only its own folklore, but the Christian tradition as a whole: who hasn’t heard of St. Jordi (St. George) and his dragon? George of Cappadocia, a Roman soldier in the retinue of the Diocletian, was invoked on numerous occasions by the royalty of Aragon to tilt the balance of battle. He bestowed his help upon the King Pedro of Aragon during the siege of Huesca, and during the conquest of Valencia by James the Conqueror, St. George appeared “with many knights of paradise who turned the tide of battle, in which not one Christian was slain.”

St. George became a dragonslayer in medieval myth when a winged drake took up residence near a vital water source, advising locals that a human sacrifice was needed on a daily basis in order to access the spring. Villagers were sacrificed at random until the time came for a local princess to be offered up; her father pleaded for her life to no avail. Just as the reptile was about to make short work of the princess, George appeared on horseback, slaying the beast and rescuing the royal maiden. In gratitude, the villagers renounced their pagan worship and embraced Christianity.

Our friend and colleague Javier Resines has just posted an article at criptozoologos.blogspot.com about another singular creature: La Potra del Pino, a dragonlike entity that carried out its depredations in earlier ages. The beast’s fatness was Mount Birset outside Tortosa. “This terrible dragon,” writes Resines, “had its lair along the Ebro River, and could walk, swim and fly, according to eyewitness reports.”

The locals had a hard time of it, as one can imagine, with such a terrifying neighbor. As in all epic tales, a knight slew the dragon and covered its carcass under a huge pile of rocks. Over the years, travelers would place more rocks on the cairn to insure that the dreaded beast remained pinned down, for some believed that the dragon was not dead, and could return if circumstances allowed.

Resines tells us that the story of the Potra del Pino became widespread through the work of ethnologist Joan Amades. But the dragon spreads its wings again thanks to an e-book lovingly put together by the young students of the ZER Riu Avail during the 2010-2011 term (http://www.myebook.com/index.php?option=ebook&id=83646)

In Spain’s northwestern corner, Galicia also has a dragon occupying an important mythological niche: The Codex Calixtinus gives us the story of Queen Lupa, an ally of the Romans. When disciples of the Apostle James asked her to provide oxen and a cart with which to convey his remains to campus stelae – the field of stars – the queen consented, but directed them to the mountain known as Pico Sacro, to be devoured by a dragon.

Thus betrayed, the disciples had to face not only the dreaded basilisk but wild bulls as well. Dropping to their knees in prayer, they were able to kill the dragon and tame the wild kine. Hearing of this miracle, the queen set her pagan ways aside and converted.

Source: Inexplicata-The Institute of Hispanic Ufology


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