From AnthroWiki
Illustration of a winged, fire-breathing dragon by Friedrich Justin Bertuch from 1806
Set spearing the serpent Apep as he attacks the sun boat of Ra. Illustration from an ancient Egyptian papyrus
Carved imperial Chinese dragons at Nine-Dragon Wall, Beihai Park, Beijing

The dragon (Latindraco, Greekδράκων drákon "dragon"), usually depicted as a lizard-like creature with flying skins or also as a serpentine lindworm (Old High German: lint "snake", is usually an imagination of those human forces that are under the influence of the Luciferic or Ahrimanic adversary powers. In this sense, one can speak of a Luciferic dragon - usually referred to as the serpent - and an Ahrimanic dragon. Because of the primordial nature inherent in the Luciferic forces, these forces are also interpreted positively, namely in Eastern cultures ("lucky dragon"). However, they are no longer compatible with the alert self-awareness that man should develop today. An essential task of our time is rather to deal above all with the ahrimanic forces and to use them in a positive sense, just as culture was once founded and fertilised by the luciferic forces.

The dragon has the most varied forms

„When the moon went out, man stood in relation to his lower nature at the level of a large newt. This is what the Bible calls the serpent, which is called the lindworm or dragon. Man had below an animal-like, ugly form; but above were the last remains of a figure of light, into which the powers of the sun flowed from without.“ (Lit.:GA 106, p. 90)

The lower nature of man, which, as the lesser guardian of the threshold, prevents man from entering the spiritual world immaturely, usually appears in dragon-like form:

„Now, as the then reptilian human being rose up in the Lemurian period, a head formation became visible which was completely open to the front and from which a fiery cloud gushed forth. This gave rise to the tale of the lindworm, the dragon. The guardian of the threshold, the lower nature of man, usually also appears in such a form.“ (Lit.:GA 93a, p. 141)

„The dragon has the most varied forms; the dragon has all kinds of forms. Those that come from human emotions are harmful enough, but they are not as harmful as the form that the dragon takes from the dead, from the killing knowledge of the present. There the dragon becomes particularly hideous, and one would actually like to say that the actual symbol of today's higher educational institutions should be: a thick black cloth, and that should basically hang on the wall somewhere in every lecture hall. You would know that there is something behind it, but it must not be shown to anyone, because it would throw a strange light on what is being done there. And behind the black cloth should be the picture of Michael's fight with the dragon. The fight with the killing intellectuality.“ (Lit.:GA 302a, p. 145f)

„The physical body is a temple which the lower gods built for us, and what is defective and bad in it, that we alone have done. And when we then look at ourselves, the inhabitants of this temple, we become aware that we, that is, our spiritual part, have the form of a dragon, a worm. Like many a person who imagines that he lives unselfishly, only for his fellow-man, the clairvoyant looks at the far-forward jaws and the receding forehead of the worm as a sign of his egoism. Our soul still has this worm shape, and so that we do not always see it, good gods have placed the guardian of the threshold in front of it. Now, however, we should undertake to bring this dragon transformed towards and up to the upper gods. This shall be our ceaseless work. When the ancient Egyptian, at his initiation, walked through the temple, through the rows of sphinxes, he said to himself that this temple was the physical image of the perfect dwelling of the god and that he had to attain this divinity in order to dwell worthily in the temple of his body.“ (Lit.:GA 266b, p. 328)

Great Red Dragon

William Blake: The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun (c. May 1803)

The great red dragon in the Apocalypse of John is the serpent of old who tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. The great red dragon has seven heads and ten horns, and pursues the woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet. That which is predisposed by the etheric in man is called the "head" in the occult language of the Apocalypse, and appears so also to the clairvoyant eye. That which is physically effected in man by a member of the etheric body, on the other hand, which is the physical expression of an etheric, is called "horn". All physical organs of the human being are to be understood in this sense as "horns". (Lit.:GA 104, p. 188f)

He is thrown down to earth by Michael and his hosts. The great red dragon is also shown on the fifth apocalyptic seal, which was made by Clara Rettich according to Rudolf Steiner's design.

„1 And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 2 She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. 3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. 4 His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. 5 She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, 6 and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.

7 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. 12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” 13 And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14 But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. 15 The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. 16 But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. 17 Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.“

In the Apocalypse, the great red dragon is characterised as a diabolic-satanic entity, that is, as a Luciferic-Ahrimanic figure. In the actual sense, however, according to Rudolf Steiner, this refers to the Luciferic dragon, while the beast with ten horns and seven heads, which subsequently rises from the sea, is an imaginative depiction of that part of humanity which, through the Ahrimanic and Asuric influence, has become the slave of its animal instincts. Those people, however, who have fully consciously devoted themselves to black magic, make possible the earthly incarnation of the sun demon Sorat, the beast with two horns.

„When the sun will have reunited with the earth, then man, by having purified his urges, desires and passions, will redeem the luciferic beings. The Luciferic beings who do not go with him to the sun remain in the state in which they were; they then appear as ejected into the evil lower astral world. This is then the old serpent and the first of the dragons emerges. So when the earth enters the sun, a dragon appears. But there are other retarded things: such people who cannot quite help being retarded in animalism, who remain slaves to their animal instincts. While the other people go to the sun, they form an evil power towards the others. They form the second monster, and the apocalyptic says in his exact manner: the Luciferic dragon appears in the sky because he comes from higher worlds; the second beast rises from the sea - these are the retarded animal men. (Cf. Revelation 12:3–17 - 13:1–10)

Now we have a third appearance: these are the black magicians. They do not remain in animalism, they develop spiritual abilities within themselves. They have turned away in full consciousness and give up the carnal incarnation for Sorat; this will be the carnalisation of the Sun-demon.“ (Lit.:GA 104a, p. 120f)

The Battle of Michael with the Dragon

Battle of the Archangel Michael with the Dragon (miniature by Jean Fouquet from his Book of Hours of Étienne Chevalier, c. 1450)

„Angeloi, Archangeloi, Archai - in their forms at that time, they were above all not yet destined to freedom in the sense in which we speak of freedom in humans today. The will of these beings was not experienced in such a way that they themselves had that peculiar feeling which we express with the words: We want something arbitrarily. - These beings did not want something arbitrarily, they wanted what flowed into their beingness as the divine will. These entities had completely decided their will in the divine will [...].

But then ... among these spirits, whose cosmic destiny it actually was to be decided in the will of the divine spirits, a number of such entities arose who wanted, as it were, to cut off their will from the divine will, who wanted to emancipate their will from the divine will. In a superhuman arrogance beings arose who, before the time was there in which freedom should mature, wanted to attain this freedom of their will. And as the most important, the leader of these beings, one thought of that being which then took shape in the dragon that Michael fights, that Michael who remained above in the kingdom of those spirits who wanted to continue to orient their will in the sense of the divine-spiritual will that stands above them.

Out of this standing still in the divine-spiritual will arose in Michael the impulse to do the right thing with that being which had prematurely, if I may say so, taken hold of freedom. For the forms which the beings of the Hierarchy of the Archangeloi, Angeloi and Archai took were simply not appropriate for a being which was to have a free will emancipated from the Divine in the manner indicated. In addition, in the course of the development of the world, the form was to arise later, namely the human form. But all this is set in a time when, in the context of the cosmos, the human form was not yet possible; nor were the higher animal forms yet possible, only those lower animal forms which I have just characterised. And so a cosmically contradictory form had to emerge, so to speak. In it, so to speak, the contradictory spirit had to be poured. It could not be an animal form which was only allowed to come into being later, nor could it be one of the animal forms as they were at that time in ordinary, so to speak soft matter. It could only be an animal form which differed from the animal forms possible in the physical world, but which, because it was to represent a cosmic contradiction, became animal-like. And the form which could be created solely out of what was possible at that time, this form is the form of the dragon.“ (Lit.:GA 223, p. 91ff)

The dragon within us devours the elementary beings of nature

„... manifold, great and mighty are the spiritual effects which continually approach man from the things of nature, as man takes his path through nature. He who can look into these things sees constantly how infinitely manifold and magnificent are all the things that flow to man from all sides through the elementary spirituality of nature. And it flows into him. It is that which - I explained it yesterday in terms of the outer conception - from the mirror of outer nature, which is a mirror of the divine-spiritual, continually flows towards man as a spiritual, which is there as a supersensible, which is poured over nature.

But now - we shall have to speak about these things in more detail in the sense of real anthroposophical conception in the next few days - there is first of all contained in the human being that power which I described yesterday as the power of the dragon which Michael fights, the dragon with whom Michael is in conflict. I have indicated how this dragon, although it has an animal-like form, is actually a supersensible being, how it has been cast out into the sense world through its rebelliousness as a supersensible being and now dwells in it. I have indicated how he is only in man because outer nature cannot have him. External nature in its innocence, as a mirror of divine spirituality, has nothing to do with the dragon. Yesterday I showed how he sits in human beings. But because he is such a being, because he is a supersensible in the world of the senses, he attracts at the same moment that which flows to man from the vastness of nature as a supersensible elementary, he unites with it, and instead of man redeeming the elementary beings, let us say the plants, from their enchantment through his soulfulness, through his mind, he unites them with the dragon, he lets them perish in his lower nature with the dragon. For everything in the world is in the current of a development, takes the most diverse paths of development. And those elementary beings who live in minerals, plants and animals must ascend to a higher existence than they can have in the present minerals, plants and animals. They can only do this when they pass through man. Man is truly not only here on earth to establish the outer culture. Man has a cosmic aim within the whole development of the world, and this cosmic aim is connected with such things as I have just described: with the higher development of those elementary beings who are on a lower level in earthly existence, but who are destined for a higher level, and who, if man comes into a certain relationship with them, and if all goes right, can come to a higher level of development.

It was indeed the case in the old times of instinctive human development, when men experienced the soul-spirit in their minds, and since the spiritual-soul was just as natural to them as the natural, that the development of the world did indeed advance, in that, as it were, the current of existence passed through man in a regular manner. But precisely in the epoch which must now find its conclusion, which must now advance to a higher spirituality, it has been the case that innumerable elementary beings within man have been delivered up to the dragon. For it is precisely the nature of this dragon that it thirsts and hungers for these elementary beings; it would like to creep about everywhere, it would like to lick off all plants and minerals in order to be able to absorb into itself the elementary beings of nature. For with them he wants to connect, with them he wants to penetrate his own existence. He cannot do this in extra-human nature, he can only do it in inner-human nature. He can only do it in human nature, because there is a possibility of existence for him. And if this were to continue, then the earth would be given over to decay, then the dragon of whom I spoke yesterday would necessarily triumph in earthly existence.“ (Lit.:GA 223, p. 113ff)

The dragon as an alchemical symbol

The green dragon is overpowered and fixed, thus initiating the preparation of the philosopher's stone.

The dragon is also an image frequently used by alchemists, e.g. the green or red dragon, expressing certain degrees of purification of matter.


The Tannin (Dragon), by al-Qazwini (1203–1283).

Tannin (Hebrewתַּנִּין "dragon, sea monster") are called in the Hebrew Tanakh serpent-like or dragon-like primeval sea monsters created by the Elohim on the fifth day of creation.

„21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.“

In the Bible, they are seen as a symbol of evil and were later crushed by YHWH, similar to Leviathan.

Teli, the dragon of the world

Main article: Teli

Teli (Hebrewתלי, curled?), the dragon of the world, is, according to the Sefer Yetzirah, the oldest independently transmitted work of Kabbalah, the supreme ruler of the created world; the zodiac and the heart are subordinate to him.

„The dragon in the world is like a king on his throne. The zodiac in the year is like a king in the kingdom. The heart in man is like a king in war.“

Sefer Yetzirah 6:6

Lóng, the dragon in Chinese mythology

Lóng, the Chinese dragon, is probably the best-known mythical creature in China, if not in the entire East Asian cultural sphere.

This creature, which appears very often in Chinese mythology, is, in contrast to European dragons, more comparable to a deity than to a (malevolent) demon. The dragon, or rather the various local dragon deities (in rivers, lakes, bays, according to legend even in wells) are still worshipped today, especially in rural areas, to ask for rain, for example. However, not all dragons were benign. Among others, the black dragon of the flood was feared, responsible for floods and storms.

See also


References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: verlag@steinerverlag.com URL: www.steinerverlag.com.
Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English.
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold
steinerbooks.org - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.