Version 1.2b, December 1999*, by Baxil (version history)
text-only version is available.
( draconity.com/faq ). Simple, memorable.
Several dragons and dragon-friends around the world have translated this FAQ into their native language:
Also probably others I haven't seen, or have forgotten about.
Contact me if you find (or write) another translation.
Do these four words describe you or someone you know? If so, chances are good that you're curious about what that statement really means.
Many people wonder about the psychological basis for draconity. Perhaps you're concerned about the spiritual implications of calling oneself a dragon. Or what sort of community resources are available.
In this document, I would like to try to address all these concerns in a straightforward and informative way. Whether you're coming to terms with your own draconity, or concerned about a friend or relative who is, I hope you find this useful.
If you have a question (specific or general) that is not answered in this FAQ, please refer to the "Contact/Copyright Information" section at the bottom of the document. All sincere inquiries are welcome.
Dragons are mythic creatures (see "What do dragons mean to you?" below) found in the legends and stories of almost every civilization. There are two major types: Western dragons, which are associated with reptiles, and are often seen as guards of great treasure or tests of a hero's strength in their culture's legends; and Eastern dragons, which are characterized physically as amalgams of many different creatures and are associated with the powers of nature.
A far more detailed account of the different types of dragons and their stories and symbolism can be found in the alt.fan.dragons FAQ at http://www.dragonfire.org/IndexFAQ.html or at Jen Walker's "What Is a Dragon?" page at http://www.draconian.com/whatis/.
It is a statement of identity. "I am a dragon" means that one has chosen to acknowledge dragons as an important part of their life -- as a social group, as a way of looking at themselves, as a way of looking at the world.
Beyond that, it is up to each individual person what to make of their draconity. Many draw strength from this identity in everyday life, but some submerge it in order to deal with the human world. A few treat their draconity with such importance that they identify only as dragons even to strangers; many will answer to both their human and dragon names in public; some only feel comfortable with their draconity among close friends.
Dragons are powerful symbols, transcending everyday life and cutting to the heart of far deeper and more eternal struggles. Whether they are good or evil -- whether they embody power or wisdom -- whether they guide humanity or oppose it -- are all dependent on culture and personal worldview.
This is because dragons are mythic creatures. Myths are stories that are profoundly true and have deep impact on believers' lives(1), like Jesus' death and resurrection, Hindu creation stories, or the Big Bang theory. Regardless of whether or not they are objectively true, myths are certainly true to their believers, and answer fundamental questions about the nature of the universe.
Draconity, in its own way, is just an encompassing a myth as any of those listed above. Because there is no single standard of a "proper dragon," its answers, truths and consequences vary from person to person, but there is one thing for certain: they are big.
what we are.
Draconity is certainly a different belief to the average person, but it's important to keep in mind that different and crazy are not the same. Liking garlic ice cream (it exists!) is different. Pulling out an AK-47 at the local McDonald's is crazy. I do not know any crazy dragons.
In general, one of the greatest struggles that dragons have to go through is coming to terms with their draconity, simply because it is such a different worldview. Embracing it means confronting many doubts and demons, often completely alone. It is far easier for someone to ignore the question of their draconity than it is for them to deal with it honestly. Therefore, accepting one's inner dragon requires high self-esteem and inner peace -- two qualities that truly crazy people lack.
They certainly can, but not all do. Dragons are so far removed from the accepted paradigm that most people haven't even seriously considered their existence, but many are tolerant enough to approach the idea objectively once it's presented. My friends (and parents!) have all come to terms with my draconity, and I've explained the situation to many strangers with favorable receptions. (Other dragons haven't been nearly as lucky, and my heart goes out to the ones whose parents won't accept them.)
Opinions vary from individual to individual, and depend largely on culture, upbringing, willingness to listen, and level of ingrained skepticism. A common attitude I've seen is that someone can't personally believe in dragons, but accepts that I believe I am one -- which works for me; as long as they respect my view of reality I am quite willing to respect theirs.
Of course, whether draconity is accepted or rejected by "the mainstream" does not make it any more or less real. The only opinion that counts, for your reality, is yours.
Escapism is the adopting of a particular belief in order to avoid confronting the harsher side of reality. The very act of accepting one's draconity involves mental struggle; proclaiming one's draconity to friends and relatives often results in estrangement; and there is no "fantasy world" that a dragon can hide in -- on the contrary, dragons have the added difficulty of trying to fit into human society as a spiritual outsider. Where is the escapism?
Escapism can also indicate a lack of introspection, an unwillingness to face oneself. And here, too, draconity is not escapist. Instead, denying one's draconic heritage -- abandoning truth to avoid social and inner conflict -- is escapism, and someone going through the struggle of finding his or her inner dragon doesn't need the condescension of others who don't understand that draconity's an uphill battle.
Yes -- in the same way that one can "believe" they are Lithuanian or Catholic or heterosexual. Draconity is an identity. We choose to accept that part of us which we identify as draconic. Do we ultimately choose to be dragons, or is it something that is predetermined? I don't know.
Also see next question.
This is the question that most people mean when they ask "Do you really believe you're a dragon?" -- and there is a misconception that all people aspiring to draconity expect someday to sprout wings and scales. This is not universally true.
Many people are dragons spiritually, and that (more or less) abstract connection is as far as it ever gets. There are also those in the dragon community who believe that in this life they are humans, but in the past they have been dragons, and that draconity is a "more natural" form for them. Of course, there are dragons who expect within this lifetime to regain dragon form, and there is not anything wrong with that, either.
Unfortunately, there's no simple answer to this -- no tests you can take, no card you can dig out of your wallet. The only way to tell is to look, long and hard, at yourself and to come to a decision on your own. Don't take shortcuts, and don't trust anyone who says otherwise: how much meaning your draconity has is proportional to how much effort you put into it.
Ask yourself: Am I aspiring to draconity because it's right rather than cool? Do I have a real perspective on what it means to be a dragon? Would I be able to accept that I'm not a dragon if the evidence I find says so? Is draconity a consistent explanation with all of the evidence I have found so far? Is it the best explanation? If you can't answer any of the above, answered "no" to any of them, or are anything less than 100 percent sure of your draconity (and if you're convinced, why are you reading this question? :-)), then take some time out to evaluate.
It's perfectly OK to not be sure; I told people "I think I am a dragon" for half a decade before I found out enough to know. And don't rush yourself. Draconity is a beautiful destination on the road of self-discovery -- enjoy the journey!
There are many people out there who consider their dragon to be only part of, or separate from, their human self -- a distinct facet of their personality, or an "avatar" which they are spiritually in touch with, or an outside identity with which they communicate and have bonded.
As I consider my dragon to be not only me but all of me, I have written this FAQ from that worldview. But I am not trying to exclude those whose dragons play different roles in their life! Many of the questions in this FAQ apply no matter what your relationship with your dragon may be. Some questions (and answers) may apply more specifically to the way I perceive draconity, so if any of my writing rubs you the wrong way, please feel free to talk to me personally (see "Contact Information" at the bottom of this document).
(Also see "What's the deal with 'dragon magic'?" below.)
The answer would seem obvious at first: Would we be proud of our draconity if the answer were "no"?
But this is a very shallow look at the issue. There are many things which humans excel at, and just because dragons are proud of their heritage doesn't mean that they can't recognize the beauty of human life. True dragons don't maintain their identity to reject humanity -- they insist on their draconity because it better fits them.
Speaking personally, during my last life as a dragon I snuck into a local human town on a weekly basis to buy books, and I have always been fascinated by human music. (You should see my CD collection!) I would not be ashamed to be a human, and sometimes (like when I read Loren Eiseley) I envy you. However, I am a dragon. It's not better than humanity, but different. And far better for me.
Just because dragons haven't been proved to exist in the physical world doesn't mean that they hold no claim on reality. Consider the variety of cultures, both Eastern and Western, in our world that have dragons in their mythology -- and the lack of cultures that don't. How can we explain this prevalence of dragons in myth? Is it any more plausible to say "early racial memories of dinosaurs" (we're talking tree-shrew early, since dinosaurs haven't existed for 65 million years) than to consider dragons as real?
But the question of whether dragons are physically real doesn't make a difference in the end. Dragons are mythic creatures (see "What are dragons?") -- and, therefore, are exceptionally real beings to those who choose to accept the myth. That acceptance is a matter of faith ... the same faith that drives people to turn to Christianity or to scientific skepticism (yes, even being a skeptic requires faith -- faith that everything can be neatly parceled up, explained and understood, a faith which not everyone shares).
We do love being dragons. It means a lot to us. Otherwise we wouldn't acknowledge it.
"Taking it too far" is a judgment value, and the question that hinges on is: "Why do you believe in something which I can't accept as real?" The only possible answer to that question is "Because it is true to me."
Draconity is an issue of identity, and being acknowledged as a dragon by others is important to that identity. A name is the most direct and obvious way of accomplishing this. If someone prefers to go by their dragon name, refusing to use it can be just as insulting as insisting on calling the pope "John."
This is not an issue of validation, however, nor is it an issue of rejecting humanity (see "Do you consider dragons superior to humans?" above). Many dragons see their dragon name as more fitting or more meaningful than their human name, which after all is rather arbitrary. For example, "Baxil" means "beloved" in a dragon tongue, and as such it is a powerful word for me. Also, a dragon name can be a strong reminder of someone's commitment to their draconity, in the same way that a convert to Islam may take a new name (e.g. Cassius Clay / Muhammad Ali).
We are only a group in name and have no fixed dogma. I doubt you'd ever get all of us to agree on anything. ;-) In fact, I cannot claim to speak for all dragons with this FAQ, and differences of opinion are certainly welcome. (See "Contact Information" at the bottom of this document.)
Dragons come from all walks of life, span all ages from schoolchildren to grandparents, are widely distributed geographically (no, this isn't just a California thing), and in general are hard to pick out in a crowd. Speaking from experience, though, I will observe that most dragons seem to be introspective individuals, many of whom felt a social detachment from their peers at an early age, and many of whom are either well-educated people or bright underachievers. Draconity cuts across gender lines, although males apparently outnumber females (which is true of just about any group on the Internet). The majority of dragons are avid readers, and unsurprisingly, they seem to enjoy fantasy/science-fiction novels.
A cult is an organization, usually with religious overtones, characterized by the presence of a charismatic leader, a demand for unconditional acceptance of its dogma, and a focus on financial support from its members.
Being a dragon is completely at odds with all of these danger signals. The dragon community has no members which could rightly be called "leaders." There is nothing one must believe in order to call themselves a dragon (except draconity itself, by definition). And there is no place to send money to.
We do not try to "hook" gullible people into draconity. On the contrary, conversation in dragon circles tends to be intellectual and social (e.g. pun wars, riddles), and if people stay it is because they like the casual and friendly atmosphere which characterizes all of our online correspondence. Non-dragons are always welcome, and there are many humans who have been in dragon circles for years! No social pressure is ever applied -- one does not have to be a dragon to participate in any dragon community activities.
Dragons are a very diverse group, and if one stays for long enough they are almost certain to be exposed to a wide range of beliefs, but there is no agenda we have to push upon others. If someone you care about is a dragon, you can rest assured that it is by their free will.
Dragons are only a group in name and have no fixed dogma. The only requirement for believing that one is a dragon is to believe at some level that dragons exist (by definition). There is no organization that sets standards for draconity. There are no fixed rituals, no social conventions, and no necessary ethics. In short, no.
I am not aware of any religions which specifically preach to dragons(2), although (as might be expected) some religons appeal more to dragons than others do. I suspect that the "typical dragon" has a worldview that does not fit into the framework of any world religion, although one may certainly be a dragon and be of various faiths.
Believing that one is a dragon does not, in itself, create incompatibilities with any religion -- there is no dogma of draconity that states what you need to believe. There are, of course, conflicts with some faiths, but these are caused by the dogma of the religion in question, most often when the religion labels dragons as inherently evil.
To provide a specific example: Christian churches that call for a literal interpretation of the Bible traditionally have had problems with draconity. (See following questions.)
Christianity, in general, demands a belief in Jesus Christ as one's savior and in the unity and supremacy of God. Draconity is not incompatible with either of these concepts, and so being a Christian dragon is certainly possible. "Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps." (Psalm 148:7)
It is far simpler to be a dragon, to be certain, in a liberal church. In more conservative organizations, which tend to insist on a literal interpretation of the Bible, draconity can be incompatible with the teachings of the institution (see next question).
Christian dragons, in my experience, tend to have a very colorful and living mythology that unites their conception of dragon with their conception of God. One friend of mine, for example, identifies dragons as among God's angels.
Just like everything else in such a symbolically loaded book, it all depends on interpretation. Dragons have typically been associated with the Antichrist mostly on the strength of the book of Revelation (specifically Rev. 12:1-9, among other references). However, there's considerable speculation that John was writing symbolically about the Roman Empire in that passage, and so the question may hinge on: Why was a dragon used as a symbol for something so evil?
Dragons are a very powerful Other, instantly recognizable as something alien to humanity. In a religion so centered on humanity as Christianity, this placed them naturally in the role of enemies. They may have been associated with the enemy simply because of the strength of their symbolism and mythology and their universality.
Of course, not all references to dragons in the Bible portray them as evil. But in general, Western thought has been to condemn them -- unfairly, I say.
One either is or is not a dragon, and trying to "become" one is rather like trying to change sexes without the proper medical procedure. In short, people cannot "become" dragons.
However: This is not to say that dragons always know who they are! Very few are born with the knowledge of their inner draconity; most have to grow into it and discover it. Draconity is just as legitimate if discovered late in life. True draconity is not a "becoming," it is a "returning," and true dragons know the difference.
Ultimately, the question boils down to "How do I know if I'm a dragon?" (answered above). However, one can certainly join the dragon community whether they are a dragon or not (see next question). And many members of the dragon community "adopt a character" at the beginning of their stay -- but later grow to find that the "character" has adopted THEM.
All people, whether they are dragons or not, are welcome to the dragon community. On the Internet, this community takes the form of Usenet newsgroups (such as alt.fan.dragons and, to some extent, alt.lifestyle.furry), Internet Relay Chat rooms (such as Dalnet's #afd channel), a tangled web of WWW pages (the AFD page, http://www.dragonfire.org, is a good starting point), MUCKs (such as Alfandria at alfandria.chameleon.org, port 8888), and scattered mailing lists, spin-off chat rooms and bulletin-board style discussions. Nearly all of these forums are open to the public, so feel free to walk in, listen for a while, and make your presence known. Information on joining the newsgroups or IRC channels is available from many sources, including here (which is also maintained by me).
The longer you stay and the more you contribute to the community, the more your name will be known. So come on in and make a difference!
Many people's first exposure to draconity is through a larger group collectively known as "furries," which is a gathering of people who are (or are interested in) anthropomorphic animals. Dragons are furries by default, since the term applies to all beings possessing both human qualities and non-human shape (whether or not they possess fur).
However, draconity did not grow out of the furry community. It is not a "new" idea, and it was not developed by any one person or group, much less furries. Although dragons and furries are under the same umbrella, they are not causally connected.
Estimates vary. It is certain that there are at least 500 to 1,000 worldwide -- that many alone are participants in the online dragon community, mostly from the United States but found anywhere that Internet cabling has been lain.
As new dragons
show up all the time, it seems reasonable to assume that this figure is
far low of the mark. One of the more intriguing estimates I've heard is
that up to 600,000 people on Earth may be dragons, most unaware of it. This
may seem like a lot -- but keep in mind that this is only 0.01%
of the world's population* (one person in ten thousand), and if they all
moved to the United States it would still be less than 0.2% of the
* Fixed numbers 2011/04/26 -b
All "Dragon Union" jokes aside, there is no person or group which claims (or can claim) to represent all dragons or all "real" dragons. One can be a dragon independent of any organization, and in fact, one has to be.
In an effort to provide a centralized gathering place for dragons on the Internet, most dragons recognize alt.fan.dragons, #afd, Alfandria, and the like (see "How do I join the dragon community?" above) to be "official" gathering places. This simply means that the online dragon community has agreed to support a set of standard meeting forums in an attempt to keep the group unified. There is nothing canonical about AFD/#afd/Alfandria except that they are places where you will find more dragons than elsewhere.
The dragon community, in the physical world, is spread out so broadly and so thinly that it is almost impossible to maintain a physical network. (For the first three to four years of my personal experiences with draconity, for example, I thought I was alone in my belief and probably crazy. See "How did you discover your draconity?" below, for details.)
To put it bluntly, the Internet magnifies the visibility of "fringe" groups, those with nonstandard beliefs. It is far easier for those with similar opinions to find each other and gather together. (Draconity is nothing if not a nonstandard belief.) The result is that people who might never see another dragon in the years before the Information Age are suddenly discovering dozens, scores, even hundreds of fellow draconics -- online. Although this often leads to increased physical networking, such as regional "Dragon Gathers," the simplest way to maintain contact with such a far-flung group is through the Internet.
Often, dragons feel that their beliefs and attitudes are misunderstood by everyone except the dragon community -- a feeling that is unfortunately grounded in reality, since many people find draconity very difficult to accept. Since the dragon community is so overwhelmingly online (see previous question), those parts of the Internet that are dragon-friendly can start feeling, in a very real sense, like home.
If you are a physical-life friend or relative of a dragon that you are concerned is spending too much time on the Internet, the first step to a solution is to show increased tolerance, interest and understanding of their draconity. The more understood and loved they feel offline, the less they will need to fill that void on the Internet. (Do not expect them to completely do without, though. Being a dragon is a very real and profound force in their life, and cutting off close friendships by denying them Net access can create intense alienation that destroys the rest of your work.) I also recommend taking more interest in what they do online -- perhaps you will discover that you approve of how they use their online time. With patience and support, a happy medium can be reached.
No. All races are welcome. The dragon community runs the gamut from dragons to humans to wolves to gryphons, shapeshifters, fish, etc. (See "How do I join the dragon community?" above.)
Even among the dragons themselves, though, there will be the unfortunate but inevitable contingent of wanna-bes -- the people who don't believe they are dragons, but say they are. The reasons for this vary from inaccurate understanding of draconity to the need for peer acceptance to belief that dragons are all role-playing anyway (which we aren't). The biggest cause of user turnover in the dragon community is when people pretending to be dragons are suddenly confronted by the realization that We're Not Kidding Around and quickly decide that they don't need to hang out with people whose beliefs they can't accept (see "Are you crazy?" above).
(Also see "How do I know if I'm a dragon?" above.)
The question of sincerity often boils down to earnestness -- people pretending to be dragons haven't got as big of an investment in their identity as the true dragons do. Staying power is the biggest indicator.
Of course, it's a lot easier to tell which dragons are "fakes" after one knows what "real" dragons are like. Hanging around the dragon community for a few months and getting to know many dragons will be invaluable in helping you to form your own guidelines for dragon evaluation.
For some idea of the sort of things that you can notice with sufficient exposure to draconity, you can see my list at http://www.draconity.com/faq/true-dragons.txt.
The Dragon Purity Test (aka Draconity Corruption Test, Draconity Test), which was developed by Dymus in 1995 and can be found at [http://www.armory.com/tests/draconity.html], is designed to measure and rank one's inner dragon through a series of questions such as "Have you ever answered faster to your draconic name than your human one?"
The test itself states at the top: "This test is purely for fun and entertainment. If you do not feel that your score is relative to your draconity then ignore it ... I warn you now that the validity of the test isn't exactly real high, just fun."
While it's true that in general dragons score higher than humans, the test is also unbalanced so that long-time alt.fan.dragons residents score higher than newbies, even if the long-timers are non-dragons. Additionally, scoring higher does not make one "more" of a dragon, nor is there a clearly defined cut-off point below which no dragon can score. So, "the chief benefit of test results is living in a world where they are overrated" (to paraphrase H.L. Mencken).
Dragon magic, outlined by D.J. Conway in her book Dancing With Dragons (Llewellyn Publications, 1994), involves the invocation of dragon spirits to aid one in one's magical work. "Invoke their ageless wisdom and power!" says one of the book's cover blurbs.
As both a dragon and a practicing mage, I find Dancing With Dragons' promises rather silly -- all I have to do to harness the ageless wisdom and power of the dragon is to look inside myself. Still, the book's target audience is, I'm sure, human, and for those people who are not themselves dragons I can understand how it could aid their work.
that I can't claim to speak for anyone but myself on this one. Everyone's
story is different.
I grew up for
over a decade as a human, came to realize gradually that I wasn't normal,
came to realize that draconity explained that lack of normality very well,
and gathered evidence and experiences for many years before I came to the
conclusion that being a dragon was the only explanation that made
sense in a self-consistent way.
A more detailed version of the story (and a self-analysis) are at http://www.draconity.com/faq/history.html. Happy reading, and best wishes in your continued encounters with draconity!
To contact me, e-mail
email@example.com. (This is a
permanent mailing address, and should always either reach me directly or be forwarded
to my current location.) Due to limited Internet time and volume of mail received,
I cannot promise a timely reply, but I do read my mail regularly.
If you have a question not covered in this FAQ, put "Draconity FAQ question" (or something similar) in the subject line of your message, and I will attempt to give you an answer within 1-2 days. Particularly relevant questions may be added to future versions of the Draconity FAQ unless you specify that the question is private.
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This document is © me (Tad "Baxil" Ramspott), 1998.
The Draconity FAQ by Baxil is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please e-mail me if you share it with others -- I'd love to see how my thoughts spread (and let readers know what other languages it's available in)!
The URL of the official Draconity FAQ is draconity.com/faq (or www.tomorrowlands.org/draconity/faq), and the text-only version is at draconity.com/faq/faq.txt. If you are reading this elsewhere, what you're reading may be outdated; check the listed URLs for the latest version.
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