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22 23 the fIredrake Arthur Rackhams drawing of the dragon Fafnir from The Ring of the Nibelung. 23 Heavenly comets, shooting stars meteors, lightning and the Aurorae Borealis northern lights have long caused wonderment on earth, and historically they have all been documented somewhere as dragons. This includes the extraordinary phenomenon called the draco volansthe Firedrakethe glittering celestial event noted by early medieval meteorologists. The AngloSaxon Chronicle records that ... excessive whirlwinds, lightning, storms and fiery dragons were seen flying in the sky. A brilliant head attached to a long luminous tail gives a comet a very draconian appearance, though some thought that it consisted merely of a conglomeration of vapour in the lower air. In 1571 William Fulke said of it I suppose it was a flying dragon, wherof we speake, very fearfull to loke upon as though he had life, because he moueth, where as he is nothing els but cloudes and smoke ... The Oxford English Dictionary describes the term Firedrake as applying to meteors and, in Scotland, strange lights in the sky were often called Fiery Drakes. In Northern Mythology, Firedrakes were cavedwelling dragons who guarded hoards of gold in gravemounds and because of this were believed to be the spirits of the departed. In time they became the symbols of triumph over death. In the Norse Volsunga saga, the giant Fafnir transforms himself into one of these fire dragons and carries his gold into a remote cave where he stays there quite alone. Fafnirs brother Regin persuades a young student, Sigurd, to kill him. The youth is able to do this, and afterwards cooks the dragons heart but accidentally sucks his finger. As the dragons blood touches his lips he understands the language of birds, and these, like the dying Fafnir, inform him that Regin will try and kill him. So he finally draws his sword and cuts off Regins head.
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