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Dragons

36 37 the amphIsBaena The Amphisbaena is a doubleheaded dragon or serpent, usually portrayed with birds claws, pointed bats wings and the extra head at the end of its tail. It is said to be capable of giving a venomous bite with both sets of fangs. Amphisbaenas are hard to kill when cut in half, the two parts are can join back together, and it can also cover ground very fast, both backwards and forwards its name in Greek means goes both ways. In 1893 John Greenleaf Whittier wrote about it in a poem The Doubleheaded Snake of Newbury. For he carried a head where his tail should be, And the two of course could never agree, But wriggled about with main and might, Now to the left and now to the right Pulling and twisting this way and that, Neither knew what the other was at. According to Pliny the Elder, the amphisbaena is reputed to give protection in pregnancy when alive and cure rheumatism when deada typically ambivalent state of affairs. The dual nature of this twoheaded beast also describes the solar positive, active, masculine and lunar negative, passive, feminine forces of the earth as symbolised by the caduceus. In Christian symbolism, unsurprisingly, it is the negative side of the amphisbaena which receives emphasis, appearing as the Adversarya concept later attached to the devilwhich must be fought and mastered by heroes and saints. Modern psychology in fact defines a dragon as something terrible to overcome, for only he who conquers a dragon becomes a hero. St. Michael fighting an Amphisabaena, detail of a piece of embroidery.
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