A dragon is a powerful Symbol of psychic transformation. Like the Serpent, the dragon represents primordial consciousness, underworld powers, the feminine, the womb, the unformed Prima Materia, and wisdom and knowledge. The word dragon comes from the Greek term drakos, or “serpent.”

A dragon also symbolizes the hero figure and, accompanied by treasure or by a cave and treasure, signifies an ordeal in the life of the hero. Slaying the dragon represents the battle between the forces of light and darkness: conquering one’s own inner darkness to master the self. Rescuing a maiden from a dragon is the preservation of purity from the forces of evil.

In alchemy, the dragon especially represents the treasure of the Great Work, the philosopher’s stone, and also the alchemical process from chaos to the Stone via countless transformations. A winged dragon represents volatile mercury, and a wingless dragon represents a fi xed state. In alchemical art, the hermaphrodit e is often shown standing atop a winged and fire-breathing dragon.

The dragon also is related to the ouroboros, the tailbiting serpent of alchemy. Also associated with sky gods, the dragon brings fertilizing rain (the waters of the unconscious), thunder, and lightning. Other meanings of dragon are one’s inner fears and the negative aspect of the Mother figure.


The Encyclopedia of Magic and Alchemy Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley Copyright © 2006 by Visionary Living, Inc.