Many beautiful, interesting, and strange plants live on our planet. One very unusual species is the Socotra Island dragon blood tree, or Dracaena cinnabari. This tree not only has a very distinctive appearance but also releases a red sap, or resin, that is known as dragon’s blood. People have collected and used the resin for many years.
According to legend, the first dragon blood tree was created from the blood of a dragon that was wounded when it fought an elephant. Like the unfortunate dragon, the tree secretes its resin when it’s injured. In ancient times, the resin was believed to have magical and medicinal properties. People used it as a pigment for art, a dye, and a medicine. Dragon’s blood is still used for these purposes today.
Socotra Island is part of an archipelago off the coast of Yemen and Somalia. A fascinating and unique group of plants and animals live on the islands of the archipelago. Conservation of these organisms is very important for maintaining the Earth’s biodiversity.
From St. George’s famous battle in the bible to the colorful creatures spotted in Chinese New Year parades, dragons appear all over the world and throughout history. While dragons are often depicted in the West as ferocious monsters, in the East they have different connotations. In Chinese folklore, dragons are auspicious creature symbolizing strength, life, and prosperity. Chinese, Japanese, and Korean legends associate them with water realms, where they serve as guardians of rivers, oceans, and rain. In Hinduism and Buddhism, mythical and semi-divine serpent beings known as Naga are occasionally portrayed as dragons.
The name Ouroboros is Greek in origin. Oura means tail while Boros is translated as eating. Taken together, it means ‘tail devourer’ or ‘one who eats the tail’. As a symbol, it depicts a serpent consuming its own tail.
The Ouroboros is one of the world’s most ancient mystical symbols, having appeared in Egypt as early as 1600 BC. It was adopted by the Phoenicians and later the Greeks, who gave it its name. Over the centuries it has been subject to several interpretations by different cultures. One is that it represents the Universe’s eternally cyclic nature, which creates life out of destruction. In alchemy, it symbolizes the continuous renewal of birth and death that alchemists struggle to break free from. Gnosticism and Hermeticism also hail the Ouroboros as representative of cyclical natural life and the unity of opposites. Gnostics, in particular, regard it as a sign of the transcendence of duality and a connection to Abraxas, the solar god.