John Hodge and the Dragon Spoons
We wrote about John Hodge and his beautiful love spoons a year ago and thought it was time to catch up with what he has been doing in the various lockdowns we have been enduring. You can find out more about John and his wife, Judith, in previous articles in this magazine. This time we are focusing on some of John’s many dragons, with a bit of legend thrown in. Thank you, John, for sharing your work with us.
A red dragon has been the symbol for Wales for over a thousand years. Associated often with King Arthur and other Celtic leaders, it is suspected that it is of Roman origin. It is usual to consider the red dragon as symbolising Wales and all that Wales stands for. The white dragon stand for the English .
The Mabinogion (ancient tales of Wales) tells in Lludd and Llefelys of the red dragon fighting with the white dragon. The fight was so fierce that it decimated the land and a magical solution was sought.
Lludd, the king of the Britons, is told by his brother, Llefelys, to dig a pit and fill it with mead. They then cover the hole with a cloth. When the dragons drink the mead and fall asleep Ludd has them trapped in the cloth and they are buried inside a mountain. Both dragons remain trapped for hundreds of years.
Until King Vortigen tries to build a new castle in the place where the dragons are trapped. His efforts are thwarted as each night, the work that has been done that day on the foundations and walls are destroyed by something unseen.
Vortigern, after speaking with his advisers, sends men to find a boy who has no natural father who he plans to sacrifice. The boy, of course, is Merlin who tells the king about the dragons trapped in the hill. When the hill is excavated , the released dragons fight to the death, with the red dragon being the victor. Merlin reveals that the white dragon symbolises the Saxons and that the red dragon symbolises the people of Vortigern. This is thought to mean the birth of the nation of Wales after overcoming the Saxons.
You will find a series in Pembrokeshire.Online by Nigel Summerley on this and other legends concerning Merlin that are well worth a read.