It is that time of year, after all.
I shouldn’t be surprised — and I’m not, not really. I’m just fascinated.
Their eyes are so big they often touch.
Their dual, transparent wings are always spread out, like the wings of an airplane.
There are pink ones and brilliantly, glow-in-the dark red ones from the Solomon Islands, there are clear ones, there are ones that look kinda like Monarch butterflies or moths, there are green ones, there are ones that look like zebras, there are multicolored ones, blue ones, orange ones, a variety of stripes and patterns and colors — well, it just boggled my mind.
And I am not the only one. According to my research, the dragonfly has been the source of considerable awe over the centuries and around the world.
It started innocently enough for me. Or so I thought at the time.
You see, I was born in the year of the Chinese dragon. Most everyone who has ever been to a Chinese restaurant has picked out in what animal year they were born from those place mats on which are listed the 12 Chinese characters.
These characters include the tiger and the rabbit, the rooster and the pig, the dog and the horse, the ox and the snake, the rat and the monkey, and the sheep and, last but never least, the dragon.
The dragon is the only one of these that is considered mythical. For some reason, some people don’t believe that dragons exist — or at least used to — but that’s another story.
Back to the dragonfly, sorta.
Well, it certainly is a short leap from dragons to their namesake, again, sorta, the dragonfly.
Actually, according to my research, dragonflies are connected to dragons in more than just name. One myth surrounding dragonflies is that they descended from actual real mythical dragons. (You can probably guess where I stand on the dragon issue, especially since I am one — a dragon, not an issue!)
Another saying says that if a dragonfly lands on you, you will hear great news from afar.
Anyway, there’s another myth or lore about dragonflies that have lived on this planet for around 300 million years, including around 5,000 species across the globe and 450 species in the U.S. alone. In fact, a 250 million-year-old fossil was discovered that had a 28-inch wingspan!
In addition, they also are valued because they help control the mosquito population, even being nicknamed “mosquito hawks.”
But, back to the myths. Many exist. For example, in the U.S. especially, and again according to my recent research with some Native Americans, dragonflies are symbols of rebirth, renewal, happiness or change, especially after a difficult time. In others, they symbolize the power of light. Also, in some other Native American cultures, dragonflies carry the souls of the dearly departed. And the image of the dragonfly is used as decoration.
In Asia, dragonflies are also highly respected and are considered omens of joy and happiness. (I agree because I get a warm, happy feeling every time I see one at any rate.) In fact, the name “Akitsushmi” which means Dragonfly Island, is another name for Japan. Dragonflies also are seen as symbols of courage and strength. In Japan and China, they are considered good luck and a symbol or prosperity. They are used for medicines. (Yuck! They’re too beautiful and ethereal for something like that!)
In Vietnam, these insects — yep, they’re insects — help to predict the weather. If dragonflies fly at low levels, it will rain. If they fly at high levels, it’ll be sunny. If they fly somewhere in between, you guessed it, it will be partly sunny or partly cloudy.
The Samurai use it as a symbol of power and victory.
But in Europe, these shimmery little creatures have gotten a bit of a bad rap or should I say rep? For example, in Sweden the dragonfly has been said to be on the lookout for bad souls. They supposedly sneak up behind children who tell lies or adults who curse and yell and stitch up their eyes, mouths and ears! Other such disparaging legends exist, but this one is quite enough, thank you!
The dragonfly can see in all 360 degrees around it. The dragonfly can move in any direction — at up to 45 miles an hour, believe it or not! And hover like a helicopter to boot!
It’s also known for its “iridescence” of both its wings and its body, which means it looks like it is changing its colors. While only a small portion of a dragonfly’s life is spent flying around, free as can be, it makes full use of those few months. It lives life in the moment and to the fullest.
I really love dragonflies — for their looks and for all they represent.