Instead, the idea of “dragon gods” seen in this episode of Ancient Aliens is a riff on the work of John Bathurst Deane, a nineteenth century cleric who decided that since the Serpent in the Garden of Eden was Satan, then all worship of serpents worldwide was Satan worship. His book on serpent worship became highly influential in large measure because it was recycled as the anonymous pamphlet Ophioletreia, probably by the occultist Hargrave Jennings, through which it came to influence Theosophy and the occult tradition that gave birth to the ancient astronaut craze. Jennings’s version recast the serpent as a metaphor for the phallus, since he believed all serpent and dragon gods were really penises. Occult writers rejected that claim and instead literalized the idea, using the claims of Deane and Jennings to imagine reptilian beings in charge of the Earth, or, in Ancient Aliens’ case, dragon-shaped spaceships.
The first segment covers dragons in Chinese mythology and culture. This involves repeating information about the Yellow Emperor from season 11, which itself repeated material from season 6, which recycled still earlier material. The long and short of it is that the show claims that the Yellow Emperor was an alien who rode in a spaceship that Giorgio Tsoukalos says looked like dragon because of its fire and smoke. I’m not sure why alien ships would be on fire or need jet engines—they’ve certainly gotten an upgrade since then—but Tsoukalos has been on this kick for the show’s entire run. For no good reason, the familiar and false Dropa Stones story follows, repeating material from a season 12 episode, itself derived from the original source: an article in a 1960s German vegetarian magazine. The show notes that the same area has a myth of flying dragons—which is, frankly, true of most European and Asian mountain regions. Kathleen McGowan, who believes herself to be Jesus’ descendant and the rightful heir to Christian monarchy, alleges that the dragons are the Dropa.
The second segment is about Japanese naga dragon, and it is another repeat, including material covered in season 12 and 14. The argument is that the Japanese imperial family are space aliens, and their imperial regalia are alien artifacts brought on a dragon spaceship. The show then alleges that all myths of large serpent-like creatures reflect the same dragon cult and that they all worship dragon-shaped spaceships. Graham Phillips, a moron, engages in some linguistic idiocy in which he expresses shock that Indo-European languages all use similar names for dragon. “How can this be?” he asks. “What’s behind all this?” The non-Indo-European versions are largely loan words from Indo-European tongues, but William Henry alleges that the inhabitants of the spaceships really “introduced themselves” as “Dragon.”
The third segment discusses Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent god of Mesoamerica, particularly at his temple at Teotihuacan and the pyramid of his Maya counterpart Kukulkan at Chichen Itza, El Castillo. El Castillo famously uses light and shadow to depict a serpent slithering down it steps on the summer solstice, so the show claims it’s a representation of an actual landing of a dragon spaceship. Why the ship slithers, I can’t imagine. Then we go to Euboea, Greece to see the megalithic dragon houses, where legend says Zeus descended. (There is no firm date for the structures, nor are their builders known.) The show falsely claims Greek dragons flew—they did not, as the drakon was a snake—and it alleges that “dragons” were also the name of the gods. They were not called dragons. I presume they are thinking of Typhon, who had serpent legs, and was described by Hesiod and Apollodorus as having dragon’s heads emerging from his body. He was “god”-adjacent in the sense of being the child of a god (variously Gaia, Hera, or Kronos); he was classed as one of the Giants, and many gods’ offspring were not fully divine. Thus, the claim that ETs landed their dragon-ships on Euboea does not follow.
The fourth segment travels to Mesopotamia to look at various composite monsters from the Enuma Elish. The show alleges that Tiamat, the primal chaos monster, was a dragon, though the poem describes her as a woman with a tail. Her “dragon” form is a modern interpretation, and a disputed one. Then the show discusses Behemoth and Leviathan, alleging that Leviathan is somehow a dragon and also a submarine, on account of Job likening the creature to metal, which the show takes as a literal description of a metal submersible. Tsoukalos claims that the two rows of “shields” (i.e. scales or plates) on Leviathan’s back (Job 41:15-16) as “hulls” and therefore a description of a double-hulled submarine. While the show tries to liken Leviathan to the ”trans-medium craft” of current Navy UFO lore, the actual Leviathan is a fairly obvious derivative of the earlier Canaanite myth of the sea-serpent Lotan, the “coiled serpent.”
This segment claims that Angkor Wat is a copy of the constellation of Draco, but as almost everyone who looked into John Grigsby’s claim, made famous by Graham Hancock in Heaven’s Mirror, recognizes: To get the “correlation” means picking and choosing a few buildings—and not just the oldest, or just the biggest, but random ones—out of hundreds at the site to draw a picture that is only approximately accurate. It’s just a fantasy, not anything scientifically provable. The show claims every culture recognized the constellation of Draco as a dragon, which is a neat trick since it was a snake rather than a flying lizard to the Greeks—who made this clear by also calling it Ophis, or “snake.” Nor is Draco universally a serpent. The Arabs envisioned it as two hyenas. Somehow the claim that the aliens’ spaceships were misunderstood as dragons becomes a claim that the aliens came from a planet in the constellation Draco.
The final segment seems to find deep meaning in SpaceX naming a rocket “Dragon.” Tsoukalos thinks that this is deeply symbolic and harks back to alien dragons. Phillips returns to note that outside of the Abrahamic faiths, serpents are wisdom symbols, but the show does nothing with this except to talk about how many modern people like to get dragon tattoos to “connect” ourselves to powerful aliens and/or spaceships.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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