In July 2007, a first Dragon Festival took place in the small town of Newcastle Emlyn in Wales. You can read about the festival in the Winter 2008 issue of Goddess Pages.
Both a DVD of the festival and a CD came out of this event, and I particularly enjoyed the DVD, which begins with an aerial view of Newcastle Emlyn and has a soft, Welsh introduction. Fluffy clouds are everywhere and the river winds around in a pleasingly serpentine fashion. Chaps in chain mail re-enact an ancient battle as Owain Glyn Dwr leads a revolt against the English crown, as happened in the early fifteenth century. Would Glyn Dwr and the ancient female earth spirit of dragon be defeated once again, or would this story have a different ending?
In a satisfying change from so many dragon stories, in this one the dragon is nurtured & loved by the townspeople and children take turns to guard the mysterious egg that grows in their midst. But will it survive?
Even though I knew the story, I found myself rooting for the dragon – hoping that the strengthening heartbeat would bring not only a new beginning for one town but a new understanding of and relationship with Earth – and goddess.
The DVD has a good selection of short interviews and explains well what the festival was all about, while wisely not over-stressing the goddess connection, which would unfortunately have put off a lot of potential visitors. There are lovely images of children listening to the egg and anticipating, with wide eyes, the hatching of a real live dragon. These are images of hope, with ordinary people getting involved in what is truly a goddess festival but accessible to all.
I was very impressed with the fireworks on the DVD, which is well produced – seeing this would be a good way to begin the planning of similar local festivals.
The CD is primarily in English but with Welsh translations – although I only speak about ten words of Welsh I couldn’t help but feel that the translations seemed suspiciously short. I also found the switch from a woman’s to a man’s voice for the translation a bit jarring and wasn’t that keen on the music, but the CD would be fantastic to play through a headset on a visit to Newcastle Emlyn.
One speaker called the festival a “focal point of community” and that’s easy to see from both DVD and CD. The imagery of the dragon strutting about, proud of her egg, is charming and the connection between dragon and earth is certainly, and gracefully made.
I think I most enjoyed seeing the faces of the people in the crowd, especially the children, as the baby dragon hatched – and am delighted to hear that another festival is planned for the summer of 2009.
©May 2009, Geraldine Charles