But as it WAS Halloween last night, I thought it might be interesting to look into the more sinister side in which dragonflies have been regarded over the centuries.
Since the middle-ages, fear and ignorance of their ugly (nah!) bulb-eyed looks and long pointed abdomen resembling a sting, means they have long been associated with the devil, eyed with suspicion, feared to be dangerous and believed to have evil intent. Perfect for Halloween!
|The aptly named Halloween Pennant|
Cracking name for this US species, but having seen one myself they're
hardly the scariest dragonfly, in fact the smallest dragon I've seen.
But a little beaut!
Both in Europe and America one of their best known folk-names is the Devil’s darning needle, a name thought to have come about through stories used to scare children into behaving well, by telling them that if they misbehaved, the dragonfly would come while they slept and sew up their eyes and mouth. Nice!
|Common Green Darner|
Another US species I've seen, many large American dragons have the
common name darner.A reference to the devil's darning needle of folklore?
Another myth was that they were sent by the devil himself to weigh human souls. So if one was to swarm around your head, rather than just being there to catch the cloud of midges attracted to some sweaty Scandinavian, it would in fact be deemed as the act of weighing your soul for the devil, and if this happened to you it meant great misfortune or injury would soon come your way.
In the same way they were also known as ‘horse-stingers’ because they were often seen swarming around horses which would be jumping around and kicking out as if being bitten, which of course they were, but not by the dragonflies, which were merely feeding on the smaller unseen insects which WERE actually biting the horse.
Another sinister name for the dragonfly was the Snake Doctor, as they were also thought to be in cahoots with snakes which they could bring back to life, as well as sewing them back together if chopped in two (bit of a theme going on here). They’ve also been known as the Water Witch, Hobgoblin Fly, and Devil’s Horse, all no doubt accompanied by charming tales to scare the bairns with.
The only European dragon to have a remotely spooky common name
(apart from Eastern Spectre, oh and Cretan Spectre)
So next Halloween I’ll be scaring the kids with tales of witches, zombies, vampires . . . . and dragonflies? Don’t think so somehow, but then again if I was a mosquito I’d be shitting meself, Halloween or not ;)