When I was younger, I believed that however many times it took to pluck the head off of a dead dragonfly was the number of years it had lived.

This week’s post is about the Dragonfly. Instead of exploring the physical and biological aspects of the dragon fly, I’m going to write about human perceptions and myths relating to the dragonfly.

So maybe this post is more about humans than dragonflies?

Human’s like to tinker, especially in the brain. Everything, dead or alive, has a story or a reason for being. This is especially how it was before science happened.

It seems like most cultures had/have positive perceptions of dragonflies. Except for the Europeans, but old white cultures were scared of nature, so that makes sense.  In parts of Europe, dragonflies were called “devil’s darning needles,” “ear cutters,” and “eye snatchers.” They were perceived to bring the devil out and do harm, especially to horses. Damn those ‘horse stingers!!’ (Although, on a more biological note, dragonflies actually help horses (and humans), by eating tons of those pesky parasitic insects (mosquitoes) that actually DO harm the horses.)

In contrast, some Japanese myths tell of the dragonfly as a Holy creature that represents courage, strength, and happiness. And, in some Native American (sorry to be so non-specific about Tribes here) stories, dragonflies are seen as the souls of the dead, or symbols for activity, swiftness, and purity of water. Many modern day people view the dragonfly in a positive light as well. They are a symbol of power, transformation, adaptation, peace, and harmony.

It is the idea of the dragonfly representing transformation, adaptation, and harmony that I used while creating a stage installation for a music and art festival called the A-Town Get Down. The one-day festival is put on by the Alex Townsend Memorial Foundation, a foundation created in memory of Alex Townsend by his family to help support art and music development and appreciation all around the country. The installation is comprised of over a hundred dragonflies flying above a negative space which makes up Mount Kenya. Alex and his family were avid hikers, and Mount Kenya is one of the mountains they hiked.  My installation is linked to artist, Katherine Sandoz’s stage installation through our concept of linking Savannah, GA with a mountain the family hiked together by referencing the landscapes and ecosystems of each. 

You can see both of our installations, as well as many other talented artists and musicians at the A-Town Get Down Festival this Saturday the 21st. It will be held at the Charles H. Morris Center in Savannah, GA from 12pm-12am.

Don’t be square.