Dragons, great wyrms and serpents are common elements in mythology from our earliest days and the earliest of all was the Chaldean dragon Tiamat.
Tiamat was the sea serpent who existed even before the sea and sky had been divided from each other, the Dragon of Chaos.
Tiamat was a monster of primeval darkness, the monster that must be overcome by the powers of sunlight before the creation of the world can take place.
From the rich soil of the Tigris and Euphrates valley, Mesopotamia – the Land Between the Rivers, from the people of Sumer and Babylon, we inherit much of our mythology and astronomy. To these people the Time before Creation was a hazy state of chaos, a swirling darkness that was nothing in itself but yet contained the potentialities of all things.
With the passing of time, the first gods arose from this primordial sea and come into conflict with the force that had given them birth, the deep, wild, creative but evil force of this ocean dragon Tiamat.
Tiamat stole the Tablets of Fate, which gave their possessor the power to rule the universe, and passed them to her husband. Then she challenged the authority of the newly risen gods and rose against them in rebellion, summoning forth out of the slimy depths all the most frightful creatures that her evil brain could conceive to help her in the struggle, monsters whose like has never been seen again – serpents whose fangs dripped poison, scorpion-men and fish-men and monster-dogs.
So fearsome were these monsters that even the gods took fright and hid themselves safely away in their airy heaven and no one of them would go down to meet Tiamat. No one except Marduck.
Marduk of Babylon, equipped with special magic powers bestowed on him by each one of the other gods, came forth to battle. Marduk had both strength and cunning and he summoned the winds of heaven to blow into the jaws of Tiamat. They rushed through her open mouth in a surging current, with all the tearing force of those great hurricanes that sometimes sweep the sea, and blew so fiercely into the very bowels of her body that she was racked and split asunder.
Then Marduk slew what was left with his mighty club.
The serpents and the dogs and the scorpion men were thus rendered powerless without the force of Taimat. It is said that they are still to be seen in the darkness of heaven, where they have taken on the shape of the twelve signs of the Zodiac.
Marduk used the dragon skin to he form the heaven and earth. In the heaven he set the homes of the gods, created the stars in the sky, and ordained the paths they should follow. He outlined the constellations, placing them so that they should serve as signs to indicate the day, the years and the seasons. He secured the dome of heaven with a great bolt, and set a watchman there to guard it. He surveyed the skies, and built the Zodiac.
Then he rested from his labours.