At the heart of symbolism

The flag of Wales

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Flag of Wales

The colours of the flag

White represents the visible light containing every colour of the rainbow spectrum, the “higher” arch of which is red. Consequently, white symbolizes the Principle of the manifestation of colours in particular and everything in general. It is the colour of the Druids of the Celtic tradition, representatives of the spiritual or sacerdotal authority holding the Knowledge of celestial origin. A power having authority over the highest temporal power, associated with red and delegated to the king in charge of the application of the celestial principles to the terrestrial world.

As expected, the red dragon covers equal parts of the white and green stripes of the flag. In fact, it stands half-way between the surnatural world of celestial origin and the natural world of terrestrial origin. Moreover, as Heaven is above Earth, the white stripe is above the green one.

The red dragon

By its red colour alone, the dragon is the symbol of the king in charge of ruling the world here below. Therefore, the qualifier of son of “Uther Pendragon” (dragon's head) given to king Arthur, the legend of which dates back to the Celtic tradition.

The dragon's head symbolizes the principle union of celestial origin. Their terrestrial manifestation, according to the four cardinal points, is portrayed by the four legs of the dragon. The raised leg on a white background depicts the reception of celestial influences whereas the three others laid on a green background characterize their terrestrial implement.

In the Celtic society, the Druids were the possessors of the spiritual authority, of the doctrinal as well as practical Knowledge. They transmitted the temporal power to the king to rule the world here below in accordance with the principles of the world beyond. In a more prosaic manner, the king made use of his power to defend the nation against the outer enemies and to maintain the social cohesion inside the country.

The balance between the terrestrial and celestial worlds persists as long as the temporal power and spiritual authority do not confront each other. When the king rebels against the Druids to get out of the spiritual authority and exercise the temporal power in all independence, the harmony between the spiritual authority and temporal power ceases to exist.

The white and the red dragons

The Middle Ages' story of the Mabinogion entitled “Lludd and Llevelys” describes the fight between a white and a red dragon.

The white dragonLludd, a strong and generous king, reigned in peace over his Britton kingdom. Nevertheless, one day three plagues disrupted peace. One of them consisted in a terrible scream made by two fighting dragons. Each year, it rang close to the warm season and suspended any life in the kingdom. Following the advice of his brother, the wise Llevelys,Red dragon Lludd measured the kingdom's dimensions to determine its (geographical) centre. Then, he had a pit dug and a full barrel of the best mead placed at the exact centre. The pit was covered with a silk material. At the end, both dragons were exhausted of their fight, collapsed on the ground and rolled into the pit. After having drunk all the mead, they sank into a deep sleep. Enveloped in the silk material, they were buried in a place held hidden in the depths of a hill or a mountain. The story says that no more plagues happen in the country as long as both dragons remained buried.

What does this story tell us ? The plagues that happened in the kingdom were the consequence of an inner fight between the red and white dragons, between the temporal power and spiritual authority. In fact, the meaning of the story goes further than the current explanation evoking the outer conflict between the Britton kingdom and the Saxon invader from the IVth century. The story does not take place in the centre of the kingdom by chance. The geographical centre is a physical image of the spiritual centre of the tradition observed in the Britton country. The spiritual centre symbolizes the unity of opposites beyond their antagonism. Its reflection in the geographical centre of the Britton kingdom only pre-figures unity proper to the spiritual centre. In fact, the dragons are not buried in the pit, but in the depths of a hill or a mountain, the most representative symbol of the spiritual centre 1. Does the vertical axis linking the summit and the depths of the mountain not represent the link par excellence between the celestial heights and the terrestrial depths ? Does it not portray the unifying line between the spiritual authority and temporal power, the place where the Druids and the king rule the country in perfect harmony ?

When the temporal power tries to free himself from the spiritual authority, he moves away from the axis and the union degenerates into conflict. Then, the country will not go back to peace as long as the temporal power has not regained the axis where the spiritual authority belongs. The centre (even the geographic one) can indeed be distinguished from the periphery, domain of antagonisms, by its relatively peaceful character as testified by the two dragons “sent to sleep”. Moreover, the mead is endowed with a re-generation power of restoration of the unified state. At last, the treasure hidden in the depths of a hill or a mountain is nothing but the art of ruling the terrestrial world in accordance with the celestial principles. It is up to a dragon to protect its access from any attempt to unduly assume the temporal power

The colours and the dragon passant of the Welsh flag stress the harmony between the celestial and terrestrial worlds and the subordination of the temporal power to the spiritual authority.


  • René Guénon:
  • “Spiritual Authority and Temporal Power”, Sophia Perennis Publisher, 2001.
  • Notably, chapters 2 devoted to “Functions of priesthood and royalty” and 7 to “The usurpations of royalty and their consequences”.

1 back The spiritual centre of the Celtic tradition is symbolized by the White Mountain.