…Dragons are essentially equal-opportunity elementals. Yet for those who studied them, their intimate association with fire was of the greatest interest. True, water wears mountains into sand and turns barren plains green, and winds carry seeds and clouds across the heavens. But fire, dangerous and transformative to its core, excites the air with magic. It’s the archetypal alchemical element, able to change the essential nature of things with a lick, to turn iron into steel and sand into glass. And no creatures—not even humans—understood flames as well as Dragons.
…Dragons for Beginners
As October winds down and the air take on that frosty feel, a cry goes out for Dragonfire to warm our nights and light our way towards winter. History has it that the Fire Festival began in the Himalayan Quad, a quartet of weyrs – and the sanctuaries that have risen around them – back in the early days of the third century CE. There on the wind-swept plateaus of Tibet, Dragons celebrated nesting season with flame and flight and Dragonsong. It was their way of defying the lengthening nights, of honoring Wang Lung, the great Fire Dragon.
The following lyric is believed to have poured from the brush of the great T’ang poet Li Po (701-762 CE) in memory of an eighth century festival near Lake Nam:
Dragon yet not Dragon
Of Sky yet not sky
ridge rippling with fire
for all to see
To hear Wang Lung sing with
Today Fire Festivals are not limited to the East. Across the globe, Dragons and humans are coming together in anticipation of Halloween and remembrance of a time when the gift of Dragonfire was all that stood between humans and the terrors – real and imagined - of the dark.
A time to rejoice, for sure.
A word to all revellers out there, scaled and skinned: Remember, you’re playing fire. Don’t be careless.
And don’t forget: everyone who leaves a Comment on a Month of the Dragon post this October gets their name put in the hat for a signed copy of either Dragons for Beginners or The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook. Winners to be announced November 1, 2012.
Plus, all of you who leave a comment during Tell a Dragon Tale Week (10/21-27) have the possibility of winning a signed limited-edition copy of Shawn MacKENZIE’s short story: “Because the Pleasure-Dragon Whistles.” The lucky winner will be announced on October 28th.