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In China, Japan, and around Southeast Asia, the ninth day of the ninth lunar month is a time to honor ancestors, spirits, and (of course) Dragons. This is the Double Ninth Festival, also known as Chung Yeung or, in Japan, Chōyō, and in 2012, the Year of the Dragon, it is today, October 23 of the Gregorian Calendar.

According to tradition, this is a day for sweeping graves, climbing tall mountains, drinking chrysanthemum wine, and eating roast suckling pig and almond rice cakes. What does all this have to do with Dragons, you ask? Well, aside from the fact that no Dragon would turn down a feast of roast pork or rice cakes, the Double Ninth is a day exploding with yang energy, Dragon energy.

Strong, forceful yang energy flows through all Dragons, but is particularly potent among the Eastern breeds, exemplifying the change in the Book of Changes (I Ching). As Loren Eiseley noted, “To have dragons one must have change; that is the first principle of dragon lore.” (The Night  Country, 1942).

A double nine has so much yang energy floating about as to skirt the chaotic and be potentially very dangerous. So care is the order of the day: climbing mountains for good luck,[1] and courting the guardian dragons who keep watch over graveyards and ancestral shrines. Dragons have always been able to slip with relative ease between the worlds of matter and spirit, and as on Samhain/Halloween in the West, the veil between worlds is particularly thin on the Double Ninth. The ward off intruders and evil spirits and ask only a cake and a little wine in return.

One thing to bear in mind during this autumn festival: Leaves abound, paper crisp and tinder dry; in the high mountains, the resinous pines can go up like torches. So, if you take your Dragons hiking into the hills today, be sure they keep their flames damped. And take a notebook with you – tap into the creative energy of the Double Ninth and pen a Dragon tale.


[1] Legend has it that a seer from the Han Dynasty (c. 200 BCE – 200 CE) warned the king of an impending disaster. “Take your family high into the mountains,” he said, “and remain there for from dawn to dawn on the ninth day of the ninth moon.” The king followed the prophet’s advice and when he returned from on high, he found all of his subjects dead from a mysterious plague. So it is considered lucky to travel to great heights on Chung Yeung.

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