Thursday, October 28, 2010

Lives of a Chinese Dragon (2 of 2)

A thousand years go by:
Baby Kiao grows
Four stubby legs
Four stubby claws
A proper dragon’s head
A proper dragon’s tail
A proper dragon’s beard

Now named Kiao-lung
Frolics, playing, spurting water

Five hundred years pass by:
Child Kiao-lung grows
Full of bright energy,
Dancing in the rivers

Now named Kioh-lung,
Frolics, playing, spraying water

Five hundred years pass by:
Adolescent Kioh-lung grows
Graceful and wise
Auspicious and sage

Now named Ying-lung
Frolics, dancing, flying above

Three thousand years from
Egg to dragon
Baby to adult
Dragons all
Kiao, Kiao-lung,
Not ---
Sounds of silverware
Dropped on pots

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lives of a Chinese Dragon (1 of 2)

Kiao, Kiao-lung,
Sounds of silverware
Dropped on pots
Plink, plank, plunk

Kiao, Kiao-lung,
From baby to adult
Dragon names -- not
Plink, plank, plunk

A thousand years go by:
From a jeweled egg comes
A baby dragon
Brilliant though the egg was,
The baby is as ugly
As a water snake

Nameless baby dragon
Frolics, playing, swimming about

Five hundred years pass by:
Baby dragon uglier still
Now a carp for a head
An ugly bottom feeding fish

Baby now named Kiao
Frolics, playing, swimming around

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Understanding the ElementsThrough STAR WARS and the Zodiac (2)

 1.      Virgo (practical and easy-going)
Lando Calrissian
At “Cloud City” above Bespin, genial Lando Calrissian manages to keep members of the Rebel Alliance and Empire from killing each other.  As a general in the Rebel Alliance, he worries that the complicated plan to destroy the Death Star II will not work.  Lando tries to simplify what he can to make things work.

2.      Libra (thoughtful and creative)
Ancient and wise, Yoda, the Jedi Master, introduces himself to Luke Skywalker as a doddering old fool.  After testing Luke, he decides trains him to be a Jedi Knight.  During the sessions, Yoda impresses upon Luke that the Dark Side of The Force lies in all sentient beings.

3.       Scorpio (emotive and strong-willed)
Princess Leia Organa
Fiery Princess Leia hides her strong feelings with her wisecracks.  Undergoing torture, she steadfastly refuses to give up vital information on the Rebels to the Empire.  Later Princess Leia risks her life to save Han Solo, her love, from Jabba the Hutt.

4.       Sagittarius (passionate and inventive)
Darth Vader
A Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Vader openly embraces the Force in spite of ridicule from others.  His love for his son, Luke Skywalker, overcomes his loyalty to his Master, the Emperor.  Instead of using the Force, Darth Vader dispatches the Emperor by throwing him down a shaft.

5.       Capricorn (centered and participating)
Grounded in a world of mystical characters, Chewbacca ever remains the competent co-pilot and mechanic.  Moreover, his friend, Han Solo relies on his judgment in tight situations.

6.      Aquarius (spacious and demanding)
Emperor Palpatine
As a Dark Lord of the Sith and Master of Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine rules his empire with an iron fist.  Furthermore, he demands total loyalty from his disciple Darth Vader.  However, the Emperor turns on Vader to seduce Luke Skywalker into becoming his new disciple.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Understanding the ElementsThrough STAR WARS and the Zodiac

To assign the Zodiac Signs in various fiction roles, I chose the STAR WARS Saga of Episodes IV-VI: “A NEW HOPE” (1977, Lucas), “THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK” (1980, Lucas), and “THE RETURN OF THE JEDI” (1983, Lucas).  These movies offer a wealth of characters that can ably represent the various Signs.  Although these movies have a majority of male roles, some of the characters exhibit feminine characteristics. (Each Sign of the Zodiac has elements and gender assigned to them.)
Aries (energetic and initiative)
Luke Skywalker
Once a callow youth, Luke matures into a Jedi Knight.  As a new Rebel, he destroys the Death Star.  Afterwards, Luke takes the initiative to redeem his father, Darth Vader. He enables his father to reclaim himself again. 

2.      Taurus (grounded and permanent)
Because the humans often depend on him, R2-D2 calmly seeks out solutions to their problems, even when they ignore him.  While under attack, he maintains constant contact with the other computers.  So trustworthy is he, that Princess Leia Organa entrusts R2-D2 to find Obi-Wan Kenobi.

3.       Gemini (communicative and adaptable)
Obi-Wan Ben Kenobi
As a Jedi master, Obi-Wan adapts to any situation that he finds himself in.  While aboard the Millennium Falcon, Obi-Wan trains Luke Skywalker in the ways of The Force.  Later after death, he continues to counsel Luke at crucial points in Luke’s life.

4.       Cancer (nurturing and inspiring)
Admiral Ackbar
A native of the water planet Mon Calamari, Admiral Ackbar inspires the Rebel Alliance to achieve the impossible – destroy the second Death Star.  Exclaiming “It’s a trap!” the Admiral warns his troops so that they are not needlessly killed.

5.       Leo (spontaneous and stubborn)
Han Solo
In spite of the mystical beliefs of everyone around him, Han Solo steadfastly refuses to believe in The Force or “mystic mumbo-jumbo” as he calls it.  When C-3PO cites the awful odds of his intended actions, Han scoffs at him and does them anyway.  However, in a spontaneous move, he returns to the battle at Yavin to save Luke Skywalker as Luke battles the Death Star.

Monday, October 18, 2010


            Giant amongst Snakes, the Python Family is comprised of twenty-six Snakes.  These Snakes are further divided into eight groups based on their color, size, and geographic location.  Contrary to popular belief, Pythons do not crush their prey but instead suffocate their victims by constriction.  Usually, found in Africa, Asia, and Australia, these Snakes are now an invasive species in North America.
            Pythons hunt and consume large animals.  Moving through the forests, these deadly predators taste the air with their tongues.  With their acute sense of smell, Pythons easily find Gazelles and Leopards to kill.  After eating such large creatures, these Snakes will probably not eat for months.
            Unusual for a Snake, Pythons incubate their eggs.  “Shivering” to raise her body heat, Mother Python will wrap her body around her eggs.  She leaves her nest only to bask in the sun to get warm.
            These animals, who are really giant tubes of muscles, have an unexpected softer side.  Many people see Pythons as only fearsome deadly Reptiles.  Little do they know that Mother Python tenderly cares for her eggs.  Even cold blooded Snakes may surprise you with their kindness.  Before you judge, make sure you know the full story.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Dragons: Chinese Dragon Dance (2)

Because the dance is a sacred ritual, the colors of the dragon have particular meanings.  The head is green, red, and gold.  The color green represents the harvests; while red is happiness, and gold prosperity.  Meanwhile, the scales of the body and tail are silver.  As the scales shimmer, they bring joy to the dancers and to the onlookers.

Often, the dragon is following a man carrying a ball on a stick.  This is called “seeking wisdom” since the dragon is following the “pearl” of wisdom.  The man with the “pearl” initiates the dragon’s moves for the lead dancer. During Chinese New Year’s, this ball is either red or yellow, representing the sun.  Now the dragon follows the sun to bring spring rains.  In addition, firecrackers are often thrown at the dancers’ feet to keep the dragon awake.

The dragon “puppet” that most people are familiar is the one made of cloth.  However, dragon dances also feature dragons made of bamboo, fire, grass, and paper.  For fire, the fire dragon has candles placed in each section of the body.

The Grass Dragon Dance is often done in the summer time to keep the insects down.  This dragon is constructed from rice straw and green vines.  Then burning incense sticks are placed inside the dragon’s body.  As the people continue with the Dragon Dance, insects are attracted to the burning dragon.  When the dance is finished, the dragon is placed in a pool of water to drown the insects.

Sometimes more dragons are included in the dance.  A double-dragon dance of intertwining dragons is supposed to bring great fortune to everyone.    At the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, the Taoist Tai Chi Society of Canada performed a double dragon dance.  The second dragon they used was smaller, requiring only twenty people.  The two dragons together needed seventy people to perform the dance. 

A full array of nine dragons in a dragon dance is called “Kawlung”, which is considered the best since the Chinese consider nine to be a perfect number. In addition, nine is frequently connected with dragons.  There are nine forms of dragons, nine attributes, and each dragon has nine offspring as well.  Therefore, the Kawlung is the most auspicious of the dragon dances.