Shall we dread or welcome the dragon?

Chinese astrologers have no clear answer about what to expect next year. There may be turmoil ahead, or there may be peace

At present, one of the mostly hotly debated controversies is the end-of-the-world prediction of the Mayans. According to the calendar of that ancient civilisation, the end will come on Dec 21, 2012. It has been speculated that it will come about as a result of Earth colliding with some object from space, or a coronal mass ejection from the sun, or an explosion of a black hole.

Stanley Koh, Free Malaysia Today

The water dragon will rule in the Chinese year of 4709, which runs from Feb 4, 2012 to Feb 9, 2013. What do the energies of this fabulous creature have in store for humanity? The optimists would like to think that we are entering a period of civility, compassion and spiritual advancement, the kind of fairy tale world you see depicted in so many of those traditional Chinese paintings.

The realists, however, see little good news on the horizon. Recent reports about the world population exceeding seven billion, coupled with fears of extreme weather conditions, have raised new concerns about the future of humanity.

According to some astrologers, some of the energies brought by the dragon are similar to those brought by the dog in terms of their karmic effects on society. They say many natural disasters and manmade catastrophes have happened in dragon or dog years or even in months, days, hours or seconds in which one of these animals was on the ascendant.

The South Asia tsunami of Dec 26, 2004, for example, happened during the hour of either the dragon or the dog. The Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attack on New York happened in the hour of the dragon. The 2010 massacre of Hong Kong tourists in Manila took place in the hour of the dog.

However, not all is bleak in dragon years. In 1952, which was also a water dragon year, Elizabeth II was crowned Queen of England. The Mousetrap, a play based on an Agatha Christie story, opened in London and became the longest continuously running theatre production in history. And medical history was made with the first separation of Siamese twins at Mt Sinai Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio.

Many successful personalities were born in 1952, and they include people who have become CEOs of Coca Cola, Exxon, Mobile, Time Warner, Colgate and ITT.

Dragons, as characters in mythology and folklore, are not exclusive to Chinese tradition. They appear in Mesopotamian lore as well as many European myths. The English word “dragon” is derived from the Latin “draconern” for “huge serpent”.

In Western myths, dragons are fearsome creatures. They destroy villages, abduct maidens and wreak all kinds of havoc on mankind. The Chinese, however, regard this creature with a respectful awe. Many emperors and dynasties adopted the image of the dragon as symbols of power and wealth.

To pessimists, the global scene in the 21st century will continue to be unpleasant, if not more so, regardless of astrological changes. They believe the powerful and influential are likely to go on seeking more power, fame and wealth and dominating this dog-eat-dog world.

Nobody has ever won any prizes for accurately predicting disasters and catastrophes, but Chinese astrologers were not too far off the mark when they predicted that the current Year of the Rabbit would be a year of social and political upheavals in some parts of the world.