Traits: This ritual must be performed outdoors or in an open-air environment, and with a body of water and waterfall which are not completely sterile except for the carp, or it will not work. An adult carp must be used in this ritual, or the best-case scenario is that it will not work. A sizable waterfall is necessary, but don't worry, it doesn't have to be nearly as big as the one at Henan. Simply create or find a waterfall large enough to be a challenge to the carp, and it will work.
Nature: This ritual is basically an emulation ritual for harnessing the natural transformative magic of the wild Dragon's Gate ritual and placing it in a smaller, more accessible scale. The reason it works is by convincing reality that this is an acceptable substitute for the real deal. It's certainly not the only way to turn a fish into a dragon, but it's the least risky way to do it as long as you follow all the rules.
History & Associated Parties: This ritual has been practically unchanged since it was discovered in China, at least according to whoever wrote the English language translation I use. Now if only they weren't allergic to providing names and dates…
Generally, it was used more politically than anything else. Create a dragon for a certain ruler's reign as a sign of heavenly approval or just a general good omen, and hope said ruler doesn't screw up enough to be eaten by said dragon. That being said, it's always been important to remember that these are made from carp, which can and will eat anything that fits in their mouth. Poking at a new dragon was and still is a good way to become the first meal of ascension. Most of the time, rituals were performed away from anyone important who could get eaten.
Approach: As stated before, you're going to need a body of water, a waterfall, a suitable adult carp, and a lot of patience. Place two imbued carp effigies,, at the base of the waterfall, and two imbued dragons at the top of the waterfall. This tells reality that this is a Dragon's Gate waterfall, despite being smaller than most of the natural ones. These will also have patterns carved in to redirect the backlash from the working into something manageable. Once you've made all of the preparations, the only thing you can do is wait for the carp to jump the falls on its own time. You can use prior training to try and convince it to jump, but otherwise interfering with the ritual is a bad idea.
Other Detail: A general feature of the "permitted" carp to go through this ritual is that they are all very heavy-bodied, and very hungry. Goldfish and koi work best for this ritual because you can train them to jump the waterfall in return for a reward, while other carp may simply ignore the waterfall in favor of eating whatever they can find in the main body of water.
The Threshold of the Dragon's Gate
"Beneath the serene quiet of the water lilies
a young carp senses a calling … swelling up in her heart
like the swirling waters at the base of a great waterfall,
Somehow summoned to go beyond the barrier
of crashing water and veiled mist
The churning waters of the waterfall’s bottom
matches that of the young carp’s desires
Finally with a burst of enthusiasm the carp has launched herself
up the wall of rushing water
cresting the first falls with a surge of effort
only to be met with relentless rushing water.
Persevering from one cataract to the next
the carp makes it to the summit’s last falls.
Regrouping her energies in a pocket of scouring effervescence
every essence of strength, courage, and spirit is consumed
in the launching over the fall’s summit.
And the dragon’s gate accepts her efforts a transforming gate of fire
Revealing the birth of a new Dragon
born of the seed of desire planted in the heart of a small carp
that once hid in the shallows."
- Howard Schroeder, Threshold of the Dragon's Gate
"Redfin Carp pledged a solemn vow. "I shall swim beyond the Dragon Gates. I shall brave the perilous bolts of fire and lightening. I shall transcend the estate of ordinary fish and achieve a place among the order of sacred dragons. I shall rid myself forever of the terrible suffering to which my race is heir, expunge every trace of our shame and humiliation."
Waiting until the third day of the third month, when the peach blossoms are in flower and the river is full, he made his way to the entrance of the Yü Barrier. Then, with a flick of his tail, Redfin Carp swam forth.
You men have never laid eyes on the awesome torrent of water that rolls through the Dragon Gates. It falls all the way from the summits of the far-off Kunlun Range with tremendous force. There are wild, thousand foot waves that rush down through gorges towering to dizzying heights on either side, carrying away whole hillsides as they go. Angry bolts of thunder beat down with a deafening roar. Moaning whirlwinds whip up poisonous mists and funnels of noisome vapor spitting flashing forks of lightening. The mountain spirits are stunned into senselessness; the river spirits turn limp with fright. Just a drop of this water will shatter the carapace of the giant tortoise, it will break the bones of the giant whale.
It was into this maelstrom that Redfin Cary, his splendid golden-red scales girded to the full, his steely teeth thrumming like drums, mad a direct all-out assault. Ah! Golden Carp! Golden Carp! You might have led an ordinary life out in the boundless ocean. It teems with lesser fish. You would not have gone hungry. Then why? What made you embark on this wild and bitter struggle: What was waiting for you up beyond the Barrier?
Suddenly, after being seared by cliff-shattering bolts of lightning, after being battered by heaven scorching blast of thunder-fire, his scaly armor burnt from from head to tail, his fins singed through, Redfin Carp perished into the Great Death and rose again as a divine dragon─ a supreme lord of the waters. Now, with the thunder god at his head and a fire god at his rear, flanked right and left with the gods of rain and wind, he moves abroad with the clouds in one hand and mists in the other, bringing new life to the tender young shoots withering in the long parched desert lands, keepin the true Dharma safe amid the defilements of the degenerate world.
Had he been content to pass his life like a lame turtle or blind tortoise, feeding on winkles and tiny shrimps, not even all the effort Vasuki, Manasvi, and the other Dragon Kings might muster on his behalf could have done him any good. He could never have achieved the great success that he did."
- Hakuin Ekaku (1686-1769), Japanese Zen Master and artist, "The Essential Teachings of Zen Master Hakuin," translated by Norman Waddell, 1994, p. 64