Legend Of The Moon Goddess Chang O  

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Legend Of The Moon Goddess Chang O Image
Today is the Chinese Moon Festival, and I thought it a most appropriate time to share one of my favorite tales with you. Traditionally, the Moon Festival falls on the 15th day of the 8th month every year of the Chinese Lunar Calendar. This year if falls on October 3rd. It is said that on this special day, the Moon appears at its fullest, and it shines the brightest. In days of old, this was the time when all of the maidens of China, both young and old, would pray to the Moon Goddess to bring them the man of their dreams. They would then eat mooncakes, cookies, and fruits..while burning incense and candles as a gesture of their reverence. Although these old rituals are no longer followed, Chinese families continue to gather together on this day for a day of relaxation. And, on this occasion, the legend of Chang-O is told to the children as the families sit around eating mooncakes.

According to the old Chinese legend, there was once a famous archer, Hou Yi who was married to a beautiful woman, Chang-O. Her greatest fault was that she was far too inquisitive for her own good. Now, at this time, the sky was lit by ten Suns which scorched the Earth so that no crops would grow, threatening the propagation of humankind. So, to avoid this great disastor and the extinction of man, the wise emperor of China summoned Hou Yi and ordered him to slay all but one of the Suns. Yi stepped forward and did as asked. He became an instant hero here on Earth, but became greedy, asking for a reward; as a result, was rewarded with a special pill...the elixir of life, immortality, but he was advised not to take the pill immediately, that he should prepare himself with prayer and fasting for a year. Yi, being a man of great intelligence, did as he was told. He took the pill home and hid it.

The story goes that all was well until one day, while Hou Yi was away from home, Chang-O accidentally discovered the pill and wondering what it would do, swallowed it. Immediately, she realized that she could fly. But, at the very moment that she was hovering about in the air, Yi came home and realizing what she done, became very angry, reprimanding his wife...who then flew out the window and into the sky. Yi sped after her, his bow in hand, but Chang-O flew higher and higher. Yi pursued her halfway across the heavens, but eventually was forced to return to Earth due to the strong winds.

Chang-O, breathless, reached the Moon and coughed up a part of the pill which fell from her mouth. When the Queen Mother of the heavens saw what had happened, she felt badly for Chang-O and gave her a hare to keep her company as well as a woodcutter to cut the Tree of Immortality on the Moon for only when the tree was cut, would Chang-O be allowed to return to her home on Earth. That was a long, long time ago, and the woodcutter is still chopping. As for Yi, he built himself a palice in the sun as Yang (sun, male principle) with Chang-O (the moon, female principle).

Now, whenever there is a full moon, look up into the sky, and you might be able to see the shape of the tree, the woodcutter, and Chang-O herself. And, on one day of every year, on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, Yi can visit with his wife. And that, my friends, is why the moon is so full and beautiful on that night.

This story teaches us that we should not be greedy, to help others from our heart and not for the reward We should not take things that do not belong to us because for every action, there is a consequence.

And it is now time for some journal work. As you meditate on the energies of this day, think to what extent negative emotions such as greed, desire, arrogance, envy a part of your life. Have you harmed yourself or others by using this emotional energy in a destructive way? Can you envision a way that you can utiliz the energy of these powerful feelings into a more harmonious and helpful manner?

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