The Story of Chang-O

Once up a time, many centuries ago, there were ten suns circling in the skies. With so much sunlight the fields were burning up and the streams and rivers were running dry. The ruling Emperor decided that only the greatest archer in his kingdom could save the world. He called the Archer Yi, a man of great strength and skill, to his court and asked him to shoot down nine of the ten suns. The Archer Yi took aim and one by one brought the suns down until only one shone. As a reward, the Emperor asked Yi what gift he would claim. Yi asked for immortality.

So the Emperor asked the Gods to create an elixir of immortality to give to Yi. Before giving him the elixir, The Emperor warned Yi to drink only half of the mixture. But before Yi could taste of the drink, his wife, Chang-O, stole the vial. She knew what the Emperor did not know, that Yi was a cruel man, and rather than let him live forever she drank the mixture. But she had not heard the warning and when she drained the vial, her body became so light that she began to float skyward. Just before she floated away from the earth she pulled her pet rabbit to her and took it with her into the sky until she reached the moon, where she and the rabbit remain to this day.

During the autumn months, when Chinese eat traditional moon cakes and stay up late to view the moon in her honor, you can see Chang-O and her pet rabbit on the moon, blessing the world with grace, harmony, and peace.


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