Chang’e, who was originally named Heng’e until an emperor took a similar name, is the Chinese moon goddess. In all my research, I have been unable to find much information about her. I can’t find her parentage or siblings. She does have a moon festival called the Mid-Autumn Festival every year in China. This year it takes place on September 21st.
Chang’e’s most well-known story is how she became the Moon Goddess. There are a number of versions of the story. Some are nicer and some are meaner, while others are sad. Here I will tell you the one I like best.
Chang’e was a servant for the Jade Emperor in the Jade Palace. She broke a precious jar and was banished. She was put into a poor farming family. A big change from the Jade Palace. Chang’e grew into a beautiful young woman. A legendary hunter and archer, Hou Yi took an interest and married her. At this time, there were ten suns that shone on the Earth. It made the Earth hot and scorched. This made growing crops nearly impossible and people starved.
Hou Yi, being the expert archer, shot down nine of the ten suns. The Jade Emperor was pleased and rewarded Hou Yi with an elixir of immortality. Hou Yi was happy and grateful, but sad at the same time. He loved his wife, Chang’e, and did not want to be immortal without her by his side. The Jade Emperor only gave Hou Yi one elixir, so Hou Yi gave it to Chang’e and she hid it.
One day, while Hou Yi was out hunting, his apprentice Fengmeng broke into Hou Yi and Chang’e’s home. He tried to force Chang’e to give him the elixir. Rather than giving it to Fengmeng, Chang’e drank it and she flew to the moon. Hou Yi found out and felt guilty. He put out Chang’e’s favorite sweet every night for her to show his love.
Eventually, Hou Yi became the Sun God, but that is another story. Chang’e and Hou Yi represent yin and yang in Chinese culture. As I said. This is one story. You can and will if you look, similar but different versions of this story of Chang’e. In some versions, she is turned into a toad for taking the elixir. In most of them, she gains a companion for her time on the Moon. It is a hare that is her friend, protector, and helper.
Have you looked up this story? What is your favorite version? I personally like this one. Let me know in the comments below. Until next week…