There are several legends about the moon fairy lady Chang’E. The most popular on goes like that, in the distant past, there used to be 10 suns in the sky one year. The scorching heat dried up the lake and people were at death’s door. Just at that time, a hero named Hou Yi heard about this predicament. With his extraordinary power, he then pulled his supernatural bow and shot 9 needless suns down on the peak of Mount Kunlun.
Hou Yi of course made distinguished contributions to people and was respected, loved and supported by them. A large number of persons of ideals and integrity flocked to Hou Yi to take him as their teacher and seek instructions out of admiration. Among those learners, there was no lack of the treacherous and cunning learner, such as a learner named Peng Meng.
Before long, Hou Yi got married to a beautiful and virtuous girl named Chang’e. They loved each other very much and got along very well. One day, Hou Yi went to Mount Kunlun to meet friends when he encountered the Queen of Heaven who gave him an elixir of life. It was said that half of the elixir could make a person live forever and the whole elixir could make a person become an immortal instantly.
However, Hou Yi was unwilling to leave his wife, and he gave the elixir of life to Chang’e for safekeeping. Chang’e put the elixir of life into a case of her dressing table, which was seen by Peng Meng who was very treacherous. Three days later, when Hou Yi went out for hunting with his disciples, the disingenuous Peng Meng pretended to be ill, so he didn’t go with them. Shortly after their leave, Peng Meng broke into Hou Yi’s House with a double-edged sword in his hand. Peng Meng threatened Chang’e to hand over the elixir of life. Chang’e knew that she couldn’t manage to protect the elixir of life.
So, at a crisis, Chang’e fetched the elixir of life from the case and swallowed it promptly. Suddenly, Chang’e floated away from the ground, dashed out of the window and flew towards the sky. It was said that Chang’e became an immortal and stayed on the moon which was the nearest to the earth as she was anxious about his husband Hou Yi.
At nightfall, Hou Yi went back home and was told what happened during his absence from his maids. Hou Yi became extremely enraged and he immediately went to kill Peng Meng. However, Peng Meng had already escaped. The heart-stricken Hou Yi shouted to the sky and shouted Chang’e, just at that time he surprisingly discovered the moon was extremely bright and clear that night and he caught sight of a swaying figure that was exactly like Chang’e.
Hou Yi hastily asked his maids to put an incense table in the back garden and put fresh fruits and moon cakes which were the favorite food of Chang’e on the table, holing a memorable ceremony for Chang’e who lived on the distant moon. When the local people heard that Chang’e flew to the sky and became an immortal on the moon, they all arranged incense tables below the moon for the worship of the goodness Chang’e, praying for happiness and safeness. Since then, worshipping and appreciating the moon during Mid-autumn festival has become popular until now.
Another version about the moon goddess
Legends are like the shifting sands of a desert—forever changing, hard to grasp. This legend is no different, and there are many versions.
The Jade Emperor, ruler of Heaven, had ten unruly sons. One day, they transformed themselves into ten suns, heartlessly scorching the earth from high up in the heavens. Unable to stop their mischief, the Jade Emperor summoned Houyi, an archer renowned for his marksmanship. The emperor commanded the immortal to teach his sons a lesson.
Houyi descended to Earth and saw its suffering with his own eyes. Everything was charred and lifeless, and the people were in agony. Filled with righteous indignation, he acted. Plucking an arrow from his satchel, he took aim at the suns. First one fell down, then another. In the end, nine of the Jade Emperor’s sons were dead. Houyi left only one sun alive, to give the earth light and warmth.
Upon hearing the news, the Jade Emperor was furious. He banished Houyi and his beautiful wife Chang’e from Heaven, stripping them of their immortality. They were now forced to live on Earth as ordinary mortals.
The pair found human life hard and miserable. Though a hero to mankind, Houyi had a single wish: to avoid the death that awaited all mortals and return to heaven with his beloved wife. She, at least, did not deserve to suffer.
Fortunately, Houyi recalled that the immortal Queen Mother of the West, who lived on Earth, had a rare supply of the elixir of immortality. The hopeful archer left on an arduous journey to seek her aid.
After countless difficulties, he finally reached her palace on sacred Mount Kunlun. Learning of their plight, the merciful Queen Mother gave Houyi two things. One was the elixir; the other was a warning.
“Drinking half the elixir will grant everlasting life. The entire elixir, however, will make one ascend to heaven as a full-fledged immortal.”
Half for himself; half for his wife. It was all Houyi could have hoped for.
When Houyi reunited with Chang’e, she was thrilled over his success. Yet while her husband was resting from his journey, she could not resist peeking at the elixir he brought back. Her eagerness to become immortal tempted her into drinking the entire potion. Before long, she felt her limbs grow weightless, and she began to float into the sky against her will.
As a banished deity, she could no longer return to heaven. Earth was now beyond her grasp as well. With nowhere else to go, Chang’e drifted to the desolate Moon, where she spent the rest of her days in a lonely palace accompanied by a white rabit. She wept bitterly for her husband Houyi, who was condemned to live the rest of his days on Earth as a common man.