- Attributes: Goddess of the Moon, courage, power and fertility
- Symbols: Moon, pearl, rabbit
- Place: China
Unlike many Goddesses and Gods who personify elements of nature, Ch’ang-O (or Chang’e) does not personify the Moon. She has it as an abode and because of this she is sometimes called the Moon Woman.
This story from the Chinese mythology tells us that Ch’ang-O was a young-looking immortal who worked in the palace of the Emperor of Jade, located in the sky. One day she accidentally broke a porcelain vessel treasured owned by the Emperor and he, furious, banished her to Earth to live as a mortal. She could only return to heaven if she contributed with some valuable services during the time she resided on this planet.
As a mortal, this Goddess was the daughter of farmers who did not have much money. At age 18 she met an archer called Houyi and they became close friends quickly.
One day, something strange happened: ten suns rose from the horizon and began to burn the planet and all that lived in it. Masterfully, Houyi fired 9 arrows and dropped 9 of the suns, saving the planet and being named king, marrying Ch’ang-O next.
As sovereign, he got a very special medicine that guaranteed him immortality. This pill looked like a pearl and emitted a strange glow. Houyi hid it and never told his wife about it.
Without knowing what it was and what it was for, one day Ch’ang-O found the pill and swallowed it becoming immortal again. There was a cost to anyone who consumed the medicine: to live forever on the Moon.
She floated skyward until she landed on the moon, where she is until today.
At first she felt alone, but soon she became friend with the rabbit who also lives there.
Eventually, Houyi also ascended to the sky and built a palace in the sun. This way the two came to represent the Yin Yang.
Every year on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese calendar (date that marks the beginning of autumn and happens around September 22 in the northern hemisphere and March 20 in the southern hemisphere) it is common to prepare a cake to offer to the Goddess next to fruits like grapes and watermelons.
The Chinese set a table in the garden or in front of their homes and show their devotion together with family and friends.
This period occurs during the Autumn Festival, the time of year when the moon is closest to Earth. This is the origin of the “moon cakes“, or lunar cakes.