The Chinese Moons

The Chinese Moons

 

Chinese tradition tells how once there were 12 moons, one for each month of the year. Their mother Heng O, who was also mother of the ten suns washed her 12 moon children in a lake at the western edge of the world and each traveled for their month’s journey to the East where the sun children waited.

In one version the divine archer Yi killed nine of the sun children and was punished by their father (whom he also killed)by being made mortal. Yi then married Heng O, who agreed to spare her life and those of the moon children, if she became his wife. But he tricked her and killed 11 of the moon children as well. She stole from him the herb of immortality and fled with her youngest child to the skies where Yi could not follow her. Here she took the form of the toad who can still be seen in the moon and who is a symbol of prosperity and good luck in China. In some versions all the moon children were saved and they went to the physical moon from which each still flies his moon chariot on his appointed month high across the sky so that Yi cannot harm him.