"Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so."

"Don't think, feel....it is like a finger pointing towards the moon. Don't concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory!" -Bruce Lee

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Moon Rabbit!


Full Moon
Originally uploaded by Opo Terser
Do you see where he is yet??

Well, I've heard of the man in the moon, but never the moon rabbit before! I don't know how I could have missed it, it's huge! According to ancient Chinese legend, there is a rabbit that lives on the moon, pounding herbs for the immortals..
Jade Rabbit as he is also known, appears in the story of the mid-autumn festival. There are a few different
versions of the legend of Houyi and Chang'e, but here's one that appears in a couple of Western Han dynasty (206 BCE-24 CE) collections:

Houyi was an immortal, while Chang'e was a beautiful young girl, working in the Jade Emperor's (Emperor of Heaven) (玉帝 pinyin:Yùdì) Palace as the attendant to the Queen Mother of the West (wife of the Jade Emperor), just before her marriage. One day, Houyi aroused the jealousy of the other immortals, who then slandered him before the Jade Emperor. Houyi and his wife, Chang'e, were subsequently banished from heaven, and forced to live by hunting on earth. He became a famous archer.
Now at this time, there were 10 suns, in the form of Three-legged birds, residing in a mulberry tree in the eastern sea; each day one of the sun birds would have to travel around the world on a carriage, driven by Xihe, the 'mother' of the suns. One day, all 10 of the suns circled
together, causing the earth to burn. Emperor Yao, the Emperor of China, commanded Houyi to shoot down all but one of the suns. Upon the completion of his task, the Emperor rewarded Houyi with a pill that granted eternal life, and advised him: "Make no haste to swallow this pill; first prepare yourself with prayer and fasting for a year". Houyi took the pill home and hid it under a rafter, while he began healing his spirit. While Houyi was healing his spirit, Houyi was summoned again by the emperor. Chang'e, noticing a white beam of light beckoning from the rafters, discovered the pill, which she swallowed. Immediately, she found that she could fly. At that moment, Houyi returned home, and, realizing what had happened, began to reprimand her. Chang'e flew out the window into the sky.
With a bow in hand, Houyi sped after her, and the pursuit continued halfway across the heavens. Finally, Houyi had to return to the Earth because of the force of the wind. Chang'e reached the moon, and breathless, she coughed. Part of the pill fell out from her mouth. Now, the hare was already on the moon, and Chang'e commanded the animal to make another pill from it, so that she could return to earth to her husband.
As of today, the hare is still pounding herbs, trying to make the pill. As for Houyi, he built
himself a palace in the sun as "Yang" (the male principle), with Chang'e as "Yin" (the female principle).
Once a year, on the 15th day of the full moon, Houyi visits his wife. That is why, that night, the moon is full and beautiful.

This year, the mid-autumn (moon) festival was on 3rd October.
Now, if you look carefully at the moon, you will be able to see the rabbit and its mortar.. some say that the Jade Rabbit is a shape assumed by Chang'e herself!

Finally, here's an excerpt from the Apollo 11 communications with Houston during their moon landing preparations:

095:17:28 Evans: Roger. Among the large headlines concerning Apollo this morning, is one asking that you watch for a lovely girl with a big rabbit. An ancient legend says a beautiful Chinese girl called Chang-O has been living there for 4,000 years. It seems she was banished to the Moon because she stole the pill of immortality from her husband. You might also look for her companion, a large Chinese rabbit, who is easy to spot since he is always standing on his hind feet in the shade of a cinnamon tree. The name of the rabbit is not reported.

095:18:15 Collins: Okay. We'll keep a close eye out for the bunny girl.

1 comment:

William said...

Love it!