Saturday, October 27, 2007

Chinese Moon

Yi Dance --

China has launched a rocket to the Moon,
and named the mission after the ancient Goddess
Chang-E. The
3He-rush is on.

Chang—E, A Chinese Legend
transcribed by Denise Kaisler (

The people of the earth rejoiced after the great archer Yi shot down nine of the ten wayward suns [see last month's EH]. Yi felt great satisfaction at having helped the people, so he decided to stay on Earth and do other heroic deeds.

Yi's wife, the goddess Chang-E didn't like this idea, yet could hardly tell her husband what to do. Instead, she asked him to finish his tasks quickly so that they could return to heaven and take their rightful places at King Di-Jun's celestial court.

So Yi set off in search of adventure. By the time a year had passed, the great warrior had rid the world of six evils : the chimera Zha-Yu, the minotaur Tao-Chi, Jiu-Yang, the winged hydra, the fearsome Roc of Quingqu lake, the great python of Dongting, and Feng-Xi, a giant boar. All of these creatures were once divine beings who had assumed monstrous forms to terrify and devour mortals.

Yi felt great pride at his own accomplishments. He thought that surely the Heavenly King must be quite pleased by his actions. Thus, he cooked a great joint of the slaughtered Feng-Xi and brought it on a platter to King Di-Jun, hoping to hear the sovereign's words of praise.

Yet the Heavenly King was most sorely displeased with Yi. "You shot down nine of my sons," he raged. "You killed other celestial beings for sport ! From this day forward, neither you nor you wife shall set foot in this court again. I hereby condemn you to live as mortals on Earth until the end of your days!"

Yi returned to his wife with a heavy heart and told her what the king had said. Instead of being sympathetic, she was furious. "Look at where your foolish desires have landed us! I am no longer a goddess! My home is forever lost to me."

Then sorrow claimed her. "Oh what a miserable ending for us. One day we shall die and then wander the earth as ghosts. What a terrible fate!"

The couple lamented together until, suddenly, Chang-E had an idea. "It is said that the Western Queen Mother has a special potion of immortality. If you could obtain some, we would not become ghosts."

Yi's hope and courage were immediately restored. The very next day he mounted a white horse and galloped away towards Kunlun mountain. This was where the Western Queen Mother lived.

His journey was an arduous one. First, Yi had to cross a range of fiery mountains which burned day and night. Next he had to cross a river which was so weak it could not even keep a feather afloat. Finally, he had to hike eleven thousand leagues to reach the palace of the Western Queen Mother.

The goddess was sympathetic to Yi and gave him all the exilir she possessed. "It should be enough to grant both of you immortality," she said. "Yet if one of you drinks it all, you will regain your godhood."

Yi hurried home and gave the potion to Chang-E. He told her all that had transpired and then fell into exhausted slumber. Alone, by the light of a single candle, Chang-E stared at the leaf containing the magical potion. Suddenly, the thought of immortality on Earth became distasteful to her. It was her husband's actions that caused her to be exiled to Earth. Why should she suffer for his foolishness?

Thus, Chang-E swept up the potion and swallowed it in a single gulp.

In a twinkling, her body became so light that she floated out the window of the cottage they shared. She drifted up towards heaven, rejoicing at being able to see her home once more. Then Chang-E was paralyzed by a thought. She could not return to the celestial court. The Heavenly King and all his courtiers would surely punish her for having left her husband.

Filled with sorrow, Chang-E flew towards the moon. The Moon Palace was lovely, yet desolate. The only living things in that place were a jade hare and a bay tree. Chang-E was seized by a bitter regret of her rash decision. Oh, if she could only fly down to Earth and be with her husband! But it was too late.

Some people say that if you look up towards the moon, you can see the outline of Chang-E as she dances in the cold light of her lonely palace.

Dr. Denise Kaisler is a professor of Astronomy at Citrus College. Her interests include Astronomy education, Asian cultures, and the search for planets around other stars.

Any way to get human beings to stop thinking about
the universe as if it were a mine?

They want something called Helium 3 - (BBC) to make vast
nuclear explosions.

"One visionary website has calculated that 4x space shuttle loads of 3He a year could meet the earth's energy supply for 10,000 years. The Russians are already thinking aloud about joining the "3He-rush"." (from BBC story above)




Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Susan,
Thanks for the Xuefei Yang guitar connection in earthfamilyalpha -- some seriously delightful music. Today I have listened to several of the YouTube
presentations, a couple of them more than once.
Also thanks for the Turkish music and poetry connection. It's good to have such a variety of things to offer, and I've enjoyed listening, watching, and reading.

Hope all is well in Austin.

-- Glynn Irby

3:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,

How nice to get something other than spam at this address. I graduated from UCLA some time ago and went to go teach at Citrus College. You're welcome to credit my current work address:

Denise Kailser

8:15 PM  

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