Long ago in the far distant past, ten sun crows had risen together and scorched the earth. The archer Hou Yi shot nine of them, leaving one to serve humanity. For his efforts he was given the elixir of life as a reward, but he did not consume it straight away. He left it with his wife, whose name was Chang’e for safe keeping, for he wanted both himself and his wife to drink half each and both become immortals.
One day whilst out hunting, his apprentice Fengmeng crept into the house and tried to force Cheng’e to give him the elixir, she refused. In a moment of desperation she drank the elixir, but was reluctant to leave her husband who she loved very much, so she flew to the nearest place to earth in the heavens so she could be near him.
Hou Yi missed Chang’e so much he took to laying her favourite foods on a table every full moon. Which over time became the mid-autumn festival.
Hua Mulan was a legendary female warrior from the northern Wei (386 – 536) of Chinese history. Disguised as a man, she decides to take her fathers place and to be recruited as his son, for she knew her father was too old to survive the war.
Her heroic deeds were first recorded in ancient texts and retold in the famous poem “ballard of Mulan” In Chinese Hua means flower and Mulan means magnolia. The magnolia has been an auspicious symbol in China since ancient times.
She fought for twelve years and gained great merit, whereupon she was promoted to general. One day before a difficult battle she decided to go on the battlefield in woman’s clothing, so her soldiers would realise her true identity.
The reaction of the soldiers was one of admiration and respect. They were overwhelmed by her bravery. Through this action, she inspired her army to win yet another battle.
Hou Yi or lord archer as he was otherwise known, earned undying fame through his prowess with a bow, which was made from tiger bone and only he could draw it, and his arrows were made from dragons tendons.
It is said he saved the moon during an eclipse and rescued the country from a wind monster, he is also credited with saving the earth. In Chinese mythology, there were ten sun crows which settled on ten suns, each day one of the sun crows would be rostered to travel around the world in a carriage driven by Xihe the mother of the suns.
As soon as one sun crow returned another would set on its journey across the sky. One day all ten sun crows came out together causing the world to burn. Hou Yi was told by king Yao to find a way to sort things out. At first Hou Yi tried to reason with the sun crows, but when that did not work and the sun crows refused to heed his warnings.
He plucked an arrow from his satchel and began to shoot them down one at a time, he shot them until only one sun crow was remaining. The tenth sun crow was so scared it flew away and hid in a cave and the world was plunged into darkness and cold. All living things on the planet begged the sun crow to come out, but the sun crow ignored them, until a rooster climbed to the top of his roost and shouted, “brother come out please do” (cock-a-doodle-do).
The roosters voice was so shrill the sun crow decided to leave the cave, now when ever roosters crow in the mornings, the sun crow emerges to greet them.
Fu Xi in ancient Chinese mythology is regarded as a cultural hero who they say taught the people how to hunt with weapons made of iron, how to fish with nets, how to domesticate animals, taught them how to cook, how to make music, how to read and write. How to cultivate the silkworm, the art of weaving the threads of the cocoon into silks and much more. He is also credited with taming the yellow river by digging ditches. It is said that he can don the form of a dragon and that he has the body of a serpent.
He was married to his sister Nuwa. It is said that their mother the goddess Huaxu, suddenly became pregnant with twins after stepping into a footprint left by the thunder god Leigong.
Nuwa is Fu Xi’s sister and also his wife, she has a human face but a snakes body. It is said she is the creator of mankind, creating them with mud. She is also his Saviour, by mending a hole in the sky which caused a great flood.
The water god Gong Gong tried, but failed to overthrow the fire god Zhu Rong, becoming angry, Gong Gong rammed the imperfect mountain with his head. The mountain which supported heaven crumbled, tearing a hole in the sky.
In order to repair the damage, Nuwa gathered five coloured stones from the riverbed and melted them together to patch up the sky, but she discovered that there was not enough stone to fix the sky, so she sacrificed herself by using her body to fill the last piece, and from the five colours of the stones the rainbow was created and order was restored, humanity was saved,
Shen Nong is the third of the august ones, thought to have taught the practice of agriculture and the use of herbal drugs and the understanding of the pulse measurements, he is attributed to the invention of the hoe, the plough, digging of wells and irrigation, also the Chinese calendar.
He is reputed to have the head of a bull with the body of a man. The legend of his youth is that he was able to speak at three days old, walk at one week and could plough a field at the age of three years.
He is often referred to as the god of Chinese herbal medicine and that he discovered over 300 species of herbs and plants, one for every day of the year. Tea is said to be one of his greatest discoveries, discovered by accident when a leaf from a twig he was using for a fire rose up in the hot air and landed in the pot of water he was boiling. Being inquisitive he tasted the brew and this was the origins of tea.
Nezha or “Marshal of the central altar” as he is also known, is a protection deity, born in the Shang dynasty, his mother Lady Yin was pregnant with him for three years.
When she eventually gave birth, it was to a ball of flesh. His father Li Jing thought it was a demon, so attacked it with his sword.
The ball split open and Nezha jumped out, he was a youth instead of an infant. Nezha could walk and talk immediately after birth.
This first encounter with father and son put a strain on their relationship, but the immortal Taiyi Zhenren arrived and offered to take him as a student.
Both parents agreed, so Taiyi bestowed upon Nezha a magic instrument, the cosmic wheel. Also Nezha is often shown flying through the sky wearing the wind fire wheels on his feet.
In Chinese mythology Lei Gong is the lord of thunder, he carries with him a mallet and a drum to produce thunder.
He also has a chisel to punish evildoers, he is said to be a dreadful creature with claws, bats wings and a blue face and bird’s beak and wears only a loincloth.
Dianmu also known as Leizi, is Lei Gongs wife and is the mother of lightning, she uses mirrors to send flashes of light across the sky.
Another assistant of Lei Gong is Yun Tong or cloud youth who whips up clouds into angry dark swirling shadows as he pushes them swiftly across the sky during storms.
Yu Shi is the rain master who causes downpours by dipping his sword into a pot, his companion Fengbo, or earl of wind, causes the winds to howl and roar as they rush from the goatskin bag he manipulates. Together these five are the bearers of fearsome storms.
The three star gods known as Fu, Lu, and Shou. The Chinese term is San Xing. San meaning three, Xing meaning star.
Fu Xing is dedicated to Jupiter which is considered as auspicious. He is the bringer of good fortune, depicted as a scholar holding a scroll, and sometimes a child.
Lu Xing is dedicated to the sixth star in the Ursa Major cluster, he is the star god of social status, prosperity rank and influence. Lu refers to the salary of a government official.
Shou Xing is the star god of longevity, he is often called the old man of the south pole. He has a long white beard and high domed forehead, he is believed to hold the life span of mortals and he carries a gourd filled with the elixir of life and the peach of longevity.
All three gods are dressed as Taoist priests.
Queen mother of the west or Xiwanqmu, is queen of the immortals in charge of female spirits, she dwells in a golden castle in the Kunlun mountains, in the land of Xihua or west flower, while her husband Mugong, a prince who watches over males in Donghua, or east flower.
Xiwangmu’s castle is surrounded by a moat that protects the imperial peach orchard, which is filled with rare flowers, exotic birds and the flat peach of immortality (pantao).
The fruit only ripened once every three thousand years. An event that is celebrated with a sumptuous banquet by the eight immortals (baxian).
Depending on her mood Xiwangmu is depicted either as a beautiful woman with leopards tail and tigers teeth, or an old ugly woman with a hunched back. She rewards her followers with eternal life and punishes those who anger her.
Li Jing, studied under a god of mount Kunlun and had become a master of super fast underground travel, being able to travel thousands on miles without anyone noticing.
His teacher also taught him how to use the golden tower, a tower that captures spirits, demons and even gods within its walls. Li Jing now known as the Li the pagoda bearer, was renown throughout the Shang dynasty.
He was a high ranking officer of the Old Pond Pass. His wife Lady Yin has two sons Jinzha and Muzha. In time Li Jing would have a third son by the name of Nezha, as destined by the heavens, but it would come to pass that Nezha would create trouble in the eastern sea dragons kingdom. Thus requiring Li Jing to give his life to the dragon king Ao Guang if he did not sacrifice Nezha, but before Li Jing could consider what to do, Nezha did commit suicide.
Tsai Shen is the god of wealth and the overlord of a large bureaucracy with many minions under his authority.
He is a regal looking figure, robed in silks. He rides a black tiger, and holds a golden rod and an iron tool that can turn stone and iron into gold which he bestows upon his followers.
It is said that every lunar new year, he descends from heaven to move among his followers.
Every year on the spring festival (lunar new year) families make a practice of welcoming the god of wealth by burning incense and offering sacrifices to him in the early morning and friends happily exchange the traditional new year greeting “May you become rich”