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at the Lunar and Planetary Institute
Explore!Marvel Moon

World tales of the Moon

There are hundreds of stories about the Moon and its appearance; some are sacred myths, and others are folktales old and new shared for the simple joy of the tale.

Rabbit on the Moon
Origin: Mexico
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Rabbit on the Moon

About Loya Olga

Olga Loya

Olga Loya is a nationally recognized bilingual Latina storyteller, as well as an author, performance artist, keynote speaker, and teacher. Loya tells bilingual Latin-American folklore and colorful and sometimes magical stories from Africa, India, Asia, the Antilles, and Europe.

 

Transcript

Rabbit on the MoonLong ago, the gods tried four times to get the Sun in the sky but each time the Sun disappeared. All the world was cold and in darkness. The Aztec gods came together and tried to think of a way to get the Sun to stay in the sky.

One of the gods said, "We must build a big fire and one of us must throw ourselves into the fire. Well, they all thought it was good idea -- for someone else.

Finally a god named Tecuiziztecatl said, "Yo lo hare, I will do it, yo so poderoso, I am powerful.

Then Nanahautzin was chosen. He said, "Yo no soy poderosa. I am not powerful. It is true that I have been sick and my body is covered with sores but I am a good man."

So the gods built a huge fire and danced and drummed around the fire for four days and nights. On the fourth night, all the gods arranged themselves into two lines. Tecuiziztecatl was chosen first. He ran toward the fire but when he got to it, he stopped. Then he looked around and said, "Tengo miedo. I am afraid." This happened three more times.

Then it was Nanahuatzin's turn. He stood at the beginning of the lines, determined. He ran down between the gods and when he got to the edge, he jumped into the fire with a shout of joy. He went into the sky and became the Sun. Tecuiziztecatl was so ashamed that he too leaped into the fire and another huge flaming Sun was in the sky.

The gods looked up and said, "Ah, this is good. Now we have two Suns." One of the gods said, "Wait, Tecuitziztecatl has no right to shine as bright as brave Nanahautizin!"

The god picked up a round-eared rabbit and threw it at Tecuitziztecatl. It went flying, spinning across the sky and landed hard against him and knocked some of the light from him. Tecuiziztecatl became the Moon, la luna. Nanahautzin became the Sun, la sol.

When there is a full Moon, an outline of the rabbit the god threw that night can still be seen.

tecuizistecatl (teh-cui-ziz -teh-CAH -tl ) accent on cah

nanahautizin (nah-nah-HAU-tzin) accent on hau

*Audio clip is used with permission from Wonder-Full Moon, the US Space and Rocket Center.

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Drummer on the Moon
Origin: Ivory Coast
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Drummer on the Moon

About Lynn Moroney

Lynn Moroney

Drummer on the Moon was written by storyteller and author Lynn Moroney, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation. Lynn's Native American ancestry and pioneer roots are deeply woven into her stories. Her repertory abounds with sky tales from around the world ... most particularly the sky myths and stories of indigenous peoples.

Drummer on the Moon is told by Al Bostick, a storyteller and artist who presents and leads performances to delight, teach, and stimulate the mind, body and spirit.

Transcript

Children.....Look.....Look up at the Moon. See the Man sitting there on the moon? He is the Drummer Man. Listen Children, I will tell you about The Drummer Man on the Moon.

He got there before your father's father, and your mother's mother, before their fathers and mothers.

The Drummer Man sits there on the Moon and plays his Drum. His drum is a Talking Drum.

Drummer on the MoonHe plays his Talking Drum for the spirits of our ancestors. Our ancestors are there on the moon. They are waiting for us. We cannot see our ancestors. We see only the Drummer Man. All night he plays and sings and chants and tells stories to our ancestors.

Oh Children, when the Moon is full, remember to look for the Drummer Man. You will see him, sitting there playing his drum.

And if you listen, maybe you will hear him as you fall asleep. Shhhhhh... Tonight when you fall asleep, you can dream of the Drummer Man.

Shhhhh...now you can dream the story.
Shhhhh...See the Drummer Man.
Can you hear the Drummer Man?

The story is ended.

* Audio clip is used with permission from Wonder-Full Moon, developed by Lynn Moroney and the US Space and Rocket Center.

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Tears on the Moon
Origin: Algeria
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Tears on the Moon

About Lynn Moroney

Lynn Moroney

Tears on the Moon is told by storyteller and author Lynn Moroney, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation. Lynn's Native American ancestry and pioneer roots are deeply woven into her stories. Her repertory abounds with sky tales from around the world ... most particularly the sky myths and stories of indigenous peoples.

 

Transcript

Tears on the MoonLong, long ago ,there lived a boy who was sad all the time. He lived alone with no family or friends.

Now, though he was unhappy, the boy did not cry tears, for in those days, there were no tears on the Earth. And even when people were sad, they did not shed tears.

One night Moon saw how sad the boy was, and he took pity on him. Moon floated, down, down, down to the Earth and came to rest beside the boy.

"Oh Child, you do not have tears to show your sadness. But I have come to help you. With me by your side, when you cry, tears will come to your eyes. Do not let your tears fall to the earth. Let your tears fall on me and I'll take them with me when I return to the sky."

And with that, the boy began to weep; he sobbed great salty tears. The boy's tears were the very first tears on the Earth.

He did not let the tears fall on the ground, rather his tears fell upon Moon.

Moon then blessed the boy and said, "From this time on, people will love you. You will no longer be alone and sad. And when you do shed tears, in time, the sadness will go away."

After that the boy was loved by everyone. He grew into a man and he had many sons and daughters who filled his life with love and joy. And ever since that night, Moon has carried the boy's tears with him as he travels across the sky. On full Moon nights, you can see two of the tears...there they are...spilling out of Moon's left eye.

And that's the end of the story.

And next time you see the tears on Moon's face, remember to tell this story to someone.

*Audio clip is used with permission from Wonder-Full Moon, the US Space and Rocket Center.

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Rabbit & Frog on the Moon
Origin: China
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Rabbit & Frog on the Moon

About Eth-Noh-Tec

Eth-Noh-Tec

Rabbit and Frog on the Moon is told by Etho-No-Tec, founded by Artistic Co-Directors Nancy Wang and Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo. Nancy and Robert are San Francisco artists trained in traditional and contemporary art forms who have been performing for over three decades. Eth-Noh-Tec presents cultural workshops and storytelling programs as well as original plays. And if you don't think they take their jobs seriously, just look at those moves!

 

Transcript

Rabbit and Frog on the MoonYou've probably heard of the Man in the Moon. But have you heard of the Rabbit in the Moon? This rabbit has a very special friend with him on the Moon. Who? It is a Chinese queen from long ago. Her name is Ch'ang-O. And this is her story.

Once upon a time, there was a cruel emperor who wanted to live forever. "Conquer all lands, seize all potions, find the herbs that will give me life eternal." But his compassionate queen, Ch'ang-O, warned, "Be wise. No man was meant to live forever." "Wise? Where is my wisdom when I'm dead?"

And so the emperor's army searched the land with military force. Countless lives were lost. "Husband, what does your heart say? When will this murdering stop?" "But I must have immortality!"

One night, the goddess, Quan Yin, visited the weeping Ch'ang-O. "Perhaps I can help stop the killing with this." And she handed a small bottle to the queen. "This is the elixir of immortality. The magic potion the emperor is seeking." Ch'ang-O returned to show the emperor, but instead of thanking her, he shouted, "Give it to me now!" Upon hearing his heartless command, Ch'ang-O replied, "No! No tyrant like you must ever live forever." She quickly swallowed the elixir and leapt to her death out the window.

But instead of falling, her body rose up into the sky. Instead of dying, she was given life immortal. But as she rose up, she changed into a three-legged frog. This was meant for the emperor, but Ch'ang-O could not have known. Ch'ang-O sailed into the heavens landing safely on the Moon, where she was welcomed by her new friend, the rabbit on the moon.

She sits by his side as a three-legged frog on a silvery, bright and shining log. But on Earth each night of his very mortal days, the emperor cursed that queen on the Moon.

For Ch'ang-O, though a frog with legs of three, kept safe that secret of immortality.

*Audio clip is used with permission from Wonder-Full Moon, the US Space and Rocket Center.

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Boy on the Moon
Origin: North America
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Boy on the Moon

About Lynn Moroney

Lynn Moroney

Boy on the Moon is told by storyteller and author Lynn Moroney, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation. Lynn's Native American ancestry and pioneer roots are deeply woven into her stories. Her repertory abounds with sky tales from around the world...most particularly the sky myths and stories of indigenous peoples.

 

Transcript

Boy on the MoonOnce upon a time, in a land far, far in the North, where the winter nights are long and cold, there lived a little boy who had special powers. The boy wanted to use his special powers to hunt deer. But because the boy was so young, his father refused to give him permission to use his magic. The father said, "Your powers must not be taken lightly. You must wait until you are old enough to use your powers wisely. The boy begged and begged, but his father still refused.

The boy cried and cried, and in time the people in the village persuaded the father to give the boy permission to use his magic powers. Oh, the boy was pleased, and for a time, he used his magic well and helped the hunters return with deer meat.

Then it happened that one day, the boy said to his father, "I want to go to the Moon. I might want to live there."

And the father replied, "Well my son, you may want to go to the Moon, but it is of no matter, since no one can travel to the Moon."

The boy then said, "I shall find a way. I'll use my magic powers, and if one day I disappear, you will know where I have gone. "

Well, time passed and one morning the father woke up and called to his son, but there was no answer. The father looked for his son, but the boy was nowhere to be found. Later in the morning the father saw that high in the smoke hole, hanging from the lodge pole, was one of the boy's pant legs. It was then the father remembered what the boy had said about wanting to go to the Moon.

That night when the full Moon rose, the father looked up and there was his son, standing on the Moon, looking down at the Earth.

He is still on the Moon. Look. His right leg is bare. When the boy wished himself to the Moon, he shot up through the smoke hole so fast that he tore his pant leg off.

And so far, his powers have not been great enough to return him to Earth.

And that is the end of the story of the How the Boy Got to be on the Moon.

*Audio clip is used with permission from Wonder-Full Moon, the US Space and Rocket Center.

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Original music by Louise Goldberg. Original sound engineering by Steve Bellett. Stories are taken from the Wonder-Full Moon DVD, developed by the awesome US Space and Rocket Center, Huntsville AL

Check out The Vanishing Sun: Eclipse Tales from Around the World