Kwai Fah  (Osmanthus fragrans)

Kwai Fah (Osmanthus fragrans)

Kwai Fah is a very famous flowering tree in China. A member of the sweet olive family, its scientific name is Osmanthus fragrans. Noted for its scent, it is used in perfumes, as well as for cooking, teas, medicine, and skin care. It is probably best known for being a part of the Legend of Chang E. There are many versions of the legend, but this is the one common among our circles:

“A long, long time ago, a terrible drought plagued the earth. Ten suns burned fiercely in the sky like smoldering volcanoes. The trees and grass were scorched. The land was cracked and parched, and rivers were dried. Many people died of hunger and thirst.

"The King of Heaven sent Hou Yi to help. When Hou Yi arrived, he took out his red bow and white arrows and shot down nine suns one after another. The weather immediately turned cooler. Heavy rains filled the rivers with fresh water and the grass and trees turned green. Life was restored and humanity was saved.

""One day, Chang E, a charming young woman, made her way home from a stream, holding a bamboo container. A young man came forward, asking for a drink. When she saw the red bow and white arrows hanging round his belt, Chang E realized that he was their savior, Hou Yi.  Chang E offered him water.  This meeting kindled the spark of their love. And soon after that, they got married.

A mortal’s life is limited, of course. So in order to enjoy his happy life with Chang E forever, Hou Yi decided to look for an elixir of life. He went to the Kunlun Mountains where the Western Queen Mother lived.

"Out of respect for the good deeds he had done, the Western Queen Mother rewarded Hou Yi with the elixir, made from the fruit of the tree of eternity.  She told him that if he and his wife shared the elixir, they would both enjoy eternal life; but if only one of them took it, that one would ascend to Heaven and become immortal.

"Hou Yi and Chang E decided to drink the elixir together on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month when the moon was full and bright.

"A wicked and merciless man named Feng Meng overheard their plan. He wanted the elixir for himself, so he went to Hou Yi’s home and tried to force Chang E to give him the elixir. Without hesitating, Chang E picked up the elixir and drank it all.  Soon the elixir began to have its effect and Chang E felt herself being lifted towards Heaven.

"Chang E decided to live on the moon because it was the nearest to the earth. There she lived a simple and contented life.  The Jade Rabbit that already lived on the moon became her pet.  Wu Gang, the woodcutter, had been banished to the moon for upsetting the emperor.  He would be allowed to return to earth if he could cut down the giant immortal Osmanthus tree.  However, the tree was powerful and every cut would heal immediately.  The tree continues to grow, healing itself and providing shelter to Chang E and the Jade Rabbit.”

And that is the goal of our practice: to awaken the natural healing energies of the body using the techniques of Chinese medicine, enable you to heal yourself, continue to grow, and live life to the fullest.