With March's first of two full moons, we wanted to share a heartwarming Patagonian legend that attributes yerba mate's first appearance to the magic of the moon. 🌟🌕🌟
Once upon a time long ago, as the moon danced through the sky, she studied the Earth down below. She stared longingly at the lush trees, wide fields, dense jungles and flowing seas, and she wished she could visit such a place.
One evening, she decided she must visit, so she called to her friends. "Clouds," the moon said, "help me travel to Earth."
At this request, the clouds trembled. They were not sure this was a good idea, but they loved the moon and wished to do whatever they could to please her.
"I want to bathe in those flowing rivers," the moon said. "I long to taste the fruits and vegetables that grow in Earth's forests and fields. I ache to touch Earth's rich soil."
The clouds could not resist the moon's pleas, and so they agreed to carry her to Earth. A cloud of dusk would accompany her and serve as her protection.
The next day at dawn, the moon rolled onto the pillowy folds of the clouds and floated to Earth. When she and the cloud of dusk touched ground, they transformed into their disguises as two young and lovely ladies. They began to walk along, exploring everything they passed.
That evening, the clouds gathered to fill the sky so that no one would notice the moon was missing. Meanwhile, the moon and the cloud of dusk wandered the Earth. They were overjoyed traipsing through fields, inhaling mysterious scents, and when they saw the lush jungle, they could not resist. They tasted berries, flowers and herbs. They dived into the river and swam its length. When they emerged from the water, they were so lost in joy, they did not hear rustling in the bush. They were unaware of the jaguar that had been following them.
Suddenly, the jaguar leapt out of the bush and pounced upon the moon's tender neck. Thankfully, just at that moment, a farmer was walking home, and when he saw the attack, he raced forward and stabbed the jaguar dead.
The moon, disguised as a girl, turned toward the farmer. "How can I ever repay you?" she asked. "You saved my life."
But the farmer was a humble man. "Anyone would have done the same," he said. "You must be tired, and the jungle is a dangerous place at night. Come to our home, and my wife and daughter and I will protect you."
The moon and the cloud of dusk agreed. When they reached the farmer's house, his wife greeted them warmly. "Sit down and share our supper," she said, and she served delicious maize cakes. The moon loved the cakes so much that she could not stop eating until they were all gone, and she was as fat as she had ever been.
That night, the moon and the cloud of dusk slept in the farmer's humble hut. In the morning, they said their thanks and departed. The clouds reappeared and carried them back into the sky.
Once again, the moon looked down on her beloved Earth. She smiled at the sight of her own reflection in the still river, and soon her gaze fell on the hut of her new friends, the farmer, his wife and their daughter. She saw that their table was bare. They had nothing to eat, and her heart ached for her friends. They had spent all they had to feed her, and she had thought only of her own pleasure and had eaten their last crumbs.
The moon decided she must right this wrong. She called to the clouds once again. "Tonight you must drop a special rain upon this place I visited," she said.
Naturally, the clouds agreed. They honored her every request.
That night, a special rain fell. In the morning, a new kind of tree began to grow around the farmer's hut, a tree different from any the people had ever seen. It began as a bush with green leaves like holly, and among those leaves grew bright white flowers -- flowers as beautiful as the moon -- and bright red fruit.
The trees grew fast, and soon they towered over the farmer's hut, and the farmer and his wife harvested the leaves and flowers and fruit. They brewed these in water and discovered the brew was delicious and had many healing properties.
The farmer's daughter became the curator of this tree that came to be called yerba mate. She taught the people of its powers -- its power to wake those who are exhausted and the power to create such pleasure in the human heart that those who drink it become brothers and sisters in spirit.
By becoming keeper of the trees and by passing on her knowledge to all the people of her land, the farmer's daughter lived forever.
Thank you to Amy Friedman and Meredith Johnson for originally posting this story.