The Star Lovers

“To all of you who are true lovers, I beg of you to pray to the Gods for good weather on the Seventh Night of the Seventh Moon. Pray for the sake of patience and for the sake of dear love. Be merciful that there will be no rain, hail, clouds, thunder, or creeping mist that night.”

Listen to the sad tale of the Star Lovers and pray for them:

The Weaving Maiden was the daughter of the God of Light. Her home was on the bank of the Milky Way, the Bright River of Heaven. All day long, she sat at her loom and plied her shuttle, weaving cheerful clothes for the Gods. It was warp and weft, hour after hour, the colored threads growing into piles of cloth, fold upon fold, piled at her feet. Yet she never stopped her work, for she was afraid. She had heard a saying:

“Sorrow, everlasting sorrow, will come upon the Weaving Maiden when she leaves her loom.”

So she toiled and toiled, and the Gods had clothing to spare. But she herself, the poor girl, was poorly dressed. She wore none of the clothing or jewels that her father gave her. She walked barefoot and let her long loose hair hang down. Whenever a long strand fell on the loom, she threw it back over her shoulder. She did not play with the children of Heaven, and did not have fun. She did not love them but neither did she hate them. She was not happy and she had no regrets. She just sat there weaving, weaving and weaving… and with her whole being she wove the multicolored web of threads.

Then her father, the God of Light, grew angry. He said, “Daughter, you weave too much.”

“It is my duty,” she said.

“At your age, you should not talk about duty!” said her father. “Get off the loom.”

“Why are you displeased with me, my Father?” she said, and her fingers plied the shuttle.

“Are you a log or a stone, or a pale flower by the roadside?”

“No,” she said, “I am none of those things.”

“Then leave your loom, my Child, and live, enjoy, be as others are.”

“And why should I be like others?” she said.

“Don’t you dare ask me questions, Child. Come, will you leave your loom now?”

She said, “Sorrow, everlasting Sorrow will come upon the Weaving Maiden when she leaves her loom.”

“A foolish saying,” cried her father, which is not at all believable. What do we know of everlasting sorrow? Are we not Gods?”

With that, he gently took the shuttle from her hand and covered the loom with a cloth. And he made sure that from then on she was dressed very richly. They put jewels in her hair and decorated her head with flowers from Paradise. Her father gave her as a husband the Keeper of Heaven, who tended his flocks on the banks of the Bright River.

Now the Weaving Maiden had indeed changed. Her eyes shone like stars and her lips were red. She danced and sang all day long. She played for hours with the children of Heaven and had fun. She walked lightly through life, with silver shoes on her feet. Her Lover, the Keeper of Heaven, held her hand. She laughed so much that the Gods laughed with her. The High Heaven echoed with the sounds of merriment. But she was careless. She thought little of her duty or the clothing of the Gods. As for her loom, she never went near it from the end of one moon to the beginning of another.

“I have my life to live,” she said, “I will no longer weave threads into dust.”

And the Guardian of the Heavens, her Beloved, held her in his arms. Her face was full of tears and smiles, and she hid it against his chest. So she lived her life. But her father, the God of Light, was angry.

“This can’t go on, she’s behaving recklessly,” he said. “She’ll become the laughingstock of heaven. And besides, who will weave the new spring clothing for the Gods now?”

He warned his daughter three times.

Three times she laughed softly and shook her head.

“Your hand opened the door to pleasure, my father,” she said, “now no hand of God or mortal can close the door again.”

He said, “It will cost you.” And he banished the Guardian of the Heavens, forever and ever, to the other side of the river.

The magpies flew together, from far and wide, and they spread their wings for a fragile bridge over the river, and the Guardian of the Heavens crossed the fragile bridge.

Immediately, the magpies flew away to the ends of the earth and the Weaving Maiden could not follow them. She was now the saddest creature in heaven. For a long time, she stood on the shore and stretched her arms out to the Guardian of the Heavens, who tended his flock all alone, in tears. For a long time, she lay on the sand and wept bitter tears.

Then she stood up and walked to her loom. She threw aside the cloth that covered it. She took her shuttle in her hand.

“Eternal pain,” she said, “eternal pain!” A moment later, she dropped the shuttle. “Ah,” she groaned, “this hurts so much,” and she leaned her head against the loom.

But a little later she said, “Yet I would not want to be as I was before. I did not love or cry then, I was not happy, nor did I regret. Now I love and weep – I am happy even though I regret.”

Her tears fell like rain, but she took up the shuttle again and worked diligently on weaving the clothing of the Gods. Sometimes the weave was grey with sadness, sometimes it was rosy with her dreams. The Gods wanted to be dressed in a special way. The father of the Maiden, the God of Light, was, for once, very pleased.

“This is my good, diligent Child again,” he said. “Now you are quiet and happy.”

“It is the silence of dark despair,” she said. “Happy? I am the saddest in heaven.”

“I’m sorry,” said the God of Light, “what can I do?”

“Give me back my Beloved.”

“No, Child, I cannot do that. He is forever banished by the order of a God. That order cannot be broken.”

“I already knew that,” she said.

“Still, I can do something. Listen. On the Seventh day of the Seventh moon, I will summon the magpies from the ends of the earth. They will be a bridge over the Bright River of Heaven so that the Weaving Maiden can cross lightly to the waiting Guardian of the Heavens on the other side of the shore.”

And so it went. On the Seventh day of the Seventh moon, the magpies came from far and wide. They spread their wings for the fragile bridge. The Weaving Maiden crossed the fragile bridge. Her eyes sparkled like stars and her heart beat like a bird in her bosom. The Guardian of the Heavens waited for her on the other side of the shore.

And so it is still, O true lovers – on the Seventh day of the Seventh moon, these two have a meeting.

Only when the rain falls with thunder and clouds and hail, and the Clear River of Heaven is swollen with water and flows swiftly, can the magpies not make a bridge for the Weaving Maid. To their great sorrow, unfortunately.

Therefore, true lovers, pray to the gods for good weather.