The Spider Princess
ALSO KNOWN AS:
Depending on the version of her myth, the Weaving Maiden is either the eldest or youngest of the Jade Emperor’s seven daughters, collectively known as the Seven Sisters or the Seven Fairies. They are star maidens, associated with the Pleiades. (Depending on the version of their legend, their father may be a solar deity or the Kitchen God instead.)
One day, the Seven Sisters descended to Earth to frolic in hot springs. They were observed by a young cowherd called Ox Boy, who stole an item of clothing left on the banks of the spring. When all her sisters flew away home, the Weaving Maiden discovered that without her garment she was stuck and could not fly.
Ox Boy approached and revealed that it was his theft that prevented her departure. Although initially sad, the Weaving Maiden fell madly in love with Ox Boy, and they had two children and lived happily ever after for seven years. After seven years, her father suddenly realized that she was missing, or he changed his mind about human-spirit marriages. Regardless of reasoning, celestial guards were sent to forcibly escort the Weaving Maiden back to Heaven, separating her from her husband and children.
She did not go willingly. The Weaving Maiden wept so bitterly that finally it was decided that the lovers could reunite for one night each year. Once a year, on the Feast of the Double Seventh, magpies build a bridge across the Milky Way and the lovers are permitted to reunite. On the day of the Double Seventh, the Weaving Maiden is particularly sympathetic to lovers: in Chinese folk magic, it’s considered theideal day for love spells and requests for the Weaving Maiden’s blessings of true love.
Another version of the Weaving Maiden’s myth suggests that her marriage to the cowherd was arranged by her father. There was no objection to the marriage per se until the two lovers became so passionately engrossed in each other that they neglected all other responsibilities. The Weaving Maiden is no trivial spirit nor is she an ordinary weaver: her weaving helps maintain universal order. Hsi Wang Mu, Queen Mother of the West, forcibly separated the couple and ordered them back to work.
The Weaving Maiden blesses people with happy romance and marriages. She gives the gift for which she herself longs. She unites lovers and families and may be petitioned to help discover your soul mate. She is a particularly beloved spirit also invoked for assistance with fertility and healing. Although at the peak of her power and generosity on her feast day, she may be invoked anytime.
How do you know your spirit allies? In general, establishing their identity is a lengthy process of trial and error. The Weaving Maiden, however, is a straightforward spirit who will let you know where you stand with her. This ritual can only be performed on the Feast of the Double Seventh:
• On the morning of the Feast of the Double Seventh, find a spider.
• Using extreme care and caution, very gently place the spider in a box and leave it there for twenty-four hours.
• After twenty-four hours, liberate the spider to go where she will. Examine the box:
» If the spider started a web, the Weaving Maiden likes you.
» The bigger the web, the more she likes you.
» If there’s no web, if the spider escaped without starting a web, or if you were never able to find a spider and so couldn’t perform the ritual, then perhaps another spirit should be considered.
In human form, the Weaving Maiden is an exceptionally beautiful, sweet, gentle Fairy. You can also see her in the skies as one of the Seven Sisters (the Pleiades) and as Vega, the brightest star in the constellation Lyra across the Milky Way from her lover, now manifest as the star Altair.
Sacred date: Feast of the Double Seventh: the seventh day of the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar
Cakes, watermelon. She is traditionally given special paper offerings, including paper garments, ornaments, and combs (available before her holiday from vendors catering to traditional Chinese clientele).
Fairy; Hsi Wang Mu; Jade Emperor; Jade Maidens; Kitchen God; Ox Boy; Pleiades
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.