Showing posts from December, 2019

In which this little star story is also a summer love story

The Weaver Maid and the Cowherd (China)
Long ago, there seven beautiful fairy women who were the daughters of the Goddess of Heaven.
These women spent their days weaving beautiful cloth which became clouds for the world below. 
Early one morning, they went down together to bathe in a mountain lake.
In a little hut near the mountain lake lived a cowherd who was very poor. 
His only friend was a wise old ox, who advised him on all things.
When the fairy women took off their clothing to bathe in the lake,
the old ox awakened his friend the cowherd and said,
“Master, if you wish to marry a beautiful fairy woman,
take away the red clothing she has left by the side of the lake.”
The cowherd did as the ox instructed and hid himself behind a nearby tree to wait.
When the fairy women emerged from the lake, one of them could not find her red clothing. 
Without the red garments, she could not return to her home in the sky, and her sisters left her behind.
She sat down on a rock and began to weep.

In which there is another star story, and this one is an old song

Big Dipper/The Drinking Gourd - American South
The Underground Railroad meant freedom for many in the years before Emancipation,
and it had a map.
That map is a song called “Follow the Drinking Gourd,”
supposedly used by members of the Underground Railroad to direct runaway slaves to freedom
by describing a trail from Mobile, Alabama to Paducah, Kentucky.
From Paducah, slaves could cross the Ohio River to the free states.
The "drinking gourd" in the song is the constellation we call the Big Dipper.
(Link to the tune sung by Melanie Clarin is HERE)
When the sun goes back and the first quail calls Follow the drinking gourd The old man is a-waitin’ for to carry you to freedom Follow the drinking gourd
Chorus Follow the drinking gourd, follow the drinking gourd For the old man is a-waitin’ to carry you to freedom Follow the drinking gourd
The river bed makes a mighty fine road, Dead trees to show you the way And it’s left foot, peg foot, traveling on Follow the drinking gourd

In which a star story explains why the bears in the sky have long tails

Big Dipper/Ursa Major/Callisto
A beautiful maiden called Callisto grew tired while hunting in the forest, and laid down to rest. 
The god Jupiter noticed her and was smitten with her beauty.
Jupiter's wife, Juno, became extremely jealous of Callisto.
When Callisto’s son was born, Juno knew that Jupiter must have been the father. 
Juno changed Callisto into a bear so she would no longer be beautiful.
Callisto's son, called Arcas, was adopted and grew up to be a hunter,
while Callisto continued to live in the forest.
One day Callisto saw Arcas and was so overjoyed at seeing her son that she rushed up to him,
forgetting she was a bear. Arcas thought he was being attacked and shot an arrow at Callisto.
Jupiter saw the arrow and stopped it from hitting Callisto.
To save Callisto and her son from further damage from Juno,
Jupiter changed Arcas into a bear also, grabbed them both by their tails,
and swung them both into the heavens so they could live peacefully among the stars.

The strengt…

In which star stories continue with a tale about the Big Dipper

The Big Dipper/ The Hunt (Micmac-Iroquois/Rome/American South)

The Micmac Indians of Nova Scotia and the Iroquois Indians
along the St. Lawrence seaway share a story about the constellation Ursa Major,
also known as the Big Bear and the Big Dipper.
In this story, the quadrangle of the dipper represents a bear
that is pursued by seven hunters; the three closest hunters are the handle of the dipper.
As autumn approaches, the four farthest hunters dip below the horizon
and abandon the hunt, leaving the closest three hunters to chase the bear.
These hunters are birds.
The closest hunter to the bear is named Robin,
the second closest is Chickadee,
and the third is Moose Bird.
Chickadee is carrying the pot in which the bear will be cooked.
The second star in the handle is actually two stars [the famous double star system]
called Mizar and Alcor which represent Chickadee and the pot.
In autumn, as the bear attempts to stand up on two legs,
Robin wounds the bear with an arrow.
The wounded bear sp…

In which this little star story is about a heroic weasel

Big Dipper/Origin of Constellation Fisher   (Temegami, Canada)
The Fisher (weasel) was living somewhere in this world.
Nobody knows where.
Now in those times they had no summer: it was winter, winter all the time.
They knew that summer existed somewhere, but it never came to them,
although they wanted it very much.
Now, once upon a time a creature captured some little birds
which are called ni'benis'e, "Summerbirds".
He tied them in bundles and kept them with him all the time.
That was the reason why it was always winter, for so long as he held these birds,
they could not bring summer to the North Country.
The people pondered very much how to go about
freeing these birds from the creature who kept them.
At last somebody discovered where this creature lived,
and they decided that someone would go and try to free the Summerbirds.
The Fisher was chosen to go and free the birds so that summer would come. 
He travelled a long while and reached the wigwam where the captor and…

In which I share a few little quotes about stars--some new, and some old

The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood,
the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars.
We are made of starstuff.” ― Carl Sagan

“We have calcium in our bones, iron in our veins,
carbon in our souls, and nitrogen in our brains.
93 percent stardust, with souls made of flames,
we are all just stars that have people names.” ― Nikita Gill

“There’s as many atoms in a single molecule of your DNA
as there are stars in the typical galaxy.
We are, each of us, a little universe.” ― Neil deGrasse Tyson

“I love the stars. Because they can't say anything. I love the stars. Because they do not judge anyone.” ― Natsuki Takaya

"Are we human because we gaze at the stars,
or do we gaze at them because we are human?"
Pointless, really...
"Do the stars gaze back?"
Now, that's a question.” ― Neil Gaiman

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” 
-– Oscar Wilde

In which today's story tells why there is now a rabbit on the moon

Tsuki no Usagi (Japan).
In Japan, the moon rabbit pounds mochi (餅), or rice cakes in his pestle.
In Japanese the rabbit in the moon is known as "Tsuki no Usagi".
There is a famous story about him in Japan that goes: "Many years ago, the Old Man of the Moon decided to visit the Earth.
He disguised himself as a beggar and asked Fox (Kitsune),
Monkey (Saru), and Rabbit (Usagi) for some food.
Monkey climbed a tree and brought him some fruit.

Fox went to a stream, caught a fish, and brought it back to him.
But Rabbit had nothing to offer him but some grass.
So he asked the beggar to build a fire.
After the beggar started the fire,
Rabbit jumped into it and offered himself as a meal for the beggar to eat.
Quickly the beggar changed back into the Old Man of the Moon and pulled Rabbit from the fire.
He said "You are most kind, Rabbit, but don't do anything to harm yourself.
Since you were the kindest of all to me, I'll take you back to the moon to live with me."

In which today's star story is a cautionary tale about greed

Why the star Kamaisani is far away from the other stars (Achagua, Venezuela)
In ancient times Kamaisani, the bright star, was a woman.
One day her brother told his children, "Go over there where your aunt lives,
and ask her for some chicha (corn beer) for me."
"Very well," they said.
They went to her and said "Aunt, our father would like some chicha. Will you send him some?"
They watched and waited, but she did not prepare any chicha for them. That woman had a bad character, she was too stingy. So the children had to leave.
They went back to their father and told him what happened.
"She did not want to give you anything. She is in a bad mood."
"Then let's go on without it, and leave that stingy woman behind," he said.
"Yes, let's," they replied.
He told them to gather capi, which are vines that cause hallucinations when you chew on them.
They gathered it. Then they shot into the eye of the sky until the sky descended towards …