The Lovers’ Constellation

Folk Tale/Legend

There was once a woman who fell in love with a man of very little means. Though they had little, the two were happy together. They shared everything they had and delighted in spending all their time together.

The couple lived peacefully until one day, as the woman was coming home from the market, she was assaulted by a band of robbers. They beat the woman and tried to take the little bit of money she’d made by selling vegetables from her garden and the little trinkets she made by hand. Bleeding and broken, the woman did not give in. She grabbed a branch from the forest and used it to fend off her attackers. No matter their threats or how badly she was hurt, the woman wouldn’t give up.

The god of war saw the woman’s fight and immediately fell in love. Though the woman wasn’t beautiful, she had a fire to her spirit that he wished to possess. The god descended to earth and killed the woman’s attackers. The woman cried at his feet and thanked the god for his help, but he made it clear that he was after her love. The god asked her to become his lover, but the woman refused to leave her husband.

Angered by her refusal, the god left the woman alone on the road. She gathered her money and unsold items into her basket and returned happily to her home, where her husband cared for her wounds and held her in his arms.

But the god was not done with her yet. He sparked a war in her country that spread across the entire continent. Soon enough, her husband was drafted into the military to protect the kingdom. On their last night together, the woman wept and prayed for her husband’s safety.

Her husband was called out to battle after battle and returned victorious from each one. Soon enough, he became rich with the spoils of war and was known far and wide as the greatest warrior of the land. But no matter how much he gained or how well-known he became, the man always said he wanted nothing more than to return to his beloved wife.

Frustrated that the war had not destroyed the man, the god of war descended to earth again in the midst of a great battle. The clouds turned dark and lightning flashed in terrible arcs across the sky. The men on both sides of the battle fled the sight of this great and powerful god that stood before them. With a stroke of his sword, the god cut the man down.

When the woman heard of her husband’s death, she mourned for days until the god of war visited her. Yet again, he asked her to become his lover and the woman refused. She vowed to spend the rest of her life alone. Infuriated by her refusal, the god tried to cut the woman down as well, but she escaped him by throwing powdered herbs into his face and fleeing to a sacred grove in the forest near her home. The god could not harm her there, but he swore to kill her if she ever left.

The goddess of love came to the girl in the sacred grove. The goddess, who was a lover of the god of war, was infuriated by the god’s treatment of the woman and her lover. She offered the woman a chance to retrieve her husband from the underworld. The god of death agreed that if the woman would descend into the underworld and retrieve her husband’s soul by her own hand, that she could have him back.

The woman agreed, so the goddess showed her the gateway to the underworld that resided in the sacred grove. The goddess gave her a satchel with dried meat and provisions for her journey because the woman had fled her home with nothing.

Deep inside the ancient cave, the woman came to the edge of a murky river that was so wide she could barely see the other shore. A ferryman waited there, but when she called out to him he didn’t answer. Remembering tales of the ferryman, the woman produced two copper coins from the goddess’s bag and handed them to the man. He nodded gravely and allowed her into the boat before casting off for the far side of the river.

Once she crossed the river, she came to a gate that was guarded by a large, three-headed dog. As long as she did not stray too close to the gate, the dog left her alone. But anytime she came near, it growled a vicious warning. The woman had dried meat wrapped in an oiled cloth in her bag. Sitting near enough to the gate that the dog would see her, but not so close that it became wary, the woman set the meat out in front of her. The three-headed dog slunk near and gobbled up the meat before hastily returning to the gate.

For three days, the woman sat in the same spot and offered her rations to the dog throughout the day until it finally came to trust her. On the third day, she was able to approach while the three-headed dog, wagging his tail happily, watched on. She passed through the gate unharmed.

Once she reached the underworld, she searched with determination, desperate to catch even a single glimpse of her beloved husband, but he was nowhere to be found. For weeks, without food or water to sustain her, the woman persisted. She wandered the underworld, scared and alone, until she came to a place of peace where the souls of the dead rested happily. Among the people there, she finally found her husband. The woman rushed to him, calling his name and crying.

Just as she was about to lay her hand on her beloved husband, the god of war descended. He stole away her husband’s soul and tore it to pieces. Once again, the god demanded that the woman become his lover, but the woman was so overwrought with grief that she didn’t hear him. She fell to the ground and wept. After weeks of searching the underworld with no provisions, and the sudden devastation of losing her husband again, the woman’s broken heart gave out and she perished.

The goddess of love took pity on the woman and her ill-fated lover. Reaching down into the underworld, she took the lost soul of the grieving woman and the leftover pieces of her husband’s soul and hung them in the sky, where the two lovers could finally rest peacefully together till the end of time.