The full title is a constellation in the night sky. Like all stars, they are connected metaphorically to fate, in this case we have the image of a maiden weaving the fabric of fate.
A Shuttle is the part of a loom that scoots back and forth as the warp and weft are opened and closed. It is like a card or a stick that you throw. It is wrapped in yarn symbolizing, I believe, infinite time.
So each time you do the form you are weaving another thread in the fabric of time.
But what is a jade maiden?
By definition they resists being defined. Even the gender of a jade maiden can be hard to pin down, they are sometimes called jade lads. By the time I finish explaining this, the meaning may have changed.
A jade maiden is like a muse, because it comes to you bringing inspiration. It is also a type of intermediary. Unlike a Chinese god or a ghost, they no birth.Â They can deliver messages back and forth from the gods, even take you to visit other realms. The Queen Mother of the West (Xiguanmu) has and entourage of jade maidens pulled by dragon chariots.
Jade maidens also play the role of intermediaries in the Daoist elixir practice known as jindan. They are simular to dakinis in Tantric Buddhism in that they only show up if you are completely and utterly desireless and free of aggressive intent. However, if you get even a flicker of desire, a dakini will go from being the hottest, most intelligent babe-olla you have ever seen in your life, to being a scary filthy hag with sharpened teeth. Jade maidens, in contrast, simply disappear. (Which tells you something about the difference between Buddhism and Daoism.)
Jade maidens are in one sense the opposite of ghosts. Instead of being lured in by dangerious, violent, chaotic, energy draining or destructive behavior; they are attracted to those people who are pure of heart--people whose living hearts have become like cold dead ashes. They are attracted by non-aggression.
Daoist poets like Li Bai (Lipo) would sit perfectly still in meditation with a brush, ink, and paper for hours waiting for a jade maiden to show up. When they come, they come to tease and test, whisper and giggle. They never stop moving and they dance the most alluring and inspiring dance there is. They are beauty itself. They peer around corners and then suddenly disappear.
They sometimes carry copies of the books which hang from the trees on the moon. These sacred texts known as jing, are true for all time, they can appear in any language in any era. Occasionally a jade maiden will hold one of these books and turn the pages for you as you read. This, of course, can only happen if you are completely open to experiencing things the way they actually are, without preconception or agenda.
(The term jing, so often translated "classic," actually means weft, as in warp and weft! In that sense it is a distant cousin of jin and jing, power and essence, because all of them refer to some underlying structure.)
Is Taijiquan a jing?Â Was it originally taught by jade maidens?Â If we truly let go, and practice the form without any preconceptions or aggression will a jade maiden show up to dance with us, or whisper instructions in our ear and correct our postures?Â Are we the "shuttles" being worked?