“Amaterasu” by Hrana Janto

“Amaterasu’s themes are the sun, tradition, unity, blessings, community, and kinship.  Her symbols are a mirror, gold or yellow items.  Amaterasu is unique among Goddesses, being one of the few women to personify the sun. In Japan She rules over cultural unity, kinship and the blessings that someone with the name ‘Illuminating Heaving’ might be expected to bestow. It is Amaterasu’s sun that nudges the greenery to reach toward Her light, just as Her gentle energy prods us toward re-establishing harmony in all our relationships.

 The first week of May in Japan is called Golden Week, and it’s a time when Amaterasu’s solar beauty really shines. The Hakata festival is a national holiday that includes celebrations for children and a special parade depicting Japan’s legendary deities. Take a moment to join the festivities long-distance. Remember Amaterasu by wearing gold-colored items today and opening as many curtains as possible to let in Her glorious light.

Once the curtains are opened, take a hand mirror and reflect the light into every corner of your home. This draws Amaterasu’s unifying energy into your living space and guards against discord among all who dwell therein. Also, to ensure that no malevolence enters from outside the home, put a mirror facing outwards in an eastern window (where Amaterasu rises). This is a Buddhist custom for turning away negativity and evil influences.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Amaterasu (pronounced AH-mah-tay-RAH-soo) is the Japanese sun Goddess and supreme deity of the Shinto faith. Through Her descendent Ninigi, who married Konohana, or Sengen, She is the ancestress of the Imperial family. Her name means ‘Great Shining Goddess of Heaven’, and She is the daughter of Izanami and Izanagi, the divine couple who created the lands. Her double shrine at Ise is rebuilt every twenty years, using one of the two identical buildings as a model. Thus the form of Her temple has remained consistent for two thousand years.

“Amaterasu” by mirana

Like other solar deities such as Apollo, Amaterasu is an archer, Her quiver holding one thousand arrows. She is also a weaver who makes the garments of the gods.

Amaterasu’s impetuous, loud, and altogether boorish younger brother Susano-o made it a habit to undo all Her good deeds, and in frustration and fear, She shut Herself inside a cave and refused to come out. The other Gods could not bear to be without Her light, and finally enticed Her out by holding a raucous party outside the cave entrance, the highlight of which was the Goddess Uzume performing a divine striptease. Her curiosity piqued by the gods’ roaring laughter, Amaterasu looked out and saw Her own reflection in an octagonal mirror placed there [made by the Goddess Ishikore-dome]. Fascinated by Her own nearly forgotten beauty, She came out of the cave a little, which was shut fast behind Her.

Art by Dawn Mostow

Amaterasu is associated with royal power, and returning life and joy after dark times, as the sun becomes stronger and warmer after winter.

Alternate names: Ama-terasu-o-mi-kami” [1]

According to Patricia Monaghan, “Of all the religions currently practiced by significant numbers of people, the only one whose chief divinity is female is Japanese Shinto, based on the worship of the sun Goddess Amaterasu (‘great shining heaven’).

“Amaterasu” by Cyril Helnwein

In Her simple shrines-notable for their architectural purity and unpretentiousness and for the central mirror that represents the Goddess-Amaterasu is honored as the ruler of all deities, as the guardian of Japan’s people, and as the symbol of Japanese cultural unity. Her emblem, the rising sun, still flies on Japan’s flag. Even the inroads of patriarchal Buddhism have not destroyed the worship of the bejeweled ancestor of all humanity.

There is one central myth of Amaterasu. She quarreled with the storm god Susano-o and brought winter to the world. Two reasons are given for her annoyance with him: one, because of his murder of Amaterasu’s sister, the food-giving Goddess Uke-Mochi; the other, because of his deliberately provocative acts against Amaterasu Herself [and savaged the earth].

The latter version has it that Amaterasu did not trust Her brother Susano-o because of his excesses and his constant shouting. One day he came to heaven to see Her, claiming that he meant no harm. She was wary, but he promised that he would undergo a ritual test to prove his goodwill. He said he would give birth, and that if his intentions were peaceful, the children would all be boys.

“Amaterasu” by Sandra M. Stanton

Amaterasu grabbed Susano-o’s sword and broke it with Her teeth, spitting out three pieces which, striking the ground, became Goddesses. Susano-o asked Amaterasu for some of Her jewels: She gave him five; he cracked them open and made them into gods. But then Susano-o grew wild with excitement at his creative feat and tore through the world destroying everything in his path: he even piled feces under Amaterasu’s throne. As though that were not enough, he stole into Her quarters and threw a flayed horse’s corpse through the roof of Her weaving room, so startling one of Amaterasu’s companions [Wakahirume] that She pricked Herself and died.

This was too much for the sun Goddess. She left this mad world and shut Herself up in a comfortable cave. Without the sun, the entire world was blanketed with unending blackness. The eight million gods and goddesses, desperate for their queen’s light, gathered to call out pleas that She return. But in Her cave the Goddess stayed.

The shaman Uzume, Goddess of merriment, finally took matters into Her hands. She turned over a washtub, climbed on top, and began dancing and singing and screaming bawdy remarks.

Soon the dance became a striptease. When She had shed all Her clothes, Uzume began dancing so wildly and obscenely that the eight million gods and goddesses started to shout with delight.

Inside Her cave, Amaterasu heard the noise. As it grew to a commotion, She called to ask what was going on. Someone paused to answer that they had found a better Goddess than the sun.

Provoked-and curious-Amaterasu opened the door of Her cave just a crack.

The gods and goddesses had, with great foresight, installed a mirror directly outside of the cave. Amaterasu, who had never seen Her own beauty before, was dazzled.

“Amaterasu” by *tattereddreams

While She stood there dazed, the other divinities grabbed the door and pulled it open. Thus the sun returned to warm the winter-weary earth. Mounted again on her heavenly throne, Amaterasu punished Susano-o by having his fingernails and toenails pulled out and by throwing him out of her heaven.” [2]





Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses & Heroines, “Amaterasu”.

Took, Thalia. A-Muse-ing Grace Gallery, “Amaterasu“.

Suggested Links:

A Chapel of Our Mother God, “Amaterasu: The Universal Sun Goddess“.

Etan. Order of the White Moon, “Amaterasu“. (This link includes a guided meditation and rituals to Amaterasu)

Goddessgift.com, “Amaterasu and Uzume, Goddesses of Japan“.

Kazuo, MATSUMURA.  “Alone Among Women: A Comparitive Mythic Analysis of the Development of Amaterasu Theology“.

Revel, Anita. igoddess.com, “Amaterasu: laughter over lamentation“.

Sabrina. Goddess A Day, “Amaterasu“.

Stanton, Sandra M. The Goddess in World Mythology, “Amaterasu Omikami“.

Wikipedia, “Amaterasu“.