Tag Archive: androgynous


Goddess Ikapati

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“Dewi Sri” by Much

“Ikapati’s themes are prayer, harvest, thanksgiving, luck and protection. Her symbols are harvested foods.  In the language of the Philippines, this Goddess’s name literally means ‘giver of food’, making Her the provider of the Misa de Gallo! She diligently promotes abundance of fields and crops, and She protects farm animals from disease.

When the sun begins to rise today, people take to the streets with all manner of noise makers to invoke Ikapati’s protection and to banish evil influences that might hinder next year’s crops. Effectively, even in more Christianized forms, this is a lavish harvest festival in which Filipinos thank the divine for their fortune and food, which is always a worthy endeavor.

We can join the festivities today by eating the customary rice cakes to internalize Ikapati’s providence and drinking ginger tea for health and energy. It is traditional during this meal to invite the Goddess to join you at the table. Just leave her a plate and cup filled with a portion of whatever you have.

Tonight, consign this offering to the earth, where Ikapati dwells (or to your compost heap), and whisper a wish for improved luck to the soil. The Goddess will then accept the gift and turn it into positive energy for the planet and your life.”

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

According to Wikipedia, Ikapati is an ancient Tagalog Goddess also known as Lakapati.  Lakapati is “the Goddess of fertility and the most understanding and kind of all the deities. Also known as Ikapati, She was the giver of food and prosperity. Her best gift to mankind was agriculture (cultivated fields). Through this, She was respected and loved by the people. Later, She was married to Mapulon and had a daughter.” [1]

Interestingly enough, I found on a few sites that Lakapati is described as a transgender or hermaphroditic deity.  In a book entitled Mythologies – A Polytheistic view of the World, it states: “Lakampati (Lacapati/Lacanpate) – the major fertility deity of the ancient Tagalogs.  Farmers with their children brought offerings for him at the fields and invoke him to protect them from famine.  Some sources also said that foods and words are offered to him by his devotees asking for ‘water’ for their fields and ‘fish’ when they set sail in the sea for fishing.  Lakampati was a hermaphrodite deity and was commented by some authors and friars as ‘the hermaphrodite devil who satisfies his carnal appetite with men and women’.  He is identified to the ancient Zambal Goddess Ikapati although he/she also has a characteristics similar to other Zambal deities such as Anitong Tawo, Dumangan, Kalasokus, and Kalaskas” (p. 120).

dewi_sri

“Dewi Sri” by Erwin Silman

According to Sri Owen, which was surprising to me, “Filipino rice spirits…are often male.  One group consisted of four brother gods: Dumangan, the god of good harvests and giver of grains; Kalaskas, who supervised the ripening of the rice grains; Kalasokus, in charge of the yellowing and drying of the crop ready for harvest; and Damulag, who protected the rice from wind (remember those terrible Philippines typhoons).  However, they had a female colleague, Ikapati, who was Goddess of cultivated lands and taught agriculture” (p. 54).  This leads me to wonder if Ikapati is somehow “related to” or has any connection with Dewi Sri, Mae PhosopPo Ino NogarWakasaname-no-Kami (who also is an androgynous deity)…

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Owen, Sri. The Rice Book: History, Culture, Recipes, “The Feminine Rice Spirit“.

Wikipedia, “Deities of Philippine mythology“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Halili, M. C. Philippine History.

Ramos, Michael. Polvoron: Tales and Stories from the Philippine Islands, “Pearls“.

Rainbow Serpent

“Rainbow Serpent Dreaming” by Lorraine Williams

“Rainbow Serpent’s themes are beauty, life, joy, fertility, tradition, children and health. Her symbols are flowers, rainbows, rainwater and pearls. The Aborigine Goddess, also sometimes called Julunggul, represents the fertile rains and the waters in the seas. According to tradition, She flows into people’s lives, bringing children, joy, the knowledge of magical healing arts, and protection for sacred traditions.

The city of Queensland, Australia, blossoms around this time of year in a colorful array of flowers. This carnival honors the joy of living, something the Rainbow Serpent embodies.

If you have floral prints, definitely wear them today to inspire the Rainbow Serpent’s ability to flow and adapt, using beauty and happiness as a powerful coping mechanism.

If it rains today, it is a sign of this Goddess’s blessing. Release your inner child and dance in the downpour. Jump in puddles and let Her fertile, productive energy splash freely all over your life and everything around you.

 

To internalize a little of the Rainbow Serpent’s attributes, collect rainwater in a clean pan on or around this date, then steep some edible flower petals (like roses) in the water. Drink or cook with this today so Her power can blossom in your heart.”

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

The Australian Rainbow Serpent” by Susanne Iles

“In the Australian Aboriginal mythology of Arnhem Land, Julunggul is a rainbow snake Goddess, who oversaw the maturing and initiation of boys into manhood. She was a fertility Goddess, associated with rebirth and the weather.

She is also known as Kalseru.

Another name for this deity, Yurlunggur, is also the name of an extinct genus of madtsoiid snakes (Yurlunngur), specifically named after the Aboriginal myth.” [1]  Some believe that belief in the Rainbow Serpent is closely linked to the Wonambi naracoortensis which is an extinct ancient snake of gigantic proportions.” [2]

Patricia Monaghan says that “the rainbow snake Goddess of Australia was able to be male, to be neuter, or to be androgynous.  She was said to be embodied in the ocean and waterfalls, in pearls and crystals, and in the deep pools in which She lived.  A Goddess of initiations, Julunggul was approached in Arnhem Land by boys who, symbolically swallowed and regurgitated by the mother snake, were vomited out again as men” (p. 173).

“The Snake Painting” by Peter Eglington

“The stories associated with the different types of Rainbow Serpents across Australia depend on the tribe and what part of Australia they come from. Those tribes that experience monsoons depict the Rainbow Serpent as interacting with the sun and the wind to create them in their Dreamtime stories. Those tribes that are more central in Australia and do not experience such turbulent weather tell their tales of a Rainbow Serpent that reflect their own environmental condition.” [2]

Susan Iles explains: “There are as many legends of the Rainbow Serpent as there are tribes of people, but the common elements can be found as follows.

“Kandimalal and the Rainbow Serpent” by Boxer Milner, Billiluna

The All-Mighty Creator formed the Earth and the heavens. However, at the time of creation the Earth in the Dreamtime was flat, colourless and desolate. The Rainbow Serpent descended from the sky and moved over the face of the Earth creating deep valleys and rivers, nourishing the planet and giving it form. Some legends tell the story of the Rainbow Serpent populating the world with plants, humans and animals. Other versions tell of the great serpent calling out to all the living creatures of the planet to come out of hiding and enjoy the land. The wise serpent taught them the laws of community, structure, ethics and respect.

By embracing our mythical past and remembering the wisdom of our ancestors we can re-create the sacred trust between Heaven and Earth to ensure a future for humankind.” [3]

Hhmm…there’s that whole Ancestors theme popping up again… 😉

On the Australia.gov.au website, it explains that “in most stories of the Dreaming, the Ancestor Spirits came to the earth in human form and as they moved through the land, they created the animals, plants, rocks and other forms of the land that we know today. They also created the relationships between groups and individuals to the land, the animals and other people.

Once the ancestor spirits had created the world, they changed into trees, the stars, rocks, watering holes or other objects. These are the sacred places of Aboriginal culture and have special properties. Because the ancestors did not disappear at the end of the Dreaming, but remained in these sacred sites, the Dreaming is never-ending, linking the past and the present, the people and the land.

Our story is in the land … it is written in those sacred places … My children will look after those places, That’s the law.
Bill Neidjie , Kakadu elder.

The Creation or Dreaming stories, which describe the travels of the spiritual ancestors, are integral to Aboriginal spirituality. In many areas there are separate spheres of men’s and women’s stories. Knowledge of the law and of the Dreaming stories is acquired progressively as people proceed through life. Ceremonies, such as initiation ceremonies, are avenues for the passing on of knowledge.

Photo of Uluru/Ayers Rock, Northern Territory, Australia by Lil [Kristen Elsby]

Traditional knowledge, law and religion relies heavily on the Dreaming stories with its rich explanations of land formations, animal behaviour and plant remedies.” [4]

 

And now for your viewing pleasure, a video about the Aboriginal Dreamtime Stories – story by Dick Roughsey and narrrated by David Gulpilil.

 

 

 

Sources:

Australia.gov.au, “The Dreaming“.

Iles, Susan. Susanneiles.com, “The Dragon & Creation: Reclaiming the Sacred“.

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Julunggul”.

Mythicalcreatureslist.com, “Kalseru“.

Wikipedia, “Julunggul“.

 

Suggested Links:

Aboriginalartonline.com, “The Rainbow Serpent“.

Adelaideartscult.weebly.com, “Origins Of The Rainbow Serpent Myth“.

Didjshop.com, “The Rainbow Serpent“.

Expedition360.com, “Dreamtime Stories“. (Includes some suggested critical thinking and writing activities).

Kuchinsky, Charlotte. Voices.yahoo.com, “The Rainbow & Various Myths Surrounding It“.

Muenster.org, “Rainbow Serpent“.

 

Goddess Lan Caihe

“Lan Caihe’s themes are longevity and nature. Her symbols are flowers and flutes.  The Buddhist patroness of florists or anyone who enjoys making things grow, this Goddess often walked the streets playing flute music. Her name means ‘red-footed genius’, alluding to a strong connection with the earth and rich soil.

Around this time of year, people in China drink chrysanthemum wine for longevity and wisdom, eat chrysanthemum petals in salads, and enjoy a plethora of flower displays throughout the land.

If anyone in your neighborhood grows chrysanthemums, definitely try a few petals tossed with a green salad and lemon juice. Consume Lan Caihe’s green thumb and internalize Her awareness of earth directly!

Since it’s September, take a leisurely walk today and enjoy people’s gardening efforts. This honors Lan Caihe and allows you to revel in this Goddess’s artistry firsthand. If you can’t walk around because of bad weather, send yourself a bouquet filled with Lan Caihe’s abundance. When it arrives at work or home, it bears this Goddess’s energy within.

Finally, get out and work with the land in some way today. Plant a little hanging flower arrangement. Weed your lawn or garden. Lan Caihe will reward your efforts with a growing connection to earth and its greenery.”

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

Wikipedia says that: “Lan Caihe is the least defined of the Eight Immortals (or Ba Xian). Lan Caihe’s age and sex are unknown. Lan is usually depicted in sexually ambiguous clothing, but is often shown as a young boy or girl carrying a bamboo flower basket.

Stories of Lan’s behaviour are often bizarrely eccentric. Some sources dress Lan Caihe in a ragged blue gown, and refer to them as the patron immortal of minstrels. In another tradition, Lan is a female singer whose song lyrics accurately predict future events.

Lan is often described as carrying a pair of bamboo castanets which they would clap and make a beat with by hitting the ground, they would then sing to this beat and a group of onlookers would follow and watch in amazement and entertain themselves. After these performances they would give them lots of money as they asked for it, Lan Cai. They would then string this cash and coins on a long string of money that they carried. As they walked the coins would fall off and Lan Cai. They would not care, other beggars would then take the money.

S/he is often described as wearing only one shoe and other foot being bare, in the Winter it was said S/he slept naked in the snow and it melted and in the summer it was said S/he stuffed His/Her clothes full and wore thick clothes despite the heat.

Like all the other immortals they were often said to be in a drunken stupor and left this world by flying on a heavenly swan or crane into heaven. One day while in a tavern, they had supposedly gotten up to go to the bathroom. But before leaving they flew off on the crane or swan and stripped off their clothes on the way up.” [1]

On an interesting note, I found that “one theory about this age/gender ambiguity is that it is meant to portray certain Taoist shamanic cross-gender practices.” [2]

 

 

 

Sources:

Reninger, Elizabeth. About.com – Taoism, “Profile of Lan Caihe“.

Wikipedia, “Lan Caihe“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

McBride, Belinda. Dreamspinnerpress.com, “Lan Caihe: The Yin Yang God“.

Newworldencyclopedia.org, “Lan Caihe“.

Goddess Inari

“Inari, Goddes of Prosperity” by ArdiRa

“Inari’s themes are death, kinship, ghosts, fertility and love. Her symbols are foxes, rice and the color red.  Among the Japanese, Inari is invoked to bring a long life, blood-red being Her sacred hue. In death, She guides and protects faithful spirits. Portrayed as a vixen, Inari also has strong correlations with love, an emotion that survives even the grave. Rice is a common offering for Inari, as it is a crop to which She brings fertility.

The Obon is a festival for the dead in Japan, where people hold family reunions and religious rituals to honor their departed ancestors and dance to comfort the spirits. Thse observances are fairly easy to duplicate. Gather with friends or family and include rice cakes and fruit as part of your menu planning. Leave out an extra plater of food both for the spirits of the departed and to please Inari.

To increase Inari’s love in any relationship or to draw a lover to you, make this charm: Find a red-colored stone (agate is a good choice), or any red-colored piece of clothing. Put this under the light of a full moon to charge it with emotional fulfillment. Then bless the item saying,

‘Inari be, ever with me.
By this stone [cloth] of red, let love be fed.
When at [on] my side, let love there abide.’

Put the stone in your pocket (so it’s at your side) and carry it when meeting with that special someone.”

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

“Fox Maiden” by Susan Seddon Boulet

“The Japanese rice Goddess liked to wrap herself in a fox’s body.  Sometimes, too, She took the shape of a human woman in order to sleep with men, who had excellent crops as a result.  One of these men, it was said, realized he was sleeping with the Goddess when he saw a long, furry red tail sticking out from beneath the blankets.  He said nothing of it, and She rewarded his discretion by causing all his rice to grow upside down, thus bearing a full harvest that was exempt from the rice tax.

The legendary woman Tamamono-Maye, possibly an incarnation of Inari, lived at court and could change at will into a flying fox.  An enemy, however, ended her power of transformation (and her life, some say) by confronting her with a mirror, which was powerful medicine against her magic” (Monaghan, p. 162).

“Inari” by Matthew Meyer

As stated in a previous entry (see June 9th Wakasaname-no-Kami), Inari is a very complex deity.  “Inari has been depicted both as male and as female. The most popular representations of Inari, according to scholar Karen Ann Smyers, are a young female food Goddess, an old man carrying rice, and an androgynous bodhisattva…Inari is sometimes identified with other mythological figures. Some scholars suggest that Inari is the figure known in classical Japanese mythology as Ukanomitama or the Kojiki‘s Ōgetsu-Hime; others suggest Inari is the same figure as Toyouke. Some take Inari to be identical to any grain kami.

Inari’s female aspect is often identified or conflated with Dakiniten, a Buddhist deity who is a Japanese transformation of the Indian dakini or with Benzaiten of the Seven Lucky Gods.

  

Inari is often venerated as a collective of three deities (Inari sanza); since the Kamakura period, this number has sometimes increased to five kami (Inari goza). However, the identification of these kami has varied over time. According to records of Fushimi Inari, the oldest and perhaps most prominent Inari shrine, these kami have included IzanagiIzanamiNinigi, and Wakumusubi, in addition to the food deities previously mentioned. The five kami today identified with Inari at Fushimi Inari are Ukanomitama, Sarutahiko, Omiyanome, Tanaka, and Shi. However, at Takekoma Inari, the second-oldest Inari shrine in Japan, the three enshrined deities are Ukanomitama, Ukemochi, and Wakumusubi.  According to the Nijūni shaki, the three kami are Ōmiyame no mikoto (water,) Ukanomitama no mikoto (grain,) and Sarutahiko no mikami (land.)” [1]

 

 

Sources:

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Inari”.

Wikipedia, “Inari Ōkami“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Kitsune, Akasha. Goddessschool.com, “Inari and Her Kitsune“.

Lysianassa. Bukisa.com, “The History and Significance of the goddess Inari“.

Moon, Eidolon. Fox-moon.com, “Watashi no O-Inari-sama“.

OnMark Productions, “INARI / Oinari / Oinari-sama Shinto God/Goddess of Rice & Food“.

Yoose, Becky. University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, “INARI = Shinto Rice Kami“.

Hermaphroditos

“Hermaphroditos’ themes are balance, masculinity, femininity, honor, reason and leadership. Symbols are two-sided items and Yin/Yang symbols.  This androgynous deity was once the son of Hermes, but he loved the nymph Salmakis so much that the lovers became one body and soul, neither the male nor the female being discernible. In this form, Hermaphroditos reminds us that the Goddess is also God, blending the best of both sexes together into powerful, productive energy.

At the midpoint of the year we take a moment’s pause from the Goddess to honor Her consort and other half, the God, represented by fathers everywhere. Take time to thank the special men in your life and pamper them today. Ask Hermaphroditos to show you the Goddess within them, and how God and Goddess work together, making each person unique.

In magic traditions, the God aspect is the conscious, logical force of the universe who offers us the attributes of leadership, reason and focus.

This persona and energy is part of the Goddess – one cannot be serparated from the other.

This is a good day to look withing yourself, find both aspects of the divine and concentrate on bringing them into balance. If you’re normally headstrong, back off a bit. If you’re normally a wallflower, get daring! If you like to plan, become spontaneous – and so forth. Hermaphroditos will show you the way.”

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

“The Nymph Salmacis and Hermaphroditus” by François-Joseph Navez

“In Greek mythology, Hermaphroditus was the son of Hermes, messenger of the gods, and Aphrodite, Goddess of love.  The boy was so beautiful that a nymph named Salmacis fell in love with him and prayed that they would be united forever. The gods granted her the wish one day when Hermaphroditus came to the fountain where she lived. As he was bathing, Salmacis embraced him and pulled him underneath the water, and their bodies merged into one. The result was a person with the figure and breasts of a woman but with the sex organs of a man.

Other versions of the story claim that any man who bathed in the fountain was transformed into a half man, half woman just like Hermaphroditus. It was also said that the waters of the fountain caused anyone who drank from it to grow weak. The original story appears in the [Book IV of] Metamorphoses by the Roman poet Ovid. The English writer Edmund Spenser includes the notion of such a pool, which weakened those who drank from it, in the Faerie Queene.” [1]

“Hermaphroditus’ name is derived from those of his parents, Aphrodite and Hermes [and is the basis for the word hermaphrodite].  All three of these gods figure largely into the Greek tradition of fertility gods and all possess distinctly sexual overtones. Sometimes, Hermaphroditus is referred to as Aphroditus. Half-siblings of Hermaphroditus include the phallic god Priapus and the youthful god of desire Eros.

Contrary to Patricia Telesco’s account, another version of Hermaphroditus’ story goes like this: “Hermaphroditus was raised by nymphs on Mount Ida, a sacred mountain in Phrygia. At the age of fifteen, he grew bored of his surroundings and traveled the cities of Lycia and Caria. It was in the woods of Caria that he encountered Salmacis the Naiad in her pool. She is overcome by lust for the boy, and tries to seduce him, but is rejected. When he thinks her to be gone, Hermaphroditus undresses and enters the waters of the empty pool. Salmacis springs out from behind a tree and jumps into the pool. She wraps herself around the boy, forcibly kissing him and touching his breast. While he struggles, she calls out to the gods in prayer that they should never part. Her wish is granted, and their bodies blend into one intersexual form. Hermaphroditus, in his grief, makes his own prayer: cursing the pool so that any other who bathes within it shall be transformed as well.” [3]

“Salmacis and Hermaphroditus” by Jean François de Troy

Salmacis is a very interesting character to me.  “In Greek mythology, Salmacis was an atypical naiad who rejected the ways of the virginal Greek goddess Artemis in favour of vanity and idleness. Her attempted rape of Hermaphroditus places her as the only nymph rapist in the Greek mythological canon (though see also Dercetis).

‘There dwelt a Nymph, not up for hunting or archery:
unfit for footraces. She the only Naiad not in Diana’s band.
Often her sisters would say: “Pick up a javelin, or
bristling quiver, and interrupt your leisure for the chase!”
But she would not pick up a javelin or arrows,
nor trade leisure for the chase.
Instead she would bathe her beautiful limbs and tend to her hair,
with her waters as a mirror.’

Ovid, Metamorphoses. Book IV, 306-312.

“The Water Nymph” by Herbert James Draper

In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, she becomes one with Hermaphroditus, and Hermaphroditus curses the fountain to have the same effect on others. However, it’s very likely that Ovid fabricated the entire tale himself – his use of ‘praetereo, dulcique animos novitate tenebo’ could be read in several ways, as ‘novitate’ could be translated as either something strange or something new, which would imply that it was a new tale. Salmacis could also have been intended simply as a contrast to the previous tales in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, as others involve a dominant male pursuing an elusive female.” [4]

One blogger writes that this minor Greco-Roman deity of bisexuality, effeminacy, sexuality and fertility “except for one myth of his own life appears no where else in Greek or Roman mythology .  His character suggests very little about his personality.  Hermaphroditus is literally the combination of the male and female aspects, which I suppose, depending on how you look at it, can be both a positive and a negative trait.  But considering his final wish, Hermaphroditus sounds like an angry and bitter person, one who wishes others ill in order to make them suffer the pain he also suffered.  There was no logical reason for him to ask for the pool to be cursed (but then, when has anything truly been logical in myths?)” [5]

Herm of Aphroditus at the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm.

“The oldest traces of the cult in Greek countries are found in Cyprus. Here, according to Macrobius (Saturnalia, iii. 8), there was a bearded statue of a male Aphrodite, called Aphroditos by AristophanesPhilochorus in his Atthis (ap. Macrobius loc. cit.) further identified this divinity, at whose sacrifices men and women exchanged garments, with the Moon. A terracotta plaque from the 7th century BC depicting Aphroditos was found in Perachora, which suggests it was an archaic cult.

The deification and the origins of the cult of hermaphrodite beings stem from Eastern religions (see Ardhanarishvara – the composite androgynous form of the Hindu god Shiva and his consort Parvat), where the hermaphrodite nature expressed the idea of a primitive being that united both genders. This double sex also attributed to Dionysus and Priapus – the union in one being of the two principles of generation and conception – denotes extensive fertilizing and productive powers.

This Cyprian Aphrodite is the same as the later Hermaphroditos, which simply means Aphroditos in the form of a herm (see Hermae), and first occurs in the Characters (16) of Theophrastus.  After its introduction at Athens (probably in the 5th century BCE), the importance of this deity seems to have declined. It appears no longer as the object of a special cult, but limited to the homage of certain sects, expressed by superstitious rites of obscure significance.” [6]

 

 

Sources:

Hellenica, “Hermaphroditus“.

Myths Encyclopedia, “Hermaphroditus“.

Sita. A Witchy Life, “Weekly Deity: Hermaphroditus“.

Wikipedia, “Hermaphroditus“.

Wikipedia, “Salmacis“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Theoi Greek Mythology, “HERMAPHRODITOS“.

Wikipedia, “Aphroditus“.

Wikipedia, “Metamorphoses“.

Wikipedia, “Salmacis (fountain)“.

“sri devi a.k.a dewi sri” by ~hanyasatu

“Wakasaname-no-Kami’s themes are providence, harvest, growth, patience and manifestation. Her symbols are rice and fire.  This Goddess’s name describes Her function in Japan – The Young Rice Planting Maiden. It is Wakasaname’s duty to oversee the rice transplanting at this time of year, as She was born of a union between the food Goddess and grain god. From a more spiritual perspective, Wakasaname-no-Kami offers us the providence and fulfillment that comes from a job patiently well attended.

Early in June, Japanese farmers transplant their rice seedlings into the paddies, asking for the blessings of the Goddess as they go. Prayers are made as ritual fires burn to get Wakasaname’s attention, and they probably act as an invocation to the sun. In you home this might mean going outside (if the weather permits) and offering to the Goddess so She can help you fulfill your work-related goals. Makes sure you keep your purpose in mind while the rice burns and speak your wishes into the smoke so it carries them before Wakasaname’s watchful eyes.

To inspire Wakasaname’s patience in your life, make a bowl of rice. Breathe deeply, then try to pick up one grain with chopsticks. This is an old meditative method from the East, and believe me, it teaches much more about the benefits of persistence and practice!”

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

“Inari” by Susan Seddon Boulet

For today’s entry, the only information I could find on today’s Goddess, Wakasaname-no-Kami, was the following, “The god of Rice called Inari is usually depicted as a bearded old man, but he can transform himself into Wakasaname-no-Kami [Young Rice-Planting Maiden].  This is the spirit whose alter ego, ally or vehicle is the fox.  And a fox is believed to be able to transform itself into the rice spirit, too. ” [1]  (Hmm, interesting considering our encounter a few evenings ago with Fox…)

“Inari” by Matthew Meyer

Further research proved Inari to be a very complex deity.  “Inari has been depicted both as male and as female. The most popular representations of Inari, according to scholar Karen Ann Smyers, are a young female food Goddess, an old man carrying rice, and an androgynous bodhisattva…Inari is sometimes identified with other mythological figures. Some scholars suggest that Inari is the figure known in classical Japanese mythology as Ukanomitama or the Kojiki‘s Ōgetsu-Hime; others suggest Inari is the same figure as Toyouke. Some take Inari to be identical to any grain kami.

Inari’s female aspect is often identified or conflated with Dakiniten, a Buddhist deity who is a Japanese transformation of the Indian dakini or with Benzaiten of the Seven Lucky Gods.

  

Inari is often venerated as a collective of three deities (Inari sanza); since the Kamakura period, this number has sometimes increased to five kami (Inari goza). However, the identification of these kami has varied over time. According to records of Fushimi Inari, the oldest and perhaps most prominent Inari shrine, these kami have included IzanagiIzanamiNinigi, and Wakumusubi, in addition to the food deities previously mentioned. The five kami today identified with Inari at Fushimi Inari are Ukanomitama, Sarutahiko, Omiyanome, Tanaka, and Shi. However, at Takekoma Inari, the second-oldest Inari shrine in Japan, the three enshrined deities are Ukanomitama, Ukemochi, and Wakumusubi.  According to the Nijūni shaki, the three kami are Ōmiyame no mikoto (water,) Ukanomitama no mikoto (grain,) and Sarutahiko no mikami (land.)” [2]

As I then turned my focus onto Inari, I came across this tale and found a rather interesting comparison to Corn Mother which I’ll explain later.  “Uke Mochi, the Japanese Goddess of food, was married to Inari, the god of rice.  One day the moon god Tsuki-yomi, brother of the sun Goddess Amaterasu, dropped in for a visit. In an attempt to be hospitable, Uke Mochi threw up vast quantities of fish, seaweed, game and boiled rice.  Tsuki-yomi was so disgusted by the manner in which he had been served that he killed Her.  Herds of cattle and horses stampeded out of Uke Mochi’s head.  Rice, millet, and red beans spilled out of Her eyes, ears and nose.  Wheat sprouted from Her genitals, soy beans grew from Her rectum, and even a mulberry tree crawling with silkworms sprang from Her body.” [3]

“Uke Mochi” by Kabuki Katze

I find it interesting, and obvious now that I think about it, that two such important staples (corn and rice) are associated with Goddesses; Goddesses with different names and epithets across the regions They reign across (as there are many names for the Corn Mother among the various tribes of North America and for rice Goddesses across Asia – see Phosop).  Now, read this synopsis of the two main version about Corn Mother.  “The story of the Corn Mother is related in two main versions with many variations.

“Corn Maiden” by Marti Fenton (White Deer Song)

In the first version (the ‘immolation version’), the Corn Mother is depicted as an old woman who succors a hungry tribe, frequently adopting an orphan as a foster child. She secretly produces grains of corn by rubbing Her body. When Her secret is discovered, the people, disgusted by her means of producing the food, accuse Her of witchcraft. Before being killed—by some accounts with Her consent—She gives careful instructions on how to treat Her corpse. Corn sprouts from the places over which Her body is dragged or, by other accounts, from Her corpse or burial site.

In the second version (the ‘flight version’), She is depicted as a young, beautiful woman who marries a man whose tribe is suffering from hunger. She secretly produces corn, also, in this version, by means that are considered to be disgusting; She is discovered and insulted by Her in-laws. Fleeing the tribe, She returns to Her divine home; Her husband follows Her, and She gives him seed corn and detailed instructions for its cultivation.” [4]

“The Slaying of Mother Earth” by Matthew Bandel

Do you see the common theme in both the Japanese and Native American stories?  In all three stories, the Goddess produces food in ways that are considered “disgusting”.  In all three stories, She is sent away (either killed or flees).  In both the Japanese and Native American “immolation version”, food – vital staples for survival, sprout from Her body.  Really think about that.  Really think about the “disgusting” and “dirty” things that the Goddess does and is associated with that are necessary for life to flourish.  She takes abuse, is ridiculed and exploited for Her “dirtiness”; that which She freely sacrifices and gives out of love in order for Her children to live.  Thinking about this can get pretty deep…

 

 

 

Sources:

Encyclopedia Britannica, “Corn Mother“.

Hathaway, Nancy. The Friendly Guide to Mythology: A Mortal’s Companion to the Fantastical Realm of Gods and Goddesses Monsters Heroes, “Uke Mochi“.

Khandro.net, “Rice“.

Wikipedia, “Inari Ōkami“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

OnMark Productions, “INARI / Oinari / Oinari-sama Shinto God/Goddess of Rice & Food“.

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

Kuchinsky, Charolette. Yahoo! Voices, “The Myth of the Japanese Goddess, Ukemochi“.

Roberts, Jeremy. “Japanese Mythology A – Z“. (This is a PDF)

Yoose, Becky. University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, “INARI = Shinto Rice Kami“.

Goddess Luonnotar

"Light Goddess" by Mi9

“Luonnotar’s themes are creativity, tradition, fertility and beginnings.  Her symbols are eggs, the East Wind and poetry.  A Finno-Ugric creatrix, Luonnotar closes the month of February with an abundance of creative, fertile energy. Her name means ‘daughter of earth’, and according to legend She nurtured the cosmic eggs from which the sun, moon and stars developed. In the Kalevala, Luonnotar is metaphorically represented as the refreshing east wind – the wind of beginnings. She also created the first bard, Väinämöinen.

The Kalevala is the epic poem of more than twenty thousand verses that recounts the history and lore of the Finnish people. Luonnotar appears in the creation stanzas, empowering the entire ballad with Her energy. If there’s anything in your life that needs an inventive approach or ingenious nudge, stand in an easterly wind today and let Luonnotar’s power restore your personal muse. If the wind doesn’t cooperate, stand instead in the breeze created by a fan facing west!

To generate fertility or internalize a little extra resourcefulness as a coping mechanism in any area of your life, make eggs part of a meal today. Cook them sunny-side-up for a ‘sunny’ disposition, over easy to motivate transitions, or hard boiled to strengthen your backbone!”

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

“In the beginning, there was only the Goddess Luonnotar, whose name means ‘Daughter of Nature’. She was becoming bored of being alone in the void of emptiness, so She let herself fall into the primal ocean where She floated aimlessly. The breath of the wind gently caressed Her, and the waters of the sea made her fertile. As she floated, a duck swam by looking for a dry place to build her nest and lay her eggs. She came upon the Goddess floating in the ocean, and perceived her knee to be a small island. The duck climbed up onto Luonnotar’s knee and laid 3 of her eggs, on which she sat for 3 days. On the end of the third day, Luonnotar felt a horrible burning pain on her knee, and jerked it up violently, tossing the 3 eggs and the duck back into the sea. The eggs did not break, but rather turned into beautiful things. The lower half of the eggs became the bountiful Earth, bringing plants and animals into existence. The upper part of the eggs became the sky, the speckled parts becoming the starry heavens, the dark patches becoming the clouds in the sky and the yolks joining to become the sun. Luonnotar completed the work of creation by causing springs of water to well up, nourishing the Earth. She also dug trenches, flattened out the ground and planted the first seeds of life so that the planet could flourish.” [1]

"Luonnotar" by Lisa Hunt

In another version, Luonnotar “floated for centuries on the primordial ocean, until one day an eagle landed on Her knee and built a nest. Luonnotar sat and watched the bird eagerly, happy for something to finally be happening after centuries of loneliness and boredom. She became too excited, however, and upset the nest, and the eggs fell and broke. The broken shells of the eggs formed the heavens and the earth. The yolks became the sun, the whites the moon, and scattered fragments of the eggs transformed into the stars. Afterward, Luonnotar fashioned the continents from the eggs that made up the land, and divided the seas.” [2]

“A Goddess similar to Azer-Ava, Luonnotar was occasionally seen as a triple Goddess.  She had three sons, all culture-heros (VäinämöinenLemminkäinen and Ilmarinen representing poetry, magic and smithcraft respectively).  She was sometimes dual-sexed, with Her alternative name, Ilmater, sometimes described Her masculine name.  When part of the Goddess-trinity, Luonnotar is connected with Udutar and Terhetär, sisters who live together sifting mist through a sieve to cause disease.  In some traditions, Luonnotar gave birth to the world’s first woman, Kave, who in turn gave birth to humanity; yet at times, Kave is used as a title of Luonnatar.  Her connection to the dual Goddesses Suvetar, daughter of summer and Etelätär, daughter of the wind, is unclear, although both are invoked with titles resembling those of Luonnotar.” (Patricia Monaghan, Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines, p. 364).

Sources:

The Eclectic Magazine of Foreign Literature, Science and Art, Vol. 42.

Monaghan, Patricia. Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines. “Luonnotar“. Greenwood, 2009.

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