Tag Archive: Izanagi


Goddess Izunome-no-Kami

“Toyotamahime” by Sara Ogi

“Izunome-no-kami’s themes are mediation, health and cleansing. Her symbol are fire or water. A Goddess of purification, Izunome-no-kami helps us prepare for the sacred festivals of late fall and early winter with Her cleansing power. While She was born in water, this Goddess’s energy exists in any rites for purification, including those centered on fire.

Kurama Himatsuri is a festival in Japan designed to welcome and help people commune with the native deities who come to earth this day. People carry light sources like candles and torches, which offer Izunome-no-kami’s purifying energies to the meeting. In this part of the world it is considered unseemly to go before the Goddes spiritually or physically dirty.

In keeping with this theme, take a ritual bath today before your daily prayers or meditations. Add cleansing herbs like pine needles, bay leaves, fennel, lemon rind, or mint. Alternatively, drop in a few herbal tea bags (like peppermint or chamomile) to keep the dried items from clogging the drain. Before getting in, stir the water counter clockwise, saying:
‘Goddess of cleansing power
purify me this sacred hour
Remove all guilt, all blame or shame
I ask this by invoking your name:
Izunome-no-kami.’

Keep whispering the Goddess’s name at regular intervals until you get out of the tub. Then enter your prayers and meditations with a purified mind, heart and spirit.”

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

Art by Seishiro Jay Tomioka

“The ‘Angel of Purification’ is Izunome-no-kami, a deity formed to purify Izanagi of filth [see my entry on Izanami-no-kami]…Izunome is related to the wedded gods Haya-akitsu-hiko (male) and Haya-akitsu-hime (female) who together ‘wash away all impurity like a mighty river flowing and swallow up all sin like a great ocean.’  Morihei [ a famous martial artist and founder of the Japanese martial art of aikido] felt Izunome – who is generally considered female – to be present within his own body, and Aikidō to be the manifestation of that deity’s power of purification and restoration.  Morihei hoped that Aikidō students would eventually realize that each and every one of them also had Izunome within” (Ueshiba & Stevens, p. 46).

Sources:

Ueshiba, Morihei & John Stevens. The Essence of Aikido: Spiritual Teachings of Morihei Ueshiba, Songs of the Path“.

 

Suggested Links:

Eos.kokugakuin.ac.jp, “Haraedo“.

Kokugakuin.ac.jp, “Kamiumi“.

Onmarkproductions.com, “Shinto & Shintoism Guidebook“.

www2.plala.or.jp, “The Teachings of Onisaburo’s Deguchi“.

Goddess Izanami-No-Kami

“Izanami” by Jay Tomioka

“Izanami-no-kami’s themes are art, creativity and excellence. Her symbol is poetry.  In Japan, this creative Goddess is considered to have made all things, and She inspires similar inventiveness within us. Traditionally, She is honored through artistic displays, including dance, song, music, and poetry reading.

Every September, poets from across Japan come to the Imperial Palace to compose verses. Upon receiving a cup of sake floated down the river, each poet must create an impromptu verse. The winner becomes the nation’s poet laureate.  In keeping with this idea, concentrate on trying your own hand at a little sacred poetry today, perhaps even a haiku. Traditional haiku contains seven syllables in the first line, five syllables in the second line and seven or five in the last; each line evokes an image or feeling in the reader’s mind. Here’s one example:

Izanami-no-kami
paints the universe
radiant – eternity

If poetry isn’t your forte, engage in another art form through which Izanami-no-kami’s imaginative spirit can shine. Ask for Her assistance and inspiration before you begin, and see what wonders Her nudge can arouse in you. Or, visit an art gallery, making notes of the things that really strike a harmonious chord in your spirit.”

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

So, I’m not exactly sure where Patricia Telesco’s description of Izanami comes from, because the descriptions I found paint Her as a creatrix and Queen of the Underworld, sharing some common elements with Persephone‘s story.

Patricia Monaghan writes: “Before this world, there was only a chaos of oil and slime, which slowly congealed to produce unnamed and innumerable divinities.  [The first gods according to Wikipedia were Kunitokotachi and Amenominakanushi who] finally, said the Japanese, [summoned] two distinct [divine beings]: Izanami, the inviting woman, and Her consort, Izanagi, the inviting man.  Standing on the rainbow, they stirred chaos with a spear [named Ame-no-nuboko] until a bit of matter formed.  Placing this island on the oily sea, they descended to create and populate the earth.

But they did not, at first, know how.  It was only after watching two water birds mating that they understood the necessary procreative act.  So they too mated, and Izanami gave birth to the islands of Japan, to its waterfalls and mountains, and then to the animals and plants that live there.

Last to be conceived was fire, which virually exploed from Izanami’s body, leaving Her retching and bleeding.  From all Her excretions – from Her blood, Her vomit, Her urine – new creatures sprang up and established themselves on the new land.  But Izanami Herself died.

She traveled to the underworld – Yomi (‘gloomy land’).  Izanagi, however, desperate without Her, traveled to Yomi to ask Her to return.  She, however, had already established Herself in the world of death and refused [a few sources state that She had already eaten the food of the underworld and was now one with the land of the dead. She could no longer return to the living].  But She suggested that he speak to the lord of death, asking for Her release.  Izanami warned him, though, not tot enter the palace.

“Izanami” by Matthew Meyer

Heedlessly curious, Izanagi approached the dark building; then he took a broken comb and broke off its last tooth.  Lighting it, he looked inside, where the body of Izanami was decomposing.  Her spirit attacked him, humiliated at having been seen that way; She drove him from the underworld and, as they parted, claimed his actions constituted a final divorce.  Some say that Izanami rules still as queen of death from Her home in gloomy Yomi” (Monaghan, p. 168 – 169).

The actions that Monaghan writes of were Izanagi pushing a boulder in the mouth of the Yomotsuhirasaka (cavern that was the entrance of Yomi) thus creating a boundary between the world of the living and the world of the dead.  This infuriated Izanami-no-Mikoto and She screamed from behind this impenetrable barricade that if he left Her She would destroy 1,000 residents of the living every day to which he replied he would give life to 1,500.

To purify himself after coming into contact with the dead, Izanagi bathed in the sea and as he bathed, a number of deities came into being to include the sun Goddess Amaterasu, born of a tear from his left eye.

 

 

Sources:

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

Wikipedia, “Izanami-no-Mikoto“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Britannica.com, “Izanagi and Izanami“.

Goddesses.info, “IZANAMI“.

Meyer, Matthew. Matthewmeyer.net, “Oh My Kami: Izanagi and Izanami” and “Oh My Kami: Izanagi and Izanami(part 2)“.

Mythencyclopedia.com, “Izanagi and Izanami“.

University of Georgia: Department of Geology, “The Origin of Japan and her People“.

 

“Thoughts of A Dead Husband” by Rickbw1

“Nakisawame-no-Mikoto’s themes are peace, honor, history, death and forgiveness. Her symbols are trees.  The Goddess of mourning in Japan, Nakisawame-no-Mikoto weeps with the memories of the many innocent people who have died in wars throughout the ages. She comes into our hearts today in the hope that we will learn form our collective past.

According to tradition, Nakisawame-no-Mikoto lives in the base of trees, her roots holding firm to the earth and its history. This also speaks strongly of our family trees and the importance of kinship.

On August 6, 1945, the atom bomb landed in Hiroshima, resulting in the loss of thousands of lives and many years of radiation sickness. In the spirit of Nakisawame-no-Mikoto, today acts as a memorial to the people who died and a celebration of the peace that has been maintained. Traditionally, tiny paper lanterns are floated on flowing waters as wishes for the dead.

So, light a candle today for someone you know who died needlessly, or fighting a just cause. The flame of the candle reperesnts the Goddess and the memory of that person whose efforts light the way for a better future.

To encourage peace between yourself and someone else, plant a token that represents your desire beneath a tree so that this Goddess can begin helping you achieve harmony.”

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

“Keiko” by Iridescence-art

“Naki-sawa-me-no-kami is the Japanese Goddess of mourning. She was born from the tears of Izanagi, weeping over the loss of his wife, Izanami. Naki-sawa-me lives in the base of the trees on the foothills of the mountain Amanokaguyama. Her name, which means ‘weeping marsh woman Goddess,’ is also seen as Naki-sawa-me-no-mikoto, Naki-saha-me-no-kami, and Naki-saha-no-me-no-mikoto.” [1]

 

 

 

Sources:

Sabrina. Goddess A Day, “Naki-sawa-me-no-kami“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Crystalinks.com, “Japanese Creational Myths“.

Encyclopedia of Shinto, “Kami in Classic Texts“.

Encyclopedia of Shinto, “Nakisawame“.

Goddess Amaterasu

“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]

 

 

 

Sources:

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“.

"elemental de aire" by ADES21

“Shina Tsu Hime’s themes are wishes, freedom, playfulness, air element and movement.  Her symbols are the wind and sailing ships.  This Japanese wind Goddess disperses the morning fog. She also keeps away evil, distracting winds, winds that threaten to uproot or blur our spiritual focus. Because of this, Shina Tsu Hime has become the patroness of sailors and farmers, the latter of whom pray to Her for fertile winds bearing seed and rain.

Join our Eastern cousins in Japanese kite-flying festivities known as Tako-Age.  Shine Tsu Hime will be glad to meet with you in a nearby a park and give life to your kite. As it flies, release a wish on the winds. Or cut the kite free and liberate a weight from your shoulders.

While you’re out, gather up nine leaves that Shine Tsu Hime banters about (one for each remaining month). Turn clockwise in a circle, releasing all but one leaf back into Shina Tsu Hime’s care while saying:

 ‘Come May, bring movement in my goals
Come June, playful love makes me whole
Come July, my wishes I will see
Come August, hope grows in me
Come September, all distractions you abate
Come October, my spirit, you liberate
Come November, my health is assured
Come December, in my heart you endure.’

Keep the last leaf with you, releasing it only when you need one of this Goddess’s attributes to manifest quickly.”

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

While researching Shine Tsu Hime, I didn’t find anything under this name.  I did find Shine-To-Be, “Japanese Goddess, wife of Shine-Tsu-Hiko” [1], but not much else.  “Shine-Tsu-Hiko is the god of the wind. Shine-Tsu-Hiko fills up the empty space between earth and heaven, and with his wife Shina-To-Be, he holds up the earth.” [2]  According to Wikipedia, Shina-To-Be is a Japanese Goddess of the winds.  The name Shina-To-Be panned out a little more information for me as I researched this Shinto Goddess.

Upon further research, I came across the following information on the entry for “Shinatsuhiko” in the online Encyclopedia of Shinto, “Other names: Shinatobe no mikoto (Nihongi)

According to an “alternate writing” transmitted by Nihongi, Shinatsuhiko was a kami produced at the time Izanagi and Izanami gave birth to the land (kuniumi). As he produced the land of Japan, Izanagi used his breath to dispel the mist covering the country, thereby giving birth to Shinatsuhiko.

The name is interpreted variously as meaning ‘man of long breath’ and ‘man of the place where wind arises,’ and both Kojiki and Nihongi view him as a kami of wind.

[Ok, no mention of any Goddess or anything that Patricia Telesco mentions above.  In fact, it just sounds like she took his attributes and gave them to Shina Tsu Hime, or Shina-To-Be.  But wait – here’s where it gets interesting…]

"Aeris: Air" by AkinaSaita

According to Nihongi, Shinatsuhiko was an alternate name for Shinatobe, a female kami, when tobe is considered a variant of the feminine tomeEngishiki‘sNorito for the Festival of the Tatsuta Wind Kami” likewise suggests that the two names originally referred to a single pair of male-female kami.” [3]

To me, this implies that both were considered equal at one time.  According to Jeremy Roberts, author of Japanese Mythology A – Z, “For much of Japan’s recorded history, women were largely confined to subserviant social roles.  However, exceptions to this general rule are noted in both myth and legend.  For example, in the Shinto creation myth, the most important deity in heaven is Amaterasu, the sun Goddess.  Many historians and anthropologists believe that these references indicate that early Japanese culture had matriarchal clan structures and that women played an important role in leading society.” [4]   So, the conclusion I draw is that at one time, She was considered an equal and was later “downgraded” and all attributes given to Shinatsuhiko while She played the subservient supportive wife and he took all the credit.  I ask myself, “Why?”  but deep down I already know the answer.

If Shinatobe and Shinatsuhiko both originally refer to a single pair of male-female kami held in equal status and importance, what lesson is to be learned here?  The air is what they equally preside over and the air is what we breath – all of us sharing the same air; all of us, breathing in the Universe.

Balance.  Equality.  Connection.  We’ve been ripped away and kept from our Mother for far too long.  With the new astrological era, the Age of Aquarius (that some would argue is already upon us while others say is yet to come), a new spiritual awakening has begun.  An evolution of consciousness and healing is on the horizon.  We are shifting back and restoring our Mother to Her rightful place and recognizing Her role in creation as the Creatrix.  We are feeling Her energy stir, rising and growing stronger.  As we wake up and realize that we are Divine, that male and female are equal – none lesser or subservient to the other; we experience a sense of love, connectedness, wholeness and balance.

In the above graphic, the two hands interlocking represent what is called the Vesica Piscis.  To me, this symbol represents balance, wholeness, birth and harmony.  It is essentially the intersection of two, overlapping spheres.  The sphere is a symbol of a being with no beginning and no end, continually existing, perfectly formed and profoundly symmetrical.  The addition of a second sphere represents the expansion of unity into the duality of male and female, God and Goddess. By overlapping, the two spheres, the God and Goddess are united, creating a Yoni.  From their Divine Union and through the Yoni, life emerges.  Both are equal in size – one is not bigger or smaller than the other; the Vesica Piscis is balanced. [5]

Wow, where did I just go off to?  Here we started out discussing and researching the Shinto Goddess Shina Tsu Hime and ended up examining Sacred Geometry.  To get back on point with Shina Tsu Hime, to me, She one half of a Divine Couple.  She plays an equal part in that which She is said to preside over.  Her role is no less important than that of Her husband’s.  Together, they form a complete and complementary union.  If we were to acknowledge and recognize this within ourselves, I truly believe that we’d be in a better place.

 

 

Sources:

Chinaroad Löwchen, “Japanese Goddess Names.”

Encyclopedia of Shinto, “Shinatsuhiko“.

Everything2.com, “The Shinto Kami of Japan“.

Ward, Dan Sewell. Library of Halexandria, “Vesica Pisces“.

Wikipedia, “Shina-To-Be“.

Suggested Links:

Paralumun New Age Village, “Japanese Mythology“.

Roberts, Jeremy. Japanese Mythology A-Z, “Wind Gods“.

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