Tag Archive: shintoism


Goddess Okame

“Okame’s themes are luck and kindness. Her symbols are masks and good-luck charms. In Japanese art, Okame is portrayed as simple and somewhat homely, yet Her domain is the beautiful energy of good fortune and kind acts. In this form, Okame gently reminds us that true beauty really does come from within. Local lore claims that any area that bears a mask of Okame’s likeness is blessed with Her lucky nature.

Late in November, just preceding the new year in Japan, this is a day for rituals to improve one’s wealth and luck.  Following the Japanese tradition, begin by finding any lawn rake (or broom), and attach as many personal good-luck charms to it as you can find. Take this token clockwise around your home, raking or brooming inward, to gather up Okame’s fortunate energies. As you go through your house, add verbal incantations like the following:

‘[In the kitchen] Okame, in my kitchen shine
so that good luck will be mine!
[Dining Room] Okame, at this table where we eat
let good fortune take a seat!
[Living room] In this room where people lounge
let your fortuity come around!
[Bathroom] Clean negativity and problems away
let good luck start today!’

To encourage Okame’s serendipity even further, you can burn orange, rose, heather, violet, or allspice incense or potpourri as you go.”

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

In one of his blog entries, Kurt Bell explains: “Okame, also known as Uzume or Otafuku is the name for the female half of a traditional Japanese Kyogen theatre pair. She is considered to be the Goddess of mirth and is frequently seen in Japanese art. Her full cheeks and merry eyes are an unforgettable sight and a delight to behold. Some Japanese scholars theorize that long ago, when the first Okame images were created, they may have represented an idealized form of feminine beauty. Styles and tastes are subject to change, and the ancient Japanese might be surprised to learn that the name Okame is today sometimes used as a less-than-appreciated joking taunt by Japanese husbands and boyfriends who haven’t yet learned better. In contrast, a famous and contemporary Japanese Kyogen actor once commented that the countenance of Okame is what every man hopes his bride will look like on his wedding night.” [1]

 

 

 

Sources:

Bell, Kurt. Softypapa.wordpress.com, “Japan Farm Scarecrow – Okame Goddess of Mirth“.

 

Suggested Links:

Greenshinto.com, “Otafuku and Uzume

Wikipedia, “Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto“.

Goddess Tatsuta-Hime

“Oriental Autumn” by ~OzureFlame

“Tatsuta-Hime’s themes are children, health, luck, thankfulness, autumn, blessings, abundance and protection. Her symbols are Fall leaves.  This windy Japanese Goddess blows into our lives today offering blessings and abundance for all our efforts. Tradition tells us that She weaves the Fall leaves into a montage of color, then sweeps them away along with any late-fall maladies. Sailors often wear an amulet bearing Her name to weather difficult storms at sea safely.

The Shichi-go-San Festival, also known as the 7-5-3 Festival, in Japan is a huge birthday celebration for children who have reached these ages. Parents take their young ones to local shrines for the Goddess’ and Gods’ blessings. Here they receive a gift of rice for prosperity, and a bit of pink hard candy for a long life.

If you have children, by all means follow this custom to draw Tatsuta-Hime’s protective energies into their lives. Place some rice, a piece of pink candy, and a strand of the child’s hair in a little sealed box. Write the Goddess’s name somewhere on the box to keep her blessing intact. Put this in the child’s room or on the family altar.

To manifest this Goddess’s health and well-being, take several swatches of fabric bearing her name and sew them into various items of clothing, or carry on in your pocket. Should your day prove emotionally stormy, this little charm will keep you centered, calm, and ‘on course’.”

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

“Aeris: Air” by AkinaSaita

Though Tatsuta-Hime (pronounced tat-SUE-tah HEE-may) is a minor wind Goddess, Her essence and actions are unforgettable.  It is said that each year Tatsuta-Hime, Goddess of dyeing and weaving, dyes silk yarn and weaves a beautiful multicolored tapestry of yellow, orange, russet, crimson and gold.  She then incarnated Herself as wind and blew Her own work to shreds.  According to Janet and Stewart Farrar, Her male counterpart is Tatsuta-Hiko and is prayed to for good harvests.

 

 

 

Sources:

Farrar, Janet & Stewart. The Witches’ Goddess.

Goddesses-and-gods.blogspot.com, “Tatsuta-Hime“.

Hathaway, Nancy. The Friendly Guide to Mythology, “Tatsuta-Hime“.

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Tatsuma-Hime”.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Darumamuseumgallery.blogspot.com, “Four Seasons Deities“.

Satow, Sir Earnest Mason & A.G.S. Hawes. A Handbook for Travelers in central and northern Japan, “Tatta“, (p. 386).

Shine Tsu-Hiko.

Goddess Okitsu-Hime

“Goddess of Fire” by Suzette Troche-Stapp

“Okitsu-hime’s themes are fire, providence, kinship and health. Her symbols are fire sources (especially those cooked upon) and boiling water. Okitsu-hime is the Shinto Goddess of kitchens in Japan. Here She watches over all foods prepared and over family interactions to keep health and emotional warmth in the home. Traditionally, any pot of boiling water represents this Goddess’s activity.

As in Japan, today is the perfect time to honor those people who prepare your food (even if it’s you!). Give your kitchen Goddess the day off and go out to eat.  Or, alternatively, uplift the kitchen Goddess’s talents by preparing a truly sumptuous meal of all your family favorites. Leave a small portion of each course on or near your stove as an offering to Okitsu-hime.  Later, put these tid-bits in the compost, or outside for the birds, so the Goddess’s blessings will continue to generate good things.

Light a candle today, and get out some cleaning utensils to scrub the stove, toaster, over, or microwave so that Okitsu-hime’s energy can really shine in the area where you prepare most of your meals.  Symbolically, the cleaning process washes away sickness and negativity. Afterward, light or turn on that appliance for a moment to draw the kitchen Goddess back to Her honored place of residence.”

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

“Huchi-Fuji” by Kris Walherr

Okitsu-hime is “a Shinto kitchen-Goddess. Daughter of O-Toshi. Consort of Oki-Tsu-Hiko.” [1]  Interestingly enough, I found in Transactions, Volume 10 that Oki-tsu-hiko and Oki-tsu-hime together form a single deity. [2]

According to Karen M. Gerhart, “it is unclear when anthropomorphic images associated with the god of the hearth fire appeared, but at some point a pair of deities formed of clay or wood, known as Okitsuhime no mikoto (female) and Okitsuhiko no kami (male), were enshrined in the kitchen of the imperial palace and received offerings from the person(s) in charge of preparing food.  This practice then spread to members of the court and later to commoners, who enshrined the images in their kitchens to protect the hearth fires” (p. 20).

 

 

 

Sources:

Asiatic Society of Japan. Transactions, Volume 10.

Gerhart, Karen M. The Material Culture of Death in Medieval Japan, “Death in the Fourteenth Century“.

Mythologydictionary.com, “Japanese Lore, Gods, Demigods, Heroes, Symbols, and Other Famous Mythological Characters: Oki-Tsu-Hime“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Aston, William George. Shinto, the way of the gods, “The Pantheon – Nature Deities: Furnace  Gods“.

Hearn, Lafcadio. Japan; an Attempt at Interpretation, “Development of Shinto“. (p. 143)

Heyden, Louise. Suite101.com, “An Introduction to Kitchen Witch Goddesses“.

Herbert, Jean. Shinto: At the Fountainhead of Japan.

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 Yama-No-Shinbo

“Yama-No-Shinbo’s theme are luck, wealth, prosperity, protection and joy. Her symbols are good-luck charms. This Japanese Goddess of prosperity and good fortune joins in today’s festivities by blessing all efforts to improve our luck. Her name means ‘mother of the mountain’, which, in feng shui (the art of placement in accordance with a region’s energy patterns for the most beneficial result), represents a protective, ancient power that brings happiness and wealth to those within its shadow.

The annual festival of Bettar-tchi takes place near the shrine of Ebisu to encourage good luck. Sticky items are among the favored tokens carried today, to encourage good fortune to literally stick to the participants.  For our purposes this might translate into using double-sided tape inside a piece of clothing so that the outside can gather Yama-no-Shinbo’s fortunate energy.  Alternatively, put a symbol of an area of your life that needs better luck (such as a dollar bill for money) on the refrigerator with a magnet, while whispering a brief prayer to the Goddess. This action symbolizes prosperity sticking with you (and attracting right energy.)

Take out any tokens or objects around your home that you value for their lucky energy. Clean them off, and ask Yama-no-Shinbo to energize them anew for protection. Put your hands over the tops of these, visualize a personally lucky-coloured light filling them, and say:

‘Goddess of fortune
fill this charm
keep me ever safe from harm.'”

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

Patricia Monaghan refers to this Goddess as Yama-no-Kami.  She writes: “In Japan, this Goddess was a spirit of sacred mountains, one who brought good luck to hunters and woodsmen who attended Her rites but who could be quite stern with those who did not.  One-legged and one-eyed, She was invoked as a protector of women in childbed under the name of Juni-sama, for She has a secret box of souls from which She endows each new being. As a seasonal Goddess, She annually gives birth to twelve children, the year’s twelve months.  In singular form, She is Yama-no-Shinbo, the mountain mother (p. 319).

Wikipedia states: “Yama-no-Kami is the name given to a kami of the mountains in the Shinto religion of Japan. These can be of two different types. The first type is a god of the mountains who is worshipped by hunters, woodcutters, and charcoal burners. The second is a god of agriculture who comes down from the mountains and is worshipped by farmers. This kami is generally considered as a Goddess, or a female deity.

Yama-no-Kami appearing in Japanese mythology include:

  • Oho-Yamatsumi, the father of Konohanasakuya-hime.
  • Masaka-Yamatsumi
  • Odo-Yamatsumi
  • Oku-Yamatsumi
  • Kura-Yamatsumi
  • Shigi-Yamatsumi
  • Ha-Yamatsumi
  • Hara-Yamatsumi
  • To-Yamatsumi
  • Konohanasakuya-hime, the wife of Ninigi and great-grandmother of Emperor Jimmu.
  • Ohoyamakui, the god of Mount Hiei.
  • Shirayama-hime, the Goddess of Mount Hakusan.

Their Chinese parallel is the shanshen.” [1]

“Seasons” by Jia Lu

Apparently “when She so chooses, She can appear as beautiful, passionate, and maternal.  But, She also has a darker form, that of a hideous and malicious old hag.  It is said that She can change between the two in the flash of an eye.” [2]

Sources:

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Yama-no-Kami”.

MXTODIS123. Reclaimingthedarkgoddess.blogspot.com, “Yamanokami“.

Wikipedia, “Yama-no-Kami”.

Suggested Links:

Billington, S. The Concept of the Goddess.

Hiroshi, Iwai. Eos.kokugakuin.ac.jp, “Yamanokami“.

Monaghan, Patricia. Goddesses in World Culture, Volume 1, “Yama no Kami: Mountain Mother of Japan”. (p. 159 – 168) – HIGHLY RECOMMEND!

Morika, Kiyomi. The Sociology of Japanese Religion.

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“.

 

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