A Foxes’ Wedding

In Japan, rain falling from a clear sky is called a “Foxes’ Wedding”

To Inari-Sama

She leaves whispers in the greenwood
Sylvan shadows, silver light
Raindrops falling one by one
It’s a foxes’ wedding today

Twilight trails behind her
Sylvan shadows one by one
She leaves raindrops in the forest
It’s a foxes’ wedding today

Silver light is fading
Trailing rainclouds one by one
She leaves twilight in the mountains
It’s a foxes’ wedding today

Raindrops falling in the greenwood
Silver light in sylvan green
She leaves sorrow in the twilight
It’s a foxes’ wedding tonight

The Wonderful and Mysterious Inari-sama.

Inari Okami

Hanazono Inari Shrine, in Ueno Park

Inari-sama is believed to have over 30,000 shrines in Japan. This makes him (or her) Japan’s most popular kami, if we judge by box office returns. The odd thing, though, is that no one knows where she (or he) came from. He doesn’t appear in the Classical texts Kōjiki or Nihongi, and no Buddhist origin can be pinpointed either. Her cult appeared quite suddenly in the records, in 711 CE when the famous Fushimi Inari shrine was founded in Kyoto.

Of course, any observer of Japanese history can see the threads that coalesced into Inari-sama’s present cult. Stories of fox spirits were imported from China, and merged with native animistic beliefs. These beliefs, along with the cults of the fox-riding deity Dakiniten and native Japanese deities of foodstuffs, came together to form the Inari cult that we know today.

While the cultus of Inari-sama has been heavily influenced by native beliefs, Chinese fox-lore, and Buddhism, it is also animated by the spirit of something (someone) far greater: Inari-sama. Himself has a gentle and playful presence that stirs the heart and puts one up for any sort of mischief He wishes to devise. Reading about Inari-sama in books or online does not and cannot prepare one for encountering him. This includes what you are reading now.

Tsuwano (2 of 3): Taikodani Inari Shrine

O-Inari-Sama!!!! *YAY*

San'in Monogatari

You might see these photos and think, “oh, I know this place!”

Let me remind you that this is a San’in region blog. This is not Kyoto. This is Tsuwano, the Little Kyoto of San’in!

Like the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, Taikodani Inari Shrine is also dedicated to this popular fox deity. Also like Fushimi Inari and other Inari shrines throughout Japan, it has a tunnel of torii gates leading up the shrine, and pockets of little areas filled with fox statues left as offerings. It is said that there are a thousand gates at this shrine, and you can see the bright red shrine with a brilliant trail leading up to it from a ways away on the road, though what appears above the trees makes it look like it suddenly appeared on the mountain. Although it looks like a daunting hike, it doesn’t take very long…

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Is It All In Your Head?

In pagan parlance, I have an “open head.” To non-pagans, this is best described as being prone to mystical experiences; I communicate frequently with the Divine. Depending on where you are yourself in the spiritual spectrum, this statement may sound silly, grandiose, delusional, or even deceptive. I assure you, it is none of those…well, it is a little silly. I’ll give you that. OK. It’s very silly. But while I cannot prove my honesty (this is the internet, and I am talking of subjective experiences. You want proof? Sorry. Go somewhere else, troll), I can provide ample evidence of my sanity. (Though again, not here. I’m not giving you my medical records over the internet. Go away, troll.)

You see, I am indeed under psychiatric care, and I am also quite comfortable discussing why. I have Aspergers syndrome, or I did before that particular name was stricken from the DSMV. I also have ADHD and OCD, as well as chronic anxiety issues and a panic disorder. I’ve suffered from depression, and in my adolescence, I had fits of uncontrollable and often violent rage (this is sadly not uncommon for children on the autism spectrum, though we do grow out of the worst of it). I am – I fully admit – a disabled individual. I am twenty-seven years of age and still not quite capable of taking care of myself. I remain financially dependent on my parents. I have the emotional maturity of a teenager. My personal hygiene is lacking. I need a cocktail of pills to even function: one prescription for anxiety, one for my ADHD, one for my mood swings, and one to counteract the sluggishness and lethargy brought on by the mood stabilizer. (Yes. I have a medicine that treats the side effects of my other medicines. It works fine like that. I’m not going off either of them. Got a problem? Go away, troll.)

I am one of the mentally ill, you might even say. And the gods talk to me. I have communicated with Norse Trickster Loki, and with myriad Shinto kami from Inari to Uzume to Amaterasu herself (and she’s every inch a Sovereign; none of this ooey-gooey pagan fluffy-bunny “patron goddess, work with me!” business. She is granting you an audience, foolish mortal!). I’ve had the Egyptian Cat Goddess Bast show up and make a demand of me (buy that statue) and then leave. And of course, the Indian Goddess Sarasvati is immanent in me.

But here’s the thing: I am not delusional. I have no history of psychoses. I have no history of disassociation. I have neither an individual history nor a family history of these issues, nor of bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, or any other mental illnesses that could cause delusional thoughts or behavior. I am not delusional. My mind is certainly not normal, but it is quite sound. It may not work as well as yours, but it is not making things up. I am sane. Never said anything about normal though.

The major hangup I see is the idea that these gods are “talking” to me. The first thing I have to explain is that they are not “voices in my head.” When I (or, from what I have learned of other open-headed people) talk of the gods “saying” things, that is only because I for one have no better way of putting it. The gods usually give me impressions, sometimes almost in a literal sense. I feel what is being communicated. I do not hear it as a voice, as words. It doesn’t sound in my ears. It often seems more like a touch than a sound, yet it is a touch that triggers my brain to form words.

You can call me a mystic. I cannot prove to you that what I say is the truth, but I will say that I am being both honest and earnest. Do you want to say that this is all in my head? You are probably right. But why can’t the gods be in our heads as well as in the heavens?