Saturday, November 1, 2008

Goddess of the Week

This week's card is Amaterasu, the Shinto (Japanese) Goddess of the Sun, shown rising in brilliance. Her name means "Great Shining Goddess Who Illuminates Heaven;" and I can't see Her presence here as anything but a hopeful sign, even though we just passed Samhain, the entrance into the dark half of the year.

Amaterasu is a bringer of order to the world: She invented weaving and rice cultivation, and She is of a compassionate nature.

The usual legend about Her tells of Her conflict with Her boorish brother, the Storm God Susano-o. His was an impetuous nature and the siblings frequently quarreled; but the last straw for Amaterasu was when He destroyed Her rice fields and Her weaving, and killed one of Her maidens. In despair and grief She shut Herself in a cave, resolving to have nothing more to do with the world. But without the sun all the world was plunged into darkness and nothing grew; and the other Gods and Goddesses decided to lure Her out. This they did by staging a drunken party, complete with the merry Goddess Uzume performing a striptease on an overturned barrel; and surprised by the laughter Amaterasu could not resist peeking out from the cave for a look-see. When She did, She saw a wondrous brilliance shining back at Her, and, amazed, stepped out of the cave for a closer look. As soon as She did the other Deities shut up the cave with a rock; and the brilliance She had been fascinated by was Her own, for the other Gods had simply hung a mirror in a tree.

She represents the return of hope and light through merriment and warmth; and Her story is about a community coming together in compassion for the benefit of all.

That might sound like an odd thing, in this time of the beginning of the dark (at least in the north, anyway, and I do apologize for being so... is there a word for it? "Northern-hemisphere-centric"?); again, I am tempted to interpret it as sign of hope, specifically pertaining to the American elections, which are not just the concern of Americans, given the US's power in the world; and I suppose I can't really hide my political bias here. But it really does seem to me that the past eight years have been ones in which we have all been dug deeper and deeper into a dark hole, until we can no longer even see the light of the sky. And I know that I, personally, need in my bones for this to be over. It has been a dark, dark, time. But that's just my take on it. So I ask Her:

What do You have to say to the world?

Celebrate, live in joy. The joy, the celebration will call the light to you. Dare to hope. The light always returns; the light returns now. Even if it seems dark, you can make the light; your own light. And anyway, hope cannot be contained once it reaches a tipping point. Abide in me, abide with me. Reach out to your community; you are all interconnected with strands of light.

So, again, that certainly sounds hopeful. And I suppose, in the dark we need that little bit of light the most--what do we all do around the time of the winter solstice? Light lights, thousands of them, to keep away the dark; and though this is the Samhain season still, right now does in a lot of ways feel like the dark before the dawn.

What is your take on this?

For more information on Her, go here; for Her tale, here.


KrisMrsBBradley said...

I love sun goddesses! They are a little less rare than moon goddesses. Even though I love the moon, and wear a crescent moon necklace as a religious symbol (I never take it off), I do feel so connected to the sun, summer, and warmth. I think it's the "fish" in me, and my connection to the ocean and the beach.

Unknown said...

Here we are heading towards Summer and having Amaterasu as the goddess of the week reminds me of the wonderful summer mornings I had spent on my grandmother's backyard.

I am a very solar person myself, so I tend to get happier and more colorful during these days.

May the joy of summer fill us all!

Thalia said...

Wow. Looking back over this past week I would not have predicted just how the election of Obama has made me feel part of a community, part of something happening. Election night I watched with awe, profound wonder and gratitude the joy and hope and healing that spread through the black community, and I felt privileged to be witness to it. Privileged, and hopeful that we were in some ways one community after all.

And rereading this post, I see Amaterasu saying just that: we "are all interconnected with strands of light."