Amaterasu (pronounced AH-may-tay-RAH-soo) is the Japanese Sun Goddess and supreme deity of the Shinto faith. She is the only female supreme deity of any religion or pantheon in the entire world of this day and age. The Japanese flag's rising sun is symbolic of this Sun Goddess and she represents feminine energy.
Amaterasu means “Illuminating Heaven” and she is known as Amaterasu-O-Mi-Kami, meaning “August person who makes the Heavens Shine”. The other names she is known as are Amaterasu-Oho-Hiru-Me No Mikoto, Shinmei, O-Hiru-Me-No-Muchi, Amaterasu-Omi-Gami, Tenshodaijjin, Tensho-Ko-Daijjin. Sometimes she is identified as an aspect of Amita (Amida) and sometimes with Dainachi Nyorai (an aspect of Buddha). The oldest tales of Amaterasu come from the ca. 680 AD Kojiki and ca.720 AD Nihon Shoki, the oldest records of Japanese history.
Amaterasu's themes are the sun, unity, tradition, blessings, agriculture, kinship and community. Her symbols are the mirror (Yata no Kagami), gold or yellow items, the weaving loom, bow and arrow, sword (Kusanagi no Tsurugi), necklace, the rising sun, rice, wheat, silk worms, jewel (Yasakani no Magatama) and Yatagarasu (sacred crow). Her element is fire, her month August and her season summer.
Izanagi gave the plains of heavens to Amaterasu to rule over. In one of the myths, Susano-O who was given the oceans by his father, was jealous of his sister's position to rule over the heavens and brought winter to the world, killed Amaterasu's sister, the food-giving Goddess Uke-Mochi, and deliberately caused “provocative acts” against Amaterasu herself (and savaged the Earth).
Amaterasu did not trust her brother because of his excesses and constant yelling. Susano-O came to visit her in the heavens, claiming he meant no harm. To prove he was of good will, he promised he would give birth, and that if he came in peace, they would be all be boys. Amaterasu took Susano-O's sword and broke it with her teeth spitting out three pieces, which when hitting the ground turned into three Goddesses. Susan-O then asked Amaterasu to give him some of her jewels. He cracked them open and they turned into Gods.
After this, Susano-O grew wild with power and excitement over what he had just done and tore through the world destroying everything in his path, even piling faeces under Amaterasu's throne. Susano-O than threw the corpse of a horse (or pony) through the roof of Amaterasu's weaving room and startled one of Amaterasu's companions so much that she pricked herself on the loom and died.
The Sun Goddess found this to be all too much and decided to leave this mad world. Amaterasu hid herself in a cave leaving the world without any light, and now it was blanketed in darkness for the all the evil to roam free, and all life to die.
The many Gods and Goddesses were desperate for their Queen's light and plead for her return. Amaterasu would not leave the cave. The shaman Uzume, Goddess of Merriment, decided to go to the cave and began dancing, singing, and yelling jokes out. Soon she began a strip-tease and had all the other Gods and Goddess' laughing and shouting with delight. Someone even stated that they had found a better Goddess then the sun.
Amaterasu became curious to all the commotion outside the cave and opened the cave, just a crack to peer out. There before her stood a mirror that the Gods and Goddesses had hung on a tree so that the Goddess could see her reflection and how beautiful she was.
Amaterasu who had never seen her face before was completely amazed at her beauty, and she left the cave to take a closer look. The Gods and Goddesses took her back to the heavens and the light was restored to Earth again.
Amaterasu punished Susano-O by having his fingernails and toenails pulled out and he was banished from heaven.
The temple houses an inner temple dedicated to the Sun Goddess. Her sacred mirror, Yata no Kagami is said to be kept at this shrine and is one of the Imperial Ragalia of Japan. Every 20 years at this shrine, a ceremony known as the ‘Shikinen Sengu is held every 20 years to honour Amaterasu. The main buildings of the shrine are destroyed and built exactly the same again at a location adjacent to the site. New clothing and food is then made as an offering to the Goddess. This Shinto practice has been a tradition since the year 690.
On May 3rd the Hakata festival is held in Japan, with special celebrations for children and parades.
July 17, The Great Festival of the Sun Goddess, and the December 21, Winter Solstice are also festival days of the Sun Goddess.
The worship of Amaterasu, excluding the other Kami has been described as “The Cult of the Sun”.
To be performed in the full moon phase on a Sunday, preferably at night.
Use 13 candles, all yellow/gold and one white/silver candle (Spirit)
Anoint all candles in Goddess oil.
Symbols on the altar: Necklace, yellow altar cloth, anything Japanese or representing the sun, jewels, rice, wheat, kimono, silks, sword, mirror (do not need to use all)
Open circle calling in all the elements and then calling in Amaterasu as spirit.
Amaterasu, shine your light on us. Fill all the darkness with your love and light.
Renew our Earth and heal us all who dwelleth upon.
Shed light on those caught in the maze and may all truth be seen as it is.
Bless our crops; remove disease, deceit, greed and hate.
Amaterasu, you hold the light to shine the way.
We thank for all you've given to this day.
Amaterasu, our thanks is great. You are the light, you are the way.
Where beauty dwells, it's where you shine.
You are the source of all that is life.
May you forever shine on us so bright,
and awaken us the stars that we truly are.
So mote it be!
Ground. Self blessing. Close the circle.
Homage to thee, Oh Sun Goddess.
O you glorious Being, you who art provided with all things.
O Goddess, when you rise in the horizon of heaven,
A cry of joy comes out of the mouth of all peoples.
O you beautiful Being,
You renew yourself in your season;
Therefore in every place every heart swells with joy at your rising, for ever.
The eastern and the western parts of heaven come to thee with homage,
And give forth sounds of joy at your rising.
You rise in the horizon of heaven and shine upon the world beams of emerald light;
You art born from the water,
Who foster thee and order your members.
O you who art crowned Queen of creation, Goddess of life, Goddess of love,
Your lovers do homage to thee,
And your lovers embrace thee at all times.
They who are in your following sing to thee with joy
And bow down to the earth when they meet thee,
The Goddess of heaven, the Goddess of earth,
The Queen of right and truth, the Goddess of eternity,
The everlasting ruler, the Princess of all the Goddesses,
The Goddess of life,
The Creatrix of eternity, the maker of heaven by whom is established all that therein is.
The company of the Goddesses rejoice at your rising,
The earth is glad when it behold your love;
The peoples that have been long dead come forth with cries of joy to see your beauties.
You go forth over heaven and earth, made strong each day by your orgasm.
You pass through the uppermost heaven,
Thy heart swell with joy.
O you unformed substance of the earth, who didst create yourself.
The souls of the East follow thee, the souls of the West praise thee.
You art the ruler of all beings and you hast joy of heart within your shrine;
Thy heart shall be joyful for ever.
Book of the Goddess, by Anna Livia Plurabelle, http://sacred-texts.com/wmn/bog/index.htm
365 The Goddess, by Patricia Tesco, http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/226534.365_Goddess
A Study of Shinto, by Genchi Kato, http://www.amazon.com/study-Shinto-religion-Japanese-nation/dp/0389040703
Confucianism, Daoism, and Shinto, by John Renard, http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1192064.101_Questions_And_Answers_On_Confucianism_Daoism_And_Shinto
The Essence of Shinto, Motohisa Yamakage, http://books.google.com/books/about/The_Essence_of_Shinto.html?id=cfS8RWn3y58C
Shinto, C. Scott Littleton, http://www.amazon.com/Shinto-Origins-Rituals-Festivals-Spirits/dp/0195218868
The Sacred East, C. Scott Littleton, http://www.amazon.com/The-Sacred-East-C-Scott-Littleton/dp/1900131137
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