The White Moon Gallery Presents
The Goddess and Patroness of the Samurai
By Cheryl "Phoenix" Bell
"When your both alive and dead,
Thoroughly dead to yourself,
How superb the smallest pleasure!”
Who is Marishiten?
Bujin Marishiten is a fairly obscure goddess that was originally a deity of
Indian/Chinese Buddhism, until she was brought over to Japan.
There, she was adopted by the warrior class of Samurai as their patroness and protectress.
She is known by many different names and for many different aspects,
including but not limited to: Marici (Sanskrit), Marisha-Ten (another Japanese name) ,
and Molichitian (Chinese). Marishiten was adopted as the patroness of the Warrior class in the
8th century and was considered so for 900 years after.
She was brought forth through a union of many Hindu predecessors.
(Image by courtesy of Paghat the Ratgirl)
The reverence of Marishiten seemed to stem from the “cult of the Marici”.
Marici is the Buddhist goddess of light whose Hindu counterpart is Surya, the Sun God.
She is often referred to as the “Diamond Sow” and is depicted riding a lotus which is driven by 7-9 boars
(depending on the resource), with weapons in her 6 hands.
By worshipping Marishiten, the samurai believed that a warrior would transcend into a
more rarified spiritual realm, which is often associated with the practice of Zen.
Strangely, however, the worship of Marishiten predates any other documentation of Zen Buddhism.
So, what exactly did Marishiten do for the samurai?
By worshipping her, a warrior would reach a spiritual level that was not
concerned with winning or losing, nor with life or death.
By transcending to this level, the warrior was so empowered by this goddess,
that he was no longer imprisoned by his own grasp on life.
He was able to let go to his mortality and become a better warrior.
In the worship of Marishiten, the warrior reached an ultimate act of selflessness.
The cult of the Marishiten, according to Dr. Hatsumi Sensei,
provided a way to achieve selflessness and compassion through Buddhist training by
incorporating a passion for the mastery of the self.
The Diamond Sow
Although it is extraordinarily difficult to find information on the cult of the Marishiten,
it is obvious that as the Buddhist goddess Marici, the lotus flower and the sow were very sacred to her.
Marici was also known as the Brahmanic, Taoist, and Buddhist goddess of the sun and the dawn.
and so light and enlightenment are truly sacred to Marici/Marishiten as well.
When she was adopted by the Japanese and became the Zen patroness and protectress of the samurai class,
she was also known as the goddess of the sun and moon.
This leads me to believe that the moon as also sacred to this goddess.
Something interesting to note regarding Marici/Marishiten was that she was known through
the near-east as Mari which became one of the most common girls’ names in the area.
As Mari/Marici/Marishiten was considered the goddess of light, the festival of Mary,
the mother of Jesus, is also the festival of lights.
Keishu Takeuchi, 1861-1942
(image courtesy of Artelino Gmbh)
Image from Marishiten, a peak in Japan named after the great Warrior Goddess
http://www.cc.rim.or.jp/~akagit/mounte.htm (no longer active)
Ritual of the Warrior Goddess – Warrior Dedication
**Prepare ritual space with smudging and with setting up quarter altars.
In the north, set a bowl of earth on the altar, along with a cord of white.
In the east, set a stick of incense (or smudge stick), on the altar along with the symbol one might use for protection
In the south, set a red candle on the altar, along with a sword
In the west, set a bowl of water on the altar along with mineral oil or anointing oil.**
Begin by casting sacred space in whatever way the individual feels necessary.
Invite in the Goddess:
Oh Great Goddess Marishiten
Although you are known by many names:
Marishi-Ten, Marici, Mari
You are always the protectress of the warrior.
I ask you to be here in this sacred space
To witness my dedication
To the path of the warrior.
In the East, pick up the symbol of protection: visualize this symbol being embedded into your aura
With this symbol, I shall be shielded from harm. It shall serve as a protective device, reminding me that I am a true warrior and can overcome any conflict. As air circulates around me, let it also breathe into me the breath of the warrior. As I breathe, I become more and more a warrior goddess.
In the South, pick up the sword – give the sword a name
With this sword, I shall be able to defend myself as well as those I love. It will serve as my offensive protective device. This sword will symbolize my strength and power as a woman, and as a warrior. As the fire forged this sword, it also reminds me of my strength. I name you _________, that you will forever protect me from whatever may aim to cause me harm.
In the West, pick up the oil – If sword is metal, use mineral oil to anoint the sword. If not, use anointing oil to anoint yourself using a symbol to represent the sword as the protector.
Just as water anoints and gives birth to all life, so does this oil anoint my protector – my sword _____________. Great Goddess Marishiten, bring my sword to life, and make it ready to perform its duties as the companion of the warrior.
In the North: pick up the earth and feel it in your hands
DEDICATION TO MARISHITEN
Great Goddess and Protectress of the Warrior
With this earth, I dedicate myself to the Goddess Marishiten and to the path of the warrior. May the earth protect me and keep me in peace times as well as in strife. If I shall fall, may the earth cradle me in its arms and return me from whence I came.
Grant me the gifts of Beauty – both inside and outside
Strength – to protect myself and my loved ones
Courage – to never let fear keep me from the way of the warrior
Honor = to always do the right thing and keep the right mind
Focus – to never lose track of my path
Health – so that I may always be able to endure whatever may come to pass
Wisdom – so that I may always know what is the correct action to take in any situation
Marishiten, I know that you possess these aspects in your own self
And I now ask that you instill them in me as well.
As my dedication to this path, I take on the warrior’s name: ___________________ (choose a name) and will consider myself thus as I walk through life as a warrior of the great protectress of the samurai, Marishiten.
The following sculpture was sculpted by myself out of Sculpty ™ to represent Bujin Marishiten rising from a lotus flower, with the Celestial Ki, or Universal Life force, above her. In her arms, she holds the many weapons of the Samurai, the katana, tanto, jo (staff), and arrow.
Japanese Architecture and Art Net User System
Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi – Artist of Life
Paghat’s Garden: Saffron Mythology – “Ancient Cultic Associations of Saffron Crocus” (by Paghat the Ratgirl)
Female Deities: Karma Sangye Khandro/Helen B. Holt
Skoss, Diane, ed.; Koryu Bujitsu: Classical Warrior Traditions of Japan; essay by Dr. David A. Hall: “Marishiten: Buddhist influences on Combative Behavior”; Koryu books; 1997
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