for me, it’s not necessarily interesting to play a strong, fearless woman. it’s interesting to play a woman who is terrified and then overcomes that fear. it’s about the journey. courage is not the absence of fear, it’s overcoming it.
The one who makes the heavens shine; Heaven-Illuminating Great Deity
Also known as: Amaterasu-omikami
Amaterasu is the beautiful, radiant kami of the sun, but she is more than just a shining sun: she is a great goddess who provides for people and protects them. Amaterasu was the first the cultivate rice, albeit in heaven. (Her grandson Ninigi, eventually brought rice to earth from her celestial paddies.) She also invented and taught people the arts of weaving and cultivating silk worms. Rice, silk, fabric: all gifts of Amaterasu (and are appropriate offerings to bestow upon her).
Her most famous myth involves her withdraw to a cave. Susano’o, Amaterasu’s brother, Spirit of Chaos, went on a rampage. He trampled Amaterasu’s rice fields, filled in her irrigation ditches, and threw excrement (shit) into her palace.
Amaterasu protested strongly, but Susano’o’s response was to profane her weaving workshop by throwing the corpse of a skinned horse, the sacred solar animal, at her weaving maidens. The impact of the horse’s body caused one of Amaterasu’s handmaidens to fall against her wooden spindle, piercing her vagina, killing her. (Brutal)
Livid, grieving, and just plain disgusted, Amaterasu shut herself up in a cave and refused to come out. The world was plunged into darkness, a never ending solar eclipse. Despite the pleading and cajoling of various kami, Amaterasu remained in the cave, swearing she would never emerge.
Although attempts were made, Amaterasu was too powerful and radiant: she couldn’t be forced out. The world began to wither and die. Famine spread.
Eight million despairing kami camped outside Amaterasu’s cave and debated on what to do. Uzume, Spirit of Joy, hatched a plan. Mounting a drum, she began to dance, distracting the kami, who momentarily forgot their woes and joined in the mirth, laughing, singing, dancing, and drumming. (someone even got naked). Inside the cave Amaterasu wondered what the shit was going on. She called out, only to be told that there was a new goddess in town.
She poked her head out the cave to see. Instantly a magical sacred mirror was thrust in front of her; she was entranced by her own beauty. Before she could even think of returning to the cave, she was pulled out and the cave sealed up.
After some negotiation, she returned to her previous role, but this time as chief of the Shinto pantheon.
Amaterasu is the divine ancestor of the Yamato clan. As they grew in prominence and influence, so did she.
Her grandson, Jimmu Tengu, became Japan’s first emperor and founder of the Imperial Dynasty. Although considered the literal ancestor of the Japanese royal family, she is also the spiritual mother of Japan in general. Japan means “Land of the Rising Sun.” The sun on the Japanese flag may be understood to refer to Amaterasu. (After WWII, the Japanese emperor was forced to disavow celestial ancestry.)
Amaterasu’s shrine at Ise in the Yamato region of Honshu is Shinto’s holiest shrine. Her sacred mirror may be enshrined there. The cave to which she withdrew, Ama-no-Iwato, is in the vicinity, too. Since the 18th century CE, ever twenty years all buildings in the Ise shrine complex are replaced by exact replicas. With each rebuilding, Amaterasu is empowered and reinvigorated.
Attributes: Mirror, sword, jewel (Japan’s three sacred treasures); also bow and quiver of arrows, in case Susano’o bothers her again.
Sacred Sites: Japan in general, but especially Ise.
Sacred Days: 17 July and the Winter Solstice, when the sun begins to wax.
The lily was the Minoan sacred flower, a special attribute of the Great Minoan Goddess Britomartis (Dictynna), goddess of mountains and hunting. She passed through the Mycenaeans’ culture into classical Greek mythology. For the Greeks, Britomartis was a mountain nymph (an oread) whom they recognized also in Artemis and in Aphaea, the “invisible” patroness of Aegina.
The lily was also dedicated to Hera, the goddess of women. Legend has it that when Zeus fathered Hercules with the mortal woman Alceme, he wished his son to partake more fully of divinity. To this end he had the baby brought to Hera after he drugged her to sleep. He had the baby placed at her breast and Hercules nursed. Hera awoke in horrified surprise and flung the baby from her. Some of her milk gushed across the heavens and formed the milky way. A few drops fell to earth and from those drops sprang the first lilies.
Roman legend has it that when Venus rose from the sea-foam she saw a lily and she became jealous of its beauty. Seeing it as a competitor she caused a huge and monstrous pistil to spring from the lily’s snow-white center. This myth accounts for the the lily being associated with Venus and the Satyrs who are the personification of lustful ardor.
The magical property of this herb is protection, it is used to remove love spells.