The power of sexuality as a creative force in Shinto mythology.


The first humans occupied the Japanese archipelago during the Paleolithic, about 35,000 years ago. Between 11,000 and 500 BC these people developed a type of pottery, called “Jōmon” considered the oldest in the world. Then came a culture known as “Yayoi”, which used metal tools and cultivated rice.

With the introduction of rice cultivation during the Yayoi period (300 BC – 300 AD) began to organizers various agricultural rituals and festivals later became structural elements of Shintoism. The word Shintoism (Shinto), usually translated as “the way of the gods”, in which the term kami meaning “spirit”, “deity” or “divine power.”

Beliefs in Shinto, the kami were part of all aspects of life and manifested in various forms. The kami of nature, resided in the sacred stones, in trees, mountains and other natural phenomena. The Ujigami were the kami of the clan, originally was his tutelary deities, often a deified ancestor of the clan. Ta no kami, or god of rice, was revered in the rice paddies and harvest festivals. And Ikigami, who were considered living gods.

The kami that resemble more the western gods are the deities who reside in the Takamagahara (High Plains Celeste) and were led by Amaterasu Omikami, the sun goddess, venerated at the shrine of Ise, the most important for believers Shinto.

In the eighth century, the search for legitimacy of the imperial lineage in mythological and religious foundation firm, led to the compilation of the Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters) and Nihon Shoki (Chronicles of Japan) the older historical books on the history Japan. Going back to the imperial line mythical age of the gods, these books have legends about how the kami Izanagi and Izanami created the Japanese islands and the central gods, Amaterasu Omikami (sun goddess), Tsukuyomi no Mikoto (the god of moon) and Susanoo no Mikoto (the god of storms).

Although Shinto has no developed a general theory about the human body, its first versions closely linked human sexual manifestations with agriculture and with the forces of nature.

Since the middle of the Jomon period (3500-2400 BC) and later, several figures were made crafts including phallic stones (sekibō), ranging in height from 0.5 to 2 meters and clay female figures with prominent breasts and hips (dogu) , the majority of about 30 cm high, often pregnant.

Although there is disagreement on the details, most scholars agree that the ancient inhabitants of Japan linking these objects with magic-religious rites to promote abundant crops. The prehistoric inhabitants of the Japanese islands, probably associated the mystery of human reproduction and agricultural productivity would have been female figures symbolizing objects or claimed the magical power that manifested itself in both human motherhood and in soil fertility.

According to ancient mythology, in the beginning the Japanese islands were created from the sexual activity of anthropomorphic kami. The creation process continued after the female deity acknowledged that his body had a place that was the source of femininity and the male deity, that his was a place that was the source of masculinity. These two mythical places came together to form the many islands. In this mythology, deities sexuality is presented as the instrument of the creative power of nature.

The Shinto typically related illness and death with pollution and development accordingly purification rituals. His cult held health, prosperity and life, which is associated directly with the creative forces of nature. A common icon generative forces of nature was the male sexual organ. Stones, phallic poles and prints were used as protective amulets against polluting forces of nature itself. Ancient agricultural deities were often depicted as a male and female partner, hugging.

Other forms of worship used representations of wood or stone male or female genitals, or pair of objects to symbolize the “body of Kami” in sanctuaries throughout many regions of the Japanese islands. The “body of Kami” was the object that supposedly lived the spirit of the deity. Even today, depictions of sexual organs symbolizing the Japanese kami at shrines and can be seen sometimes in public festivals and celebrations on shrines.

During the nineteenth century, Mutsuhito, Emperor Meiji, established the new Meiji state or government Cult, “The era of the cult of the rules” (1867-1912) and tried to renew the Shinto as a sign of the beginning of a new era Japanese history. Primary objective of a general policy of “new morality” of modern Japan’s leaders tried to eradicate the explicit sexuality of the symbolism of Shinto.

Instead of the traditional respect for the body and sexuality in their iconographic representations, the Shinto in modern Japan was forced to find new values in the vague concept of kokutai, “national body” interpreted as “national identity, the national essence or national character “is often translated only as” national policy. ” The new Japanese essence, gained power by being incorporated into a supposedly unbroken line of emperors descended from Amaterasu Omikami (the sun god).

What began in ancient Japan, as an ode to the power of sexual expression and mythical human body, finished in modern Japan (until 1946) as a cult of the political power of a controversial national body.

In the current Shinto, probably no “body” is important, or sexual or political, but certainly still has to be the footprint of the power exercised.

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