culture

Understanding Susa-no-O-no-Mikoto

どうしてる? I would like to extend a warm welcome to all our visitors  of this blog page. Today we will be discussing Susanoo, who is known in Shinto mythology as the god of the sea and storms.  I will be using the The Japanese Buddhist Statuary as a resource for the following article.

Susanoo is the brother of Amaterasu, the goddess of the sun, and Tsukuyomi, the god of the moon, and was begotten by Izanagi while he was purifying himself. Susanoo was created while Izanagi was washing his nose.

Susanoo corresponds to Gugalanna of Sumerian mythology, also known as the Bull of Heaven in some regards. As soon as Susano-O came into existence, he immediately began wailing and  lamenting for his mother. This wailing and lamenting already expressed the Kami’s stormy character. His father tried to calm him, but his wails eventually became too much for everyone around to bear, so he was banished to the netherworld.

Susano-O decided that before he left on his journey to the underworld, he wanted to wish his sister Amaterasu farewell. However, his coming shook the ground and made so much noise that Amaterasu thought that danger was coming to her and she began preparing for it. When she saw that it was her brother that had caused all the commotion, she asked him for a sign of friendship, since she did not really believe that he was coming to see her in peace. After discussing the matter with each other, they decided to create more gods together in order to show their goodwill. Amaterasu chewed up her brother’s sword, and spat out the pieces. From these pieces, three goddesses were created. Susano-O then chewed up the necklace which Amaterasu had been wearing, and created five gods.  (Among the latter was Masa-ya-a-Katsu Kachi Hayabi-Ama no Oshi-ho-Mimi no Mikoto 

It is said that at this point, Susano-O got so excited over his accomplishment that he lost all control. He completely destroyed all of the rice fields and irrigation ditches of heaven, and defiled one of Amaterasu’s temples with his excrement. He then threw a flayed horse into a house belonging to  Amaterasu where some women were weaving. (In one version of this story, one of the women was so distraught that she accidentally killed herself with her shuttle.) Amaterasu became very afraid when she saw all of her brother’s reckless actions. She decided to hide herself in a cave and block it with a large rock. This action on her part plunged all of the heavens and the world into complete darkness, from which the other Kami only recovered by dint of clever stratagems and a measure of good luck.

Susano-O was punished for all of the mischief he had caused by having his hair cut off and his fingernails pulled. He was then immediately banished from heaven.

The lesson that we learn from this story is clearly a reference to the misappropriation of the Kundalini-force. This is symbolized by Susanoo’s use of Amaterasu’s fertility beads, or the mysterious tantric force. The reader may want to note that Amaterasu produced three goddesses by chewing up and spitting out Susanoo’s sword. In turn Susanoo was able to produce five gods from the Amaterasu’s necklace, which in some accounts were described as beads. This gives us a total of eight deities produced from the interactions between the feminine (Amaterasu) and masculine (Susanoo) aspects of the Kundalini force. This legend compares greatly to Enki and Ninhursag, where  eight healing deities were produced by Ninhursag, as Enki rested near her vagina after having pains in eight organs. However, when the feminine and masculine forces of the tantric rite is placed in its proper perspective we find that it is the assertive force (masculine) that yields to the receptive (feminine) aspect of the Kundalini-force, which produces divinity. This is revealed to us by examining the interaction of two Atlantean deities, Lamashtu and Pazuzu. The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets by Barbara G. Walker, makes the following observation on page 904:

“The Akkadian Goddess Ninhursag, “She Who Gives Life to the Dead,” was also called “Mistress of Serpents,” as yet another form of Kadru or Kadi. Babylon’s version of her made her a dark twin of the Heaven-goddess Ishtar, calling her Lamia or Lamashtu, “great Lady, Daughter of Heaven.” Cylinder seals show her squatting, Kali-like, over her mate, the god Pazuzu, he of the serpent penis. As another Lord of Death, he gave himself up to be devoured by the Goddess.”

The Atlantean Mysteries, which are preserved in their entirety in the Shinto cosmology,  constantly refers to the number eight as being sacred, even in the Sumerian system of science, the eight-pointed star of Anu was revered as sacred. The number eight is the number of initiatory steps taken to unlock the Kundalini-force, as the Greater Mysteries are revealed. The eighth chakra corresponds to the sexual centre. The seriousness and effects of working with the eighth chakra was emphasized by the ancients in primordial times by use of their “dark aesthetics” to describe it, which were erroneously perceived by the uninitiated as black magic. This dark symbology was used by the ancient adepts to prevent those unskilled in the use of this powerful force. The mythology of Susanoo’s ravaging the earth illustrates this very well, as an initiate can make the mistake of NOT allowing the ego to die and be replaced by divine knowledge. This was the task that Susanoo Ohkami was to learn when he was sent to earth. Evidence of this is found in another myth concerning Susanoo and the Eight-Headed Dragon.

Susano-O’s Nigi-mi-tama (Gentle Spirit) and his Kushi-mi-tama (Comb-Transforming Spirit) appear in the following story, which took place just after he descended to earth from the heavens. According to this narrative, Susano-O arrived near the source of the river Hi in Izumo, and noticed some  chopsticks that were floating downstream. He inferred from this that there must  be some people closer to the source of the river, and so he went to investigate.  He discovered an old man and an old woman. Sitting between them was a lovely young maiden. They were all crying. Susano-O questioned them as to who they  were. The following passage, continuing the story, is taken from the Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters, c. 712 C.E.):

The old man replied, “I am the Earth Spirit and my name is Foot-Stroking Elder. My wife’s name is Hand-Stroking Elder. And this, our daughter’s name is Mistress Head Comb.”

The Brave-Swift Impetuous Male asked: “And what is the cause of the  weeping?”

The old man said: “We had eight daughters once. But there is an  eight-forked serpent that comes each year and eats one. His time has come  round again. That is why we weep.”

The expelled Heaven Spirit asked: “And what is that serpent’s form?” “The eyes are as red as the winter cherry. It has one body with eight heads  and tails. On that body moss grows, and conifers; the length extends over  eight valleys and eight hills, and if one looks at the belly, it is constantly  bloody and inflamed.”

“This being your daughter, will you give her to me?” asked his Brave-Swift Impetuous Male Augustness.

The old man replied: “With reverence; however, I do not know your name.”

“I am the elder brother of the Heaven Shining Spirit [Amaterasu], who am descended here from heaven.”

“That being so, with reverence, she is yours.” (Campbell 471-72).

At this point, Susano-O took the girl, changed her into a close-toothed comb, and put her in his hair for safekeeping. He then asked the old couple to distill a brew of eightfold refined liquor and to build a fence.  In that fence they were to put eight gates, and at each gate there were to be eight platforms, and at each platform there was to be a vat holding some of the refined liquor. When all of this was accomplished, everyone sat back to await the arrival of the Orochi Dragon.

 The great dragon arrived, saw the tempting bait laid out for him, and began to dip each of its heads into a corresponding vat. Once it had  drunk its fill of the liquor, it became deeply intoxicated. According to most versions of the story, the dragon fell into a deep sleep, whereupon Susano-O killed it (Nihongi 52-58). Other versions, however, including that of the sato-kagura festival from which the present image was taken, represent Susano-O and the drunken Orochi dragon as having engaged in a fierce  hand-to-hand combat. (Click on the photo at left to see more.)

After the battle, Susano-O found (some sources say in one of the monster’s  tails, others in its belly) a magnificent sword endowed with supernatural powers, Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (the “Grasscutter”). On obtaining this divine weapon, Susano-O presented it to his sister, Amaterasu, as a gesture of atonement and respect. The sword was later passed on to Amaterasu’s royal grandson, Ninigi no Mikoto, the legendary founder of Japan’s imperial line. The divine weapon is now enshrined at Atsuta. Some sources say, however, that the original Sword Kusanagi was lost at the famous naval battle of Dan-no-ura in 1186, when the entire fleet of the Taira clan was destroyed by the Minamoto clan. The whole royal family, with all their possessions, perished at sea (see the epic Tale of the Heike). The Minamoto clan, on the other hand, claimed that the lost sword was only a false copy anyway, and that the original was preserved.

In any case, Susano-O built for himself and his new wife a palace in the land  of Izumo. He appointed Foot-Stroking Elder to be his head steward and immediately proceeded to beget children.

Susanoo ohkami interaction with the dragon is symbolic of the Initiate’s ability to bridle the destructive aspects of the Kundalini-force. Susanoo Ohkami later comes to appreciate divine knowledge in place of the human ego (symbolized by the drsgon) and shows appreciation for such by presenting Amaterasu Ohkami with a “divine gift.”

良い一日を。

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