Amaterasu Ōmikami 天照大神 also known as Ōhiru-menomuchi-no-kami is one of the principal deities in Shinto cosmology. Her name, Amaterasu, is composed of the Japanese elements ama “heaven, sky” and terasu “to shine,” hence “shining over heaven.” In mythology, this is the name of the sun goddess who rules the heavens.
Amaterasu is the child of Izanagi 伊邪那岐命 and Izanami 伊邪那美命 (creator gods of Japanese mythology). According to Japanese Mythology, she was born from the left eye of Izanagi as he purified himself in a river and went on to become the ruler of Takamagahara.
It is within the Japanese Mythology, as found in the Kojiki, that we discover that Amaterasu also represents the Kundalini force in the alchemy of Shinto. First, we should consider, as already mentioned before, that Amatarasu was born from the left eye of Izanagi. Interestingly, the “eyes” in Traditional Chinese Medicine are connected with the liver. The liver functions to promote the free flow of chi, it dominates the tendons and opens into the eyes. It should also be noted that in Chinese Medicine the Liver is associated with the left side of the body, which represents the mother. I am sure that a few of our readers maybe wondering why we are using some references to sciences akin to Chinese culture to define Japanese Mythology. Well, we must remember that for the most part, Taoism played a heavy role in the development of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the word Shinto, which comes from the Chinese shin tao, meaning “the way of kami.” There are some very deep connections between Shinto and Taoist thought, as well as, some differences, but it seems very probably that these two schools of thought were founded by the same forces in primordial times. We will discuss this in a future article. However, for our discussion here, we can see that the “Sun” like the liver, governs to movement of “ki” energy, and since the eyes are a reflection of the health of the liver, Amaterasu’s birth from the eye of Izanagi, refers to the process of purification during initiation into the Way of the Kami. We can determine this because Izanagi purified himself by the river. In many African Traditions, as in the Way of the Orishas, which has many similarities to Shinto, the Initiate must perform certain rites by the river.
Amaterasu’s symbolic depiction as the sun goddess and the kundalini force of Shinto cosmology can be determined from Japanese myths concerning her. When her brother, the storm god Susano-o no Mikoto 須佐之男命, ravaged the earth, she retreated to a cave because he was so noisy. She later closed the cave with a large boulder. Her disappearance deprived the world of light and life, which resulted in demons ruling the earth. The other gods used everything in their power to lure her out, but to no avail. Finally Uzume (aka Ame no Uzume 天宇受売命 or 天鈿女命) succeeded in bringing her out by dancing in front of the cave. The laughter of the gods as they watched Uzume’s comical and obscene dances aroused Amaterasu’s curiosity. When she emerged from her cave a streak of light escaped (dawn). The goddess then saw her own brilliant reflection in a mirror which Uzume had hung in a nearby tree with beautiful jewels. When she drew closer for a better look, the gods grabbed her and pulled her out of the cave. She returned to the sky, and brought light back into the world. Later, she created and cultivated Japan’s rice fields.
In the above myth, Amaterasu is described as retreating into a cave due to the her brother ravaging the Earth and being noisy. Interestingly, Susano-o no Mikoto is a storm deity as well. Storms represent the emotions. Therefore, Amaterasu’s retreat into a cave because of her brother’s actions is a symbol of how our inner potential remains dormant due to the misuse of our emotional being. Ame no Uzume was able to create the laughter amongst the gods by her sensual dancing that lured Amaterasu out of the cave. The “sensual dancing” is evidently a metaphor describing the use of the powers of arousal to initiate the Kundalini force to rise up from “the cave.”
When Amaterasu emerged from the cave, she saw her reflection in the mirror that was placed in a nearby tree with beautiful jewels. The “tree” is evidently a reference to the Qliphotic Tree of Life, which is the grid and points in the operative Kundalini-force. The mirror is a symbol of the heavenly forces and how the relate to the chthonic mind of the Initiate in the Way of the Kami. The fact that this is a reference to the Kundalini-force is also evidenced by the events that followed Amaterasu’s look into the mirror, where she is described as returning to the sky and creating Japan’s rice fields. When deities are said to descend from heaven to the Earth and then go into hades of the place of death and return to Heaven, the majority of these myths described the movement of the kundalini-force and its return to “Heaven,” or the Crown Chakra
Japan’s imperial family claims direct decent from her line. The nation’s flag symbolizes the sun, and the name of the country (Nihon 日本) translates as “Land of the Rising Sun.” Although, Wikipedia makes the following remark:
“In 1946, Emperor Shōwa issued the Humanity Declaration. It was effectively a renunciation of the conception of akitsumikami (現御神?), divinity in human form, and claimed his relation to the people did not rely on such a mythological idea but on a historically developed family-like reliance. Many authors, such as John W. Dower and Herbert Bix, who dispute the former interpretation, consider that by choosing the word akitsumikami (現御神?) instead of arahitogami, Emperor Shōwa didn’t actually deny his divine descent from goddess Amaterasu Omikami.
It must however be noted, that according to Shinto myths, all Japanese people descend from the gods, not only the Emperor. On this topic, Emperor Shōwa expressed in December 1945 his point of view to his vice-grand chamberlain Michio Kinoshita: “It is permissible to say that the idea that the Japanese are descendants of the gods is a false conception; but it is absolutely impermissible to call chimerical the idea that the emperor is a descendant of the gods.”
Understanding Amaterasu Omikami in Shinto cosmology is essential in understanding the principles of the Art of Ninzuwu.