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Questions From Our Readers: Is the Art of Ninzuwu a Modern-Day Form of Onmyodo?

Recently, we have received a few emails from some of our readers, who “coincidently” posed the same question. Is the Art of Ninzuwu a modern-day form of Onmyodo?

This is a very interesting question, and in some respects, it is easy to see why some of our readers would pose the same question. According to Wikipedia, Onmyodo is defined as:

“a traditional Japanese esoteric cosmology , a mixture of natural science and occultism. It is based on the Chinese philosophies of Wu Xing and Yin and yang, introduced into Japan at the beginning of the 6th century. It was accepted as a practical system of divination. These practices were influenced further by Taoism, Buddhism and Shintoism, and evolved into the system of onmyōdō around the late 7th century…. Onmyōji were specialists in magic and divination. Their court responsibilities ranged from tasks such as keeping track of the calendar, to mystical duties such as divination and protection of the capital from evil spirits. They could divine auspicious or harmful influences in the earth, and were instrumental in the moving of capitals. It is said that an onmyōji could also summon and control shikigami.”

Onmyodo was a synthesis of several traditions that had been established in Japan for a few centuries, merged with the Chinese philosophy of Wu Xing and other concepts. Similarly, the Art of Ninzuwu is composed of the mystical science of Shinto along with Yi Jing Sorcery. While the Art of Ninzuwu appears to compare greatly with the foundation of Onmyodo, it is quite different in some regards.

First, Onmydo finds its origin shortly after the time when Buddhism and Confucianism were imported into Japan from China. According to Wikipedia sources, under the topic,  Shinto sects and schools, the spiritual practices of the Art of Ninzuwu originated during the Jomon period. While the Art of Ninzuwu and Onmyodo may appear to be similar, as both seem to possess a blend of Chinese and Japanese spiritual concepts, Ninzuwu was a mystical practice of prehistoric Japan, a time described in the Nihongi as the Age of the Gods.

The Ivory Tablets of the Crow, a central text in the Art of Ninzuwu, describes the initiatory rites of the Negritos that existed in Japan during the Jomon period. In 1923, anthropologist Roland B. Dixon wrote:

“this earliest population of Japan were in the main a blend of Proto-Australoid and Proto-Negroid types, and thus similar in the ancient underlying stratum of the population, southward along the whole coast and throughout Indo-China, and beyond to India itself.” Dixon pointed out that, “In Japan, the ancient Negrito element may still be discerned by characteristics which are at the same time exterior and osteologic.”

The spiritual practices of the Negritos that lived in Japan during the Jomon period and their language are all recorded in the Ivory Tablets of the Crow. The mystical practices of the Jomon people were focused on the cultivation of the divine seed within man, which is also the theme of Shinto mysticism. The initiates of these prehistoric rites were viewed as deities by the nations that entered Japan after the Jomon period. The photo below of a native Negrito family posing for a picture shortly before the WWII comes from the historical archives of Life Magazine.

Native Japanese Negrito Family- Life Magazine

Native Japanese Negrito Family- Life Magazine

Ninzuwu is the prehistoric term for what would later become known as Shinto by the nations that succeeded the Negritos. The essence of Shinto escapes many for it is the science of what many today call the super-conscious mind. Interestingly, Japan’s synthesis of Shinto, Buddhism, and Confucianism is nothing more than a study of the three aspects of the mind. Confucianism is the study of the conscious mind. Buddhism is a study of the subconscious mind. Ninzuwu/Shinto is a study of the super-conscious mind. Different than Western perception, these three schools of thought are not seen as three separate religions. Religion is an idea originating in the West, which is why many people from Japan do not claim any religion and perceive Western religious practices as something “odd.”

Abe no Seimei as drawn by Kikuchi Yōsai (菊池容斎), a popular painter in Japan.

Abe no Seimei as drawn by Kikuchi Yōsai (菊池容斎), a popular painter in Japan.

Another similarity held between Onmyodo and the Art of Ninzuwu is the use of the I Ching. Onmyodo being heavily influenced by Taoist thought, held the I Ching in high regard. The Art of Ninzuwu also studies a form of “Yi Jing Sorcery.” The difference in this case, is that practitioner of the Art of Ninzuwu regards Shinto Mythology as the original Yi Jing. It is believed that the Yi Jing was composed by a careful study of Shinto Mythology and that each trigram of the bagua, and the sixty-four hexagrams of the Book of Changes, all stem from Shinto mythology.

The Seal of Abe no Seimei

The Seal of Abe no Seimei

During the Heian Period in Japan, Abe no Seimei rose in popularity as an onmyoji. He and the Heian government, making calendars and advising on the spiritually correct way to deal with issues. He prayed for the well-being of emperors and the government as well as advising on various issues. During this years,  Abe no Seimei’s personal seal, a pentagram symbolizing the five elements of classical Onmyodo in perfect harmony. His father, Abe no Yasuna, was human, but his mother, Kuzunoha, was a kitsune (a “fox spirit”). Ironically, the Seal of Abe no Seimei is identical to the Sign of Nyarzir in the Yi Jing Apocrypha of Genghis Khan.

The Sign of the Cult of Nyarzir

The Sign of the Cult of Nyarzir

The Sign of Nyarzir is a protective symbol. It is used in Ninzuwu mystical practices. The Art of Ninzuwu and Onmyodo are similar in that they are both used to fight against negative energies. In some respects, both schools of thought held an immortalist’s perspective. While many scholars dismiss the idea of a Shinto “afterlife” as something that doesn’t exist, promoting the idea that Japanese people are “born into Shinto and die a Buddhist.” In other words, Shinto only deals with this life and any perspective of an afterlife are covered in Buddhism. While this may seem to be the popular thought in regards to such, the ancient teachings of Ninzuwu/Shinto didn’t have this perspective.

Ancient Shinto didn’t have a perspective on the “afterlife” for a person’s life was seen as whole. The Jomon people were fully integrated with the “invisible realms” and what we call astral projection today, was used by them to acquire the basic needed substances of life. Based on such, we can see that as a person matured in this life and walked the path known as the Way of the Gods, the veil between the invisible realm and this world was gradually lifted until both worlds were visible. These worlds were never seen as something separate among the Jomon people. Interestingly, the idea of reincarnation in ancient Shinto thought, was seen as a form of “time-travel” if you will, where an individual can literally visit their past in order to correct a present situation. The present idea of reincarnation was rejected by the Jomon people as the work of “negative entities.” This is also the perspective of those who practice the Art of Ninzuwu, and is founded upon a very ancient Shinto myth involving Ajisukitakahikone-no-Kami.

The Kojiki, Nihongi, and the Yi Jing Apocrypha of Genghis Khan, report that Ajisukitakahikone’s appearance closely resembled that of his son-in-law Amewakahiko (husband of his daughter Shitateruhime). As a result, when he visited the mourning hut (moya) after the death off Amewakahiko, he was mistaken for the dead man by the family of the deceased. Angered that he had been taken for a polluted dead person, Ajisukitakahikone stomped down the mourning hut with his feet, resulting in the creation of the mountain Moyama in Mino Province.

Here we can see that reincarnation, as it is taught popularly today was rejected in ancient Shinto thought as something polluted. There are many similarities between the art of Ninzuwu and Onmyodo. The Art of Ninzuwu’s Shamuzi compares greatly to the Shikigami that were said to be summoned by the Onmyoji. conclusion, we can see that while the Art of Ninzuwu is not a modern-day form of Onmyodo. They are, however, governed by similar principles.

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