Summertime brings out the brilliance of sunshine, sunflowers, and an abundance of active energy. In the long summer days of heat and light, we find the sacred feminine aflame in the Japanese sun Goddess of beauty and radiance, Amaterasu. Amaterasu is the delightful sun Goddess of the Shinto Japanese culture whose name means "Great Divinity illuminating heaven." Unlike most cultures, the ancient Shinto honored the sun as feminine and the moon as masculine. Viewing the sun as the endless loving heart of the feminine, high in the day sky, is a way to tap into our own radiant selves as women and inner divine feminine as men.
The Return of the Sun
All the gods and goddesses gather together to figure out what to do. They collect roosters to stimulate the sounds just before dawn and hang a mirror and jewels on a sakaki tree in front of the cave. One goddess in particular, Uzume, the Shaman-Goddess, becomes increasingly frustrated by the dark and Amaterasu's refusal to come out. In an act of courage and defiance, she stands up on an upturned tub. She stamps and laughs and begins to dance. The gods and goddesses adore her antics and clap and laugh asking for more. She continues to dance, becoming more bawdy and lewd, eventually allowing her robe to fall from her body. The gods and goddesses roar with delight and wild merry at her wild antics.
Meanwhile, Amaterasu, deep inside the cave, hears the laughter and merriment happening outside. Knowing that the world is plunged in darkness without her, she can't help but become curious as to what it is they are laughing about. Finally, she can no longer resist and peeks out of the cave. As she does she glimpses her own beautiful and illustrious reflection shining in the mirror. Overcome by her inner beauty and love, she emerges from the cave and brings light to the earth once again.
Our Western culture has placed strong significance upon the solar god, the return of light as masculine in both ancient Pagan beliefs as well as the overlay of Christian religion that followed. The romantic periods of art often glorified male as bright and sun-like. Really, the sun is neither male nor female; however, shifting our perspective helps soften rigid roles we may project on the world around us. Close your eyes and imagine the sun as a feminine Goddess form. See her radiance shining outward toward you, her eyes sparkling with fathomless light, her fingers emitting the golden rays of sunlight. She is the epitome of beauty and brilliance.
The Beauty Way
Synchronistically, as I began the study of this Goddess, I was shown another even more ancient version of Uzume's act in the book Why Is That so Funny?, by John Wright. He remarks that this is the first story of performance ever, written down in the Kojiki around 712 AD in Japan. In this version, Uzume's actions begin with stamping and the gods' reaction to it, which then moves to her dancing delightedly, then disrobing and stroking herself, and into the final and disturbing act of ripping off her nipples. This chain of activity—from comic to bawdy to sexual to disturbing—intrigued me. What is the connection between delight, comedy, and disgust? Often shamans are portrayed as wild, untamable, and even disturbing. It seems that they must be to hold the power to encounter dark forces and take them back through fear, hatred, and torment into the light. Uzume acts this out, another feminine force, the force of darkness and wildness who ultimately brings Amaterasu back out into herself and the light. What must we face with our own wildness in order to come back into the light? To come into the full radiance of ourselves?
Back into the Light
"And still, after all this time,
Katalin Koda is a passionate explorer of earth stories, women's mysteries, and the mythic expression of our world. A practicing Vajrayana Buddhist, Koda also works with indigenous wisdom and shamanism in her healing ...