Purity in the first place

The birth of the Fire God was a tragic event in the life of Izanagi and Izanami. During Homusubi’s coming into the world, he fatally wounded his mother, due to which Izanami died. Furthermore, from her dead body, vomit, urine, and faeces, another Gods were born.

In consequence, Izanagi sunk into despair. In addition, from his tears also new deities were born. However, his sadness was soon replaced by anger and rage, which caused Izanagi to kill the God of Fire. From Homusubi’s remains another few Gods were brought to life.

After Izanami’s husband calmed down, he decided to visit Yomi no Kuni (the underground world of dead, ghosts, and demons), to revive his beloved. When he reached the place, and found his wife, he greeted her with warmth, and begged Izanami to return with him to the world of the living. Izanami’s reply was, that se regrets that he didn’t come faster, because she has already “eaten of the hearth of Yomi”, and, consequently, her eventual return would be really difficult. Summa summarum, Izanami decided to talk with the Gods of the Underground World about the matter. A moment before Izanami vanished in the darkness of the Wordl of Dead, she asked her husband not to look at her. Unfortunately, Izanagi did not listen to his wife’s advice – he missed her so much, that he created a torch, and lit it, just to go after his loved one.

The torch’s light illuminated Izanami, so that Izanagi noticed that his wife’s body is rotting and being eaten by maggots (it is the probable source of the superstition of the Kazusa province, where it is forbidden to lit a single light at night, and throw a comb [explanation below]). The sight frightened Izanagi to such an extent, that he started to run in the Underground World exit’s direction. The violation of her wish, and shame that same with it, infuriated Izanami – she sent after her husband “hags of Yomi”, and along with them eight Storm Divinities, and a horde of soldiers (1500). Izanagi delayed the pursuit by throwing into the demonic army a wreath from his head, a comb (which turned into grapes, and bamboo shoots, and stopped the majority of hungry demons), and peaches. He rushed to the exit even more when Izanami herself, now in the full demon form, joined the pursuit. Only in the last possible second did Izanagi flee from Yomi, and close the entrance to the Underground World with a huge boulder. A moment before he closed the passage completely, he and Izanami exchanged their last looks, and denounced their marriage vows by cursing each other:

  • Izanami promised, that she will take to the Land of the Dead 1000 people daily from the country in which Izanagi will rule,
  • Izanagi then promised her, that, in this case, in his country 1500 people will be born each day.

There is also an other possible outcome of this story, in which Izanagi gets to a pass in the Land of the Dead, and from his own urine creates a river to cut off his pursuers. Moreover, here also a “symbolic divorce” takes place between the divine couple.

After such an “adventure”, Izanagi felt polluted, and, therefore, he decided to purify himself in a way that suits a Japanese. His bath in a stream resulted again in the birth of new deities – from his polluted clothes and impurities of his body, some minor Gods came to living (such as the God of Misfortune Magatsuhi, or the God of Purity Naobi, and numerous Sea Gods). Fortunately, his bath gave life to three major Gods of the Shinto pantheon:

  • Amaterasu (Son Goddess, born from Izanami’s left eye),
  • Tsukiyomi (or: Tsukuyomi; Moon God, born from the right eye),
  • Susano (or: Susa no O; the God of Wind and Storm, born from the nose).

Depending on the researched source, one can also come accross a version of this myth in which Amaterasu is the fruit of Izanami and Izanagi’s sexual intercourse.

If somebody came to a conclusion, that the Japanese mythology is a bit complicated, please be assured, that that is just the beginning – the real “Bold and Beautiful” is still before us 🙂

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