Monday, January 23, 2012

The Mother of Chaos

After studying myths and religion for so long I am seeing links to different ideas and gods. I seem to see links that other are missing, which surprises me. The link I see now is with an interesting character of Greek myths known as Echidna.
Echidna, the mother of monsters and wife of Typhon, the terrible giant whom fought the gods. There are diverse ideas of her parentage, but the parents that seem most plausible are Gaea(the Earth) and Tartarus(the pit, basically Hell.) She has connections with the earth element, living in a cave, so her other possible parents, Ceto and Phorcys, 2 sea deities, are unlikely.
She appears as a beatiful woman above the waist, but as a serpent below. This makes her a Dracaina, a dragon-woman. Dragon women almost always have comely human features and can be quite enticing to human men. She married Typhon though, her brother. With him she bore many monstrous children. The sphinx, Cerberus, Orthus, the Hydra, the Chimeara, etc... Typhon was urged by his mother, Gaea, to make war with the gods after they imprisoned her children, the Titans. They lost this war, leading to Typhons being imprisoned under Mount Etna and Echidna living in the cave Arima. Zeus allowed her and her children to live so that heroes had challenges. Later Herakles (Roman name was Hercules) met her and after a time, he too fell to her charms and she bore him 3 sons. One of them, Scythes, became a great Scythian king and passed his name onto those Asian peoples.
Later, the hundred eyed giant, Argus, killed her as she slept, on orders of Hera, the queen of the gods (they don't really say why, maybe because she produced children with Herakles.)
She sounds very familiar to another goddess, an ancient goddess from Mesopotamia. Tiamat, the mother of gods and monsters. The great mother goddess, the primoridial sea of chaos. She mated with her other, Apsu, the primordial waters of the the dark abyss under the earth and birthed the gods. The absolute silence they were born into and lived was no longer though and so they consipired to kill their offspring and all their progeny. The god Enki/Ea learned of this and warned the gods. He then poisoned Apsu, killing him. In retaliation Tiamat birthed the dragons, sea serpents, merpeople, scorpion men, the lion-centaurs, and others to form an army. Her son, Kingu, joined her cause and became her new significant other. She bestowed in him the tablets of destiny and he made war against the gods. Marduk, the god of storms, had claimed kingship over the gods and so was to fight against them. He slew Kingu, taking the tablets of destiny for himself and creating mankind from his blood. Then after a lengthy, stormy battle he slew Tiamat, splitting her into two and forming the earth and sky from her body. This shows that she not only had sea and chaos connections, but to the earth as well. She is a primordial goddess and is thought by later peoples to be more dragon-like, though we don't know how the ancient Mesopotamians originially imagined her.
Here we see the connection with Echidna, a dragon woman, mother of monsters, mated to someone who fights against gods and is defeated. Tiamats monstrous children were allowed to live and serve the gods and aide mankind as guardian spirits, similar to Echidnas, though her children hurt mankind, they gave challenges to heroes, which is needed. The 2 are the same. The Greeks took the stories coming in, and added it to their own. This is nothing unusual, as they did it all the time.
The movement of the mesopotamian great mother goddess Tiamat, up to the Greeks as a minor goddess, moved up even further. Another connection I see is that of the Norse Angrboda. She was a giantess and her name means "one who brings grief." She is also called the "witch of the ironwood," the place were giantesses live. She was the mother of the world serpent Jormungandr, Fenrir, the great wolf, and Hel (also called Hela,) the goddess of the underworld and where we get the world Hell from. She bore these children with Loki, the evil trickster of the gods, and the son of a giant himself. Her son Fenrir was raised by Odin, but had to be chained, fated to one day kill his foster-father at the end of time. Her other son, Jormungandr, was tossed into the ocean, where he grew so large he circled the Earth. He will one day fight Thor and be killed by him, but not before delivering a fatal dose of venom to Thor, killing him moments after the battle. Hel was givent he domain of death by Odin. She was born with half her body being pitch black (I have also read that she is half rotten corpse, though this may be from modern writers) and having a gloomy disposition. She rules the underworld and is the judge of the dead. Only those who die as brave warriors go to Valhala, basically Heaven, the rest go to Hel's realm. She is the enemy to all, only in the form of Death, cold and without mercy. She takes from all, equally and is the only of Angrboda's children to be honored and to survive the end of the world, watching over the dead.
Angrboda is also thought to have then mated with her son, Fenrir, to produce a brood of giant wolves, Hati and Skoll, who chase the sun and moon across the sky, and Garm(also Garmr) the guardian of the underworld. Garm is just like Cerberus, who is a son of Echidna. The connection here, to Echidna and Tiamat, is of a supernatural woman mating with a man who wants to destroy the gods to produce monstrous offspring to battle the gods.
Echidna, Tiamat, Angrboda, they are all the same. An ancient image passed down through the generations and cultures. A primordial goddess, mother of monsters. She was said to have been defeated, but she keeps returning to mother more monsters across the world. I am sure she is found in other cultures, but these are the only connections I have found as of now. Honor her, honor the mother of chaos and pray.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Off Topic

Yeah, yeah, I know I need to post another interesting article soon, and I will. It will be about the origin of Echidna.

But, to get off topic, I noticed that of my blogs, this is the easiest to google. Google "Oriental Wicca" and my blog is in the top. Google my other blogs and I'm not so lucky.

So, to get around those pesky fees associated with dating sites (the bastards) I told people to check out my blog. I see from my little map here, that people have checked it out. So, to those people, you can leave a comment for me with your e-mail info, I have to moderate them first. You can also go to my profile and click "email" to get in touch with me. That was the whole point of the hint. If you got the hint to find me here, then you should get the hint to contact me through here.

Also, if I happen to have any decent guys from 18-38 who happen to read this blog entry and are interested in being pen-pals then, I am up for that. I am moving back to Korea next month and it would be nice to talk to people. Though I am primarily interested in people who live in Washington state's Seattle-Tacoma area, as that is where I will move when I return.

Thanks all. As I said, next post will deal with Echidna, a lesser known Greek entity.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Benu, Phoenix and the Holy Spirit

It has been a year since I posted, so I think the break was long enough. read my other blog, The Journey to my Son, to know the boring details of what happened. Suffice to say, that even though I will start posting again, it won't be regularly.

This post will be about something which I see as very overlooked in the great debate of what Christians borrowed from the pagans. Where did the idea of the Holy Spirit come from? While theologians will definatly give you a very different answer than what I post here, it will end up coming as no shock. I don't understand why I seem to be the only one that saw this.
The Hebrew people lived in Egypt for several generations. They absorbed a lot of the culture and ideas. Many people already know about the Isis-Horus and Jesus-Mary similarities, and some others know that the original angels where imagined in more animalistic forms, similar to the genii of Mesopotamia and gods of Egypt. They became known as the Kerubim, and later Cherubs. People confused the little gods of love, the putti, with the Cherubs in Rennaisance art and that is what people call them today. Here is another idea that they borrowed from the Egyptians. The idea of the Benu.
The Benu is a divine bird, often pictured as a heron or later as a bird of prey, that is the representation of the sun god Ra. It is the Ba of Ra, the ba being the part of the soul allowed to fly free upon death. Look at old mummification scenes from Egypt and you will see a hawk or falcon with the head of the deceased flying away or looking on. That is the soul of the person. Ra allows his soul to fly free at times, or at least a part of his great divine being. As Ra is the creator and father of the gods, that makes him The God. The Hebrews took this idea of the soul of God and applied it to their own stories, allowing God to still be God in heaven and yet still travel around and deliver his will, along with his angels. When Christians began to take over, there were many in Alexandria, Egypt. These Alexandrian Christians were very influential in early Christian history. They spread many ideas, among them was the idea of the "Father, Son and Holy Spirit/Ghost" This fits right in with Egyptian mythology, as Ra, was being replaced by his great-great grandson Horus, whom also appreared like him, with Falcon head and bearing the eye of the sun. And then there was the benu, the ba of Ra, the holy spirit.

The Benu was translated by the ancient Greek pagans into the Phoenix, a well known bird. So the pheonix is the soul of the sun, which rises and sets, is born and dies, everyday. It is the symbol of resurrection and life and fire. When the Chrisitans came, they accepted this bird as a symbol of Jesus. You might find it ironic, given its pagan history, but since the phoenix is the Benu and the Benu is the Holy Spirit, then it makes sense.

The Holy Spirit, also known as the Holy Ghost, is the spirit of God. To Jewish people the Holy Spirit can come upon people and offer them divine inspiration or as a presence. It is God and is not considered different than him. To some Christians, they split God into a Holy Trinity of The Father(God,) The Son(Jesus, God incarnate on Earth) and the Holy Spirit. The Holy spirit is the spiritual essence of God, and can bring prephecy and inspiration to people. It also gives gifts to Baptized followers like wisdom, council, knowledge, etc... When a person gets baptized, they are thought to be filled with the Holy Spirit and reborn as good Christians. It often appears as a dove, the symbol of peace. It also appeared to Jesus as a dove when he was baptized by John. It can also appear as wind, light, clouds, fire or water. In art, the most often used form is of a white dove, often with a corona of light, a halo, over its heard or from its body. It is not surprising that people associate it with this form. God sends out his essence to the world and to man, just as Ra sent his out. Ra's essence appeared as a falcon, God's appears as a dove. It is an ancient idea that found its way into Christianity.
Now you know that the Holy Spirit is the Ba of God. You can celebrate this as well as the Chritians, for it is just another image taken from the past, taken from us, that we can reclaim in glory. Since many Wiccans/pagans also worship God, in their own way, they can incorporate this ancient idea into their beliefs without feeling like they are copying, or becoming, Chrisitans. For other pagans, it is not just the Benu and Ra, but other similar (though not the same) figures would be Zeus and his Eagle, Odin and his Ravens, etc...
Many of the rituals and beliefs of the Christians are not original ideas. They existed long ago in other cultures and religions. They took the ideas they liked and felt comfortable with and made it their own. Many also added pagan concepts to the religion so that they could keep worshipping their pagan faith in secret or face persecution.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Heirophants Mysteries

This summer is slipping by too fast. I apologize for the lateness of this entry. I guess I need to get another computer, as my son has hogged this one all summer. This is not as long and scholarly as the other entries I have done. I am moving soon and won't have the internet for a while and wanted to get this out before I go.

Eleusian mysteries initiation

Dionysus-god of wine, grapes, intoxication, agriculture, wild nature, fertility, madness, ecstasy, the theater, carnivals, among other things. Sadly, he is usually just explained as a god of wine and left at that, but he was so much more. He was also known as the Liberator, allowing you to free yourself from your cares and worries. He is an ancient Greek god, with mentions of him as old as 1200 B.C., though for some reason the Greeks of later ages treated him as a foriegn god or even as a newer god. Though they did the same thing to Eros, who was originally told of as one of the Elder gods of creation, but was later turned into a minor god of love and son of Aprhodite. You can see the shamanic themes in his worship, with animal skins and the thyrsus (pine cone tipped wand wound in ivy leaves.)

His story is one of the themes of the Orphic Mysteries. It starts with the son of Zeus and Persephone, named Zagreus, concieved when Zeus took the form of a snake and laid with his daughter, by Demeter. Zeus loved this child so dearly, that he was going to make him his true heir, above all his other children. This angered Hera, the wife of Zeus, so much, that she had the Titans kidnap the child and planned to kill him. He shapeshifted into many animals to escape them and finally turned into a bull and was caught by the Titans, who tore him to peices and devoured him. Zeus reacted by immediatly hurling a thunderbolt at them and turned them all to ash. The ashes mixed with water and the human race was created from this divine ash, with both traces of Zagreus' good nature and the Titans malicious nature. Persephone was able to recover Zagreus' heart though. Zeus fed the heart to Semele, a mortal woman, and she gave birth to Dionysus, who became the god we know today, thus securing that he was an ancient god and a young god at the same time. While he is mentioned as a son of Zeus, Persephone was the wife of Hades and one of Hades titles was Zeus Katachthonios, "Underground Zeus". So, he may have actually been the son of Hades. Semele eventually died and went to Hades. Dionysus went into Hades after her, and pulled her up to Olympus with him, showing the dying and ressurecting god of nature.

Dionysus can be contrasted with Apollo. Dionysus represents freeing your emotions, wild beasts and wild nature in general. While Apollo represents culture and civility.

His legions of female followers were called Meanads, and many were thought of as being supernatural creatures themselves, similar to nymphs, though only when they were in the company of Dionysus, or touched by him. They were intoxicated and fueled with strength and ecstasy.

Demeter-goddess of agriculture, the earth, seasons and fertility. The sister of Zeus and one of the great Olympians. She had a daughter with Zeus, named Kore "maiden." They are thought to actually be the same goddess, in 2 forms, the Maiden and Mother. The Eluesian Mysteries is about the story of how Hades came and abducted Kore to marry her. She searched for her daughter and the earth grew barren while she searched. Meanwhile, Kore resided in Hades, waiting for her mother to free her. Finally, with the earth wilting away, Zeus was forced to act, and told Hades to let Persephone go. But, Hades had tricked Kore into eating one of his pomegranites. If you eat the food of Hades, you must reside in Hades, so he tried to lay claim to her again. Zeus finally judged that she would reside in Hades for half the year and with her mother for half the year. She then became Persephone. Here she is the Crone, goddess of the underworld. Also, her mother, when she is the old woman of winter, sad and alone waiting for her daughter, is the Crone. So Kore is the maiden, Demeter is the mother, and Persephone and old Demeter are the Crone.

Hermes bringing Persephone back to Demeter from Hades

The Eluesian Mysteries: were the ancient mystery rites that surround the story of the Goddesses Demeter and Persephone.

The Dionysian Mysteries: give an often unheard of interpretation of the story of the birth and life of Dionysus. The Dionysian mysteries are entwined with the Orphic Mysteries.

The Orphic Mysteries: revolve around the story of Orpheus and his tragic loss. Orpheus was the son of Apollo and he was very musically inclined, so much so, that is was supernatural. His fiance was killed when a snake bit her, after his friend tried to rape her and she ran away. In his sadness, Opheus went to the underworld to retrieve his bride, where he used his music to charm first Cerebus, the canine guardian of Hades realm and later of Hades and Persephone, the rulers of the Underworld themselves. They promised that he could take his bride, if he lead her out of Hades without looking at her once. He agreed and led her all the way out of the underworld, resisting the temptation to see his love, until at last they reached the entrance and he exited, turned to see his wife, but she had not left the entrance yet, and she was pulled back into Hades. In his sadness he wandered around, until a pack of Meanads came upon him and ripped him to pieces in their ecstasy. Orpheus was said to have created the Dionysian mysteries, and revered Persephone and Dionysus.

Death of Orpheus

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Modern Heirophant

So I know it has been a while since I posted. But with work and my son finishing his first year of school in American and me trying to get custody of my nephew, househunting, trying to adopt a another son, I have been very busy. Sadly, I will be busy again starting next week at a new job, with extra-long summer hours, though I hope that this will give me the permanancy at the job I want so that I can get hopefully settle down for a while in a home. That is a laugh, me settle down. I have the nickname Wanderlust for a reason, though I am trying to settle down for my son, nephew and hopefully new son.

As you can see from the title of this entry, I am talking about what a Modern Heirophant is. This is an old Greek word that literally means "to show holy." In modern usage it is used to mean a person that brings people into the presence of that which is deemed holy, or as an interpretor of the sacred or arcane. It is the name of one of the tarot, also called the High Priest and I have also seen it used by some mystics as their title. But the Heirophant was originally the initiating priest of the Eleusian Mysteries. I will talk about what those mysteries were, the gods and goddesses involved with them, how these mysteries tie into the Dionysian Mysteries and the Orphic Mysteries and how it relates to the modern world and how I became a modern day Heirophant.

I will break this into several posts with these as the ideas:

  • Eleusian Mysteries-Dionysian Mysteries-Orphic Mysteries
  • Demeter-Persephone-Kore
  • Dionysus-Hades
  • Dionysus-Apollo
  • Dudachos

Monday, May 3, 2010

Taking a break

I am taking a break right now from all my blogs. With an increased work load and therefor hours and my sons school year ending, I don't have time right now to do much, but I will get back to it soon enough.

I decided not to do Hinduism right now, sorry Anon. Instead I will be doing these next 3 posts when I have more time:

  • Modern Hierophant

  • Who is Jebu?

  • Pagan Virtues

Thanks for reading and for your patience.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Way of the Kami

Japan is filled with gods, spirits, monsters, demons, dragons and all manner of other things. They worship the Kami, which can be translated as both a god and a spirit. They believe that many things hold spirits, trees, stones, animals, even man-made objects which have reached 100 years of age hold a spirit. This would make them animists. This part of the religion is called Shinto, which we can split up into two Chinese words Shin "spirit/god" and Tao "the way" to make it the way of the spirits or the way of the gods. This is considered to be the religion of Japan, and comes down from prehistoric times, making it one of the worlds great pagan religions. It used to be not very organized, and only started changing when Buddhism came to Japan and the 2 religions became antagonistic to each other. For a long time the 2 fought, until finally, war gave way to peace and the 2 religions began to merge and influence each other. The modern Japanese government decided to have a national religion though, and so broke the 2 up, forcing them apart from each other, so that they could proclaim Shinto as the national religion. Many Japanese beleive that only Japanese can be Shinto (and Koreans as well, since they used to have the same religion basically,) causing this to be a Ethnic based religion, i.e. racist. There are Shinto temples in America though, and there are some white (non-Japanese) priests, which has caused a stir and a whole debate over whether the gods of Japan would care about and work with/through other peoples. But since all kinds of people use Greek gods and Norse gods and Egyptian gods, etc..., then there would be no problem with people using the Japanese gods.

Buddhism on the other hand, is not Ethnically based. Anyone can be a Buddhist, so even Bodhisattvas that only exist in Japan will help other people, too.

There is another native religion of Japan, started by the original inhabitants of Japan, the Ainu people. The Ainu were there first, then came people from the Korean continent that took over their lands and the 2 people became intermarried. The government of Japan refuses to admit that the Ainu or the aboriginal peoples though. They had, and still have, a bear cult, which can also be seen among some peoples in Russia, showing that they are culturally related to those peoples.
Torii, Japanese spirit gates, placed at the entrance to many temples or holy places.

Here I will list some of the gods/kami of Japan. Maybe in another post I will cover the other beings like the Yokai, Oni, Baku, etc...

Izanagi-no-Mikoto-the first man, father of the gods, god of life. He crossed the bridge of light into the world and stirred up the oceans to create the first land. He married Izanami and together they had several children, but they were all deformed and horrible. These deformed children were the result of Izanami's insolence of being the first to speak in this new world and so they walked around the world again and allowed him to speak first. After this, they birthed the other islands of Japan and then the gods were born, until Ho-Masubi, the fire god was born and his fiery birth killed Izanami. In a rage Izanagi killed his fiery son and then went on a quest to the underworld to find his wife. She was an underworld goddess now though, and looked like a corpse, and so he fled from her sight and washed his eyes and nose in a river, to cleanse her sight and smell from him, and from this were born Amaterasu, Tsukuyomi and Susanoo.
Stirring the ocean to create the first land

Izanami-no-Mikoto-the first woman, mother of the gods, goddess of the underworld and death, as she was the first to die when she gave birth to the fiery god Ho-Masubi. Her first children were deformed, brought on by her sin of being the first person to speak in the world, which should have been her husband (this is a patriarchal society, obviously.) After cleansing this sin, she gave birth to most of the islands of Japan and many gods. When her husband left her in the underworld after seeing what had become of her form, she shrieked that she would kill 1000 living things each day as vengence. So he said that 1500 things would be born each day.

Ho-Masubi/Kagu-tsuchi-god of fire, his esplosive birth killed his mother, Ianami. His father, Ianagi, was so enraged with grief that he slew his son. From his body arose the mountain gods and from his blood came the sea and rain gods. Though he was still worshipped, so he didn't stay dead, and in fact there is another legend that states that his mother birthed a twin brother of sorts before she died, the water god Mizuhame, so that he could pacify his brother if he should become violent.
This was the only picture I could find of Ho-Masubi
(modern art from

Amaterasu-goddess of the sun, she is the sister of Tsukuyumi and Susanoo. She was born from a tear shed from Izanagi's left eye. She once hid in a cave because of her brother, Susanoo's, abusive and lewd behavior. As the goddess of the sun, she took all daylight with her, causing much turmoil. The other gods tried and tried to get her to come out, but she would not. So, they devised a plan to lure her out, saying they found a new goddess to replace her, that was even more beautiful than her and had a party, with the goddess Uzume dancing and creating mirth. They placed a mirror, the Yata no Kagami, in front of the cave and curious to see the new goddess, she came out and saw her reflection(for the first time). The gods then sealed the cave shut so she could not return. She was so pleased with her reflection that she decided to stay out, but banished Susanoo to the earthly realm to atone for his behavior. She was the grandmother of the first Emperor of Japan, Ninigi, and as such is viewed as the special goddess of Japan(land of the rising sun) and guardian of Japanese people. As the sun goddess, she is one of the most powerful of the Kami and so is their ruler. One of her activities is to weave the sacred kimonos of all the other gods, showing her as a caring mother figure. She sent her grandson to the earthly realm to help pacify the land, giving him her 3 sacred possessions, the Yata no Kagami(mirror,) the Kasanagi-no-Tsurugi (sword) and the Yasakani-no-megatama (curved jewel, symbol of benevolence.)
Uzume dances to lure Amaterasu out of the cave
She leaves the cave to see what all the fun is about

Tsukuyomi-god of the moon, brother of Amaterasu and Susanoo. He was born from a tear from the right eye of Izanagi. He once visited Uke-Mochi, and viewed how she made food. He was so horrified that he slew her. Amaterasu was so angry and embarassed by this act, that she will have nothing to do with him, and this is why they never see each other.

Susanoo-no-Mikoto-god of storms and seas, a folk hero. The brother of Amaterasu and Tsukuyomi, born when Izanagi blew his nose. He was a wild and rude god, and offended(or abused) his sister so much, that she fled into a cave. When the other gods finally got her out of the cave, he was banished to the Earthly realm for his actions. This is when he became a folk hero, as he wandered around he met an old couple that told him that 7 of their 8 daughters had been devoured by Yamata no Orochi, and eight headed dragon. He slew the Orochi by getting each of it's 8 heads drunk on barrels of saki and they fell asleep, then he hacked it to pieces, finding a magical sword in the tail, the Ama-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi ("Sword of the Gathering Clouds of Heaven") or the Kasanagi-no-Tsurugi ("Grasscutter Sword"). He presented this sword to his sister as a gift and she allowed him back into the heavenly world.
Susanoo versus Orochi, a common theme in Japan

Ishikori-dome-the smith goddess, she made the first mirror, the 8 sided Yata No Kagami, to help lure Amaterasu out of the cave she had sealed herself in.

Ana-no-Uzume-goddess of dance, revelry and mirth. She danced and spread mirth to help lure Amaterasu out of the cave she sealed herself in.

Uke Mochi-goddess of food. Tsukuyomi came to visit her one day, and so she decided to prepare a feast, but Tsukuyomi spied upon her and was horrified to see that she was creating food from her body. He slew her and from her body arose all the foodstuff that humans eat.

Ninigi-No-Mikoto-the grandson of Amaterasu, father of Hoori and Hoderi and great-grandfather of Jimmu. He was sent to the earthly realm to pacify the land and plant rice. Amaterasu gave him her 3 sacred gifts, of the Kasanagi-no-Tsurugi(sword), Yata-no-Kagami(mirror) and the Yasakani no Megatama(jewel,) which he gave to Jimmu and have been kept by the emperors since then.

Hoori/Yamasachihiko-god of hunting, younger brother of Hoderi and great-grandson of Amaterasu. He lost his brothers fish hook in the ocean when he wanted to try his hand at fishing. So, he went diving to find it and met Otohime, Ryujin's the sea dragons daughter. She fell in love with him and took him to her fathers palace. Ryujin was not happy, as he was the guardian of the sea and he thought this was a fisherman, a plunderer of the sea. Eventually Ryujin gave into his daughters pleas and allowed the two to marry. They lived happily for many years, until Hoori became homesick and remembered the whole reason he came down there was to find his brothers treasured hook. Ryujin found the hook and Hoori returned to the surface world with his bride, who was not pregnant. After settling into life on the surface world, she went into labor and asked that her husband not see her until it was over. He was annoyed that he couldn't see his child being born though and snuck a peak, only to see her change into a dragon. He screamed in horror, she screamed in fear and fled, leaving him his son. Later, she sent a sister up to raise her son as a nanny, but the 2 fell in love and had a son together, Jimmu, who became the first emperor of Japan.

Hoori meets Otohime

Hoori losses the fish hook

Hoderi-god of fishing, older brother of Hoori and great grandson of Amaterasu.

Ryujin-dragon god, guardian of the seas and it's creatures. The father of Otohime, and grandfather(and great-grandfather) of Jimmu, the first emperor of Japan. As the god of the sea, he was revered by many sailors and fishermen, who depended on his kindness for their livelihoods. He lived in a palace of coral an crystal, named Ryugu, under the sea and used turtles, jellyfish and fish as his messengers. He once game the Empress Jingo magical tidal jewels that would control the tides (and then some,) which she used to attack Korea, first removing the water under their ships, grounding them, and then to send a tidal wave to crush, and drown, the fleeing sailors and warriors. He made the jellyfish boneless when he sent it on a mission to find a monkey for him to eat and the poor thing came back emptyhanded, so was beaten so severly that his bones all crumpled to powder.
Ryujin or one of his servants

Musubi-no-Kami-god of love and marriage, appears as a young man. He also represents creation or the power of becoming, which makes him very similar to Eros, who was first thought of as a child of Chaos (the primodial god) who used love to help create the universe, and later as a demi-god son of Aphrodite, that went around shooting arrows of love at people. Musubi lives in a sacred cherry tree, Kanzakuri, where he will leap out of and offer young girls a bough of cherry blossoms, with a promise of love in their future (not his love, the love of a human man.)

Gekka-O-god of binding in marriage, he ties the bride and grooms feet together with a magic red silk cord.

Hachiman-god of war, bravery and honor, the divine protector of Japan and it's people. He was a real historical figure, Emperor Ojin, that was deified after his death. He was thought to be the special guardian of the Minamoto Samurai clan, who took eventual became the shoguns of Japan. He is also very popular with the average people (peasants in the old days.) Over half the registered shrines in Japan are for him, making him second only to Inari, the rice god. He was so popular that the buddhists found a way to make him into a bodhisattva of sorts, following the way of the warrior, so he became a kind of synchronistic deity, fusing the 2 main religions of Japan.

Inari-god/goddess of rice and fertility. This ambigous deity has shrines all over Japan, and is very important, as rice is the staple food there. S/He uses pure white foxes as messengers, and you will see them all over the shrines. Because of this, s/he is also called the fox god, but many priest discourage this (because the foxes can also be thought of as evil.) Both a god and a goddess, appearing as either one, someitmes a young maiden, or an old man, a bodhisattva or a even as a fox. This deity has more shrines than any other in Japan, showing the importance of rice to the people. The shrines often have the red torii (spiri gates) at the entrance, and since there are so many shrines and so many torii, red has become associated with Inari. The shrine itself is often flanked by a pair of fox statues, one male and one female. People would leave offerings of rice or saki at the temple, but the most common is to offer a fox statue.
Statue of Inari as an old man, with his white foxes
Inari, as a young woman, appears before a samurai
Fox guardian at a shrine to Inari

Fuujin-god of the wind, often depicted as an Oni with a bag slung over his shoulder. He is thought to be one of the oldest gods, present at the creation of the world, where he let loose his winds to clear the mists between heaven and earth, letting the suns light reach the world. What is even more interesting is that there is clear evidence that Fuujin was actually originally the Greek wind god Boreas, who traveled along the silk road as the wind god Wardo and was eventually brought over to Japan. He is of course now his own unique self and is not Boreas anymore, but it is amazing nontheless. The buddhists use him too, claiming that he was a demon that the Buddha captured and converted, becoming a wind god.

Raijin/Raiden-god of thunder and lightning, often paired with Fuujin and depicted as an Oni. As an oni figure, he is fond of eating childrens navels, so parents would tell their children to cover their tummies. He carries a circle of drums with him, beating on them produces the thunder. He is similar to his Chinese counterpart, Lei Gong, but is more well known in the west, in part thanks to the Mortal Combat game (though he appears a lot more human looking in the game and subsequent movies.) He is very well known in Japan, with pretty much everyone knowing who he is, even if they are not Shinto, and his image appears on a number of things from cards, to cups to blankets.

He has a companion beast, Raiju, which is the actual lightning itself. It appears as a cat, tanuki, or a blue wolf make of fire or wrapped in lightning. This beast becomes aggitated during storms and will leap about, causing fires to everything he touches. He likes to sleep in navels, of which Raijen will shoot arrows of lightning at to wake him up (frying the poor individual whose navel he was sleeping in.) So don't sleep outside during a storm, and even if you are inside, it is suggested that you sleep on your stomach. Raiju was used to make the Pokemon character Raichu, Pikachu's evolved form.

Chimata-no-Kami/Sai-no-Kami-god of crossroads, roads and footpaths. He was originally a phallic god, and the phallus is still his symbol, and images or carvings of a phallus are placed at crossroads.

O-Watatsumi-god of the sea and all it's creatures, the most important of the sea gods. Some people think he is the same as Ryujin.

O-Yamatsumi/Ohoyamatsumi-god of the mountains, the most important of all the mountain gods. He is the son of Izanagi and older brother of Amaterasu. He is also the father of Konohanasakuya-Hime, the kami of the sacred Mt. Fuji.

Konohanasakuya-Hime-goddess of Mt. Fuji, a sacred mountain in Japan. She is the daughter of O-Yamatsumi and the wife of Ninigi, mother of Hoori and Hoderi. Her symbol is the cherry blosson, and she is called the "blossom princess." Because this is her symbol, and cherry blossoms are fleeting, human life is short. If Ninigi had married her sister, Iwa-Naga, the rock princess, human life would have been very long.

Mt. Fuji

Amaatsu-Mikaboshi-god of stars, specifically the pole star, and of evil. He is the personification of the void, the primordial darkness that existed before creation. He was the only being there, and ruled it absolutly and with absolute darkness, stillness and silence. Then for one tiny instant he lost control when the In and Yo (yin-yang) began flowing and the movement caused the universe sprang into being. As it was the ruler of the void, all things that rushed to fill that void have peices of it now, including humans, and this is the cause of our passions (well the dark side of our passions.) He is not really a god per say, but a force, the anithesis of life and light. It is constantly trying to return the universe back to the dark and silent void (i.e. destroy it) and feeds off of these negative emotions and dark passions. Those who die with strong attachments to him will have their sould turned into his agents, or even become Oni. Some Onmyoji (Japanese sorcerers) worship him in an attempt to steal his power. Many blame him and the Onmyoji for the atrocities commited by the Japanese before and during WWII. This god became a major villian in Marvel comics Hercules, where he killed Zeus and recently took over an alien pantheon. He was the inspiration for the Star Wars Sith Palpatine. He was also the inspiration for a villain in the Sailor Moon series(the season where the daughter comes back in time and they don't know who she is.) He has been compared to Satan by some, though Satan wants to pervert creation in defiance and rebellion to God, while Mikaboshi just wants to destroy everything, people, gods, the whole universe. So, not the same at all. And while Mikaboshi is thought of in the male tense, it is not male or female, existing in the void before anything even remotely like sexes was formed.
As he has no real form, there are no real depictions of him used.
Here is the Marvel comics version of him

Bodhidarma/Daruma-the founder of Zen buddhism, he was an Indian monk whose teachings reached all the way to Japan, where most people think Zen buddhism came from. Often seen as the little Daruma rolly-polly dolls, used as toys for children, or as good luck charms. The good luck lasts for one year, so a new doll would be bought the next year, while the old one would be burned together at the temple with other old dolls.
I got one of these when I was in Japan, too.
I had no idea it was supposed to be a toy though, I like that idea.

Kannon/Kwannon-god/goddess/bodhisattva of compassion and mercy. This deity is the Chinese goddess Kwan Yin, who is really the male Bodhisattva Avaloketisvara. In Japan there seem to be more male images of Kannon than female, but both are shown. Kannon is widely revered in Japan, and is seen as the protector of children, as well as the giver of children. There are many incarnations of Kannon, as woman, as man, as demon, as god, as bodhisattva, as tengu, etc...all of them are there to help people. Together with Jizo and Amida (see below,) they are the bedrock of Japanese buddhism, with Jizo offering salvation from hell, Amida giving people the pure land and Kannon offering salvation in this life.
Kannon in a masculine form, with multiple arms
Giant, building sized statue of Kannon, in a more feminine form

Amida Nyorai-is the Bodhisattva Amitabha, the "buddha of infinite light." Bodhisattva of protection and forgiveness. He created the pure land, a place for those that have not yet broken the cycle of rebirth to go to when they pass on, to learn more of the Budda's teachings and then become Bodhisattvas themselves to return to the world and help more people. It is basically a kind of short cut to Nirvana, or a time extension so you can learn more. There are many 48 different vows to take to get to the pure land, though you only need to complete one to get in. The 2 easiest that I have seen are to call upon Amida's 10 times or more, or to call upon him when you are about to die. This easier path is what led so many people to him, and frankly, I myself am attracted to this idea. While I will still endeavor to learn more in this life, it is a relief that Amida give's me extra time in his pure land if I haven't figured it out. Some people love life and want to be born again and again. I am not one of those people, I am someone that feels the weight of too many lifetimes and am ready to go to Nirvana. That is why I am both a pagan and a buddhist and feel comfortable in the Asian pagan-buddhist faith.

Jizo-is actually the Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, who took it as his role to teach mankind the ways of Buddha, after the death of Buddha until the time of Maitreya, the last Buddha. In Japan he is the protector of all mankind and rescues souls in hell. He especially cares for dead children, as they are believed to not have had enough time to gather merit to cross over, so are stranded in-between and forced by demons to carry rocks down a river to make piles, basically crude stupas, as penance for making their parents grieve (this is a culture of absolute respect for sure!) He will scoop up those children and hide them in his robes keeping them safe until their time has passed and they can move on. Grieving parents will often leave childrens toys at his idols or dress him in childrens clothes, hoping that he will take pity on their child and give them special attention. His statues are often seen in semetaries or anyplace that children have died. He protects travllers too. so roadside statues of him are common as well. He looks like a Buddhist monk, with a shaved head, often with closed eyes and cubby, child-like cheeks. He carries a staff with rings atop it, which he would shake, like a rattle, to ward off demons. He is a very popoluar Bodhisattva in Japan, and can be found in Shinto areas as well.
Offerings left for Jizo, to keep their deceased children safe from demons and punishment

Ekibio-Gama-god of plagues and epidemics. I am not sure if he causes it, like Bimbo-Gami causes poverty, or if he helps ward away plagues, or if he is the personification of plagues (then he should be an Oni, not a Kami.)

Emma-O-god of the undeworld and judge of the dead, he keeps the souls of the dead until it is their time to be reborn or they are saved and can go to a heavenly paradise. He is really the Hindu-Buddhist god Yama, and is also the same as the Chinese god Yanluo (The Yama King.)

Fudo-god of fire, wisdom and protection from disaster. He appears rather like a sumo wrestler in appearance.

Okuninushi-god of healing, medicine and sorcery. He was once a man, whose brothers grew jealous of and so they killed him, but his mother was able to resurrect him. His brothers then again killed him and he took refuge in the underworld. While in the underworld, he met Susanoo and his daughter, Suseri-hime. He immediatly fell in love with her and Susanoo gave him many tests to perform to prove his worth, hoping to destroy him. With Suseri's aide, as well as that of an animal ally he was able to overcome these tests, but then decided to tie Susanoo's hair to the rafters of his palace while he slept and fled with this daughter and stole Susanoo's bow and arrows. Susanoo had finally grown fond of him, so allowed him to escape and told him to use his arrows to kill his treacherous brothers, which he did. He became the ruler of the province of Izumo, until Ninigi came and took his place. He then became the ruler of the unseen world of spirits and a healer.
Sukunaa-Biko-god of rain, faming and cultivation, he was a friend and ally of Okuninushi. He was dwarf-like in appearance.

Kawa-no-Kami-god of rivers, the lord of all the river gods, goddesses and spirits.

Bimbo-Gami-god of poverty. He causes it wherever he dwells, so people perform rituals to get rid of him. He is a thin and filthy man, and during times of economic troubles people would beat idols of him to punish him and force him to leave.
Recession bothering you?
Go beat the crap out of Bimbo-Gami!

Marisha-Ten-goddess of war and victory. She had 8 arms, each bearing a sword and had an army of 7 ferocious boars. She was able to confuse the enemy, by making you invisible. She is the Japanese version of an indo-European goddess and Tibetan boddhisattva, Marici.

Shichi Fukujin-The seven gods of luck, which are almost the same as the
Chinese 8 Immortals

  • Benten-goddess of words, speech, eloquence and music
  • Bishamon-god of warriors, guards and the punisher of criminals, protector against diseases and demons
  • Daikoku-god of wealth
  • Ebisu-god of mirth, joy and happiness
  • Fukurokuju-god of wisdom and longevity
  • Hotei-god of contentment and abundance
  • Jurojon or Gama-god of longevity
  • Kichijoten/Kisshoten/Kudokuten-goddess of happiness, fertility and beauty, sometimes considered to be the 8th god of fortune

Modern worship in Japan, means you can carry luck on a keychain,

and all your gods, too

Japan is a land of gods and spirits, a land little touched by Christian and Muslim hands, so there are just too many gods to list here. There are other gods I wanted to list, but much of my research from my travels is still sitting in storage waiting for me to move. I may work on some of the spiritual creatures, demons, monsters and heavenly beings of East Asia next time or I may work on the gods of another country like India or the Phillipines. I am also open to requests if you want me to focus on a specific country, otherwise, wait and see what I post next.