Page:Shinto, the Way of the Gods - Aston - 1905.djvu/167

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the pantheon--nature deities.

157

recognized as war-gods. The myth which represents them as subduing Ohonamochi and makes Futsu no mitama a sword contains the germ of this view of their character. A poet of the Manayōshiu speaks of praying to the God of Kashima when about to start on a warlike expedition. Fencing and horsemanship were under Futsunushi's special protection. The shintai of both Gods, to some worshippers the Gods themselves, were swords. That of Take-mika-dzuchi was a sword, five feet long, which at the annual Kashima festival was drawn from its sheath and worshipped by the priests,[1] all the people present wearing swords and drawing them before the shrine. It is probably as a war-god that he was constituted the Ujigami of the arrowmakers, and that offerings of horses were made to him. When savage tribes were subdued or foreign invaders repulsed these Gods led the van and were followed by the other deities. They were supposed to extend their special embassies to their various shrines. They were also prayed to for a calm passage for envoys to China, and for children. Predictions of the quality of the harvest were recently, and probably still are, hawked about by persons in the garb of Shinto priests, called Kashima no koto-fure, that is to say, "notifications from Kashima." Believers in the ghost and grave theory of the origin of religion will be interested to learn that not far from Kashima there is a large sepulchral mound called Kame-yama (pot-hill). On the 8th day of the 1st month an Imperial envoy offers gohei here and recites a norito. There are dances and music, and the mound is solemnly circumambulated. Traditions exist of a great battle in this neighbourhood. Smaller sepulchral mounds are also met with here, as at all ancient centres of authority in Japan.

Ika-dzuchi.—Take-mika-dzuchi having been converted into a war-deity and general Providence, the Thunder

  1. The sword was deified in Teutonic myth.