A Japanese goddess of the sun, co – creatrix of the world who watches over its order, protectress of people and ancestress of the Japanese imperial family according to the beliefs of Shinto. Her name originates from the stem amateru meaning „Shining in Heavens” and when its full form is used, she is called Amaterasu-ōmikami (The Great August Goddess Shining in Heavens), Ōhirume-no-muchi-no-kami and Tensho Daijan (Goddess of the Sun).
Her name first appears in Japan’s oldest chronicles Kojiki and Nihon Shoki. According to most myths kami (spirit, deity) Amaterasu came to being with her two brothers when their father, the first man in the world, Izanagi returned from Yomi, the Underworld. He went there to take his late wife Izanami back but he failed (according to another version Izanami gave birth to Amaterasu as their first child as soon as the Japanese Archipelago came into being). He came back to the world of the living and purified himself; when he was cleaning left eye, Amaterasu, goddess of the sun, was born, cleaning his right eye resulted in the birth of Tsukuyomi, god of the moon and cleaning his nose, Izanagi created Susanoo, god of the storms and the sea. Amaterasu and Tsukuyomi got married and became the rulers of heavens, however when Tsukuyomi killed Uke Mochi, the goddess of food, Amaterasu, abhoring violence and bloodshed, sent him away, dividing in this way the day from the night.
Amaterasu’s relations with her other brother were tense as well. When impulsive and unpredictable as a storm Susanoo was to travel to the Underworld, he came to say goodbye to his sister, she, however, knowing his nature, doubted he had good intentions and got ready for the fight. God of the winds challenged her to prove her wrong and Amaterasu agreed. The aim was to create living creatures from an object: goddess of the sun broke Susanoo’s sword into three, chewed the parts and spat them out creating three women while her brother made five men from her necklace Mikuratana-no-kami, the symbol of power. When they started to argue who was the winner, a coarse god of the sea fell into rage and started to devastate rice and silkworm fields to that point that he eventually demolished her heavenly palace. Amaterasu was so scared and discouraged that she escaped to earth and hid in a cave (later to be called Ama-no-Iwato – ‘The Cave of the Sun God’ or ‘Heavenly Rock Cave’). She had no intention to get out even though Susanoo was punished and banished from heavens. Grief – stricken goddess did not realise that all the radiance and warmth of the sun disappeared from the surface of earth with her departure. Knowing that life could not survive without the sun, other gods kept begging Amaterasu to get out of the cave but she strongly refused. Desperate gods thought of making her leave with a trick. They have organised a party with noisy music right outside the cave and a clever goddess Uzume (Ame-no-Uzume-no-mikoto) placed an eight pointed mirror and a tub in front of the entrance to the cave. She overturned the tub and started to dance on it throwing her clothes off. Other gods found it so humorous that they burst into loud laughter and Amaterasu got so curious of what was happening outside that she moved slightly the stone blocking an entrance. When a sunbeam reached the mirror and the goddess saw what radiating beauty she was, she got out of the cave and gods blocked immediately the entrance with a rock. They asked Amaterasu not to leave heavens ever again and she agreed.
(Amaterasu emerging from the cave with the Imperial Regalia, painting: Origin of Iwato Kagura Dance by Utagawa Kunisada, 1857 )
Susanoo was apologetic and brought Amaterasu his sword Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (‘Grass Cutting Sword’) as a sign of good will. She then gave the sword, the jewel Yasakani no Magatama and the mirror Yata no Kagami to her grandson Ninigi, son of Oshihomimi, one of the humans created during Susanoo’s challenge. According to Shinto mythology, these objects were to provide help in terminating wars ravaging Japan when Ninigi’s great-grandson Jimmu claimed the throne as the first Emperor. They became the Imperial Regalia and up to this day they are a closely guarded treasure which is only used during the coronation of emperors. Japanese rulers have been considered to be Amaterasu’s descendants and worshipped as deities, this cult has not been finished until the end of WWII when the American authorities demanded it as a part of peace treaty. Also the Japanese flag was changed at that time as the previous one depicted the sun (here is a naval version)
However, the motif of chrysanthemum, symbolising the sun, was preserved as the sign of an Imperial Family.
Amaterasu was considered to be a peaceful, balanced, protective and generous goddess. She was believed to be the protectress of people and helped them to develop such crafts as weaving, building or rice cultivation. The sun goddess is venerated in the Ise Jingū temple in the city of Ise and Hibiya Daijingū in Tokyo. The Yata no Kagami mirror is stored in Ise Jingū; the sanctuary is also famous for its ceremony called Shikinen Sengu when every 20 years the temple wooden buildings are rebuilt on a the area nearby and the goddess is offered new robes and food. The Hibiya Daijingū temple was erected in Tokyo in 1880 so that the followers do not have to go on a pilgrimage to Ise.
Amaterasu’s official cult resembled somehow the one of Hestia. The goddess was venerated by a high – priestess called Saiō on the behalf of the Emperor. Saiō originated from the Imperial Family and held her office throughout the reign of the Emperor who appointed her. According to legend this tradition was established by Princess Yamatohime-no-mikoto, the daughter of Emperor Suinin, who was searching for the best place to worship Amaterasu for twenty years until she found Ise and decided to build a sanctuary there. Saiō was being chosen when a previous Emperor died and the previous Saiō’s term of office expired with his death. The choice was based on divination, although it was a custom that one of new Emperor’s daughter was to become a Saiō. High – Priestess had to be a virgin, health and beauty were also important factors. When a new Emperor was crowned, a future Saiō moved to a separate part of the palace and was undergoing the processes of purification and learning a proper ceremonial (including a special language of priestesses where the the impure words were replaced with a special cipher). After eight months the new Saiō was sent to a building called Nonomiya prepared especially for that purpose and one year later she was going with her retinue to Saikū, the seat of priestesses near the Ise shrine (on those days it was forbidden to bury the deads). Her service included praying for peace, offering the first harvests to deities in September and performing ceremonies during the Tsukinamisai festival at the Ise temple in June and November. Being Saiō was treated as an honour and the will of heavens so if she fell significantly ill, she could have been dismissed from her office. She was bound to remain a virgin throughout her stay in the temple therefore breaking the vow of chastity was treated as a reason to remove the high – priestess from the service to the goddess. There were some cases of suicides among priestesses when their reputation was questioned (according to chronicles Takuhatahime, daughter of the Emperor Yūryaku, fell the victim of her enemies’ calumnies so she buried the sacred mirror and then hanged herself). After the Emperor’s death or resignation, Saiō could come back to the court, get married and have children (similarly to the Roman beliefs marrying a former priestess was a great honour). If for some reasons Saiō was dismissed before the end of her office, no other was chosen in her place until the reign of a new Emperor. The office of Saiō was held until 14th century.
When Buddhism became more and more popular in Japan, Amaterasu was recognised as a manifestation of bodhisattwa (either Kuan Yin or one of the forms of Buddha himself).
IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS
Apart from the Imperial Regalia Amaterasu is closely connected to roosters crowing at the dawn and a raven called Yatagarasu (Eight-Span Raven), her personal messenger to Emperor Jimmu who not only helped his army pass the rocky mountains safely but also went scouting and even negotiated on his behalf.
A person of great beauty, knowledge, talents and serenity who yet does not want to shine in the company. Someone reliable but modest who does much and talks little. Also a shy and timid person who escapes from problems and hides from the reality. In negative a narcissistic person focusing on their appearance and awaiting flatteries.
Come out of your hiding place. Regardless of how talented you are, you will waste it if you do not let yourself shine. Even if you are tired and discouraged now, remember that life still holds many pleasant surprises for you.
Do not escape from problems. Focus on one goal even if it seems trivial. Do not start many things at the time because you will not complete any of them or they will not be done thoroughly and you will get even more frustrated.
It is not your task to hide in the corner. It is your task to shine with your beauty, wisdom and smile. Beauty is not just pretty face and body but rather charm which attracts people to you. Build your self-worth from the inside, do not base it on the opinion of others. Without self worth it will be difficult for you to keep balance, set boundaries and love others wisely.
Silence or withdrawing from the annoying conversation is not giving up or failure. You win by not allowing the mental aggressor suck energy out of you. It reminds pulling the rope, if you let it, the person on the other end will fall down. Withdrawing from people and focusing on your inner life to think an important matter over is a very good idea. However, when you draw conclusions, do not keep them for yourself but rather put them into practice.
Hiding emotions inside will not make them disappear, instead they will be consuming you so it is much better to throw them out. If you do one thing, feel sth different and speak yet another thing, you are dispersing your energy. Let your thoughts, words and acts be one. Show integrity. If you put masks on, you will not let others to like, respect and love the real you. They will only like, respect and love the image of you that they have. It is impossible to build a true relationship with another person if you use illusions as a base.
Even if you feel like being immersed in darkness now, be sure that eventually you will shine.
Coming back to the world. New beginning. Competition. Strong position. Beauty. Radiance. Warmth. Fun. Music. Dance. Laughter. End of sadness. Harmony. Peace. Sensitivity. Creation. Teaching. Life Force.
In my personal interpretation, this card has often the similar meaning to The Sun, 19th Major Arcane of Tarot. Its energy is a bit “softer”, though, unlike a clearly male The Sun in Tarot.
If you are in the relationship: cooling down in a relationship, partner may become silent or withdraw from family life but it is also the time of improvement and solving problems out. Regardless of whether the union will resurrect like a phoenix or not, this card definitely assures you that the ultimate outcome will be positive to you.
If you are single: you are single because you isolate yourself from the world on the external or internal level. Either you do not go out to the places where you can meet new people or you do not let people approach you and you keep distance even when you are at the party or in the company of acquaintances.
Good time in finances. Promotion or pay rise. If the question concerns a new venture, this card suggests it will bring a satisfying result.
Internal diseases. Inflammation of organs. High temperature. Unrecognised depression. Post traumatic stress disorder. Excessive or low activity. Endangered parts of the body: heart, eyes.
Classical representation of Amaterasu inspired by the picture of Utagawa Kunisada in Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr
A very similar image of Amaterasu looking at the cave in The Oracle of the Goddess by Gayan Sylvie Winter&Jo Dosé
Amaterasu in The Goddess Wisdom Cards by Jill Fairchild, Regina Schaare & Sandra M. Stanton
Amaterasu with the mirror in The Goddess Oracle by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky
Radiating Amaterasu in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took
Amaterasu in Goddess: A New Guide to Feminine Wisdom by River Huston&Patricia Languedoc
Amaterasu with a rooster and a decorative headdress in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano as The Sun (according to one of the myth version seeing Susanoo approaching Amaterasu pinned wild boar tusks into hair to protect herself. Her brother used them, not her necklace, to create human beings)
A fainting nymph…oh sorry, Amaterasu in Goddesses&Sirens by Stacey Demarco&Jimmy Manton
Blue Haired Fairy from Pinocchio…oh sorry, Amaterasu in Ascended Masters Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue
Based on English and Polish Wikipedia, http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20090712x1.html and http://www.angelfire.com/de/poetry/Whoswho/Amaterasu.html .