Aniatism is the regional religion of Ania and the state religion of its nations. It involves the worship of kami, spirits. Some kami are local and can be regarded as the spiritual being/spirit or genius of a particular place, but other ones represent major natural objects and processes. Aniatism is an animistic belief system.
- 1 History
- 2 Definition
- 3 Practices and teachings
- 4 Cultural effects
- 5 Aniatist Texts
- 6 Well known shrines
The Jade Emperor is the most important god. He was the first god and in charge of all the gods and goddesses.
At the beginning the world did not exist. The first four gods; the Jade Emperor, Shangdi, Nüwa and Pangu; appeared and created Tian (heaven), Terra (earth), the oceans and humankind. They then summoned two divine beings into existence, the male Izanagi and the female Izanami, and charged them with creating the first land. To help them do this, Izanagi and Izanami were given a halberd decorated with jewels, named Amanonuhoko. The two deities then went to the bridge between heaven and earth, Amenoukihashi and churned the sea below with the halberd. When drops of salty water fell from the halberd, they formed into the island Onogoro. They descended from the bridge of heaven and made their home on the island. Eventually they wished to mate, so they built a pillar called Amenomihashira around which they built a palace called Yahirodono. Izanagi and Izanami circled the pillar in opposite directions, and when they met on the other side Izanami, the female deity, spoke first in greeting. Izanagi didn't think that this was proper, but they mated anyway. They had two children, Hiruko and Awashima but they were badly-formed and are not considered deities.
They put the children into a boat and set them out to sea, and then petitioned the other gods for an answer as to what they had done wrong. They were told that the male deity should have spoken first in greeting during the ceremony. So Izanagi and Izanami went around the pillar again, and this time when they met Izanagi spoke first and their union was successful.
They bore many deities. Izanami, however, died giving birth to the child Kagututi or Ho-Masubi. She was then buried on Mt. Chuuko, at the border of Deffice. In anger, Izanagi killed Kagututi. His death also created dozens of deities.
Izanagi lamented the death of Izanami and undertook a journey to Yomi. Izanagi found little difference between Yomi and the land above, except for the eternal darkness. However, this suffocating darkness was enough to make him ache for the light and life above. Quickly, he searched for Izanami and found her. At first, Izanagi could not see her at all for the shadows hid her appearance well. Nevertheless, he asked her to return with him. Izanami spat out at him, informing Izanagi that he was too late. She had already eaten the food of the underworld and was now one with the land of the dead. She could no longer return to the surface with the living.
Izanagi was shocked at this news but he refused to give in to her wishes of being left to the dark embrace of Yomi. Izanami agreed to go back to the world above but first requested to have some time to rest and instructed Izanagi not to come into her bedroom. After a long wait, Izanami did not come out of her bedroom and Izanagi was worried. While Izanami was sleeping, he took the comb that bound his long hair and set it alight as a torch. Under the sudden burst of light, he saw the horrid form of the once beautiful and graceful Izanami. She was now a rotting form of flesh with maggots and foul creatures running over her ravaged body.
Crying out loud, Izanagi could no longer control his fear and started to run, intending to return to the living and abandon his death-ridden wife. Izanami woke up shrieking and indignant and chased after him. Wild shikome also hunted for the frightened Izanagi, instructed by Izanami to bring him back.
Izanagi, thinking quickly, hurled down his headdress which became a bunch of black grapes. The shikome fell on these but continued pursuit. Next, Izanagi threw down his comb which became a clump of bamboo shoots. Now it was Yomi's creatures that began to give chase, but Izanagi urinated against a tree, creating a great river that increased his lead. Unfortunately, they still pursued Izanagi, forcing him to hurl peaches at them. He knew this would not delay them for long, but he was nearly free, for the boundary of Yomi was now close at hand.
Izanagi burst out of the entrance and quickly pushed a boulder in the mouth of the cavern that was the entrance of Yomi. Izanami screamed from behind this impenetrable barricade and told Izanagi that if he left her she would destroy 1,000 living people every day. He furiously replied he would give life to 1,500.
And so began the existence of Death, caused by the hands of the proud Izanami, the abandoned wife of Izanagi.
As could be expected, Izanagi went on to purify himself after recovering from his descent to Yomi. As he undressed and removed the adornments of his body, each item he dropped to the ground formed a deity. Even more gods came into being when he went to the water to wash himself. The most important ones were created once he washed his face:
- Amaterasu (incarnation of the sun) from his left eye,
- Tsukuyomi (incarnation of the moon) from his right eye,
- Susanoo (incarnation of storms and ruler of the sea) from his nose and
- Akuma (incarnation of energy) from his mouth.
Izanagi went on to divide the world between them with Amaterasu inheriting the heavens, Tsukuyomi taking control of the night and moon, the storm god Susanoo owning the seas and all elements of a storm, including snow and hail and Akuma inheriting the underworld.
The later region of Ania was created by these four. There was only sea at first, but they combined their powers of sun, moon, storm and energy and a big landmass came into being with multiple islands.
Amaterasu, the powerful sun goddess of Japan, is the most well-known deity of Ania. Her feuding with her uncontrollable brother Susanoo, however, is equally infamous. Susanoo had wicked behavior towards Izanagi. Izanagi, tired of Susanoo's repeated complaints, banished him to Yomi. Susanoo grudgingly acquiesced, but had to attend to some unfinished business first. He went to Takamanohara to bid farewell to his sister, Amaterasu. Amaterasu knew her unpredictable brother did not have any good intentions in mind and prepared for battle. "For what purpose do you come here?" asked Amaterasu. "To say farewell," answered Susanoo.
But she did not believe him and requested a contest for proof of his good faith. A challenge was set as to who could bring forth more noble and divine children. Amaterasu made three women from Susanoo's sword, while Susanoo made five men from Amaterasu's ornament chain. Amaterasu claimed the title to the five men made from her belongings. Therefore, the three women were attributed to Susanoo.
Both gods declared themselves to be victorious. Amaterasu's insistence in her claim drove Susanoo to violent campaigns that reached their climax when he hurled a half-flayed pony -- an animal sacred to Amaterasu -- into Amatarasu's weaving hall, causing the death of one of her attendants. Amaterasu fled and hid in the cave called Iwayado. As the sun goddess disappeared into the cave, darkness covered the world.
All the gods and goddesses in their turn strove to coax Amaterasu out of the cave, but she ignored them all. Finally, the kami of merriment, Ama-no-Uzume, hatched a plan. She placed a large bronze mirror on a tree, facing Amaterasu's cave. Then Uzume clothed herself in flowers and leaves, overturned a washtub, and began to dance on it, drumming the tub with her feet. Finally, Uzume shed the leaves and flowers and danced naked. All the male gods roared with laughter, and Amaterasu became curious. When she peeked outside from her long stay in the dark, a ray of light called "dawn" escaped and Amaterasu was dazzled by her own reflection in the mirror. The god Ameno-Tajikarawo pulled her from the cave and it was sealed with a holy shirukume rope. Surrounded by merriment, Amaterasu's depression disappeared and she agreed to return her light to the world. Uzume was from then on known as the kami of dawn as well as mirth.
Susanoo, exiled from heaven, came to Deffice. It was not long before he met an old man and his wife sobbing beside their daughter. The old couple explained that they originally had eight daughters who were devoured one-by-one each year by the dragon named Yamata no Orochi. The terrible dragon had eight heads and eight tails, stretched over eight hills and was said to have eyes as red as good wine. Kusinada was the last of the eight daughters.
Susanoo, who knew at once of the old couple's relation to the sun goddess Amaterasu, offered his assistance in return for their beautiful daughter's hand in marriage. The parents accepted and Susanoo transformed Kushinada into a comb and hid her safely in his hair. He also ordered a large fence-like barrier built around the house, eight gates opened in the fence, eight tables placed at each gate, eight casks placed on each table, and the casks filled with eight-times brewed rice wine.
Orochi arrived and found his path blocked and after boasting of his prowess he found that he could not get through the barrier. His keen sense of smell took in the sake - which Orochi loved - and the eight heads had a dilemma. They wanted to drink the delicious sake that called to them, yet the fence stood in their way, blocking any method of reaching it. One head first suggested they simply smash the barrier down... but that would knock over and waste the sake making it all for naught. Another proposed they combine their fiery breath and burn the fence into ash... but then the sake would evaporate. The heads began searching for an opening and found the hatches and eager for the sake, they were keen to poke their heads through to go and drink it. Yet the eighth head, which was the wisest, warned his brethren of the folly of such a thing and volunteered to go through first to make sure all was well. Susanoo waited for his chance, letting the head drink some sake in safety and report back to the others that there was no danger. All eight heads plunged through a hatch each and greedily drank every last drop of the sake in the casks.
As the heads finished, Susanoo launched his attack on Orochi. Drunken from drinking so much sake, the great serpent was no match for the spry Susanoo who decapitated each head in turn and slew Orochi. A nearby river was said to have turned red with the blood of the defeated serpent. As Susanoo cut the dragon into pieces, he found an excellent sword from a tail of the dragon that his sword had been unable to cut. The sword was later presented to Amaterasu and named Kusanagi.
The first emperor of Deffice was Emperor Miikage. He was a descendant of Amaterasu. The first emperor of Gurenn was Emperor Sutakukesutado. He was a descendant of Tsukuyomi. The first emperor of Luxias was Emperor Luxius. He was a descendant of Susanoo. The first emperor of Demontropius was an incarnation of Akuma. Akuma split himself into a demon whose name is unknown and his two wives. They were banished to the distant island of Demontropius by the gods. It is unknown when or if they died. The demon used his powers to create a mist around the island.
Influences on Aniatism
Aniatism is the official religion of Anian countries. Aniatism was used as a tool for promoting Emperor (and Empire) worship.
Allthough, there is no money put into Religion and Spirituality by the government of Gurenn.
As time went on, Aniatism was increasingly used in the advertising of nationalists' popular sentiments. The practice of Emperor worship was further spread by distributing imperial portraits for esoteric veneration. All of these practices were used to fortify national solidarity through patriotic centralized observance at shrines. This use of Aniatism gave to Anian patriotism a special tint of mysticism and cultural introversion, which became more pronounced as time went on.
Types of Aniatism
To distinguish between these different focuses of emphasis within Aniatism, many feel it is important to separate Aniatism into different types of Aniatist expression.
- Shrine Aniatism is the oldest and most prevalent of the Aniatist types. It has always been a part of Ania's history and constitutes the main current of Aniatist tradition.
- Sect Aniatism is comprised of 13 groups formed during the 19th century. They do not have shrines, but conduct religious activities in meeting halls. Aniatist sects include the mountain-worship sects, faith-healing sects, purification sects, Confucian sects, and Revival Aniatism sects.
- Folk Aniatism includes the numerous but fragmented folk beliefs in deities and spirits. Practices include divination, spirit possession, and shamanic healing. Some of their practices come from Taoism, Buddhism, or Confucianism, but most come from Shinto.
- State Aniatism is the result of Aniatism being the official religion of all Anian countries. The Emperor is considered divine.
After the War of Ages, the four nations professing Aniatism united in one region.
Aniatism can be seen as a form of animism and may be regarded as a variant of shamanist religion. Aniatist beliefs and ways of thinking are deep in the subconscious fabric of modern Anian society. The afterlife is not a primary concern in Aniatism; much more emphasis is placed on fitting into this world, instead of preparing for the next.
Aniatism has no binding set of dogma, no holiest place for worshipers, no person or kami deemed holiest, and no defined set of prayers. Instead, Aniatism is a collection of rituals and methods meant to mediate the relations of living humans and kami. These practices have originated organically in Ania over many centuries and have been influenced by Ania's contact with the religions of other regions, especially East Asia.
The most immediately striking theme in the Aniatist religion is a great love and reverence for Nature in all its forms and for natural artifacts and processes. Thus, a waterfall, the moon, or just an oddly shaped rock might come to be regarded as a kami; so might charismatic persons or more abstract entities like growth and fertility. As time went by, the original nature-worshipping roots of the religion, while never lost entirely, became attenuated and the kami took on more reified and anthropomorphic forms, with a formidable body of myth attached to them. The kami, however, are not transcendent deities in the usual Western and Indian sense of the word. Although divine, they are close to humanity; they inhabit the same world as we do, make the same mistakes as we do, and feel and think the same way as we do. Those who died will usually become kami, with their power and main characteristics given by their doings in life. Those believing other religions may be also venerated as kami after death, if there are Aniatist believers who wish them to be.
Aniatist theology focuses on doctrines of wu wei ("non-action"), spontaneity, humanism, relativism and emptiness. This philosophical aspect of Aniatism emphasizes various themes found in the Tao Te Ching such as naturalness, vitality, peace, "non-action" (wu wei), emptiness (refinement), detachment, the strength of softness (or flexibility), and in the Zhuangzi such as receptiveness, spontaneity, the relativism of human ways of life, ways of speaking and guiding behavior. Aniatism is a peaceful religion.
A simple way to appreciate Aniatist thought is to consider it as being based on varying levels of honesty. In practice, the elements of Aniatism accumulated over time and matured into the following forms:
- Filial piety
- The gentleman
- Rectification of Names
Practices and teachings
Unlike many religions, one does not need to publicly profess belief in Aniatism to be an Aniatist. Whenever a child is born in Japan, a local Aniatist shrine adds the child's name to a list kept at the shrine and declares him or her a "family child". After death a family child becomes a "family kami". One may choose to have one's name added to another list when moving and then be listed at both places. Names can be added to the list without consent and regardless of the beliefs of the person added to the list. However, this is not considered an imposition of belief, but a sign of being welcomed by the local kami, with the promise of addition to the pantheon of kami after death. Those children who die before addition to the list are called "water children", and are believed to cause troubles and plagues. Water children are often worshipped in an Aniatist shrine dedicated to stilling their anger and sadness. However, the kami will be reïncarnated after some time in a new form. The realm and form in which they will be reborn depends on their deeds on their previous life. There are six realms in which one can be reborn. The highest is the Deva realm or heaven, where one is reborn as a god. The second highest is the Asura realm, where one is reborn as a demigod. The third highest is the Human realm, where we live. The third lowest is the Animal realm, where animals other than homo sapiens live. The second lowest is the Hungry Ghost realm, where ghost that can't eat and drink live. The lowest realm is the Naraka realm or hell, where beings are punished. When one has lived a bad life, one will be reborn in a lower realm. When one has lived a good life, one will be reborn in a higher realm.
Though Aniatism has no absolute commandments for its adherents outside of living "a simple and harmonious life with nature and people", there are said to be "Four Affirmations" of the Shinto spirit:
- Tradition and the family: The family is seen as the main mechanism by which traditions are preserved. Their main celebrations relate to birth and marriage.
- Love of nature: Nature is sacred; to be in contact with nature is to be close to the kami. Natural objects are worshipped as containing sacred spirits.
- Physical cleanliness: Followers of Aniatism take baths, wash their hands, and rinse out their mouths often.
- "Matsuri": Any festival dedicated to the Kami, of which there are many each year.
Aniatism teaches that certain deeds create a kind of ritual impurity that one should want cleansed for one's own peace of mind and good fortune, not because impurity is wrong in and of itself. Wrong deeds are called "dirtiness", opposed to "purity". Normal days are called "day", and festive days are called "good". Killing living beings should be done with reverence for taking a life to continue one's own, and should be kept to a minimum. Modern Anians continue to place great emphasis on the importance of ritual phrases and greetings. Before eating, many Anians say, "I will humbly receive [this food]", in order to show proper thankfulness to the preparer of the meal in particular and more generally to all those living things that lost their lives to make the meal. Failure to show proper respect can be seen as a lack of concern for others, looked down on because it is believed to create problems for all. Those who fail to take into account the feelings of other people and kami will only bring ruin on themselves. The worst expression of such an attitude is the taking of another's life for personal advancement or enjoyment. Those killed without being shown gratitude for their sacrifice will hold a grudge and become a powerful and evil kami that seeks revenge. This same emphasis on the need for cooperation and collaboration can be seen throughout Anian culture today. Additionally, if anyone is injured on the grounds of a shrine, the area affected must be ritually purified.
Purification rites are a vital part of Aniatism. These may serve to placate any restive kami, for instance when their shrine had to be relocated. Such ceremonies have also been adapted to modern life. A more personal purification rite is the purification by water. This may involve standing beneath a waterfall or performing ritual ablutions in a river-mouth or in the sea. These two forms of purification are often referred to as harae. A third form of purification is avoidance, that is, the taboo placed on certain persons or acts. Although this aspect has decreased in recent years, religious Anians will not use an inauspicious word like "cut" at a wedding, nor will they attend a wedding if they have recently been bereaved.
The principal worship of kami is done at public shrines, although home worship at small private shrines (sometimes only a high shelf with a few ritual objects) is also common. It is also possible to worship objects or people while they are still living. While a few of the public shrines are elaborate structures, most are small buildings in the characteristic Anian architectural style. Shrines are commonly fronted by a distinctive Anian gate made of two uprights and two crossbars. These gates are there as a part of the barrier to separate our living world and the world the kami live in. There are often two guardian animals placed at each side of the gate and they serve to protect the entrance. There are well over 400,000 of these shrines in operation today, each with its retinue of Aniatist priests. Aniatist priests often wear a ceremonial robe called a jo-e. Kami are invoked at such important ceremonies as weddings and entry into university. The kami are commonly petitioned for earthly benefits: a child, a promotion, a happier life. While one may wish for ill fortune on others, this is believed to be possible only if the target has committed wrongs first, or if one is willing to offer one's life. Almost all festivals in Ania are hosted by local Aniatist shrines and these festivals are open to all those that wish to attend. While these could be said to be religious events, Anians do not regard these events as religious since everyone can attend, regardless of personal beliefs.
Aniatism teaches that everything contains a kami. Every rock, every squirrel, every living and nonliving thing contains a kami. There is also a main kami for groups of things: for example, there is a kami within a rhino, and there is also a main kami residing over all the rhinos of the world.
Aniatism's kami are collectively called Mugen no Kami, a traditional expression literally meaning "infinite kami".
The most widely worshiped of all kami is the sun-goddess Amaterasu. However, Anians do not specifically worship her or invoke her name to ask for help.
The Emperors are believed to have been descended from the gods and fathers of all Anians, and is therefore a kami on earth.
In medieval times, wealthy people would donate horses to shrines, especially when making a request of the god of the shrine (for example, when praying for victory in battle). For smaller favors, giving a picture of a horse became a custom, and these are popular today. The visitor to a shrine purchases a wooden tablet with a likeness of a horse, or nowadays, something else (a snake, an arrow, even a portrait of Thomas Edison), writes a wish or prayer on the tablet, and hangs it at the shrine. In some cases, if the wish comes true, the person hangs another ema at the shrine in gratitude.
Kagura is the ancient Aniatist ritual dance of Shamanic origin. There is a mythological tale of how Kagura dance came into existence. The sun goddess Amaterasu became very upset at her brother so she hid in a cave. All of the other gods and goddesses were concerned and wanted her to come outside. Ame-no-uzeme began to dance and create a noisy commotion in order to entice Amaterasu to come out. The kami (gods) tricked Amaterasu by telling her there was a better sun goddess in the heavens. Amaterasu came out and light returned to the universe.
Music plays a very important role in the kagura performance. Everything from the setup of the instruments to the most subtle sounds and the arrangement of the music is crucial to encouraging the kami to come down and dance. The songs are used as magical devices to summon the gods and as prayers for blessings. Rhythm patterns of five and seven are common, possibly relating to the Aniatist belief of the twelve generations of heavenly and earthly deities. There is also vocal accompaniment called kami uta in which the drummer sings sacred songs to the gods. Often the vocal accompaniment is overshadowed by the drumming and instruments, reinforcing that the vocal aspect of the music is more for incantation rather than aesthetics.
In both ancient Gurennese collections, the Gurenn Shoki and Shifurui, Ame-no-uzeme’s dance is described as asobi, which in old Gurennese language means a ceremony that is designed to appease the spirits of the departed, and which was conducted at funeral ceremonies. Therefore, kagura is a rite of tama shizume, of pacifying the spirits of the departed.
This rite of purification is also known as chinkon. It was used for securing and strengthening the soul of a dying person. It was closely related to the ritual of tama furi (shaking the spirit), to call back the departed soul of the dead or to energize a weakened spirit. Spirit pacification and rejuvenation were usually achieved by songs and dances, also called asobi. The ritual of chinkon continued to be performed on the emperors of Ania, thought to be descendents of the gods. It is possible that this ritual is connected with the ritual to revive the sun goddess during the low point of the winter solstice.
There is a division between the kagura that is performed at the Imperial palace and the shrines related to it, and the kagura that is performed in the countryside. Folk kagura, or kagura from the countryside is divided according to region. The following descriptions relate to sato kagura, kagura that is from the countryside. The main types are: miko kagura, Ise kagura, Izumo kagura, and shishi kagura.
Miko kagura is the oldest type of kagura and is danced by women in Aniatist shrines and during folk festivals. The ancient miko were Shamanesses, but are now considered priestesses in the service of the Aniatist Shrines. Miko kagura originally was a shamanic trance dance, but later, it became an art and was interpreted as a prayer dance. It is performed in many of the larger Aniatist shrines and is characterized by slow, elegant, circular movements, by emphasis on the four directions and by the central use of torimono (objects dancers carry in their hands), especially the fan and bells.
Ise kagura is a collective name for rituals that are based upon the yudate (boiling water rites of Shugendo origin) ritual. It includes miko dances as well as dancing of the torimono type. The kami are believed to be present in the pot of boiling water, so the dancers dip their torimono in the water and sprinkle it in the four directions and on the observers for purification and blessing.
Izumo kagura has two types: torimono ma, unmasked dances that include held objects, and shinno, dramatic masked dances based on myths. Izumo kagura appears to be the most popular type of kagura.
Shishi kagura uses the dance of a shishi (lion or mountain animal) mask as the image and presence of the deity. Unlike other kagura types in which the kami appear only temporarily, during the shishi kagura the kami is constantly present in the shishi head mask.
Practice of kagura involves authentic possession by the kami invoked.
Aniatism has been called "the religion of Ania", and the customs and values of Shinto are inseparable from those of Anian culture. Many famously Anian practices have origins either directly or indirectly rooted in Aniatism. For example, it is clear that the Aniatist ideal of harmony with nature underlies such typically Anian arts as flower-arranging (ikebana), traditional Anian architecture, and garden design. A more explicit link to Aniatism is seen in sumo wrestling, where, even in the modern version of the sport, many Aniatist-inspired ceremonies must be performed before a bout, such as purifying the wrestling arena by sprinkling it with salt. The Anian emphasis on proper greetings and respectful phrasings can be seen as a continuation of the ancient Aniatist belief in kotodama (words with a magical effect on the world). Many Anian cultural customs, like using wooden chopsticks and removing shoes before entering a building, have their origin in Aniatist beliefs and practices.
- The Shifurui (Record of Ancient Matters)
- The Gurenn Shoki (Continuing Chronicles of Gurenn)
Well known shrines
- Saikyo Shrine
- Helvarcas Shrine
- Arcanadium Shrine
- Sorosia Shrine