Amaterasu-omikami is the principal deity of the Shinto religion. She is the sun Goddess, in charge of grain and silk weaving, as well as watching over her many, many children.. The twelve animals of the zodiac are all sacred to her, as are silkworms and wolves. The most famous story about her begins with her brother, Susano-o the God of storms, wreaking havoc in her rice fields and temple. It’s never quite stated why he begins doing this, but many speculate that it was a cry for attention. One day Susano-o flayed a horse and threw the corpse in the middle of the room where Amaterasu and all her maidens as they were weaving. This caused one of her favored handmaidens to pierce herself and die. Unable to take anymore, Amaterasu fled into a cave, taking the light of the sun with her. Thus darkness crept over the world, and in desperation her eight million children crowded outside the cave, trying to coax her out. Finally Uzume, Goddess of merriment and laughter, climbed on top of a tub and began dancing wildly. The dance turned into a raucous striptease, and everyone was roaring with laughter. Curious, Amaterasu peeked out from her cave. Her children had hung up a mirror for her, and the moment she saw herself, she was entranced by her own beauty. The other gods quickly sealed the cave behind her so that she couldn’t retreat again, and thus light was brought back to the world.
Amaterasu is both maiden and mother goddess. Though she has many children, she maintains the fire and passion of a younger woman. She is compassionate and loving, and is always there to lend a hand when you fall. I am blessed that she has accepted me.