Recently On my venture out to California last month I went to japan town with a good friend [info]xiaolang to Japan town. I knew I would find some interesting things on said venture. Over the last 2 weeks I have been home I have immersed myself heavily into this book and if No one minds I'd like to write short synopsis of said book which will hopefully spark some discussion(s)First off a book I recommend to any Kitsune really, whom does know or is curious about Inari: The Fox and the Jewel by Karen A. Smyers This book both was an eye opener and taught me some interesting things about the "traditional" view of Inari-sama (as a Shinto deity) but also went into detail about his role (under a different name) In such religions as Buddhism and how Inari is seen as "another Kami" in Korea and other eastern countries. It also looks at the historical aspects of Inari worship told through the tales of one American women's journey. On the flip side it also speaks about contemporary and modern day worship of Inari and how he/she was taken from the more historical texts and molded into "ones personal vision of Inari." The book dives highly into personal eclectic views and embodiments of Inari-sama as their is a section I would like to quote for you right now. From a chapter subsection called The Notion of My own Inari"
Quote: "A Shinto priest taught the impulse to worship "My own Inari" (渡しの稲荷さな) developed around the late Edo period and accounted for the great spread of Inari shrines at the time. he could not think of any other Shinto Kami whom people felt such an innate connection with - and that could be individualized to that degree. Another Shinto priest at fushimi said "If their are 100 different worshippers they will have 100 different ideas about Inari. A Catholic woman lay at a worship groups ritual in the country side asked the priest who had come from the Inari shrine top describe Inari in a sentence. his reply was "Inari gives blessings to each person in a personalized and appropriate way" still another priest form the same shrine expressed his idea. "Inari is a different Kami to each devotee, shaped by what each person brings into his or her own character, and how he or she understands this world. When I go to Tokawa Inari I find much of the same sentiment expressed by the Zen priests there. There too people often worshipped Dakiniten as a form of Inari with a unique name. A priest at a branch temple told me "Like six Jizo's (Jizo is the bodhisattava who's six manifestations inhabit the six realms of existance) Different Inari's listen to different peoples prayers.
Also It delves into a rather interesting conceptual Idea; The "re-enshrinement" of Inari. The re-enshrinement of a Kami's spirit or essence is called "Kanjo" "kanjo is the technical term for the re-enshrinement of a Kami's divided spirit (wakamitama bunrei) the original Kami remains in place at his or her own shrine but a portion of his or her spirit is ritually separated and housed in a new location. Priests explain this as something akin to lighting a new candle with the burning one, the light of the first is in no way diminished as one becomes two, in contrast to an ofuda- a talisman with the name of the shrine and Kami written on that (the priests say) must be renewed every year. the wakemitama is a portion of the Kami itself and thus permanent "alive" in its new location, and Inari has been re-enshrined with far greater ease and frequency then any other Shinto Kami. The first recorded example of Inari kanjo is form 842; when the official Ono no Takamura had a divided spirit of Inari placed in his scepter at office (shaku) and carried the deity in this way to the Mutsu no Kuni (Aomori) where he later served as the lord for some years. When he returned to Kyoto a few years later the people of that reigon had asked him to leave Inari there and this shrine later became "Takamura no Inari Jinja"It seems that when the Inari deity was re enshrined, a new named was often assigned to it, in addition to the name Inari) in the Edo example sighted earlier the Non fushimi priest re enshrined a divided spirit of Inari as "Tokyo Katau Inari Damyojin" ((Abundant Success Inari Great Bright Deity)) and presumable it was He who chose the new name. It seems that the name could be chosen by the deity his/herself, Revealed through a divine dream or shamanic oracle, Or it could be assigned by a Priest. In many cases today people do not know how their Inari got its name. Examples of both methods still exist. An Osaka family worships 3 forms of Inari in a monthly service conducted by shamanss who comes to their home and these names were revealed many years ago by another shamaness, who's names were revealed to her by another (sort of like a chain of command) to the mother of the present head of the household. Here 3 Inari's are "white jewel" "stone shrine" and "plum pine" a 92 year old Shinto priest told me that some he assigned names to the divided Inari spirits he had re-enshrined. in this case there naming didn't involve a revelation form the deity but the selection form an auspicious and appropriate name based on the function of the New Inari. for the Inari of a prosperous Osaka company he chose the name "Toyomitsu Inari" or "abundant light" the "toyo" he took the name of an Inari deity "Toyouke no Kami" as he thought he name would be conductive to business prospeirity. Their were other personal ideas about the re-enshrined Inari deity besides the name which can be seen in old certificates of authenticity In addition to the devotees name and place of residence his own idea of the deities character and own hopes were sometimes recorded. Other such examples are listed here:
Allthough don't get my wrong, The indivizulations of Inari are far to be interpitated as "fluffy bunny, one size fits all, plug and play deity" As listed below:
Allthough Inari is highly approachable in the minds eyes of many, He/She is not to be taken lightly. Inari's Retribution (Tatari たたり）is renound for its power and even people whom do not consider themselfs "religious" or "supersticious" would loathe to destroy, desicrate, or even slight an Inari shrine. One of the priests spoke of such a story. A rich doctor added his own stone to a rock altar on which 3 stones were allready standing, there by insensitivly blocking the other three with the new one. Shortly thereafter; He and his whole family perished when their house burned, and people interprited this tragety as Inari's anger at being treated improperly. Inari's retribution was in fact the reason it recieved court rank for 19th century, For the emperor's illness hasd belived to have been caused by Inari; Angry tress that had been cut on the sacred mountain. An old Japanese proberb bluntly expressed this setiment: "If you slight Inari-sama retribution will strike you. (お稲荷さんおそまつにしたら、ばちがあたる。) This notion is particulary strong about moving Inari shrines, or simply abandoning Inari shrnes when one feels its conveiant or moves.That said, questions? input? comments?