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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in konkokyo
Shinto and LGBT+ culture: Connected from the ancient to modern era

Throughout the years and even now, I have often been asked the view Shinto holds in regard to LGBT+ people and culture. As someone who is both nonbinary feminine and pansexual, with most of my loved ones being apart of the LGBT+ community, and some who practice Shinto as well, this is a topic that is very close to home and personal for me. I wanted to write about this for a very long time, and talk about this in my last article about Shinto and sexuality, as they are related. However as this is such an important topic to me, I felt it deserved it's own article. There are so many things I want to express in regard to this topic so this won't be the only article about it!

Historically speaking in Japan, there are many examples of LGBT+ people and practices that were present, a prominent and most-cited example being that it was commonplace and even a part of samurai culture to be in gay relationships. It wasn't until the Meiji era in 1868, and the influence of Western culture, that it began to be viewed as uncivilized and wrong. As a result, a stigma began to rear it's ugly head, and many important LGBT+ rights began to be lost. Under pressure, openly gay and lesbian relationships; writings and art of them too - began to disappear. Trans and gender nonconforming people began to be pressured to conform to their assigned gender at birth, instead of being able to be who they are freely. In addition, stricter gender roles and heavier patriarchal ideals were enforced even further. While it wasn't absolutely perfect or progressive and there were still plenty of issues, with the advent of the Meiji reformations, any sort of openness and potentiality for progression was completely shattered.

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Shinto and sexuality: A gift of life



With the recent ban on adult content on Tumblr, it has given way to a lot of discussion about adult content online and what is or isn't acceptable. Legitimate issues were brought up in how violence is more normalized than intimacy and sexuality, and how the bans would affect sex workers and nsfw artists greatly – Tumblr, one of the last safe mainstream social media platforms that could ensure an income and audience base is now also being ripped out from under them. I feel this is not right and even a dangerous and irresponsible decision to make. Instead of relying on bots and algorithms to moderate between adult content and all-ages content, they should hire a dedicated moderation team, and proper safety features into the site to protect minors, but also while not censoring adult content creators and their adult consumers. There were ways that worked before that do not require a site-wide ban.

 

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  • Aryós Héngwis
    Aryós Héngwis says #
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this important subject. I haven't used Tumblr for personal use in a very long time and the NSF

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Autumn Grand Ceremony & 120 Years Anniversary!

This November 3rd, 2018, we held our Autumn Grand Ceremony (Shuuki Reitaisai) and the 120th year anniversary of our shrine's founding in Yokosuka.

 

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  • Aryós Héngwis
    Aryós Héngwis says #
    Looking forward to seeing more updates from you! Also wow that's a lot of people! Very good attendance it would seem!

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Reflections of August

Reflections of August

A tumultuous month, but one of growth. As September begins, the fire inside that was being whipped in the wind, will now begin to glow brighter and brighter. It will be needed for the inevitable Winter after the Fall.

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  • Aryós Héngwis
    Aryós Héngwis says #
    Excellent post! I think when it comes to worship and religious practice there's usually two different approaches, which are the p

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Healing from my own heart

Originally I wanted to write about the sacred mirror in Shinto for my next article. However, informational articles take some time as I have to research and make sure that all is accurate, containing the correct history and origins.

But, I felt to do a piece about some recent thoughts, an experience, and a recent dream before then. 

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  • Aryós Héngwis
    Aryós Héngwis says #
    I want to start by saying I also really appreciate your continued posts here on PaganSquare and am very glad for the extra perspec
  • Olivia
    Olivia says #
    Thank you so much Aryós!! I deeply appreciate your kind words and support always, and I am very humbled.;; Thank you, thank you !
  • Aryós Héngwis
    Aryós Héngwis says #
    You're quite welcome, Olivia! I never thought about that bit about snakes haha. I mostly just identify with them because they hap
  • The Cunning Wife
    The Cunning Wife says #
    Great post! I struggle with my own limitations and my desire to do more, and be more, than I am at any given point, too. At those
  • Olivia
    Olivia says #
    Thank you very much! Yes, I agree ;; It is so easy to get caught up in expectations of ourselves. Thank you so much for your gentl

 

I am surprised that the month is already almost over, and what a month it has been. I had been meaning to write since the year end purification festival, known in Japanese as Nagoshi no Oharae (Half Year Purification), or also my shrine, Hantoshi Kansha Sai (Half Year Appreciation Ceremony), but responsibilities, and also tragedies had hit the country, and my priorities had shifted towards these incidents.

I will start from the beginning — that is, at the end of June on the 24th, we held our Half Year Appreciation Ceremony.
At this time, in Shinto traditions, it is a time to reflect on the year so far since New Year’s. It is an important time of renewal — the renewing and reflection of our hearts and souls. It is also to give thanks for the year so far, and to pray for the next 6 months of the year to go well. The date itself varies from shrine to shrine, but this event is usually commemorating the Summer Solstice, or the time around and after the Solstice.

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  • Aryós Héngwis
    Aryós Héngwis says #
    I'm sorry it's been such a chaotic, discordant month. As always I appreciate you sharing your thoughts here. I do find it very in

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Ceremony day at Konkokyo Hongo Shrine

This article will be a little different than my usual informational style, it is a more of an experience day to share! I hope you will also enjoy to read, and I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions about this style too.

It helps me a lot to keep me writing. For informational posts, I often need to fact check, cross-check, have other priests read over the content, and read over them many times myself - so I can write unbiased and factual information. In combination with a hectic schedule, it takes a long time to post a new article. I really think quality is more important than quality - especially in informational posts. However, to keep things fresh, I do have lots of experiences living Shinto day to day. So I thought about writing them in the meantime as I work on the informational posts.


My thinking is, Shinto is a way of living as much it is a faith with myth, rituals, and beliefs. In addition to sharing what I know about the myths, rituals, beliefs, and customs, I also think it is good to share the day to day mundane life while practicing Shinto. That is, how faith is expressed in everyday life. That we don't only experience the blessings of kami at shrines, but day to day (that is actually the origin of my blog name, living with kami!) So I hope you will enjoy to read these style articles too!



So, yesterday, I went with Masafumi-sensei, my partner who is also a priest, to Konkokyo Hongo shrine in Tokyo. He was invited to give a sermon there. In Shinto, especially Kyoha Shinto like Konkokyo and even Izumo Taishakyo, after a ceremony, a priest gives a sort of 'sermon' - but it is less like sermons in Christian church, and more like saying words of appreciation, giving shrine announcements, and then the main part is to share a faith story or spiritual experiences, or prayers answered they have had with the kami of the shrine, and/or elaborate on how to live with kami in our lives day to day. Masafumi-sensei's sermon, for example, was telling the story of why he decided to become a priest, and how he helps people in his present life with Kami-sama since becoming ordained.

While Masafumi-sensei was invited to give a sermon, I was invited as well as a guest. I felt very humbled for the invitation, and I am always excited to see how each Konko shrine looks on the outside, the inside, how they decorate their altar, what prayers do they use, what rites do they incorporate, and so on. The beauty of Konkokyo is every shrine can do things in their own ways and have some flexibility how to decorate the altar or the order to use prayers, or what rites to include or omit, and I really love to see the diversity, and even get some good ideas for our shrine!

So, Masafumi-sensei and I first left from Yokosukachuo station at about 9:30am; we head straight into Tokyo but first got off a few stops early to have ramen at this really delicious shop, called 'Himuro' which specializes in Hokkaido style miso ramen. The food was absolutely delicious and great price too. If you find yourself in the area – I'd definitely reccomend to eat there!

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The super delicious ramen at Himuro !

Afterwards, we got back on the train and rode a few stops to the Hongo shrine. To my surpise, it was right beside Nezu shrine! Not even a 30 second walk, you could walk right from Konkokyo Hongo shrine into Nezu shrine. I was really shocked. Masafumi-sensei planned for us to visit Nezu shrine before we went to Hongo shrine, but I thought it would at least be a 5-10 minute walk judging from the map. But actually, they were next-door neighbors!

We walked around Nezu shrine for a little bit. I had been there once before, but it was raining, and much past 5pm so the gate to the shrine was closed. I never got to see the Haiden (worship hall) or pray to Susanoo no Mikoto, who is enshrined there. So, while it was still raining that day, (as fitting as the weather is for Susanoo no Mikoto!) I got to pray there and greet him, and I was really thankful I got a chance to come back.

Nezu shrine has a very interesting history in Tokyo. The legends say it was founded by Yamato Takeru no Mikoto, a famous prince in Japanese history, who was the son of Emperor Keikou. Emperor Keikou reigned traditionally from 71 to 130 AD, so Yamato Takeru is said to have lived about that era as well (though it is said he died in the 43rd year of the Emeperor's reign, or 114 AD)

Yamato Takeru no Mikoto is said to have founded Nezu shrine originally in Sendagi, a location a bit north of the current location of Nezu shrine. The current location was built in 1705 on orders of Tokugawa Ienobu, and it makes it one of the oldest shrines in Tokyo. Unfortunately no remnants remain of the shrine from the original location, but the power of Susanoo no Mikoto enshrined is still very strong.

When I visited this time, I was in awe at the palace-like architecture and the deep inner haiden. I did not take a picture of the haiden out of respect and the general air not to take photos of inside, but I felt the power.

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The side view of the Haiden of Nezu Shrine

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The gate of Nezu shrine, which was once closed

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Back of the komainu of Nezu Shrine

Masafumi-sensei and I greeted Susanoo no Mikoto, and then we went on our way to Hongo shrine..which was still, to me, shockingly easy, Tenchi Kane no Kami-sama and Susanoo no Mikoto being next door neighbors! It made me really happy to see though. It reminded me how Konkokyo Shiba shrine and Hibiya shrine are also right across from each other, and give each other offerings for their ceremonies. I like that there is the sense of community.


As we approached Hongo shrine, it was also so beautiful and powerful. It is surrounded by trees and one particularly large, old tree. In addition, the shrine had been recently renovated, and smelled that lovely, addicting smell of fresh hinoki which I love! Masafumi-sensei and I were deeply impressed by the shrine – while we both love the scent of hinoki, what we loved was shrine also kept very traditional style.

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Front of Konkokyo Hongo shrine

An eight petal mirror on Kami-sama's altar, shimenawa marking the sacred area, the large shrine doors that gave off Kami-sama's usual strong, yet gentle and calming power. The Mitama no Kami (ancestral spirits) altar also had a very strong power too. After all, I thought, this is a sacred place of Tenchi Kane no Kami-sama, and the ancestral spirits who were the community of this shrine from many years ago, the virtue was definitely felt strongly here too, and I was so glad.

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Tenchi Kane no Kami-sama's altar at Hongo shrine

When we got there, we purified our hands and mouth at the temizuya (sacred fountain for cleansing), then head inside. We prayed to Kami-sama and the mitama-sama, then did toritsugi mediation (mediating to Kami-sama via the priest there to give thanks for getting to the shrine safe) and gave our offering for the Grand Ceremony.

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  • Aryós Héngwis
    Aryós Héngwis says #
    Thank you for sharing this Olivia. These insights are always welcome alongside the more informational blogs .
  • Thesseli
    Thesseli says #
    This sounds absolutely lovely.

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