In August, my family made a trip to New Zealand. My husband’s a Kiwi, so one of the main purposes of our trip was to catch up with members of his family. But of course we had plenty of opportunities to make the most of all the incredible experiences New Zealand has to offer.
New Zealand is a paradise for nature lovers and we were lucky enough to have plenty of chances to connect withthe country’s wild soul. We bathed in a natural hot spring that we dug ourselves at Hot Water Beach. We got up close and personal with friendly Kea (mountain parrots) and fur seals. We experienced the thrill of sailing under a waterfall at Milford Sound.
But among all these experiences, for me none were quite so profound as our visit to the Te Ana-au Glowworm Caves. From start to finish, it felt less like a mere tourist attraction and more like a spiritual pilgrimage – and in many ways, a Shinto pilgrimage. [Read more]
When I used to teach in Japan, I would occasionally come to school to find the windows of some of my students’ classrooms covered in what looked like little paper ghosts. The students would make them before a school outing, or before their Sports Day. They could appear at any time of the year, so they weren’t Halloween decorations…so what were they? [Read more]
We have now entered autumn, the month of reading according to the Japanese. Not sure what to read? Take a look at September’s reviews and see if any of them take your fancy – this month we even have a book by the managing editor of Patheos Pagan! [Read more]
It is a beautiful autumn evening. As the cool breeze sweeps over rivers and mountains, a woman creates an altar outdoors in honour of the Full Moon. Offerings of autumn’s bounty – chestnuts, pumpkin, wine, potatoes, and home-made sweets – are carefully stacked upon a raised platform, and beside it is placed a vase of autumn greenery. The woman gazes at the Moon, drinking in its beauty and its mysterious power, and she may even be inspired to write poetry about the scene. Once her contemplation of the Moon is over, she and her family eat the offerings together, thankful for the gifts that Nature provides.
This may sound like a typical Full Moon ritual performed by Neopagans all over the world. But this isn’t a Neopagan ritual. This is a ritual for Tsukimi – Japan’s annual Moon Gazing Festival. [Read more…]
August is summer holiday time here in the UK so perhaps it’s no surprise that I’ve been relaxing and reading a lot of fiction recently, as you can see from this month’s reviews which include:
- Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull
- Joseph Cali & John Dougill, Shinto Shrines: A Guide to the Sacred Sites of Japan’s Ancient Religion
- Witi Ihimaera, The Whale Rider
- Brendan Myers, The Earth, The Gods and The Soul – A History of Pagan Philosophy: From the Iron Age to the 21st Century
- J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2, Special Rehearsal Edition Script
But which one have I awarded Read of the Month? Read on and find out!
This Monday July 18th is a public holiday in Japan known as Umi no Hi, or “Ocean Day.” It’s one of 16 public holidays in Japan, which is quite a large number compared with many other countries (on the flip-side, few Japanese take annual leave from work for a variety of reasons). Fortunately for Neopagans living in Japan, not only do many of these public holidays fall on or close to the eight Sabbats of the Wheel of the Year, but several lend themselves to Pagan celebrations in their own right.
So let’s look at how Neopagans in Japan can work their Wheel of the Year around Japan’s own calendar…[Read more]
Offerings to the kami at Torigoe Shrine in Tokyo. By 江戸村のとくぞう / CC Wikimedia Commons
Two virtues that are important in Japanese culture are gratitude and generosity. The two are very closely intertwined. The Japanese have a strong sense of obligation and debt towards those who have shown them kindness, going out of their way to make sure no favour goes unrepaid – and the repayment will often be in the form of a physical, and sometimes expensive, gift. [Read more]
Throughout July, people in Japan will be gazing skyward as part of the celebrations for Tanabata, a summer celebration often called the “Star Festival” in English. [Read more…]
By Tawashi2006 via Wikimedia Commons
The Summer Solstice is not celebrated much in Shinto, at least when compared with Neopaganism. This is a little surprising for two reasons. [Read more…]
This month we take a look at one of Ronald Hutton’s most recent books; an older book on Shinto shrines; one of Paulo Coelho’s more witchy works; and a brand-new release by one of Patheos Pagan’s own writers! [Read more]