Tag Archives: tsukimi

Moon Gazing At Tsukimi: Japan’s Autumn Festival


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…]


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Shinto in Emoji


Believe it or not, millions of people all over the world are now being exposed to Shinto on a daily basis. How? Through emoji! [Read more]

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10 things you should do in autumn (according to the Japanese)


Offerings for the Moon Viewing Festival in Japan. By katorisi (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Many people in Japan love autumn out of all the seasons. The weather is generally pleasant, and the autumn landscapes are very beautiful as the leaves turn vivid red, orange and gold. Autumn is a variety of different activities in Japan, many of which sound like they would appeal to people in other countries as well, including western Pagans. So if you’re looking for ways to celebrate autumn, here’s some ideas from Japan [Read more]

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September 2015 Full Moon Esbat (O-tsukimi, Blood Supermoon Eclipse)


Last night was a particularly special Esbat. It was the Japanese Moon Viewing festival of O-tsukimi, a “Super Moon,” and a “Blood Moon” eclipse. On top of this, it was the first Full Moon ritual I have performed at my new house.

In preparation for o-tsukimi, I had collected grasses from our garden (we have a garden now!) to display on my Inari altar. I also changed the altar cloth to one depicting a traditional o-tsukimi design of rabbits making mochi (that is what the Japanese believe they can see in the patterns on the moon’s surface).

I couldn’t have wished for better weather for an outdoors ritual – it was a mild, dry, still evening and the sky was very clear. The supermoon shone almost dazzlingly bright. I performed the ritual on the deck in front of my lawn, and it became clear to me that my garden is in many ways much better than the courtyard in our old flat. It’s much quieter, and the moon was directly overhead, which never happened during my rituals in the old place. The only disadvantages are that it’s a little more exposed (several other houses directly overlook the garden and we also have neighbouring gardens to consider) meaning that I’m more likely to be seen by the neighbours, and I no longer get to see the foxes who lived by our old flat. But I did see a bat flutter overhead!


We don’t yet have any garden furniture, so I used a rolled mat on the floor instead which actually worked quite well. I started the ritual by chanting the names of Goddesses of the Moon (Artemis, Ceridwen, Diana, Hecate, Luna, Melinoe, Phoebe, Selene) and, because the Japanese kami of the Moon is male and O-tsukimi is a Japanese festival, Gods of the Moon (Aphroditus, Khonsu, Thoth, Tsukuyomi). I offered a mochi rice cake, which seemed appropriate because mochi look rather moon-like as well as their association with the moon-rabbits, and sake, which is a traditional o-tsukimi offering. I asked for the Moon deities to give healing to my relatives who need it, and since the Blood Moon is associated with conflict, prayed for peace. I spent a few moments meditating in the moonlight before partaking in the simple feast of half the mochi and a sip of sake.

I went inside and said prayers at my Inari altar, making an offering of the other half of the mochi. I was delighted to see that the moon was shining through the window.

I did stay up until gone 1am to try and catch a sight of the Blood Moon eclipse, but there wasn’t really much to see so early. I would’ve done better to have woken up at 3 to see it at its height! But to be honest, I was just happy to see the supermoon shining in her full glory.

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“Ostara Bunny” Figurine Make-Over

bunny1 bunny2As I had a day off work yesterday (for Keiro no Hi), I thought I’d try my hand at a bit of arts & crafts work. A while ago I found a brilliant idea for giving figurines a “rustic/antique” make over on Ozark Pagan Mother’s blog, and I’ve been itching to give it a try. So while I was in town I popped into a charity shop, and found an old, tacky, cheap resin figure of an albino rabbit hatching out of an egg covered in flowers. I thought it had the potential to look quite Pagan and mysterious – you often see Easter Bunnies holding Easter Eggs, but you rarely see one hatching out of an egg. It’s a strong symbol of the rebirth of the Earth at Spring. So I bought it for £1.50 and some acrylics, and I thought I’d try and transform this figurine into a rustic “Ostara Bunny”  using Ozark Pagan Mother’s technique.

One problem that I have when it comes to arts & crafts is that I have very little patience – when I put on the first layer of white acrylic, I got really impatient waiting for it to dry and put on a layer of dark acrylic while it was still rather damp! I have to admit though, it did look very nice as a dark green colour. I then let that dry and sponged an ivory layer on the top – but unfortunately, I wasn’t that impressed with the result. I think Ozark Pagan Mother’s technique really only works well with figures with lots of detail, rather than the smoothed, round surface of an egg – the lighter colour overwhelmed the dark. I initially wished I’d just left it green. But then I decided to cover it with a thin layer of gold nail varnish and that seemed to improve it quite a bit!

I think my Ostara Bunny would look nice on an Ostara altar, or perhaps even an O-tsukimi altar seeing as how both rabbits and eggs are O-tsukimi symbols!

Not bad for first attempt, I think. I wish I’d taken a “before” picture so you could see what it looked like before. But now I feel inspired to do this again, so next time, I’ll try to take some “before” and “after” shots!


Filed under Art & Expression

September Full Moon Esbat (O-tsukimi)


My O-tsukimi altar

Tonight I celebrated the Full Moon Esbat (although there’s some confusion between me and my Pagan friends as to whether tonight or last night was the full moon). This also coincided with O-tsukimi, the Japanese “Moon Viewing” festival. This, plus the fact that this is the final “Supermoon,” made it a rather special Esbat.

I tried to set up my altar incorporating some O-tsukimi traditions, but with a twist. In Japan, you typically offer “O-tsukimi dango” to the moon. These are small, round, white dumplings that resemble the moon, and are stacked into a pyramid. It’s also common to offer pampass grass, which looks similar to rice plants, reminding us that this is the “Harvest Moon.”

As is often the case, I had to put a bit of a Western spin on my O-tsukimi offerings. Not having time to go to a specialist Japanese shop to buy the necessary flour to make O-tsukimi dango, I substituted it for a round, white cheese, as in the West cheese is often thought to resemble the moon. I also offered an egg, which is associated with the moon in East Asia (in China you can get “Moon cakes” which have an egg yolk in the middle). Instead of pampass grass, I simply collected different types of grasses from the local park.

I placed this all on a special O-tsukimi furoshiki (Japanese folding cloth), which a friend in Japan gave to me years ago. It’s the most beautiful and delicate furoshiki I own, incorporating micro-thin layers of gold dye. It depicts a scene of white rabbits pounding mochi rice cakes – very much a lunar image in Japan, as the Japanese believe that this is what you can see in the moon (whereas in the West we think we see “the man in the moon.”) It’s very interesting that both eggs and rabbits, both symbols of fertility, would be associated with the beginning of autumn in Japan, whereas in Britain they are associated with the beginning of spring (also note that both O-tsukimi and Ostara/Easter are determined by the lunar calendar)! I think it’s a very positive symbol for autumn, as it reminds us at the season when plants and animals are disappearing, life will return again.

I made these offerings and my prayers to the Shinto moon kami, Tsukiyomi no Mikoto, as well as Diana, Hecate and two male lunar deities, Khonsu and Aphroditus. Because I’ve been reading a lot about Buddhism lately, and because O-tsukimi is considered a time for quiet meditation and artistic inspiration, I attempted to meditate before the full moon.

I kneeled on the ground gazing up at the moon, and slowly chanted the names of Tsukiyomi, Diana, Khonsu, Hecate and Aphroditus. Because the moon was so bright, as I gazed upon it, my surroundings seemed to fade away into darkness, leaving only the moon in my field of vision. And then I began to see shapes in the moon, and it seemed to glow with an aura, as if it was eclipsing the sun. My meditation was broken by a passing dog, which made me jump – a message from Diana perhaps! And earlier, a cat had approached and made me jump – perhaps a messenger from Hecate, who knows?

After this I was feeling pretty jumpy, but I had a “simple feast” (a piece of the cheese and some sweet wine) which helped to ground me. When I came in, my husband mentioned that I seemed very energised, and it’s true – before the ritual, I had felt tired and a bit lethargic, but afterwards I felt so much better. It was probably the most energising Esbat I’ve celebrated so far!


Filed under Rituals & Festivals