Wednesday, January 05, 2005


As always, on the first day of the new year we visited the ancient local shrine at the foot of the mountain for the conventional hatsumode, which visit usually seems to yield sufficient deific largesse for the following year; but in view of the tragedies that have strung themselves throughout the last 365, ranging from the disastrous war in Iraq through an ominous re-election (of one whose name shall no longer cross my keyboard other than in lower-case reference to certain intermediate forms of vegetation) to scouring hurricanes, shattering earthquakes and devastating tsunami, we felt it would be worthwhile to at least double up on our stores of heavenly grace.

So it was that on the 3rd we visited the old shrine up along the lake road (Shirahige), recorded in these humble chronicles as the present spiritual location of the allegedly reincarnated Nixon, Guevara et al., though of course it wasn’t them we went to see; we went to honor the truly ancient local earth-weather-water-mountain-forest deities, who do not gladly suffer any guru-come-latelies, but must be given their due and honored to the extent of their ancientness and can get pretty testy otherwise, as perhaps witness said earthen, atmospheric, oceanic and electoral catastrophes.

These deities, you understand, are not pagan figureheads representing mere mortals alleged to have lived only millennia ago, but symbols of what were primally acknowledged as the operative powers of life and nature - both terrestrial and cosmic (no difference there, really, but in local perception) - that enable our passage through their time: aspects too many in the modern world have been taught to ignore (at the peril of all, as we are seeing...)

Apparently we were not alone in these convictions; the place was mobbed, with cars lined up out on the highway waiting to get in to the shrine parking lot, kami-hungry mobs gathering around the grace-summoning bells hung above the main entrances to the various shrines. Purely incidentally, I noted that Dick and Che were no longer in evidence; in their place was a new and younger crew of brightly colored apolitical carp.

That’s always a good sign.

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