This weeks’ #wildwisdom #soulstory comes in the form of Uzume the ancient shamanic Japanese goddess. Those of you who have been following the tree teachings and stories each week will not be surprised that synchronicity being what it is has presented us with a goddess who has, amongst other things, cheese as one of her symbols. Complementing rather nicely the Bread and Cheese #treeteaching
About these wild wisdom soul stories. You take this as you wish as a mythic exploration, spiritual gift, positive psychological programming whatever … but I offer it to you in the hope that it will serve you some good purpose. The tree teachings, #forestbathing #meditations and wild wisdom soul stories are not pre-planned, I don’t have the year ahead mapped out with neat little diagrams and to do lists and pre-prepared old last years’ materials. No ... these are the fresh green shoots of inspirations sent forth from the trees. I don’t care what your belief system is … in times of mass extinction, and #climatechange , my conviction is that if we connect personally with trees and nature this can only serve both us and the #earth well … I hope you agree. Each being and story featured each week is of course a brief glimpse. If you feel drawn to a particular one you could study it in greater depth and pay homage to the culture within which it arose.
The sun goddess #Amaterasu had retreated to a cave in anger after her brother the storm god had caused much destruction after they had a quarrel. The other gods could not persuade her to come out and so the world remained in darkness.
Uzume upturned a tub by the cave entrance and began to dance a very lewd dance in front of the other gods. (With actions very reminiscent of a #SheelaNaGig) After hearing the uproarious laughter eventually Amaterasu could not resist coming out to see what the commotion was. Clever Uzume had hung up a mirror and a #jadejewel near the entrance, When Amaterasu came out these were the first things she saw. Another god rolled a stone in front of her cave so retreat was impossible. Thus it was that light remained in the world. There is a lot to explore in this story. We could explore the #shamanic symbolism in depth exploring each symbol and delve in to who Uzume is, but let’s stick to this brief outline.
Now it is spring and the days are getting brighter and brighter now the sun has come out of her winter hibernation. This week #lockdown has just been announced and people are scared. In these dark times what is there to lighten things? Again, we have a story in which the gods have a task they can’t complete. Just when things seemed impossible a break through occurs.
Of all the things that could have brought the sun out of hiding, was it poetry, fine wine, eloquent speech, some illustrious personage come to talk to her? No, it was an old woman dancing on top of a tub pulling her skirt up. The tension broke ,the gods roared with laughter and curiosity got the better of Amaterasu.
It isn’t thought that brings release, it’s gut reaction, straight from the belly laughter. On the side of the gods all pretension is gone, all thought gone, all entreaties gone, all wanting this thing, and that thing … gone.
Can you imagine Uzume having any patience with that sort of thing? All the airs and graces would cut no ice. No, she cut to the chase. This is a woman who has lived. She's in her old age, she’s got wrinkles to mark the miles she has travelled and plenty of stories up her sleeve. She’s got enough attitude to match that toothy grin and enough metal to match the glint in her eye and you know what? She doesn’t give-a-you-know-what for convention. You can imagine it, there you are bewailing the state of play, meanwhile she’s not only bought the tee shirt she’s had the whole rock band. It is her earthiness, her ribald and ungovernable mischievous nature that wins the day.
Uzumes’ symbols include cheese and anything that gets better with #age. Just like a bottle of full bodied red wine, she would say, women get better with age. No surprise then she turns up as we are looking at a tree whose leaves are known as ‘bread and cheese’. That food is a staple, a necessity for the poor. Among the first of the #spring greens it would have provided a valuable food source. The mirror and the jade jewel are symbols for #life. Of course tehir is Uzume herself. She is not just a vehicle carrying symbols she is something much deeper. In her 'lewd dance'. She exposes herself. The very place form which life emerges. She is not just a messenger, she is the message itself. She is old and therefor closer to death yet is also life. Thus she is the dance of life and death. This is the soul of the wild, of nature, of the earth itself.
When we’re in a dark place sometimes we need something to bring us out of ourselves. You can’t think or rationalise your way out of feelings. In this case it is curiosity that gets the better of Amaterasu. How could you possibly resist the howls ,the guffaws, the snorts and explosions of laughter? The tapping on the barrel as Uzume dances, the chattering of gods and merrymaking.
Uzume, wily as a fox, is clever. She of course knows all this. She knows this because she’s old, because she’s got her stories to tell, she knows this because she’s lived. And we know she’s lived because her behaviour tells us as much.
What happens as Amaterasu comes out? She sees the mirror and a jade jewel. Or rather she is bedazzled by light and colour. The mirror would have reflected her brilliance, the polished jade also, and aside from this jade is green. It is the light and returning of fertility. We could say Uzume is Winter enabling the return of spring. (I talked about this in my Wassailing tree teaching shared in the newsletter.) Just as now we blink in the bright sunshine and gaze at the fresh green leaves of the #hawthorn. Taking that leaf in to our mouths we are brought right into the #present moment just as Amaratesu is by being startled at her own reflection. In other words she sees herself without preconceived ideas, without thoughts or judgements getting in the way of the experience. This is #enlightenment.
Despite all the hurt, the anger, the grief, Amaterasu is confronted with her true self that has been hidden underneath because, despite herself, her curiosity got the better of her. Just as it is inevitable that spring will return after winter. The sun still shines and plants continue to grow. We take that earthy flavoured wild hawthorn leaf into our mouth and our sense of taste immediately brings us into the present moment. Amaterasu is entranced by it. This is the power of nature.
If Uzume has a lesson for us it is that, despite our personal stories, life continues.
The advice? That hawthorn leaf is your jade jewel.
Amanda Claire x