Category Archives: History/Deep History

…sunny stone circle and sky!!!…




It’s pretty clear that the first few chapters of the Kojiki are material that dates from a time of matriarchy and fertility religion, being set in order by a male scholar for a court milieu where customs and traditions of matriarchy and patriarchy are still somewhat in play. The Kojiki compiled, let it be remembered, for the Empress Gemmei.

The story of Izanami and Izanagi dates back to the Jomon era: some of its key passages are highly alliterative and assonant when translated into even modern Ainu 1). izanagiandizanamiwspearTraditional iconography of Izanami and Izanagi on the Floating Rainbow Bridge of Heaven, coagulating the first land using a jewelled spear, either features identical, gorgeously beautiful and handsome kami, holding the spear with four hands, or Izanagi holding the spear and Izanami standing, watching – most often standing slightly above him in pose that the proverbial cultural-anthropologist-from-Mars would recognize as supervisory!

After that, the “supremely-attractive-male” and the “supremely-attractive-female” make love for line after line of text: creating the eight-plus-six islands of Japan, and a whole list of deities.

Then they go on to embody a Japanese version of the Orpheus and Euridice story: except that here, when Orpheus disobeys, and looks at Euridice in Hades, she pursues him angrily   w i t h   a n   a r m y  …  (…compiled, let it be remembered, for the Empress Gemmei…) And when he blocks the Pass of Hades with a huge rock, it is very definitely Euridice who speaks first, and threatens: “My lovely [Izanagi], if thou do this, I will in one day strangle to death a thousand of the folks of thy land.” Then Izanagi replied: “My lovely [Izanami], if   t h o u   do this, I will in one day set up a thousand and five hundred parturition-houses, and in this manner each day a thousand people will surely be born…”

“…a thousand and five hundred parturition-houses…” No clearer manifestation of male usurpation of a traditionally female role could be imagined…

And finally we are told that Izanagi performs traditional river-purification (misogi) – just as most members of the Empress Gemmei’s court probably did regularly – and  – in a reboot/reset, a fresh creation story – a more familiar pantheon of archetypal kami is born: the sun, the moon, the stars…

1) see inter al:  A Modern Theory of Language Evolution, by Carl J. Becker, p. 324izanagiandizanamiainualliteration



Gary Snyder on attention, awareness, stillness…

…our earlier ways of self-support, our earlier traditions of life prior to agriculture, required literally thousands of years of great attention and awareness, and long hours of stillness.  And anthropologist, William Laughlin, has written a useful article on hunting as education for children. His first point is to ask why primitive hunters didn’t have better tools than they did. The bow of the American Indians didn’t draw more than forty pounds; it looked like a toy. The technology was really very simple – piddling! They did lots of other things extremely well, like building houses forty feet in diameter, raising big totem poles, making very fine boats. Why, then, does there seem to be a weakness in their hunting technology? The answer is simple: they didn’t hunt with tools, they hunted with their minds.

– – – Gary Snyder,  The Real Work,  p.107   (interview w/ Peter Barry Chowka,  summer 1977,  East West Journal )

“…in Susanoo-no-Mikoto…”

When we look at Japanese politics 1866-1945, it is so, so easy to simply pick out the adopted similarities to Western-style politics and ignore everything else that is so very different – and hard to understand. And it is so, so easy, too, for that matter, to make judgements in hind-sight: as if a politically active person in 1920 could know where a new Emperor and a politically resurgent army could take the nation, its institutions, and the adjacent areas of Eastern Asia.

But to the celebrated but hypothetical ‘cultural anthropologist from Mars’, it would be clear that in the late nineteenth century context of sudden top-down, forced ‘Westernisation’ – which included the religious and the spiritual – one of the deepest social contradictions would be that between the impulse to Westernise,  and nostalgia for the established affective life of the culture…

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…the True Spirit dojo…

Most Japanese intellectuals and activists who grew up in the early years of the twentieth century read Marx.  They read him as the sons of  fathers who had made the only successful revolution in over a century: Europe had had the French revolution, but since then nothing: just a year of failed revolutions in 1848.  And they read him as a new generation of shishi, who were helping the Chinese make a revolution: helping them throw out their emperor and make a republic 1).

Prince Fumimaro Konoe 2), who was the last prime-minister to attempt to avert the attack on Pearl Harbor, studied Marxist economics at Kyoto University.  The agrarian communitarian-anarchist, Tachibana Kozaburo, who took part in the attempted May 15 1932 coup d’etat, based his rural co-operative activism on readings in Marx, Spengler and Henry George 3).  When the Pan-Asianist popularizer and activist, Okawa Shumei, founded the Rosokai in 1918, one of the founder members was Takabatake Motoyuki, who was in the process of translating for the first time Das Kapital into Japanese.

But it is no accident that once the Russian revolution started to build its planned economy around mass-industrialization, and once Das Kapital was translated, most Japanese ‘progressives’ (in their terms !) began to incorporate traditional village self-rule,  and old-style esoteric and Taoist structures into their thinking.

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…frozen basin!!!…

An artist’s eye: Jomon pottery and the dirt…

incipient_period_jomon-potThe Jomon peoples of ancient Japan were making ceramics as far back as the Ice Age, and the huge diversity of styles tells us of civilizations come and gone long, long before the advent of Chinese-based writing. JomonYet through all this multiplicity, the vast majority of Jomon vessels have a rounded or narrow base, a noticeably elaborate rim, and a clear decorative division between the (smaller or larger) rim area, and the lower part of the vessel. jomon2jomon7

Clearly, many Jomon vessels were used for cooking – remnants of charred food have been discovered, and signs of fire damage.

jomonpot_mma_800But to an artist’s eye, and remembering that the Jomon were experts at storing – and probably at fermenting – food in pits, most of these vessels would show to their best advantage half-way – or two-thirds – buried in earth, especially in a natural context, and then again in the moment of being pulled from the ground, with a serendipitous pattern of dirt scraps still clinging to the decorative geometries of their lower part.




…wouldn’t it be fun to see a modern ceramicist try their hand at pottery created for this context…?

DAI-SHIZEN and the Industrial Revolution in America…

 – – – by Kimbal Anderson Sensei

So… two hundred cuts…

Since you didn’t have a clock, telling you:  you didn’t have anything to measure your usual way.

It’s different, isn’t it…

It seems like it was brief.  You just barely got started. And your energy feels fresh, rather than “I just got to get through this… it’s  one more job…”

So this is the thinking. It kind of fits into what Peter-san was talking about, about the Mummers…

For most of human history, people were not employees. They may have had tasks, but they were not employees. And one of the major reasons the Industrial Revolution was so difficult to get going in America was that no-one would come.

“Well, my cow is out…” or, “I stayed up last night because of my…” …because they lived according to natural cycles.

And they tried to take people and make them like the machine they built. And they said to them: “well, the machine makes us money when we start at dawn and we make it run until it’s  dark.  And the people said: “that’s crazy:  that would kill a  horse.”

It does. It’ll kill a horse.

So it was very difficult  to get going. It required some very interesting manipulation of the economy to put people in such a crisis that they could make them do it.

Because they were natural – – – not that they were lazy people:  it’s just that  people had a different clock.

If you were a farmer, having been such an animal, dawn was a nice time.  I enjoyed dawn. It wasn’t an  “Oh my god, here it is, dawn,  oh my god…” It was more like “Ah, it’s getting light .”  And there was always a certain beauty to it, even if it wasn’t a pretty sunrise… just that the light would creep across everything, and things would wake up in a certain way.

And I worked a lot. In order to make a farm work, you can’t take the day off all the time… In fact it’s rare  that you would ever do that.  And so I would say, as budo practitioners, think about living a life where you don’t require a vacation, where you don’t think in terms of “my life is a series of difficulties…”,  and that  “I need to escape them…” But rather start tuning into the rhythms that are all around you.

I think you’ll find,  that if you hook into the rhythms – which doesn’t mean laying around and doing nothing:  that’s even bad for you… that whole vegetable state that people  get into with info-tainment  and stuff… bad for you…  But how about  listening. Spend some time getting hooked up to nature. Mostly if you get outside and move  around, don’t you feel better?  Go for that walk, or whatever?

Start looking for the little cues of the habits of nature around you.

Do not blame clocks. Do not blame others.

Do it in spite of…

So if you are propelled into a situation where there’s …   right?…   Learn to do it within that.

It’s there. It’s always there.

Sometimes the other stuff is just so loud, it’s just been… it has been created to distract you from this kind of mind.

Hook back up.

You’re going to find that you have a lot more energy. And probably you’ll find that productivity – doing things that makes sense to you, and where you see some result…  whether it’s just helping someone else… – will make you happy, because it’s coming from the right kind of hook-up to everything  And If you didn’t think of yourself as a battery who’s run low, and you’re trying to keep  someone from stealing it who’s in power…

How about hooking up to the big force? See that as what’s happening. it’s flowing through you… you’re like the river’s moving through you.  It ebbs. It flows. It does stuff.

But it shouldn’t always be frantic or always tired.  That must be something else. That’s something else going on there.

Now, we do have to account for the weather. It does affect you. I don’t know about you…  but…  a stroll in the ice-box that Boise and the valley is in, today…  that’s cool every once in a while,  like,  REALLY,  VERY every once in a while… And the idea of living in it… you could be breathing air pollution so bad  it could kill you.  It’s not good for you.

But if you’ve ever walked through a really dense ice-fog, and watched the trees: what they do and that wh-ssssshhhh,  fairy-land thing… that’s pretty amazing.

So. work on this idea of awakening your old self to Dai-Shizen: so you can get your habits and the habits of the universe allied.

You’ll like it. You’ll like it. Things taste better.

Also you won’t be craving what the machine is offering you.

You won’t.

There are better external choices to make…

…petroglyph ‘na Alba’…