Marriage is a hot topic in Julia’s life, which is why we’re talking about Izanami & Izanagi - a marriage that helped create the world, introduced death into it, and definitely isn’t one to emulate. Including the happy-ish tale of Ebisu, Trinitite, and Amanda’s tea recommendation.
You can also get tickets to our LIVE SHOW at Brooklyn Horror Film Festival!
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Amanda: Welcome to Spirits Podcast, a boozy dive into mythology, legends and folklore. Every week we pour a drink and learn about a new story from around the world. I'm Amanda.
Julia: And I'm Julia.
Amanda: And this is Episode 95, Izanami and Izanagi.
Julia: Good pronunciation Amanda.
Amanda: Thank you, I tried.
Julia: Yeah, you did great.
Amanda: Thank you.
Julia: You know who else does great?
Amanda: Is it our newest patrons Julia?
Julia: Yes it is, it's Maryann, Meg, Lindsay and Rhiannon.
Amanda: We love them very much and we are so proud and happy to welcome them to the ranks of our Patreon, particularly our supporting producer level patrons whose names get mentioned in every single episode and so can yours.
Philip, Julie, Christina, Eeyore, Josie, Amara, Ella, Neil, Jessica, Maria, Ryan, Phil Fresh and Debra.
Julia: They are all ladies of the underworld, if only they tried.
Amanda: Absolutely true. Absolutely. As well as our legend level patrons. I mean it's right there in name, they're absolutely legends of the underworld.
Elisa, Zoe, Lorelei, Cassie, Sarah, Sandra, Audra, Mercedes, Jack and Leann.
Julia: Ah, I love them all so much.
Amanda: If we could make them a drink, what would we make them?
Julia: I would have made them the drink that we drank for this episode, which is called a Mist and Shadow, it is a Saki and St. Germain cocktail, and if you are one of our patrons at our recipe card levels you can learn how to make one too.
Amanda: So, so good. The legends this week got a really gorgeous box from Shaker and Spoon, and every box comes with some bar equipment like a shaker or a juicer. So I'm really stoked to see if anybody make this beautiful St. Germain cocktail this week.
Julia: Yes, please tag us in those photos if you do make it, I would love to see it.
Amanda: And as you're making stuff, hanging out, in the kitchen, whatever, what are you listening to this week, this time of year Jules?
Julia: It's a little bit of a shameless plug for me. But, the finale of the first season of What's the Frequency? Which is a psychedelic noir podcast that I may or may not voice act in, just finished up its first season.
Amanda: You definitely didn't kill your husband, why do people keep saying that?
Julia: I don't know, it's super weird. But please check it out if you get a chance, it is wonderful, it is weird, it is unlike any other audio drama I've ever heard and I think you would enjoy it if you like creepy cool things.
Amanda: Also very creepy, very cool, and features a lot of awesome teenagers is what I want to recommend this week, Principles of Magic, which is a new web comic by Sarah Hopkins, friend of the show. It is amazing. I love web comics.
I miss the ones that I used to read back in the earlier internet days for me, the mid aughts. And Principles of Magic is gorgeous, it is fun, I can tell you there is great stuff coming down the pipe, and you can check them out at principlesofmagic.com.
Julia: Do you know who else is great and very cool Amanda?
Amanda: Would that be our sponsors, Stitch Fix and Amazon Prime Video?
Julia: Yes, those would be the cool people.
Amanda: They really are cool and we thank them for sponsoring the episode, and don't worry we'll tell you all about them later in the ep.
Julia: Also, before we get to the episode, just a reminder that we are going to be at the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival, you can come see tickets for a live show that we're doing on Sunday, October 14th.
Amanda: And we have it confirmed that there will be some awesome members of the Spirits community there, we'll stick around after the show to say hi and give hugs and get photos, so if you want the chance to meet us and you live in the New York area or want to visit, it will be a great time to do so.
Julia: Yeah and I just want to remind you all that we are nine patrons away from hitting our spaghetti warehouse goal.
Amanda: What what, we actually will go to Ohio.
Julia: Yeah, so like literally only for a dollar an episode, you, you, the person listening to this, could help send us to Ohio.
Amanda: Guys we will go to a spaghetti warehouse. Thanks to a Spirits listener, I own a couple of glasses from the spaghetti warehouse.
Julia: That's true.
Amanda: But that's nowhere near as haunted as going to the origin, the epicenter, the spirit's spaghetti warehouse itself.
Amanda: So join us at patreon.com/spiritspodcast, lot of good stuff there for you, lot of good stuff coming down the pipe, and thank you again to the hundreds of you that support us there, you are what keeps the show going and we wake up with a grin on our face every day when we see emails of new patrons in our inbox.
Julia: We do, we really do.
Amanda: And that is all, so enjoy, Spirits Podcast Episode 95: Izanami and Izanagi.
I have peppermint liquorice tea.
Amanda: Which sounds fucking bad, but is fucking good.
Julia: I don't like licorice.
Amanda: Me neither.
Julia: I can do peppermint.
Amanda: This is like the barest, sweetest note on the end of the peppermint.
Julia: Huh, how did, we're going to sidetrack real quick, cold open.
Julia: How did you decide, why did you buy it then if you don't like licorice?
Amanda: Because I was in Catherine Addington's house.
Amanda: And her mom loves tea. And said Amanda, may I make you some tea after dinner, and I said but of course Mrs. Addington.
Julia: Whatever you want ma'am.
Amanda: And I drank whatever the fuck she gave me, and it was so good, and I demanded the wrapper of the tea bag and went out and bought it.
Julia: Perfect. Great. I love when people open us up to new experiences.
Amanda: I know, I never would have selected it for myself, and I'm very glad that I did. Soothes my throat, and my little summer cold that I have right now.
Julia: Oh, I'm sorry baby.
Amanda: And makes me think of Catherine and her mom and their beautiful dining room where all of their plates and bowls are colorful and I don't even want to say mismatched, but they're like a variety.
Julia: I like that.
Amanda: They're a beautiful mixed garden.
Julia: I love.
Amanda: And I love them.
Julia: Like a garden, it should be cultivated.
Julia: But also eclectic.
Amanda: Yes just like somebody said on Twitter, can I wear competing floral prints together?
Amanda: And they're like yeah, do gardens match? Like, no.
Amanda: You can wear them however you want.
Julia: Whatever you want.
Amanda: Makes me feel good as a person with a floral tattoo, and also immediately upon getting that floral tattoo, I realized I had a lot of floral clothing, so, you know.
Julia: And you went out and you bought more floral clothing.
Amanda: You know, I did.
Julia: I'm proud of you.
Amanda: I did.
Julia: This has nothing to do with our episode. But I did think of an intro while we were talking.
Amanda: Oh good.
Julia: So that helps. So Amanda as you know, I am planning my wedding.
Amanda: Hell yeah, bah, bah, bah.
Julia: And it is stressful.
Amanda: I know. I love you.
Julia: Weddings are stressful.
Amanda: They are.
Julia: Marriage is stressful. I imagine.
Amanda: That's what I hear.
Julia: Yeah. That's what I hear too. But do you want to know how a marriage led to the creation of the world?
Julia: The creation of the Japanese islands.
Julia: And also death.
Amanda: Love it, wouldn't be Spirits without some death.
Julia: No, there's always got to be some death.
Amanda: You know, much like a wedding, I think you have to have a lot of happiness with a little bit of death sprinkled in. Little bit of just recognition of mortality.
Julia: That is true, I mean they literally make you say, till death do you part.
Julia: Yeah. There's the understanding of mortality in the marriage process.
Amanda: You glance into the void, then you glance back at your beloved, and you say, yeah I do want to spend my limited time on this piece of rock orbiting a flaming hot sun with you.
Julia: Lets do it together.
Amanda: Lets do it.
Julia: Okay. So the story that I'm going to be telling you today is the story of Izanami and Izanagi.
Amanda: Very good. Adorable, alliterative names. Good start.
Julia: So this story comes from the Kojiki which is an 8th century Japanese compendium of mythology. I love compendiums.
Amanda: God bless compendium editors.
Amanda: God bless anthology editors. Like, they're so valuable, they're so thoughtful, they have to order all those things.
Amanda: They have to decide on chapter names. They have to do like epigraphs and shit.
Julia: They got to translate shit a lot of the times.
Julia: The Kojiki starts by explaining that before the formation of the world, the land was formless like a jellyfish, which god, isn't that so evocative.
Julia: I love that.
Amanda: We are brewing kombucha right now, my partner and me, and it's very fun, but the kombucha itself, it looks like a placenta Julia.
Amanda: That's what it looks like.
Julia: It's gross.
Amanda: Like the little scopy, which we named Scooby Doo.
Julia: Of course you did.
Amanda: It's a Lil placenta of mold that gives me delicious, healthful, nutritious beverage.
Julia: Fair enough.
Amanda: And this is my observation on jelly fishes and the beginning of the world.
Amanda: Carry on.
Julia: Thank you, thank you for that.
Amanda: You're welcome.
Julia: So despite the land being formless, the first kami came into being and resided in Takamagahara, which is the high plain of heaven.
The existence of Takamagahara becomes really important later, but we'll get to that eventually. So at the beginning, there were three primal kami, but first, let me explain what a kami is.
Amanda: Please do, I was going to ask.
Julia: It's super important, so I'm glad you were curious about it. So I say kami, and that's the phrase that I'm going to use throughout the episode because there's no direct translation to English.
Julia: And this has to do with the ambiguity of the term and that's super important because kami are particularly ambiguous in their own nature.
So kami are the spirits that are worshiped in Shinto religion, and can be anything from mountains to forces of nature to like more esoteric things like wisdom and poetry. Or could be ancient ancestors that have been deified.
They are manifestations of this concept known as musubi, which is the interconnected energy of the universe. And as such, they're something that human beings should strive to be.
Julia: Remember in the mine creation story, when we were talking about how human beings were created multiple times.
Julia: And then they had to, they like, oh-
Amanda: Version control.
Julia: We made good humans but they're too good, we got to make them like a little bit less. That's kind of the standard that kami and human are at.
Amanda: Yeah, and I'm sure this is an imperfect.
Amanda: Meta, analogy, but I also thought of Plato's forms and that's something we learned about in philosophy in high school where there's almost, it sounds like there are ways to be wise on earth or ways to, you look at a single mountain and that evokes this larger idea or ideal of the mountain or the wisdom.
Julia: Yes. And I also think that this kind of ties into more eastern ideas featured in Buddhism and Hinduism where there's like a higher level that one can ascend to.
Julia: Hence the fact that human beings can be deified.
Julia: And become kami.
Julia: All right, cool. So Shinto traditions point out that kami have five defining traits. Kami possess two souls, one gentle and one assertive, representing the fact that nature in the world can be both giving and destructive.
Kami cannot be seen in the human realm, and therefore had to inhabit sacred places and sometimes people. Kami do not stay in one place, but rather move around their places of worship.
Amanda: Makes sense.
Julia: So if a kami has multiple places of worship or temples, they move around, they don't stay in one place.
Amanda: I like it.
Julia: According to the Kojiki, there are about 300 different classifications of kami. All kami are unique and have a specific duty to the people around them or are a guardian of a specific object, place or idea. So those are our five kami defining traits.
Amanda: All right, all right.
Julia: So knowing that, we can establish that before the formation of the world as we know it, the three primal kami living in Takamagahara. The first is Amenominakanushi, the first kami and the source of the universe. They were known as quote, the god who came into being alone.
And is one of the most distinguished heavenly gods. The second is Takamimusubi, who is known as the high creator. And then lastly is Kamimusubi, which is the divine creator.
Amanda: I love more than one creator.
Julia: Yes. So depending on the source, all three of these gods are genderless, though others will claim that while Amenominakanushi is genderless, while Kamimusubi was a woman and Takamimusubi was a man.
Amanda: Okay. So mix or everyone genderless.
Julia: Yes. Little bit of both. So after these three there were seven successive generations of gods and goddesses that came into being, kami. And the seventh generation consisted of Izanagi, which means he who invites, and Izanami, which means she who invites.
Julia: So at their birth, the older kami decide that Izanagi and Izanami are going to be in charge of shaping the world.
Amanda: No big deal.
Julia: Like that's a really big thing to be like born into.
Amanda: Yeah that's like, having a kid that you're like, this child will carry on my real estate empire.
Julia: I mean maybe.
Amanda: You know just-
Julia: Yeah, let's see.
Amanda: Seems like a lot to put on a kid, not to mention the whole human tradition of dynasty.
Julia: Yeah, no, it's a lot of responsibility for kami that are just coming into existence.
Amanda: Though I guess, I don't know if this birth is like the dice roll of genetics that human births are. Maybe they are created with some more control over their abilities or destiny.
Julia: We'll talk about that in a little bit.
Julia: I love when you guess things before we get to them. I genuinely do because I can like see your mind working and you're like, oh well that would make sense for this to progress in the story. I'm like yes Amanda, it would. It would.
Amanda: It's like in The Good Place, where in season two, Michael has some clues that he leaves for the humans and the humans are like oh Michael, I'm so glad that I picked up on your four clues, he's like, I left you 14,000 clues because I know your brains are so small.
So I'm glad that at least four of them made it to the top, that's how I feel, where you're like leaving me so many breadcrumbs, and occasionally I pick up on one or two.
Julia: It makes me very proud.
Amanda: Thank you.
Julia: So at this point the world is still a chaotic, shapeless place, and the two kami are told that they most bring order and structure to it. In order to help them do this, the couple are given a jeweled spear known as Ama no Nuboko, which literally translates to heavenly jeweled spear.
Amanda: I mean.
Julia: Checks out.
Amanda: Sounds very dignified.
Amanda: Yeah. Also can I just say, dream internship, someone turns me on a disorganized library, and says put order to this chaos, and I say, thank you for the opportunity.
Julia: Also here's a spear. I mean any job that they also hand me a spear with, I would be down for.
Amanda: Oh yeah, don't know what you're going to run into in there. Librarians please tell me the most buck wild thing you ever run into in archives and/or libraries.
Julia: A lock of John Adams hair.
Amanda: You have, yes.
Amanda: You did know it was there, to be fair.
Julia: Yes. I found just randomly a piece of, so when they set off the nuclear bombs-
Julia: When testing the Manhattan Project, it created a new like element at the site where the sand was basically just bombed.
Amanda: Obliterated, yeah.
Julia: Yeah. And I found a piece of that, and some glass.
Amanda: No big deal.
Julia: Yeah, no big deal. Just like, just this weird metal, I'm like, what is this, and then I'm reading the description and Emma's like oh, oh, I probably shouldn't hold that for too long.
Amanda: That's a pretty good story.
Julia: Thank you. So we move on with Izanagi and Izanami. They go to the heavenly floating bridge, which is the bridge between heaven and earth, and they stare down at the chaotic mess below them, really not sure how to go about creating the world and putting it into order. Like, where do you start?
Amanda: I wouldn't, yeah.
Julia: That's realistic. So they do what anyone would do. They poke it with the spear. So they attempt to stir the chaos with the point of the spear but it doesn't really do much.
Amanda: Oh my gosh.
Julia: But when they lift the spear back out of the chaos of the world, a drop of creation falls from it, creating the island of Onogoro.
Julia: So now that is the place for them they decide. So they make their home there, they leave Takamagahara to create a palace on the island called the eight measure palace. And at the center of that stood a pillar that was known as the Heavenly August Pillar.
Julia: The pillar is important if you haven't guessed, because it has such a cool name.
Amanda: I mean you call a thing August, and it's going to be important.
Amanda: I have a baby cousin named August, and I'm like baby I hope you're destined for greatness, because if not, it's going to be awkward for you.
Julia: Yeah, sorry, sorry in advance. You probably won't live up to that standard.
Amanda: He's a very cute baby, and his parents are very sweet so hopefully.
Julia: I wish all the best for the baby.
Amanda: They're the kind of parents who would be like, baby, you need to live your truth, like they're very kind and conscientious about that so I think he will live his greatest destiny.
Julia: Damn, but like giving him that name then though.
Amanda: I know, maybe-
Julia: Live your truth baby, but also.
Amanda: Maybe it's a gift, saying like, listen no one can ever live up to everyone else's expectations, all you can do is look into yourself, decide for yourself and like live the greatest life that you want to live for you.
Julia: Right like when all the settlers came over and named their child like Honesty.
Julia: I guess.
Amanda: Virtue. I mean, fine dad I'll never dance I guess.
Julia: Chastity. Why? Why do you want that?
Amanda: Fuck you. You had sex nine months ago.
Julia: Like literally. Okay. So now that-
Amanda: Fucking puritans.
Julia: Fucking puritans, really.
Julia: So now that Izanami and Izanagi had settled into their new home away from all the other kami, they decided they wanted to start a family.
Amanda: And this is on earth right?
Julia: This is the only thing really in existence right now on earth.
Julia: So they stood on one side of the heavenly pillar and the decided to circle around it. Izanagi goes left, Izanami goes right, and they meet on the other side.
Amanda: That's how I initiate coitus, I don't know about you, but.
Julia: In delight at seeing her love, Izanami calls out saying, what a fine young man. And Izanagi replies, what a fine young woman. And in that moment, they're married.
Julia: You know, that's how we should do it.
Amanda: That's very sweet, yeah.
Julia: So they then wanted to have a child but they didn't know what to do.
Amanda: Okay, okay.
Julia: So they called out to two birds, wagtails, which are these kinds of like black and white waterbirds.
Amanda: Bird midwife, bird midwife. It's a midwife and a bird, bird midwife.
Julia: So they call out to these wagtails and wagtails are pretty known for coupling up and defending territories together.
Amanda: Okay, okay.
Julia: So the wagtails give the couple advice on how to have sex I guess.
Amanda: No big deal.
Julia: And Izanami is soon pregnant. When she gives birth to her son Hiruko though, he's born without limbs and is boneless.
Julia: And he's referred to in the story as the leech child.
Julia: Yeah, not great.
Julia: The couple places, again, not great, this following story, the couple places the child in a boat of reeds and then is abandoned by his parents letting him float away into the chaos. To just like, his fate.
Amanda: Perish? Yeah.
Julia: Just be like all right, good luck out there.
Julia: Not great.
Julia: But like also, we've seen that happen in Greece, and usually that turns out good.
Amanda: That's true, also Moses.
Julia: So the couple tries for more children, their next child is called Awashima, or the faint island. But again, there's just weird stuff happening with these children, they're not coming out like to the level that kami usually come out.
Julia: In the story, this is the creation of how devils and demons come into play in Shinto religion.
Julia: Which is not great. But I'm going to cheer us up a little bit here.
Julia: Because as a side note, that's not where the story of Hiruko's tale ends.
Amanda: Okay, so, he's some kind of exciting existence hopefully?
Julia: Yes. It is said that in another story that Hiruko is found by fishermen when his reed boat washes ashore. He eventually grew legs, and the rest of his skeletal structure, I guess, at the age of three. After being cared for by the fishermen, and is renamed Ebisu.
Though he's still portrayed as disabled and deaf, he grows up to be the laughing god, who is the kami of fisherman and luck, and is one of the seven gods of fortune. So he plays a really critical role in the rest of Shinto religion.
Julia: But like in the story he wouldn't have been able to become what he was and like have the domains that he had if it wasn't for his parents casting him out.
Amanda: Yeah, and that is pretty poignant too for fishermen which are often at the mercy of nature and the world.
Amanda: So it's not great that kids with birth defects or abnormal bodies in some way are treated as like, I don't know, sources of-
Amanda: maleficence in the world.
Julia: Yeah, it's kind of fucked up.
Amanda: It is kind of fucked up.
Julia: But there is a light at the end of that tunnel.
Julia: With Ebisu.
Julia: Obviously, Izanami and Izanagi don't find that out. So they keep trying for kids, they're heartbroken, they can't have a child that is quote normal. I don't like using that terminology.
Julia: But it's the way that it's portrayed in the story.
Julia: So they return back to Takamagahara to ask the older kami what they were doing wrong. So it turns out that in their marriage ceremony, because Izanami had greeted Izanagi first, they hadn't been properly married which is what affected their ability to have children.
Amanda: Oh because the man has to go first.
Julia: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Amanda: Why not?
Julia: So the couple returned to their palace, they redo the ceremony with Izanagi greeting Izanami first, and then soon after, Izanami is able to successfully have birth to islands.
Julia: Awaji, Shikoku, Oki Kyushu, Tsushima, and Honshu which is the biggest island.
Amanda: Good pronunciation babe.
Julia: Thank you I tried my best. So they named the land that Izanami gave birth to, Oyashimakumi. Or the land of eight great islands.
Julia: Yup, you got it.
Julia: So she would later give birth to a bunch of smaller outlying islands as well, but not as important to the story. But those weren't all of Izanami's children. But I will tell you more about that when we get a refill.
Julia: Let's go.
Amanda: Julia, sometimes you are in heaven.
Amanda: Hanging out with your heavenly consorts and pals. Sometimes you find yourself on earth, in a small island, pregnant.
Julia: Checks out.
Amanda: And life brings you a bunch of different contexts that you may need dope clothing for.
Julia: That is true.
Amanda: And happily, we have Stitch fix.
Amanda: Which is our sponsor for this week, that we genuinely love and get giddy every time we say their name.
Julia: Oh I do. So much.
Amanda: It's answer online personal styling service that finds and delivers clothes, shoes and accessories that fit your body, your budget but also your lifestyle. You can tell them, I do wear athleisure seven times a week, and they're not going to judge you for it.
Julia: That does help for sure. You can be like, I'm going for a more edgy goth look this fall, and they're like yeah here's some leather jackets.
Amanda: Yeah. Yeah.
Julia: It's dope.
Amanda: Or that you have business casual, or professional, or whatever it might be, you can tell them exactly what you need, you can change it in between boxes.
So I like that because it can really help plug holes in your wardrobe, vs. just like going to a store and hoping that the thing that they have that fits, oh your body, oh your budget, and oh the thing that you have to do next week. All in one.
I don't like shopping in stores. It makes me feel bad about my body and myself. But when Stich Fix sends me five dope items, right to my door, in a box, nice little wrapping paper, just for me, and I can decide what to keep and what to send back? I don't know, I just love it.
Julia: Yeah and I like that, the whole thing with me is I love the fact that someone else is picking out clothes for me, because I am like notoriously picky and I kind of fall into my own cycles I guess for clothing.
Stitch Fix sent me a romper, and I would never buy a romper for myself, but I look dope as hell in that romper.
Amanda: I need to see it.
Julia: It looks so cute. It was amazing. And it was just like, it was floral which I told them that I liked.
Julia: And it was darker colors which I told them that I liked, and it was just, it fit all of the things that I loved, but like I never would have picked it out for myself.
Julia: And that's what Stitch Fix is so good at, having that personal stylist is such a blessing.
Amanda: It really is. And the shipping and exchanges and returns are always free. You don't have to do a subscription, you can just get one if you want which I think is really great, because maybe you don't want to commit to having one every month or every quarter.
Amanda: You can just get one box, that's also allowed. And what they have is a styling fee that's 20 bucks, so every box they charge your credit card 20 dollars, but if you decide to keep any item from that box, they take the 20 bucks out of its price.
Amanda: So if you choose to keep even one thing from your box, the entire process is free, there's no fee, there are no surcharges, there's no shipping. It's pretty dope.
Julia: Yeah, for example, like if you get a really cute dope floral top, that Stitch Fix sent you.
Amanda: Just hypothetically.
Julia: And like it's 30 dollars, you already paid that 20 so it's only going to cost you an additional 10.
Amanda: It's pretty great. And, if you go to stitchfix.com/spirits, you'll get 25% off every item in the box when you decide to keep all five. So keep everything in the box, you get 25% off every single items price and that $20 credit. So it's a pretty great deal.
That's stichfix.com/spirits, thank you Stitch Fix, we love you. If y'all get your beautiful Stitch Fix items please show us photos on Instagram, tag us @spiritspodcast, we would love to give you compliments.
Julia: Yes please. I want to see all your cute outfits.
Amanda: All right, thanks again. That's stitchfix.com/spirits.
We are also sponsored this week by Amazon Prime Video, a new sponsor to the show, and we are very happy to welcome them. Amazon Prime Video is a benefit for Amazon Prime members, so you get the shipping that you get with Amazon Prime, but also this entertainment delivered to you from Prime Video channels.
Julia: Yeah, cable bills, they're expensive. And obviously I don't want to pay them. I don't want to pay for a bunch of different channels that I'm not going to watch anyway, so getting to pick and choose which channels you want to watch is the best way to go about it.
The nice part is Prime Video channels has a hundred plus premium and specialty channels that you can pick and choose. So if you want Starz but not HBO, which I don't understand why you would do that, but I mean, it's up to you.
Amanda: Awesome, we don't have to yawn. You might want PBS Kids but not PBS Masterpiece. Like do what you got to do.
Julia: Yeah, exactly. So yeah, I want to use channels for when the new season of Doctor Who comes out, for sure.
Amanda: Yes. That's going to be awesome. And I just finished on HBO, the show Succession, which is kind of like Game of Thrones but about like corporate politics so very up my alley.
Julia: Oh you know what, I am getting into Outlander on Starz, and it is very good, it's very up our Spirits listeners alleys. There's time travel, and period pieces, and romance, it's very good.
Amanda: And yeah, it works on your phone, it works on your Roku, it works on your Fire TV, so however you watch your stuff, this is going to work for you. And Amazon Prime Video is offering a free trial to our listeners, at tryprimechannels.com/spirits.
Julia: Yeah, only pay for the channels that you want with Prime Video channels. You can start your free trial of over a hundred different channels by visiting tryprimechannels.com/spirits. Do it. Do the thing.
Amanda: Thank you very much for sponsoring the show, and now, let's get back to it.
Julia: Okay, so after giving birth to all of these islands, Izanami needed children that would give them shape, like she needed, like they're just these, they're just land right now.
Julia: They're not anything.
Amanda: So it's like the dough is proofing.
Amanda: I have been re watching Great British Bake off on my sick days.
Julia: I'm not surprised.
Amanda: And they need to knead and shape that dough.
Julia: Yeah. So she just starts popping our kids left and right. Kami of the sea, the wind, of trees and mountains and basically any kind of object or phenomenon in nature that you would imagine.
Amanda: All right, I mean, all the fun stuff. This is like decorating the gig, decorating the map.
Julia: Absolutely. But the problem is, pregnancy is what does her in, in the end.
Amanda: Pregnancy sucks.
Julia: Yeah, pregnancy is scary.
Amanda: I'm sure its beautiful also, but like, come on, yeah.
Julia: But also scary and terrifying and you're bringing life into this world and also mortality rates for women giving birth are way too high, especially in the United States. That's a different tangent for another time Julia, okay.
Amanda: You just had a little like, That's So Raven moment, where you just like, you just did a little tunnel into somewhere else.
Julia: So she gives birth to Kagutsuchi who is the kami of fire.
Julia: And she was burned to death as he leaves her body, despite Izanagi doing his best to try and save her.
Julia: So even in death though, Izanami gives birth to more kami, the kami of death, and sorrow enter the world as she exits.
Amanda: I mean that's pretty poignant. It's sad but that's, fitting I think.
Julia: Oh for sure. Izanagi weeps for his wife and in his tears even more kami are born. Enraged at Izanami's death, he kills Kagutsuchi, cutting off his head and further offspring are born from the blood and the sword that he used.
Julia: Now, what we're looking at here is like, similar to some Greek stories.
Julia: If we're looking at Pandora's box as has a very similar vibe to it. Actually, the end of this story is going to have more of a Orpheus twist to it.
Julia: Izanagi grieves for Izanami for a very long time, but he's still determined to bring her back. He decides to go to Yomi, which is the land of the dead.
Amanda: A new realm.
Julia: I know.
Amanda: I wish, I want a little kazoo for when we enter a new realm in a story. It will be helpful to me. Maybe the slide whistle from the Join the Party Alive show.
Julia: Perhaps. Jesus. That is true. It has a geographical continuity in Shinto religion, Yomi does. It is not hell or paradise, but rather it is a place where all deceased go and carry on a shadowy existence forever, no matter how they acted in life.
Amanda: Oh, damn.
Amanda: So there's no, nothing else?
Julia: Yup, there's no punishment, there's no reward, it's just, that's what the afterlife's like. Which you see in Mesopotamian afterlife, in the story of Gilgamesh, everyone lives underground, wears feathers, and eats dirt.
Amanda: Okay, okay.
Julia: That's just it.
Julia: That's just how it is.
Amanda: I mean, I also, as someone who doesn't believe in any particular afterlife, I do appreciate the kind of just ethical and philosophical need to do our best while we're here for its own sake, so I respect that for sure.
Julia: According to the Kojiki, the entrance of Yomi lies in Izumo province, and is described as a polluted land which is connected to the Shinto associations between pollution and death.
Julia: Which logically makes sense.
Julia: Because you leave a dead body rotting somewhere, it can ruin a water source or something like that.
Amanda: Yeah or pollute the environment.
Julia: Disposal of the-
Amanda: The environment, you know.
Julia: Disposal of the dead is very important in a lot of different religions.
Julia: So connecting pollution and death is really, really interesting to me.
Amanda: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Julia: So Izanagi makes a long and perilous journey into Yomi. I actually read the Kojiki for the section.
Julia: It wasn't a great translation as far as I could tell, because it was very, it was like written almost in like, Elizabethan english.
Amanda: Oh okay.
Julia: Which was weird.
Amanda: Well maybe it sounds archaic to contemporary Japanese readers and so they're trying to send the same message for English readers.
Julia: That's possible. But anyway. So it says that he makes a long and perilous journey into Yomi. But it doesn't describe the perilous journey at all.
Julia: Otherwise I would have given you the sweet, sweet details. So eventually Izanagi comes across a great mansion that is guarded by fearsome demons.
Julia: Izanagi creeps through the back entrance and finds Izanami there. She is hidden in shadow and her face is veiled, but they have this like really joyful reunion.
Amanda: Okay, okay.
Julia: And when he tells Izanami to come with him, she answers, here's a quote, and you'll see the old English here. "Lamentable indeed that thoust earnest not sooner. I have eaten of the hearth of Yomi. Nevertheless, as I reverence the entry here of thine augustness, my lovely elder brother, I wish to return." So the problem is, Izanami has eaten the food of Yomi. So that means she can't return to the world of the living.
Julia: Similar to the Persephone in Hades story, where she's eaten food in Hades so she can't come back.
Amanda: Never eat the fairy food.
Julia: Don't do that, just like don't eat food if you're in a weird new place and someone offers it to you.
Amanda: I mean if you're traveling do, probably.
Julia: Well yes, but like.
Amanda: But not if there's, if you're like, Amanda and Julia would give this a side eye, don't eat food there.
Julia: Don't eat food there, don't take the fay book Amanda, on the subway.
Amanda: I know.
Julia: I'm so mad at you.
Amanda: I took it.
Julia: It's great to be recording with the pile of sticks that is glamored to look like you.
Amanda: Listen, I was on a subway car, the subway car was totally empty. There was a shaft of sunlight hitting the floor with a book in the middle of it. I was enchanted, and I took the book. It was a library book. I'm going to return it and then buy a different copy and then read that copy because the book looks really good.
Julia: You were given a weird side quest in a RPG is what just happened there.
Amanda: Listen, I am the servant of librarians. I am going to bring that book back. I'm going to bring it home. I'm going to reunite it with its family. Not for reward Julia, for don't sake it. Upholding the bonds of civility that keep us all in society. Carry on.
Julia: So speaking of the bonds of civility, because Izanami has eaten the food of Yomi, she cannot return to the surface. But, because Izanagi has come for her, she agrees to go and talk to the kami that is in charge of Yomi, to see if she can go back with her husband.
Amanda: Okay, okay.
Julia: Kind of like Eurydice appealing to Hades.
Julia: To let her try and go back.
Amanda: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Julia: Before she leaves to ask permission though, she tells Izanagi that he must stay at the mansion, and not to go inside.
Amanda: Uh-oh. Bet that boy goes inside.
Julia: So he agrees, but after Izanami has been gone for a whole day and does not return, Izanagi goes inside the mansion to look for her. He uses the tooth of his comb as a torch because why not, that's the first time I've heard of it, but, sure.
And so he wanders around the mansion, using this frail light to guide him. But when Izanagi enters into a room, he finds that Izanami is not how she was in life, but rather is a decaying corpse, and she has several of these thunder kami that have recently been born from her body. So they're like these fearsome, big, bulky kami.
Amanda: And they're surrounding her?
Amanda: Oh okay.
Julia: So she does not look good, her skin is rotting and starting to fall away, her flesh is covered in maggots.
Julia: Izanagi is horrified and disgusted by the appearance of his wife, who is still moving and speaking but is clearly dead.
Julia: And he turns to flee, pursued by thunder kami, these quote, "foul women" known as shikome, and Izanami herself. So Izanagi fits off the thunder kami and Izanami and manages to imprison her in Yomi by rolling a huge rock across the entrance of Yomi.
Izanami is indignant, yelling that if Izanagi does not take her back to the world of the living with him, she will take a thousand living people to Yomi each day.
Julia: To which, Izanagi is so disgusted that he replies that he will create one thousand five hundred lives a day in return.
Amanda: There you go. That's why human begins live and die, huh?
Julia: So because of Izanagi insolence and disgust, death comes to mortal beings, but Izanagi's ability to give life to the world ensures that he brings more into the world than Izanami can take away.
Amanda: You know, that's pretty balanced and pretty beautiful.
Julia: Yeah. I really, really, I just I like the kind of idea and we'll sidetrack to discuss this a little bit. But like, understanding that human population grows.
Julia: It's just like, that's so cool.
Amanda: And you know what, I wouldn't be surprised if this were like pretty scientifically accurate to the time when the story was generated.
Julia: Oh for sure.
Amanda: At least in the locality where it came from.
Julia: Yeah, I think that it's probably pretty accurate, and if you think about it, Japan is much more of a finite area of mass for people to occupy.
Julia: Than say, the United States.
Julia: Where there are pockets of land where there just aren't people for miles.
Julia: But Japan I feel like is slightly different, it's a little bit smaller and it's a little bit more spread out from what it is.
But yeah, I think that it's interesting to kind of look at the growth of the people, and also for people to understand that like hey, the birth rate is higher than the death rate, and we're going to have a higher population as time goes on.
That seems really interesting and just like not something that I would ever consider as a human being until someone points it out to me.
Amanda: Yeah, like I don't think I thought about all the people that lived and died before this generation until we started studying that kind of stuff in school.
Amanda: But for Japan in particular, I mean I think you're right. Resources have always been finite. Spaces have always been finite.
And they've had to deal with questions of like, density and population management and food distribution, a lot more and better than most societies.
Julia: Yeah, that's absolutely true. So finishing up the story, Izanagi sees the taint of the underworld on his skin and so he plunges into a river in order to purge it from his body.
In doing so he washes his left eye and the kami Amaterasu, who is the sun kami is born, from his right eye Tsukiyomi, the moon kami is born. And from his nose is Susano, who is the kami of restless seas.
Amanda: Sounds like a sneeze. I hope that's not rude to say. But I love it. It's like, has a lovely scent.
Julia: Like he sneezes and then the waves go crazy.
Julia: I like it. This story is regarded as the founding of Harae, which is an important ritual of purification practice in Shinto religion. Basically its one that you would do before worshiping at a Shinto temple.
But Susano, seeing his sister and brother, was unhappy with the role that he was playing in the world. Izanagi angered by his son's insolence, banished Susano, who went willingly to Yomi to be with his mother.
Izanami would allow her son to take the role of the grand kami of Yomi in her place. She basically retires.
Julia: Which her husband also does. After what happened with Izanami, Izanagi decides to retire.
Amanda: Fair enough.
Julia: And is said to have returned to Takamagahara so that he could be close to his two children, Amaterasu and Tsukiyomi.
Others say that he rested on the island of Honshu, which was the largest island that his wife gave birth to, and where he is still worshiped to this day.
Amanda: I like that the insolence of the waves ends up kind of ruling the underworld, and it's their firstborn who they had banished that ends up being the kind of light and laughter of the fishermen.
Amanda: That suffer at the insolence of the waves.
Julia: I like that. Susano is an important character, and hero character in a lot of Japanese mythology and Shinto religion. I would love to do an episode on him at one point, but he's a really interesting character.
Julia: To say the least.
Amanda: I dig it.
Julia: So wrapping up, in Japanese art, Izanami and Izanagi are often shown standing together on the heavenly bridge, stirring the ocean with their spear. That's like one of the key images of their story.
Amanda: Yeah, yeah.
Julia: It's super evocative so I understand why it's like really important to the creation of the universe story, so.
Amanda: Something I really, really love about having done this podcast for a while now, is that I can go to museums and understand tableau's better than I have before, like occasionally I'll see pottery or a tapestry and be like, oh my god I recognize that. And it's the coolest feeling.
Julia: I like that a lot. So they're also famously referenced in the Shrine of the Wedded Rocks at Meotoiwa, which is off the coast of Futami.
It's these two large rocks that stand in the ocean and are attached by a sacred rope known as a shimenawa, representing the matrimonial bond between the two kami. Interestingly because the area is so humid and also on the ocean, the shimenawa is replaced several times a year with a great ceremony.
Julia: It's very cute.
Amanda: That is adorable.
Julia: So yeah, that's the story of Izanami and Izanagi. There's a lot of, there's a lot to unpack with it. It's definitely, it covers everything from the creation of the world to the entrance of death into it.
Julia: And like oh, how Izanami became basically the kami of death.
Julia: The goddess of death. All because her husband couldn't appreciate her rotting corpse I guess.
Amanda: Also if you see a ghostly figure with a veil, don't go under that veil. Don't go near it. Don't mess with it. It's okay.
Julia: But like also, I like this idea that, that was still his wife.
Julia: And he's still going to bring her back to the world of the living with him.
Julia: And it was only after he saw like what death had done to her physically that he ran away. So I don't know, I think that says something to the fact that if he didn't know that, death doesn't change a person. You know?
Amanda: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Julia: The way that we see a person even after death doesn't really, like they are still the person that we knew in life and the fact that we sometimes like disconnect that because they are dead, and our memory of them is altered slightly, is kind of fucked up I think.
And I think that kind of ties into just collective memory in general. When a person dies we have to kind of keep this image of them in our minds in order to keep them alive.
So I would say in the story, Izanagi is kind of in the wrong here, despite the fact that like, okay yeah, if I saw the rotting corpse of my loved one, I would probably be afraid and upset. But also if they're still acting like the person that I knew and loved in life.
Julia: I would do something about that. I think that's why we're so terrified of zombie stories.
Julia: Is because, it's still the person that we love and yes they are decayed, but it's also the fact that they're not that person anymore.
That death has consumed them entirely is what's the frightening part of zombie stories. So that's why I'm very conflicted by Izanagi's reaction to Izanami in the underworld.
Julia: And I do think he's in the wrong in the story. I'm not sure if you agree or disagree.
Amanda: And one zombie piece of media, which I think I'm a bit of a connoisseur thereof. Is In The Flesh, which was a short lived, much beloved, British television series, that dealt with the decayed body still with the person that you knew, their brain and spirit inside of it and how you live in that society.
I thought was fascinating, it had a lot to do with like the structural and societal works that we create, and it was just, it was very good. But you're right, a lot of the kind of the horror of the zombie is, okay, it's the body of my loved one but not their mind, and what is my allegiance to? Is it to their body? Is it to their mind? Is it to the combination? What do I do here, what's the ethical thing?
Julia: And I think that it's really interesting because if you know anything about the seven steps of grieving.
Julia: I don't think that Izanagi really went through those, he definitely didn't get to the level of acceptance.
Julia: Because he goes down to the underworld to try and bring his wife back. And I think that he's like-
Amanda: Yeah he's like denial the whole way.
Julia: It's denial the whole way and then I think it gets to the anger episode when he finally sees her and he sees the state that she's in. And it's not an acceptance that he has that he's like oh, well my wife is dead.
He is afraid and he flees and then he like angrily retorts against her, when she's like, why are you leaving me? Okay you're going to leave me, here's what I'm going to do. And he's like you know what, fuck you.
I'm going to keep bringing life into the world. Which is like a positive thing but at the same time his reaction to it is not positive.
Amanda: Yeah, and you kind of frame this as a story of a marriage. And it's also, I don't know, that's a thing that you read about a lot, is to say when you choose a person to spend many decades of your life with, if that's something that you do, you're not going to stay married to the same person, you're not going to be living with the same person the entire-
Julia: Oh that's such a great point.
Amanda: The entire life. And what you want to do is marry someone that you want to see who their future selves are. And that they are committed to your future selves, no matter how different that person may become.
And obviously at a certain point, you know, it may end up being better for you to part ways, but hearing people who have been married for like 30, 40, 50 years, talking about what's occurred. It's like, yeah, it's dope.
This person that I love evolves into someone else, I evolve into somebody else, and we have the shared context and the resources and the communication tools to keep making that relationship again and again, and to keep building it when it starts to fray.
Amanda: So that is not what happens here.
Amanda: But I think it is a useful reminder that, when we're thinking about our person, is it someone who when you see a different version of them, speaking with their same voice, is that something that you want to take home with you.
Julia: Oh that's such a good point. And I mean, Jake and I have been together for almost a decade, it will be a decade in May.
Julia: That is insane to me.
Julia: But like I genuinely think, having that kind of hindsight, that when people say hey, when you're in a relationship you either grow together or you grow apart. That's 100% true. And you shouldn't, I don't want to tell people what to do, but I would never put myself-
Amanda: You can tell me what to do, so just tell me.
Julia: So I would never put myself in a situation where I don't want to see all of the versions of the person that I'm with.
Julia: And I think that I wouldn't be marrying Jake if I didn't know that we have been able to grow together for so long. And ten years is a long time, I was 16 when we started dating.
Julia: That is, I am such a different person than I was when I was 16.
Amanda: Can confirm.
Julia: And I know you can, and Jake can too. And that's the beautiful thing about one, our friendship.
Julia: Two, Jake and my relationship, is that we grow and we make each other better. And if you're not making your partner or friends better by your presence in their lives or vice versa, that's not a relationship that you should continue with. I don't think.
You can be separate people and you can have different ideas about stuff, but when it comes down to it, if you're not able to support that person's new life, I guess, don't, just leave it where it is.
Don't have the angry breakup that Izanami and Izanagi have. Just kind of part ways because you know that's how just life is sometimes.
Amanda: Yeah, to me it's a difference between supporting a person's behaviors and qualities and the ways in which they interact with you, and supporting the person.
Amanda: Because all those things might change. And if you decide to be with someone for a long time, your body will change, your voice will change, your interests will change, your life circumstances and resources will change.
And on a micro scale, I listened to a podcast yesterday where someone was talking about research in couples, and ones that stay together, they find one of the things that those couples have in common, is asking each other questions. And when you come to someone with a story of your day, it's not just like oh that's nice honey, mine was blah, blah, blah.
It's asking questions and being interested in having active listening toward your partner. And that's like they saw a sign of respect and being interested in a person, and that's one of the things that good marriages have in common or good relationships. And so to me, yeah, like its just, it's like an incredible honor and privilege to get to be there to witness someone, whether it is a friend, a sibling, a partner, to see what happens next.
And for me one of the most daunting things about entering into a relationship has been letting myself disappoint my partner. And dealing with those feelings of not wanting to disappoint them. And this world view makes that a little bit less daunting for me, because it's not like not being the person I've been or not acting like the person I want to be is the be all and end all, they love something else, something deeper, something that's not just how I'm acting that day or like if the dinner gets burned.
Of if I'm not able to like, go have plans because I get sick. So I don't know, that, it's like a freaking fall backward into a void, it feels, in terms of letting someone see you that deeply. But again, like romantic, familial, friendship, it's those moments where I'm most glad to have someone with me.
Amanda: And I don't know, it's scary but it's worth it.
Julia: I feel that. I think one of the biggest things for me is, you know when like people break up or friends break up or what have you, and someone goes, you've changed.
Julia: Yeah, people change.
Julia: That's kind of the point. You just don't like the change that they've made.
Amanda: Yeah, and that's fine.
Julia: And that's acceptable, that's totally cool.
Amanda: Healthy, you can do that, we've all had friends that, you know, and other people in our lives that have come in, come out, and you have a nice time together and you move on. It doesn't mean the relationships less meaningful, like things we've talked about in previous episodes a lot.
But this is when you find people that you want to commit to that deeply, and that you want to know and you want to subscribe to updates on their life. It's like, I don't know, it's a very beautiful flower to put into the bouquet of your life at this particular moment.
And to have that constant, which we've also mentioned before of like, just having someone who has witnessed the me ten years ago and the me now, and vice versa. It's, I don't know. It's a pretty special thing.
Julia: Yeah, I always get really excited when I look at you or when I look at Jake, because you're the people in my life that have been around the longest. And I'm just like, oh man, they've both changed so much since 16, but like, all for the better.
Amanda: We've had a collective glow up.
Julia: Yeah, we did, we totally did. All of us, damn. But yeah, that's the best part about friendship, is that when someone can look at you and be like man, our relationship or our friendship is so different than it was ten years ago.
But like, that's so cool and that's so great and we have taken this entire decade and we've grown together and like as people.
Amanda: Yeah, it's like an 18 course New Year's dinner. Or however many years, or you know what I mean?
Amanda: It's not like one unending dish on the Hogwarts buffet table, it's like a big all you can eat continental buffet of life. And I think it's really, I think it's a feature and not a bug, that relationships can contain so many multitudes.
Julia: And with that, we hope that all of your relationships contain multitudes, and that you stay creepy.
Amanda: Stay cool.