Amatsu-Mikaboshi – August Star of Heaven

Amatsu-Mikaboshi is often described as the Japanese “god of evil,” implying that he is a Satanic figure, but that is imprecise. Shinto has no “Satan,” and Amatsu-Mikaboshi is neither a “god” nor “evil”; instead, he is a primordial force that existed before this world was formed.

Amatsu-Mikaboshi is a nebulous presence, and attempts to explain who or what he is are no less nebulous. At some point, he may have been the only force in the world: Amatsu-Mikaboshi may be the primordial great void. He ruled the universe, if only because nothing else existed. Somehow during creation of the modern universe, his power was broken but never completely disappeared. Instead, his aura or residue remains.

An alternative myth suggests that Amatsu-Mikaboshi was one of the imperfect children discarded by Izanami and Izanagi. Either way, Amatsu-Mikaboshi is in the world but not of the world. He has no clear, official part or function to play. He doesn’t even have a corporal form in which to manifest. He is a bitter, coldly angry, disenfranchised presence. He has no shrines and is not of much relevance to the average person (although his name appears in many comic books and role-playing games, where he is usually cast as a villain). He is an esoteric, abstract presence in the universe rather than a spirit with whom one can communicate directly. He may be the spirit of the most distant heavens: the celestial void or abyss.

Shinto is a spiritual system that values harmony. Amatsu-Mikaboshi is associated with lingering energies and emotions, especially excessive ones that destroy harmony or create imbalance in the world (as, in essence, he does). He doesn’t necessarily share or incite these emotions: instead intense, uncontrolled emotions are perceived as sharing his essence. They are magnetically attracted to Amatsu-Mikaboshi, as he is to them, because they are made of the same stuff and potentially have the same effect: destructive disharmony. Thus excessive anger, envy, even love, which potentially leads to unhealthy obsessions, is perceived as belonging to Amatsu-Mikaboshi and expressing his essence. In later Buddhist perspective, this excess emotion was perceived as “sin”; hence Amatsu-Mikaboshi developed a reputation as Master of Sinners. He may or may not be associated with Yomi, a Shinto death realm.

One theory suggests that Amatsu-Mikaboshi, a single, all-encompassing power, was broken and dispersed by the introduction of yin and yang forces into the universe (in Japanese: in and yo). Onmyoji (practitioners of a Japanese shamanic magical tradition) are masters of yin-yang and have sought to harness the power of Amatsu-Mikaboshi, possibly giving him a corporal form. In this form, he may be known as Ama-no-Kagaseo, the Brilliant Male.





Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.