Benten

Benten, beautiful dragon goddess of sex, fertility, music, dance, love, and wealth, has dominion over all Earth’s treasures, material and emotional. She brings happiness, wealth, and joy. Benten is the only female member of the Shichi Fujukin, the Seven Spirits of Good Fortune. Benten is revered in Shinto and Buddhist traditions.

Daughter of a dragon king, Benten agreed to marry a child-devouring dragon if he would promise to change his diet, which he did. She lives happily with her dragon husband under Lake Biwa, near Kyoto.

• If you are tormented by dragons in any way, Benten knows how to pacify and control them. Invoke her protection.

• Benten traditionally helps lovers remove obstacles from their path to happiness. Leave a letter or message for her at one of her many shrines or a home altar.

ALSO KNOWN AS:

Benzaiten; Benzai Tennyo

ORIGIN:

Japan

FAVOURED PEOPLE:

Geishas, dancers, musicians, creative people in general, lovers, children

ICONOGRAPHY:

She is frequently depicted naked; crowned with a white snake or surrounded by them. She often appears in the company of a dragon.

ATTRIBUTE:

Biwa (musical instrument)
An unexpected glimpse of a white snake is a harbinger of good fortune and/or a message from Benten.

ELEMENT

Water

Sacred day:

The first serpent day in February (Japanese calendar)

Sacred animals:

Dragon; snakes serve as her messengers, especially white snakes.

Mounts:

Dragon or large white snake

SACRED SITES:

Lake Biwa; legend says that the holy island of Enoshima, near Tokyo, arose in response to Benten’s footsteps.

Shrines:

Benten’s shrines are almost inevitably situated near water (sea, rivers, springs); among the most famous are the Zeniarai Benten shrines in Kamakura and in Tokyo’s Inokashira Park.

Rituals:

Benten is associated with the magical art of money laundering. Literally. The tradition of washing coins at her shrines began in the thirteenth century and derives from ritual rice washing associated with Ugajin, the water snake spirit with whom Benten shares shrines. Paper money is now washed, too. Money is cleansedat a sacred water source within her shrine, then carefully and completely dried. If washed properly and then spent within a week, it will allegedly return to you three-fold, at least!

OFFERINGS:

Images of dragons, snakes; ema boards (wooden votive boards) featuring images of snakes

SEE ALSO:

SOURCE:

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.

BOOKS FOR YOU TO READ IN OUR LIBRARY:

Kwaidan: Ghost Stories and Strange Tales of Old Japan - Lafcadio Hearn
Pandemonium and parade : Japanese monsters and the culture of Yōkai - Foster, Michael Dylan
The Book of Yokai Mysterious Creatures of Japanese Folklore - Michael Dylan Foster
Japanese Mythology - Judith Levin
Japanese Ghost Stories - Lafcadio Hearn
Ghosts And The Japanese Cultural Experience in Japanese Death Legends - Michiko Iwasaka, Barre Toelken
Japanese Ghost Stories Spirits, Hauntings, Paranormal Phenomena - Ross Catrien
Yurei The Japanese Ghost - Zack Davisson

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