SUSANO’O : THE RAGING MALE; THE COURAGEOUS IMPETUOUS MALE
Susano’o, Lord of Water, Storms, and Thunder, is Amaterasu’s wild brother. It was his violence that sent Amaterasu fleeing to her cave. Simplified mythology books paint Susano’o as a “bad” spirit who creates havoc from sheer malice, but his actions stem from a commonly overlooked root reason. Susano’o is Amaterasu’s rival for dominion over Japan and rulership of the kami.
There are different versions of exactly what precipitated the crisis: although Susano’o had dominion over the sea, he was jealous of Amaterasu and challenged her authority. An alternative version suggests a friendly competition gone wrong. The two had a contest to see which possessed greater fertility power. Although technically Susano’o won in terms of numbers, Amaterasu claimed victory based on interpretation of the value of what was created.
Outraged, Susano’o went on the rampage that led to Amaterasu retreating from the world. After Amaterasu emerged from her cave, her victory was confirmed. Susano’o was punished by being banished from the celestial regions. He came to live on Earth where, in another famous myth, he rescues a young girl from an eight-headed dragon, then marries her and founds a dynasty. Susano’o pulled a sword from out of the dragon’s belly or tail, which heeventually presented to Amaterasu as a reconciliation gift. That sword is one of the three treasures of Japan.
Susano’o is volatile, emotional, passionate, and prone to temper tantrums, but he is also generous, courageous, clever, and afraid of nothing. He is a great magician and a repository of occult knowledge. Susano’o is credited with inventing fermentation and alcoholic beverages (initially in order to sedate that dragon!). He is a powerful spirit and, as his legend testifies, invoked for fertility and abundance. Susano’o protects against epidemics, but he can also send them. Susano’o has access to the realm of death and some influence in that area.
ALSO KNOWN AS:
Susano’o is venerated alongside his son, Okuninushi.
Susano’o is enshrined in Izumo, where he descended to Earth after being banished from Heaven. Izumo is the oldest shrine in Japan, second in importance only to Ise, where Amaterasu is enshrined. (He is enshrined elsewhere, too. It was traditional to build shrines to Susano’o to stave off epidemics.)
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.