Thursday, March 20, 2008

Izanami and Izanagi

Here's a story for the equinox. If you know your Inanna, Ninshubur, Persephone, Hermes, Orpheus and Eurydice, or even Lot and LotsWife, this should sound kinda familiar. This one's from Japan - it's at the start of the Kojiki and the Nihongi.

It was the beginning of the world, and nobody was around except Izanami and Izanagi. They were hot for each other, so they got it on. "Wow, that was great!" said Izanami. "Um, yeah it was!" said Izanagi.

Soon Izanami was pregnant. When the baby came, it was a slimy eel-baby. They put the eel baby in a boat and cast it out to sea, and went to ask the gods what was going on. "Oh," the gods said. "The man is supposed to be the first one to talk. That's why you had an eel baby."

"Oh, right!" Izanami and Izanagi said. "Sexism! Well, whatever." They had lots more sex, and each time Izanagi made sure to talk a lot, and they had lots and lots of babies. They gave birth to the islands of Japan, and mountains and streams and breezes and rivers and the sun and the sky and the moon, and animals and trees and people. They kept on loving each other more and more, and they were really, really happy. Then Izanami gave birth to fire. Fire was too hot, and Izanami burned to death.

Izanagi killed the fire baby, and set off for the land of Yomi, to bring Izanami back.

The land of Yomi was the underworld, but it was also just a place. Izanagi didn't have to fight any dragons or trick any sphinxes or take off all his clothes to get there, he just showed up. He found Izanami, who was sitting in the dark. "Oh, there you are," Izanami said. "You've come too late. I've already eaten the food."

"PLEASE come back with me," Izanagi said, "I miss you SO MUCH."

"Okay, I'll come back with you," Izanami said, "We can leave tomorrow morning. But you have to promise not to look at me while I'm sleeping."

"I promise," said Izanagi, not meaning it. In the night, he lit a match and looked at Izanami. Izanami was a rotting corpse.

"Holy shit!" cried Izanagi, and took off running. "Don't you dare leave me now!" cried Izanami, and took off after him.

Izanami chased Izanagi all over the place, but Izanagi always got away. Finally Izanagi wedged a giant boulder in a mountain pass, and Izanami couldn't get through. "If you don't let me out," Izanami screamed, "I'll kill a thousand people every day."

"Well, fine then," said Izanagi, "I'll just give birth to fifteen hundred more."


maria sputnik said...

how is the dude going to give birth to all those people? would izanami have regenerated and become a healthy body if izanagi hadn't looked at her until morning? what's yomi like?

...and what happened to the eel baby?

Daniel Yuhas said...

Izanagi made lots more beings including Amaterasu the sun goddess by drying off after he purified himself in a river after escaping from Izanami. I'm not sure how it all worked, but suspend your disbelief.

The eel baby came ashore, grew arms and legs and wound up being Ebisu, one of the seven gods of fortune.

Dan said...

hot damn that was good!