The Lunar Horse
Beware reader! Not all religious tales are pleasant, and sometimes the path to esoteric enlightenment is sullied with offal. The choice is yours; turn back now or just step around anything you may find offensive until the path is once again clear. Is this not, after all, the case in life itself? It is certainly the case in the ancient Japanese myth of the sun goddess, Amaterasu, which is drawn from the sacred text of the Shinto religion, The Kojiki (An Account of Ancient Matters). This myth has repulsive elements, but ultimately it edifies.
Amaterasu and Susanowo
The tale starts with the first parent, Izanagi, giving missions to the three noble children— Amaterasu, goddess of the sun; Tsukiyomi, god of the moon; and Susanowo, who, though meant to rule the world, instead became ruler of the realm of the dead through his base actions. In a fit of rage, Susanowo spread excrement throughout Amaterasu’s rice fields and then secretly defecated under her throne in the palace where she was about to participate in the sacred rite of tasting the first rice from the harvest. His actions made her ill and defiled the rite.
To add to the insult, he broke a tile in the roof of the sacred weaving hall and hurled the skin of a heavenly piebald (spotted or dappled) pony he had flayed at her. This wounded her, causing her weaving loom to stab her in her genitals. Amaterasu, sickly, hurt, and offended by her brother’s actions, fled to the perpetual darkness of the heavenly rock cave. Only the sound of the gods’ uproarious laughter at the obscene dance of the goddess Ame-no-Uzume managed to lure her out again so she could take her place as the all-illuminating sun.
The odd story of Susanowo’s use of the pony’s skin very likely has deep magickal meaning. Normally, an animal is flayed from tail to head (utsuhagi), in accordance with its anatomy. But Susanowo used the reverse method (sakahagi), which is both laborious and counterproductive. In ancient Japanese magickal practices, reciting spells while performing reverse actions like drinking rice wine and clapping turned actions that were otherwise benedictions for health and a long life into curses. Obviously, these actions must take place on an astral level, because it is impossible in the physical realm to drink or clap backward. So, the flaying was meant to cause Amaterasu’s death, as is apparent in both the wound to her genitals—the source of life—and her flight to the rock cave.
In ancient Japan, aristocrats buried their dead in rock chambers, and the word iwagakuru, which means “concealment in rocks,” was a euphemism for “death.” It is even arguable that the horse’s dappling marked it as a moon animal, turning Susanowo’s action into an ill omen, since, by flaying the horse, he was trying to destroy light.1 It is only fitting that we turn to Amaterasu’s brilliant beauty to add balance to such an ugly tale. Amaterasu, as goddess of the sun, can assist you in all matters, but is especially inclined to gift you with inner and outer beauty. Over years of meditation and working with her energy, she revealed a portion of her mysteries to me in a simple, but profound, manner by speaking to me clairaudiently: “In the Western tradition, you speak of the Man in the Moon, because the Mare on the Moon could be construed as the features of an old man, even though you revere it as a female deity. So I, Amaterasu, am the Woman in the Sun, even though you are accustomed to know the sun as a masculine deity.”
I thought long and hard on these words, realizing that I could not impose my cultural upbringing and traditions on a spell dedicated to a goddess worshipped halfway around the world. And then I understood Amaterasu’s statement and how I could apply it to my own appreciation of and reverence for her.
As the Man in the Moon represents the masculine strength of a distinctly feminine orb at its fullest, so does the Woman in the Sun represent the feminine touch and taming of the blazing and distinctly masculine orb at the center of our solar system. I also believe that she revealed herself as the Woman in the Sun—an avant-garde, unapologetic goddess—to break stereotypes and help us better understand the universe and its magick in general. That insight is central to understanding this next spell.
Spell for Beauty and Physical Attraction
As I meditated on Amaterasu for this spell, I intuitively decided to burn frankincense and myrrh. As it turns out, this combination of fragrance was the key to understanding her mysteries.
For Westerners, these two essences are most familiar for their documented use in the mummification process in ancient Egypt and as two of the three gifts the Wise Men gave to the Christ child in the Bible. Amaterasu chose these resins as a cultural bridge for spellwork, whereas pine or sandalwood would have been the more traditional Shinto fragrances.
In order to bring focus into this spell (or any spell or rite), myrrh is quite helpful. Whether the resin is burned on charcoal or the essential oil is used to bless a candle or to make a tea, its properties help practitioners focus on the true intent and inner workings of the spell. Myrrh is associated with the sun and can induce peace and contentment, there by joining us to Amaterasu’s gentle magickal current.
Frankincense, on the other hand, is used in the Western tradition to invoke solar deities and the active, aggressive energies of the astral realm and universe. Myrrh and frankincense harmonize when you use them together. They become the yin and yang of the magickal world, a model in miniature of Amaterasu’s power. As the sun is projective, and what is traditionally considered masculine, her female energy found within it seems to create a dichotomy that is resolved only when we understand that her energy is a consistent and gentle glow, a motherly nourishment flowing from a life-giving star that illuminates the Self.
The use of frankincense and myrrh in this spell manifests the energies of life, balance, harmony, illumination, and radiance, laying waste to inner discord and ugliness. They are in accord with the prime energies of Amaterasu: inner beauty, outer beauty, harmony, and love.
What you need:
One tumbled citrine (natural citrine or heat-treated amethyst will both serve your purpose), essential oil of frankincense, and essential oil of myrrh.
After drawing a bath for yourself, add three drops of frankincense and three drops of myrrh directly into the bathwater. Put the tumbled citrine in the bath as well. Take your time getting into the bath. Once you are relaxed (you may want to fold a towel to put behind your head), center yourself by focusing on your mind’s eye and breathing naturally. Imagine yourself as you would like to look—young, beautiful, and filled with vitality. Say this affirmation three times:
Now, I am beautiful, as I was before.
After the affirmation, begin to chant the following spell as many times as you like, but no fewer than three:
Return my youth and renew my beauty that I may once again glow.
With the power of the sun; let physical attraction in my aura show.
After you’ve finished your bath and the spell, you can keep the citrine on a nightstand in your bedroom, on the vanity in the bathroom, or simply carry it to enjoy its effects.
Why did I choose three drops of frankincense and three drops of myrrh? Together they add up to the number six, which is associated with the sun in the Practical Qabalah.
Why did I choose citrine? Citrine is a solar crystal and, as such, is completely amenable to Amaterasu’s energies. In the Hindu tradition, it represents the solar plexus, and in the general Western tradition it stands for the sun, the center of our inner and outer solar system. Here, you use it to create a sacred bath. Its presence is akin to having a miniature sun diffusing through the water and suffusing your body with its power. Purification, protection, and health are just a few of its benefits, not to mention physical beauty!
As a side note, myrrh is also used to clean and consecrate pearls, and frankincense is used to cleanse and consecrate topaz. If you happen to have either or both crystals, you can add them to the bath or simply dip them into the bathwater and leave them to dry. Wear them together or individually to enhance the outcome of the spell.
Another bonus: pearls are associated with yin, or feminine, energy and induce happiness and add power to feminine wiles. Blue topaz enhances psychic ability. Yellow, orange, and clear topaz crystals enhance the energies of the sun and attract admirers.
**Adapted, and reprinted with permission from Weiser Books, an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, Horse Magick by Lawren Leo is available wherever books and ebooks are sold or directly from the publisher at www.redwheelweiser.com or 800-423-7087