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Mirrors have played an important role in magical and mystical practice since the days of remote antiquity. Our recent article, Mirrors in Central Asian Shamanic Tradition (The Wu and Genghis Khan), explored the practice and usage of mirrors in the rites of Mongolian shamanism, which is evidence of an ancient technology.
The mystical use of the mirror in ancient Asian spirituality, its technological use, existed also in the spiritual practices of the Jomon period that would later become known as Shinto. We discover references to a mirror early in the writings of the Nihon Shoki, where a “heaven-mirror,” Ame-kagami, is produced by the first deity Kuni-no-toko-tachi-no-Mikoto. Later in the Nihon Shoki, we read:
“Izanagi-no-Mikoto said: ‘I wish to procreate the precious child who is to rule the world. he therefore took in his left hand a white-copper mirror, upon which a Deity was produced from it called Oho-hiru-me no Mikoto. In his right hand he took a white-copper mirror, and forthwith there was produced a God who was named Tsuki-yumi no Mikoto.”
In the ancient Japanese parable, we learn that Izanagi-no-Mikoto used a mirror to produce Amaterasu Ohkami and Tsuki-yomi-no-Mikoto. There is also the famous mythology about Amaterasu Ohkami being drawn out of 天岩戸, Ame-no-Iwato. Once witnessing her own brilliance in the mirror, Yata no Kagami, Amaterasu Ohkami would never return to hiding again. Later, the Nihon Shoki records Amaterasu Ohkami as saying the following:
“At this time Ama-terasu no Oho-kami took in her hand the precious mirror, and, giving it to Ame no Oshi-ho-mi-mi no Mikoto, uttered a prayer, saying; ‘My child when thou lookest upon this mirror, let it be if as if thou wert looking on me.”
We can see from this passage that mirrors had a very place in ancient spiritual practices. Prayers were said over the mirror. It was also seen as a symbol of the sun itself. There are some references in the Nihon Shoki of a “sun-mirror.” Some esoteric Shinto schools also regard the mirror as a personification of Tsuki-yomi-no-Mikoto. This can be seen in the Japanese festival called Tsukimi. Wikipedia describes this holiday as follows:
“Tsukimi (月見?) or Otsukimi, literally moon-viewing, refers to Japanese festivals honoring the autumn moon. The celebration of the full moon typically takes place on the 15th day of the eighth month of the traditional Japanese solar calendar; the waxing moon is celebrated on the 13th day of the ninth month. These days normally fall in September and October of the modern solar calendar.”
There is an interesting component about this ritual that explains a very important reason why mirrors were held as sacred items in ancient Asian spiritual practices. Wikipedia continues:
“Festivals dedicated to the moon have a long history in Japan. During the Heian period elements of the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival were introduced to Japan. Members of the aristocratic class would hold moon-viewing events aboard boats in order to view the moon’s reflection on the surface of the water.”
it is interesting to note that the moon-viewing festival of Tsukimi is celebrated not by staring up at the moon, but at the light of the moon reflected off of a body of water. In the esoteric teachings of Shinto, a mirror is held sacred as it carries the same effect, and is a symbol of the light of the moon or the sun reflected off of a body of water. This reflected light, which emanates off a body of water, was said to be the gate,or doorway if you will, to the invisible realms. ( I would like to extend my thanks to Taeko-san or revealing this to me.) It was also known that the reflected light of a celestial body that shone from the surface of the water, could also be simulated by the priestess praying over water, a practice that is dear to those who are members of the Ninzuwu priesthood.
We find that there are several sections in The Ivory Tablets of the Crow that relate to this phenomena. One example of this can be found in an incantation known as The Opening of the Sea Ceremony. When the Initiate adds up all the Vasuh letters of this incantation and reduce them to the lowest numerical value, they find that the sum is equal to 3, or Tuu, which is the letter of Tsuki-yomi-no-Mikoto. Therefore, the Opening of the Sea Ceremony represents a way to open a portal to the other worlds and is practiced in unique manner among the Ninzuwu priesthood.
There is also a section entitled Johuta the Mirror, appearing in the Ivory Tablets of the Crow. Johuta means invocation of the spirit of life. It is a word that is said over water for purposes useful to the priesthood of the Ninzuwu. Johuta also represents the dimension of Heaven in The Yi Jing Apocrypha of Genghis Khan. We also read in the Ivory Tablets of the Crow the following:
“Know that the realm of the Ninzuwu is a place of mirrors above and below, side by side. It is a world of reflection, but the Ninzuwu walk about in this Dream as upon solid ground.”
We can clearly see why the mirror was vital to the ancient practices of the Ninzuwu, our shamanic ancestors who could enter another dimension, or dream through a mirrored-gate, by the use of certain mystical tools. Yet these gates were not limited to just astral trivia for in the opening of the Ivory Tablets of the Crow we are told:
“The mere reflection of these words caused that which is self-aware to stare at itself in darkness. Yet, it remains whole. These are the Footprints of the Crow….The witnesses of these thoughts are few. The mind must learn how to raise itself up and meet its reflection in the realm of light. The mere reflection of these words caused that which is no more to stare at itself in the light. Understanding these simple things is the basis of every creation, the Footprints of the Crow.”