Why thunder deities and thunder-beasts are attracted to Japanese children’s navels

Japan has long had a special regard for the navel. During the early Jomon period in northern Japan, three small balls indicating the breasts and navel were pasted onto flat clay objects to represent the female body. The navel was exaggerated in size, informed by the belief that the navel symbolizes the center of where life begins. On many middle Jomon figurines, the significance of the navel was emphasized with an indentation or hole. Sometimes, the importance of the navel was further enhanced by connecting with a line from the navel towards the chest.[195] Early Japanese poems feature many references to the female navel. In some, the word navel actually refers to an indentation or hole instead of the belly button.[196][197] The shape of the umbilicus of a newborn baby would be discussed at length. If a baby’s navel points downward, the parents would brace themselves for a weakling child who will bring them woe. The thunder god Raijin, with his terrifying drums, great horns, and long tusks, was said to have an insatiable appetite for young navels, and mothers had to nag their youngsters constantly to keep themselves well covered up.[198] Due to the mythology, navel exposure was not encouraged in the earlier times. The traditional clothing of Japanese women has a wide cloth belt around the midriff to protect the belly and keep it warm. The Japanese believe the belly is the source of person’s warmth and that the perfect navel is an innie.[199]
 Source: Navel, Wikipedia article
Raijin (雷神) or Kaminari-sama (雷 様), is the Shinto god of thunder, born from Izanami, usually appears using drums to create thunder, and often accompanied by the god of wind, Fujin. According to the history of our teacher, this god has as a hobby stealing children’s navels in the days of storm See Raijin-雷神 or how to be famous stealing navels

They also say that kids who have bad manners were robbed of their navels by Raijin.

Quakes, thunder, fire and father
Traditionally the Japanese feared four things in ascending order of severity: 地震·雷·火事·親父,jishin (earthquake), kaminari (thunder), kaji (fire), oyaji (father). The father was the most terrifying because in old days he had complete control over his household. … I’ve also seen a slight adaptation: 地震·雷·火事·大山風. The first three terrors remain the same, but oyaji/father is replaced by ooyamaji, an old word for typhoon.http://rurousha.blogspot.jp/2012/09/thunder-myths-in-japan.html

Raiden —

Japanese – A Shinto god of thunder. Father of Raitaro. He ate the navels of the dead and when he saw Chiyo, killed by Shokura, lying dead in a wood, he restored her to life and took her into the heavens. He is said to have defeated the invading Mongols by creating a great thunderstorm which killed all but three of them. He is depicted as a clawed demon with red skin, sitting on a cloud, shooting arrows at the enemies of the people. Occasionally known as RaidenRaijin,RaijinKaraijinKarai-shinKaminariKaminari,Kami-nariKaminari SamaKaminarisanNari-kamiNaru-kamiThunder Woman or The Thunder Woman.
— source : Mythology dictionary 
Raijin at asakusa
my theory is that the idea of Kaminari-sama or Raijin is a relic of very very ancient prehistoric Pre-Vedic world where the Sky god synonymous with thunder god was considered to have been naturally attracted to the navel of the Earth deity, equated with the Omphalos, navel of the Earth concept.
“Taevaisa” (Taevas = sky, isa = father) is the word by which adherents in Estonia of the Maausk (faith of the land) and the Taaranative beliefs refer to God. Although both branches of the original Estonian religion – which are largely just different ways of approaching what is in essence the same thing, to the extent that it remains extant – are pantheistic, heaven has a definite and important place in the ancient pre-Christian Estonian belief system. All things are sacred for those of the faith of the land, but the idea of a sky father – among other “sacrednesses” – is something all Estonians are well aware of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sky_father
Why the attraction between sky god or thunder god and children’s navels? See below…the Omphalos concept is closely connected to creation and at Eridu – Iraq. the Omphalos was called the original Sumerian ‘Mound of Creation’.
 

Service and Bradbury (2), state that ‘Within concept of the Omphalus, there is also implied an umbilical cord, an invisible link reaching from the depths of the earth through the navel right up into the heavens’ (Roscher 1913) (2). 

Ancient locations for Omphalos or navels of the earth were mostly in the Middle East, Iraq, Egypt, Mecca, Jerusalem, Delphi Greece, Easter Islands, Allahabad-India, but the ‘Bayon’ in the network of temples at Angkor was described by B. Groslier as ‘the Omphalos in Angkor’s stone cosmos’.
Significance of the placenta and umbilical cord

In some cultures, it is customary to bury the placenta and plant a tree over it. …

placentas have carried a special spiritual significance in some cultures. In ancient Egypt, it had its own hieroglyph, and the Ibo tribe in Nigeria and Ghana treats the placenta like a child’s dead twin. In traditional Chinese medicine, small doses of human placenta are sometimes dried, mixed with herbs, and ingested to alleviate, among other things, impotence and lactation conditions. And in modern medicine, doctors often bank umbilical-cord blood to treat genetic diseases with harvested stem cells. the placenta cookbook http://nymag.com/news/features/placenta-2011-8/

Idea of Raijin eating the navel related to the practice of placentaphagia of mammals observed by the ancients?

DURING parturition, mothers of almost all mammalian species expel not only a fetus, but also an associated after birth. The afterbirth consists primarily of a placenta, connected to the fetus by an umbilicus, and also includes amnionic and chorionic membranes and a large quantity of fluid. During delivery, a striking behavior occurs in most nonhuman mammalian species: the mother consumes the afterbirth. Although this placentophagia does not seem, on the surface, to be critical to the birth process or to the immediate well-being of the infant, the mother purposefully, laboriously, and usually completely, devours the placenta and fetal membranes. Often she stops attending to the newborn during placentophagia, which may last for an hour or more, and resumes infant- directed behaviors only when the afterbirth has been completely eaten. See Mark B. Kristal’s Placentophagia: A Biobehavioral Enigma 

Eating Placentas: Cannibalism, Recycling, or Health Food?:

In other cultures, such as China, it is believed that the placenta has an emotional or spiritual affinity with the baby, and must therefore be disposed of in a suitable way. This might involve burial in a safe place.

“If someone wants to take their placenta home to eat or bury under a rose bush they would need to ask the midwife to keep it for them,” Claire Friars, midwife for Tommy’s Baby Charity said.

Who eats the placenta?

In the wild, mammals bite through the umbilical cord and eat the placenta straight after the birth.

In Chinese medicine, the placenta is known as a great life force and is highly respected in terms of its medicinal value. It is not cooked, but usually dried.

However, eating the placenta is considered taboo by many. “It is very very rare in the UK for people to eat their own, or other people’s placentas,” Ms Friars said.

“A certain taboo does exist around it. Midwives may be surprised by such a request but are aware that this ritual does happen.”

 

According this source, the significance of the PLACENTA :

This Tree of Life that feeds and nurtures the baby is usually buried. Usually I have bought a rose bush or a new tree to bury this placenta under. That which has wrapped and nurtured the baby and provided the life support system will now create a new life. The life of a growing Tree. In the old days many mothers at this miracle of birthing ceremony ate a part of the placenta, either raw or cooked. 

 
Tree of life is placenta … Perhaps connection between lightning attracted to tree buried over placenta physical metaphor becomes lightning attraction to  belly button by extension led to the superstition.

In African cultures the umbilical cord of a woman’s first child is a tool of divination. It is inspected by midwives for clues to the mother’s future, in a belief system similar to reading tea leaves, palms or tarot cards. Some Native American tribes follow a custom of preserving a section of umbilical cord in cloth. It is added to a medicine bag that is either attached to the cradle or worn by the mother as a symbol of the child’s connection to her and to Mother Earth. The preserved cord is thought to offer protection to the child throughout life. In Japan, a traditional ceremony called Hesono O relegates a dried piece of umbilical cord to a special wooden keepsake box made for that purpose, and is believed to hold good luck for the future mother-child relationship. See how to preserve-umbilical-cords

The account below explains the beliefs surrounding the significance of the umbilical cord and placenta to the native Americans. See excerpt from

The cord ceremony :

    The Baby Cord Ceremony, I was told, was the oldest. It was believed that we came from the stars, birthing thru the Milky Way, to this earth. The cord represented the connection not only between mother and child, but also to the stars. 

    It was so important to have a ceremony for the baby, keeping his/her Umbilical Cord, in a beaded bag to keep for the life of the child. 

    Also ceremony is done with the Placenta, by planting it under a plant, flower, and I like to chose Rose Bushes, to return them back to the source. Planting the placenta, with honor and awareness, was returning back to the source the memory of our time in the Universal Star Matrix. 

    The old ones said that our birth is our first Ceremony on this Planet. In the old days, it was witnessed, celebrated, and the cord ceremony was a way to make sacred this connection to our Mother Earth and our origins from the Stars.

    A sewn leather pouch was prepared with a beaded totem on it like the Turtle, Butterfly, or Salamander. This pouch served as a Cekpi Ognaka (Navel Pouch) for a newborn infant. It would then be filled with the Umbilical Cord and/or pieces of the navel after the birth of the child. This would signify prayers of good things like good health, fortune, prosperity and a long life for the child. This pouch would then be given to the mother/grandmother to keep. 

    The ceremony that was done was of putting the cord into the bag. Each elder showed me a different way, but all used the form of winding the Umbilical Cord into a circle or spiral. The circle represents the family, which is centered by the circle for Unity and the circular Tipi is the Unity of the home. The lines of both are continuous and unbroken.

    Since then I have found out that many other cultures also embraced this ceremony. Some called it an Umbilical Cord Birth Amulet. For instance, in Indonesia, the amulet was made when a child is born and into it was put a small piece of the dried umbilical cord. It then was sealed inside a silver amulet and placed around the Childs neck, which was worn throughout their life. It was believed that it bestowed power and protection to its wearer from any dangers. 

    Grandmother Grace instructed me to start making these cord bags for my grandchildren. Today I hold the bags for the time when they go thru their rites of passage. It is fun to take out my medicine box that contains the bags and let each grandchild hold his or her own. Usually held by the Grandmother – in 2006 my granddaughter, Heather (Named by Grace Wamblee Gleska) graduated from high school and she was my first grandchild for me to give back to her the bag for her to keep now. It was a precious moment for us both. 

     It was felt by the old ones that part of the reason children do not know who they are and where they came from, was that the “Important Parts” of who they are and where they came from were just thrown away in some hospital garbage can. They did not feel in touch with that initial part of creation for it was discarded. It was felt that the keeping of the “cord of connection” was very important for our children&to keep their connection to the mother earth and father sky, stars, planets, and galaxies.

    When I was on the road with Grandpa Wallace Black Elk and Grandmother Grace Spotted Eagle, both were full blood Lakota’s. I saw that many women wished to have Women Ceremonies. 

    One day I asked Grandma Grace about Woman’s Ceremonies and I got a blast of energy from her, with her saying, “There are no Woman ceremonies or songs.” She said, “Women are the Ceremony and men have to recreate creation by doing the ceremony.” 

    Somehow this didn’t answer my question and also the question of why did not women get together and do ceremony? My heart still wondered why there were no Women Ceremonies? At that moment, I felt totally filled with grief over this fact.

    Then one day, driving to South Dakota, Grandma said that we were going to go talk to some old women who knew about women ceremonies. I was thrilled. It was a process that lasted for several years, but we began to piece together some of the oldest ceremonies on the planet. 

    I still remember with much fondness my times with Grace, sitting at her small table in her little kitchen in Colorado, with us writing down many women ceremonies. It has allowed me to share these ceremonies for the women, babies, males, now at our the Woman Dance.

    The Baby Cord Ceremony, I was told, was the oldest. It was believed that we came from the stars, birthing thru the Milky Way, to this earth. The cord represented the connection not only between mother and child, but also to the stars. 

    It was so important to have a ceremony for the baby, keeping his/her Umbilical Cord, in a beaded bag to keep for the life of the child. 

    Also ceremony is done with the Placenta, by planting it under a plant, flower, and I like to chose Rose Bushes, to return them back to the source. Planting the placenta, with honor and awareness, was returning back to the source the memory of our time in the Universal Star Matrix. 

    The old ones said that our birth is our first Ceremony on this Planet. In the old days, it was witnessed, celebrated, and the cord ceremony was a way to make sacred this connection to our Mother Earth and our origins from the Stars.

    A sewn leather pouch was prepared with a beaded totem on it like the Turtle, Butterfly, or Salamander. This pouch served as a Cekpi Ognaka (Navel Pouch) for a newborn infant. It would then be filled with the Umbilical Cord and/or pieces of the navel after the birth of the child. This would signify prayers of good things like good health, fortune, prosperity and a long life for the child. This pouch would then be given to the mother/grandmother to keep. 

    The ceremony that was done was of putting the cord into the bag. Each elder showed me a different way, but all used the form of winding the Umbilical Cord into a circle or spiral. The circle represents the family, which is centered by the circle for Unity and the circular Tipi is the Unity of the home. The lines of both are continuous and unbroken.

    Since then I have found out that many other cultures also embraced this ceremony. Some called it an Umbilical Cord Birth Amulet. For instance, in Indonesia, the amulet was made when a child is born and into it was put a small piece of the dried umbilical cord. It then was sealed inside a silver amulet and placed around the Childs neck, which was worn throughout their life. It was believed that it bestowed power and protection to its wearer from any dangers. 

    Grandmother Grace instructed me to start making these cord bags for my grandchildren. Today I hold the bags for the time when they go thru their rites of passage. It is fun to take out my medicine box that contains the bags and let each grandchild hold his or her own. Usually held by the Grandmother – in 2006 my granddaughter, Heather (Named by Grace Wamblee Gleska) graduated from high school and she was my first grandchild for me to give back to her the bag for her to keep now. It was a precious moment for us both. 

     It was felt by the old ones that part of the reason children do not know who they are and where they came from, was that the “Important Parts” of who they are and where they came from were just thrown away in some hospital garbage can. They did not feel in touch with that initial part of creation for it was discarded. It was felt that the keeping of the “cord of connection” was very important for our children&to keep their connection to the mother earth and father sky, stars, planets, and galaxies.

    I remember a time when I was helping with a birth of a child in a Hogan in Hopi Land. The placenta was taken and laid out in front of me. “Look at it,” that old grandma said. “That placenta looks like the tree of life. It has to be cared for and planted with ceremony so the child will always remember they are born to the tree of life on this planet, not the tree of wisdom or greed.” I was just awe struck at how beautiful it was and how the veins and such, did create a beautiful tree-the tree of life.

    I started sharing the ceremony as Grandma Grace said, especially in the Woman Dance. Picture 50 to 100 women standing in the Dance Circle. Then the families would be brought to the center of the circle, Mother and Father and other family members. I would take each family group, to the Tree of Life in the center of our Woman Dance Arbor, to pray. All around the Tree of Life, there would be blankets set up for each family group. My helpers would join me, and we would all go to a family blanket and do the ceremony for the baby by making the cord. 

    All of us would do the ceremony in unison, together in a long line of families. As we were doing the basics of the ceremony, I would ask that the Women Dancers to speak out loud, telling the family their reasons for the prayers for the baby’s and their bags, their thoughts, tips, or just blessings for the baby and the parents on parenting. 

    After the bags were ceremonially made, then each helper would out loud, announce each child to the Universe and the world, dedicating blessings on the child to the Great Mystery, which sees everything. Each helper would ask the Great Mystery to help the children as they grow. 

    After that, the families would go around the complete circle of women dancers and each dancer would bless the baby and family. The fathers and mothers would present the plant or bush and go to the area designated for planting and plant the placenta. 

Indian umbilical cord amulets or fetishes were also used in the past to encase the child’s navel cord and hung from the cradleboard. Later, they were often worn by the children or attached to their clothing.
They were used for protection from evil spirits and kept throughout life. Turtles were for girls and lizards were for the boys. Brain tanned deer hide, natural pigments, beaded. (See Sioux navel amulets)

More about the Central Asian and Japanese idea of Thunder Gods

Based on popular Indian deities (Sk: Vayu and Varun) and Chinese deities…The Thunder God, typically, is red with a horned demon head, simian mouth, and claw-like feet and hands. He is encircled by a ring of drums, and often a small hammer to beat them. In China, the earliest known representations of the Wind and Thunder Gods are found in the 6c caves at Dunhuang (Jp: Tonkou 敦煌), where they are accompanied by rain and lightning gods. The Wind and Thunder Gods later appeared in 12c woodblock printed books depicting thousand-armed Kannon and the twenty-eight attendants. The earliest depiction in Japan is in an illustration of the Sutra of Past and Present Cause and Effect, KAKO GENZAI INGAKYOU 過去現在因果経 (8c), in which the Wind and Thunder Gods are included among demons attempting to frighten the historic Buddha *Shaka 釈迦. The two deities appear in several Heian period *mandara 曼荼羅, such as in the Konkoumyou Saishououkyou Mandara 金光明最勝王経曼荼羅 (12c). The 13c Kei school *Keiha 慶派 sculptures at the Sanjuusangendou 三十三間堂, Kyoto, represent the development of a sculptural tradition. Many legends and folk-tales surround the Thunder God and he is included in various illustrated narrative handscrolls *emaki 絵巻. For instance, according to the *Kitano tenjin engi 北野天神縁起 (Legends of Kitano Shrine), the vengeful spirit of Sugawara Michizane 菅原道真 (845-903) took the form of the Thunder God, and this illustration became one of the highlights of various versions of scrolls. The Edo period folding-screen *byoubu 屏風, paintings of the Wind and Thunder Gods by Soutatsu 宗達 (?-ca. 1640; Kenninji 建仁寺, Kyoto) and Ogata Kourin 尾形光琳 (1658-1716; Tokyo National Museum) are well known Fuujin Raijin Source

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One thought on “Why thunder deities and thunder-beasts are attracted to Japanese children’s navels

  1. Nivedita says:

    Thanks for sharing this post with us…nice work…Reiki Healing

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