“ I am a woodcarver. My job is to turn nature into perfectly, sculpted pieces of work. Normally I would ask a lumberjack to cut down the trees for me but I don’t have enough money for the job. So I had decided to cut it down myself! After all, I need to pay my bills somehow.
Of course, I’m not dumb enough to disturb the woods without proper permission. But man was this kami a weird one. Normally, if one wanted to use the trees of a kami’s domain (the forest in this case), they would be fine with just worship and prayers whenever you took down a tree.
But this kami was…perverted? He demanded that whenever I wished to cut down a tree that I must leave behind…well this part is quite embarrassing. The kami wished for pictures of the more erotic flavor.” – An excerpt of Modern Human relationship with Kami
Kami is an interesting topic with many different ideas on what exactly makes a kami..a kami. There is a common misunderstanding that Kami means God. This stems from when translators when translated the bible and used Kami as a substitute for God. It is not even accurate to say that Kami are spirits with Gods being a higher type of them.
The most accurate one can get is Kami being an all-embracing term that signifies gods, spirits, deified mortals, ancestors, and natural phenomena. Due to Kami being such a term one can find almost three million kami in Japan. No one can see why I said they are nothing like Gods in the West. Though the Bureau of Onmyodo has managed to shorten them down to categories.
Human Kami: This may seem like an oxymoron of sorts but humans have their own kami. A good way to understand it is like how humans leave behind a ghost when they die in western folktale. These kami are considered the least powerful compared to the higher levels due to their ability to not interact with anything. One can consider them the audience who spectates watching the actors in the play do their work. It should be noted that supernatural beings such as Oni or Yokai are capable of physically interacting and devouring these kami.
A variant of the Human Kami is Ancestor Kami which have more power than the average Human Kami but only over their descendants. As long as they are prayed to and worshiped by their children, Ancestor Kami’s can send “boons” of sorts such as a child being born without sickness. Though in modern times, these kami are rare to find and are only worshiped by magical clans.
Worldly Kami: These are kami whose domains are less abstract in nature such as forest kami, woodland kami, river kami, lightning kami, etc. These are the ones that interact with humans the most due to their even being kami for houses and apartments. These kami are like props that the actors interact with. These kami are under the control of High Kami who is like their bosses. It is rare for a High Kami to personally come and answer wishes so they send down these kami.
High Kami: These are the closest to Western Depictions of Gods. These kami govern over abstract concepts or things that are absolutely essential such as Amaterasu and the Sun. These are essentially the producers of the show but multiple producers that govern over different things. High Kami are quite powerful due to the fact that as they’ve existed their power has grown.
Each of these kami has its own personalities, strengths, and stories associated with them, but many are actually relatives of one another. In mythology, the gods often interact, befriending and fighting one another as the forces of nature mix and match.
Amaterasu is considered the “primary” kami amongst all the other kami. She is the ruler of the sun, and by extension, the heavens and the universe. Her name means (directly translated) “the great god who shines from heaven,” placing her at the center of everything. The imperial line in Japan, starting with the legendary Emperor Jimmu, descends from Amaterasu.
Before Kami was quality but to keep things simple, the Bureau replaced the word Kami with mystery. Everyone ranging from a newborn baby to a High Kami had mystery. Mystery is the sacred or mystical element in almost anything and is what makes an object itself rather than something else. The word means that which is hidden. The mystery increases the longer that one lives which is why High Kami are so powerful. Mystery is also enhanced the farther one is away from humans which is why mages often take pilgrimages away from society.Add to favorites