Asian Goddesses

Amaterasu, Mistress Sun Benten, Lady Fortune Bixia Yuanjin, Princess of Clouds
Fuji, Mother Mountain Inari, Lady Vixen Jiutinan Xuannu, Dark Maiden
Kamui-fuchi, Lady Hearth Kuan-Yin, Merciful One Mo Ye, Sword Smith
Mulhalmoni, Healing Waters Nugua, Lady Dragon Onne-chip-kamui, Grandmother Tree
Tatsu-ta-hime, Lady Wind Xi Hou, Lady of Ten Suns Zhinu, Mistress Weaver

Asia, the largest of the world's continents, stretches from the Ural Mountains of Russia to the islands of the Pacific, from the North Pole to the islands of the Indian Ocean. Here, out of simple expediency, Asia includes only China, Japan and Korea. Nations and regions which should be more correctly included here, are instead given their own sections: India, Tibet, the Near East and South-East Asia. Siberia and Mongolia are included in the separate Eastern Europe section.

As the largest of the world's continents, Asia is home to an immense diversity of geographic regions, linguistic and ethnic groups, and cultures. From the Takla Makan Desert of China to lofty Mount Fujiyama, from the oppressed Ainu of Japan to the one billion-plus who are called Chinese, from the near-extinct Ainu dialect to the eight official languages in China, from the hand-planted rice paddies of rural Jianxi province to metropolitan Seoul, from fishing villages on the coast of Hokkaido to automotive shipyards crowding the docks--all is Asia. Religions of the region are equally diverse: social contract-minded Confucianism and mystical Taoism, reverential ancestor worship and nature-honoring Shinto, enlightenment-seeking Buddhism and imported and adapted Christianity.

Only a miniscule sampling of that rich heritage is presented here. The Goddesses profiled are shamanic, Taoist, Buddhist, Shinto and Ainu. Their stories tell of creation, love, enlightenment, war, and nature. Some are purely mythical tales, some are of political origin, some phenomenological, while others appear to be based on historic persons and incidents; many are an ambiguous mixture of all of these.

In the tales of Europeans, Asia was always a land of the exotic: perfumes, silks, dragons, spices, fantastically wealthy empires, grand palaces, barbarians and scholars and sorcerers. It was a land unknown to Europeans and many Muslims, and so adventures great and fantastic were set there. Folktales and adventure tales are filled with accounts of heroes and heras traveling to "the East" in search of wealth, fame, land and love.

On many Medieval and Renaissance maps, Asia was synonymous with Cathay, the name for China. The Romans knew of China, and traded with that nation for centuries. Overland trade routes were lost after the collapse of Rome. Only as Europe began to claw its way out of the Dark Ages were the trade routes rediscovered, and the existence of China/Asia re-confirmed. Even then, Muslim traders acted as middlemen in dealings between China/Asia and the West, and in so doing reaped a huge profit. It was the frustration over these middlemen and their exorbitant fees, and greed for direct access to the wealth of the East, which drove the Europeans to seek their own routes to Asia.

China was long the dominant power of the region; at its height, the Sons of Heaven ruled much of present-day China, as well as South-East Asia. They called their land "The Middle Kingdom" and considered it the center of the universe; all else was peripheral. Traditional Chinese religion reflected the earthly bureaucracy of the Empire: Gods were variously referred to as "Ministers" of this or that heavenly ministry, and the heavens were divided into regions, much as the earth was divided. Early Japan borrowed much of its political structure and even written script from the Chinese; Buddhism was imported via China and melded with native Shinto. Korea, tiny island peninsula, was rarely an independent nation; it was variously the colony of China or Japan, or a puppet state of one or the other. Even today, some do not consider Korea entirely free; rather, a puppet of the United States. If the paranoid suspicions of North Korea for South and South Korea for North can be resolved, than reunification and true independence may one day be achieved. 

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Amaterasu, Mistress Sun

Her full name is Ama-terasu-o-mi-kami and She is the much-loved, benevolent Goddess of the Sun. She is the highest Deity of the ancient Shinto faith of Japan. Her worship flourished prior to 1945, at which time it was attacked by the occupying American force as too nativistic and nationalistic. Amaterasu, highest expression of the Spirit of Nature, would serve well as Matron of a Japanese environmental movement.

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Benten, Lady Fortune

Benten, also known as Benzaiten, is the beloved Goddess of Luck of the Shinto faith. Of the Seven Deities of Luck (or Happiness), She is the only female.

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Bixia Yuanjin, Princess of Clouds

This Chinese Taoist Goddess is Matron of dawn and childbirth, as well as destiny. Dawn and childbirth are two concepts often, and quite understandably, linked in world mythology: the rising of the sun, the bringing of light to the earth, is equated with the child emerging from the darkness of the womb to the light of the world.

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Fuji, Mother Mountain

Fuji the mountain is well-known in the West, often pictured in travel guides and on post cards. But Fuji (or Fujiyama) is also an ancient fire Goddess of the Ainu, the indigenous people of Japan. Following the arrival of modern Japanese people, the Ainu were decimated and driven north; they now reside on the northern island of Hokkaido.

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Inari, Lady Vixen

This Shinto Goddess is often personified as a vixen, or female fox. She is responsible for smithcraft and rice, as well as love and prosperity. Curiously, some myths present Inari as a God, rather than a Goddess.

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Jiutinan Xuannu, Dark Maiden

This charming love story comes from China. It is also revealing of the traditional role of Chinese women.

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Kamui-fuchi, Lady Hearth

This Hearth Goddess of the Ainu people of Japan is known as the Supreme Ancestress. She may be a deified tribal mother, or the spirit of female reproductivity and the home.

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Kuan-Yin, Merciful One

After Amaterasu, Kuan-Yin is the most well-known Asian Goddess in the West. She is worshipped primarily in China, but also in India, Japan (under the name Kwannon), Korea (as Kwanseieun) and South-East Asia. Kuan-Yin is more correctly a Buddhist boddhisattva, rather than a Goddess; however, in scholar analyses of Goddesses (such as David Kinsley's THE GODDESSES' MIRROR), Kuan-Yin is included alongside more recognizable Divine Women, and so She is included here.


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Mo Ye, Sword Smith

This heroic saga comes to us from China. Mo Ye may have been a real woman, since some elements of Her story are historical; others, though, are quite fantastical and transport the tale into the realm of fantasy and myth.

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Mulhalmoni, Healing Waters

This Korean Goddess is the special Matron of women shamans. She is called on especially to heal ailments of the eye

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Nugua, Lady Dragon

Ancient China was a Goddess-worshipping culture, perhaps even a matriarchal (mother-ruled) culture. This story of creation comes from that ancient age.

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Onne-chip-kamui, Grandmother Tree

Her name means "Old Boat Goddess" and Her tale comes from the native Ainu of Japan. This is a beautiful story of maturation and exploration.

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Tatsu-ta-hime, Lady Wind

This Shinto Goddess oversees the wind and the season of autumn. Along with the God Tatsua-hiko, faithful pray to Her for an abundant harvest.

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Xi Hou, Lady of Ten Suns

This Chinese Goddess is the Mother of Ten Suns. The idea of many suns, rather than one, each shining on a different day, is rare but not unheard of. The ancient Irish, for instance, conceived of two s

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