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Checking in on the gods

I went for a stroll today to get some fresh air and feel the blood circulating through my body again. I had been couped up in the house for many days. I needed to get out. In Japan there is the tradition of visiting a shrine during the new year called Hatsu Mode. At the shrine, people pray to the gods for many things. They also buy various trinkets and talisman to ward off evil. The trinkets only work for a year, so many people bring them back to the shrine to be burned. I think it is a way of getting rid of whatever misfortune is trapped inside. I don’t believe in mysticism and religion. I didn’t go to the shrine to pray or to buy magical items. I love the art of mysticism. The shrines and temples of this country are beautifully made—even the most modest ones. I also love the stories of mythology.

There is a whole world sitting just beyond our own. It’s the place where gods and goddesses live. I am not sure what makes them deities. Perhaps it’s their immortality or the power they gained from being worshipped, which is another way of saying begged for favors. Humans mostly worship gods because they want something like a ticket into heaven, a winning lottery ticket, a promotion at work, love, or to vanquish their enemies. No one worships a god out of pure love and selflessness. No one ever calls to see how they are doing. “Hi gods. I don’t want anything. I was just calling to see how you were doing.” It makes me feel bad for the gods. They are like celebrities throwing a party where all the guests are fair-weather friends hoping to cash in on the relationship. I understand why they might want to smite a few folks from time to time.

In these uncertain times, the hotlines to the gods must be especially busy. That why the fox statues all have masks. As messengers to the gods, they can’t risk taking covid-19 back to the spirit realm. Even if the gods are immortal, maybe they can still suffer the same pain of sickness we mortals get from time to time.

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