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Amaterasu Tale

I am the author of order, the sun in her clockwork path. To this beloved world I have given many gifts—the plow-furrowed fields, the strands of the seasons, the celebrations joining families and neighbors—these I carefully weave, weft across warp, binding communities and ordering Time. So it goes, as I knot together the substance of civilization. However—

Every older sister knows a younger sibling, troublesome and maddening; my brother, I utterly can not tolerate. Where I am quiet, he is loud; where I am calm, he is violent; where I am steady, his tempers wax and wane. My planted fields he floods, my handmaidens he frightens; my weaving he cuts in pieces. But he passed all endurance one morning when he burst through the roof of my hall like a thunderclap out of the blue sky, and into the tumult he then cast, of all things, the flayed and bloodied hide of a horse—I'm sure he found it quite witty—and bright Wakahirume, most dear to me, was killed. A little of his chaos must then have entered even into my own heart, for I put down my shuttle and turned from my loom, took myself to a quiet cave, and shut the entrance after me with a great stone.

In that cool place of silence and still water, I finally had peace. I lay down in the quietude, and soon wandered into deep dreamings.

But it was not to last. In time I was awakened by a din and disturbance outside the rock-cave entrance. It was quite an uproar: I made out rowdy shouts and screams, and for a moment I thought my brother had come to disturb me even here. But, no, it was not his usual crashing jumble of noise—it was, no—was it? How could it be? By the door-stone the sound was much clearer—unmistakable now, the sounds of joyous celebration: music, cheers, and merry laughter. How can this be? Without my workings, the dark chaos of winter must descend. Are all my gifts given so cheaply held? The lore and learning, the wisdom of seed and soil, are these so swiftly forgotten?

I am so angry that at last I shift the stone slightly, to peer out at this madness. And within the dark winter, there is a small shining. I catch a gleam of the golden light of heaven, brilliant and beautiful. Its radiance and glory thrill me; such loveliness I have never seen. Forgetting my anger, I roll the stone aside and step towards the light.

Tied to a tree is a small mirror, and the splendor shining back at me is mine. I have never truly seen my own beauty, caught as I was in my weaving; with my relentless work and busy mind I have somehow left out my own self.

All around me are the welcoming smiles of my friends and neighbors, my own woven community come together to coax me from my darkness. I must never forget that I too am one of the strands.


Ch'ang O