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The Onmyo-Do, Japanese spiritual system

Recently I read a book on Onmyo-Do(the way of Yin-Yang) and I would like to quote and share the parts I think are important.

I hope it will help you to understand how it differs from Western Spiritualism.

What is Onmyo-Do(the Way of Yin and Yang)?

The Onmyo-Do is a system of thought that attempts to decipher all things in the world through the theory of Yin-Yang and the Five Elements. It is also a science built to understand astronomy, the changes of the seasons, and all the events of the natural world. At the same time, it also has a magical aspect in which spirits and monsters are subdued, shikigami(thing like a Tulpa) are used, and secret rituals are performed.

An onmyoji(Yin-Yang master) is an entity that understands the contradictory worlds of non-science and science, potential and manifest, yin and yang, and can move between them at will.

Since the establishment of the Yin-Yang dormitory in the late 7th century during the reign of Emperor Tenmu, the duties of Yin-Yang practitioners have been managed by the state. In the Nara and Heian periods※, the Yin-Yang dormitories were in charge of astronomy, calendars and divination, as well as time management, prayer and rituals. At that time, they were both cutting-edge scientists and civil servants.

※Nara period 710-794 A.D, Heian period 794-1135 A.D

Their mission is to serve as "spiritual SPs" to protect the Emperor and the important people surrounding him.

In addition to the head family, there are five other families of Onmyojies who have legitimately inherited Abe no Seimei from one generation to the next. They are the Wood family, the Fire family, the Earth family, the Gold family, and the Water family.

Onmyo-Do is a system of thought that runs deep into the roots of Japanese culture, and has had no small influence on the formation of Japanese people's lives and thoughts. Many Japanese pay attention to the calendar when they hold weddings, funerals, and ceremonies, and this is based on the five elements of Yin-Yang. The twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac, the Kadomatsu pine tree decorated at New Year's, the bean-throwing ceremony at Setsubun, the Ehomaki rolls, the peach blossoms displayed at the Doll's Festival, and the Children's day are all events related to the Yin-Yang and Five Elements.

There are cities and towns based on the Yin-Yang and the Five Elements philosophy in the daily lives of Japanese people, and there are dwellings where the good and bad aspects of the house are considered based on the theory of Onmyo-Do. Although modern Japanese people have forgotten it, they still live in deep relationship with the Onmyo-Do.

The reason why Onmyo-Do has penetrated into the lives of Japanese people is because it is a "theoretical system that is close to nature". This is because we have been living in awe of nature, appreciating it with reverence, and living in harmony with it according to its laws.

All the anecdotes about the great Onmyoji, Abe no Seimei, who was able to see past lives and the future, advise court nobles and warriors, use "invisible beings" as he wished, exorcise spirits that possessed people, and seal up spiritual monsters, are true.

The theoretical system of Yin-Yang and the Five Elements, which forms the basis of Onmyo-Do, originated in China. Eventually, it entered Japan, and evolved independently over the years. As new theories and techniques were added by the Onmyojies of each era, it underwent a unique development, especially in its magical aspects.

Abe no Seimei was the one who brought it to great success. He had great ability, and the theories and techniques of the Onmyo-Do were refined and perfected to such an extent that they did not need to be modified at all by the Onmyojies of later times.

Six Families Inheriting Seimei's Technology

Seimei's child was the first generation, and counting from there, the 27th generation Onmyoji is Abe no Narimichi. Seimei had two sons with his regular wife. This is a known historical fact, but he also had five side wives and had children with them.

Seimei passed on the theory and techniques of Onmyo-Do to the sons he had with his regular wife and the children born in the five families of his side wives. His regular wife's son succeeded to the Abe family as the head of the family, while the other five families took on the roles of wood, fire, earth, gold, and water in Onmyo-Do, and each of them inherited Onmyo-Do.

These six families have set up their houses in a pentagram around the head family as the center.

In addition to these six families, there are many people throughout the country who are active as Onmyoji. During the Heian period (794-1185) when Seimei was active, the theory of Onmyo-Do was strictly controlled by the government, but after the Warring States period (1467-1568), the theory and techniques began to leak out to various parts of the country. As the theories and techniques were passed down to the people of each region, the methods of the techniques and rituals changed, and the unique Onmyo-Do was established in connection with local folk beliefs.

However, He is aware that there are only six families that have legitimately inherited Seimei's Onmyo-Do and are carrying on his lineage.

The reason why Onmyoji has not appeared on the front stage of history is because they used to be conspicuously active or the six families got into conflict with each other, which caused a big uproar all over the country and the "Onin War" occurred.

There are many documents and tools owned by the Onmyojies of the six families that should not be known to others. For this reason, the Onmyojies of each house are extremely reluctant to have their inside information leaked.

Although Narimichi's activities in the past few years had not completely ignored the promises of the Onmyoji, many of them were in the category of a rather gray area, and it was difficult for some top of each house to accept.※

※He quit his public career in 2019. This is speculation, but perhaps he inherited the head of the water family.

The successor of an Onmyoji is determined by the "Rite of Discernment" when the candidate turns three years old. In this ritual, the parents use an art to see the guardian spirit of the candidate, and only if the candidate is possessed by a past Onmyoji is he chosen as the successor. The child chosen as the successor will undergo a grueling training until they reach the age of 15 years old. As long as they do not die, their training will never be interrupted. The reason for the harsh training is to train the body and mind to withstand the arts. Many of the techniques they perform are so physically and mentally draining that they cannot be endured if they are not practicing.

Their ascetic practices include, for example, fasting for several days, walking alone in the mountains and forests, and being tied with rough rope and hung from a cliff for a whole day.※

※The practices are different for each family. These are only the experiences of Narimichi from the water family.

Each family has its own specialties.

■the Wood family

They have an expert knowledge of the laws of building dwellings. Houses that enclose their living space with wood are considered a type of "spiritual barriers," and they are also skilled at applying spiritual barriers.

The lineage has been inherited by women for generations.

■the Fire family

They specializes in magicalcraft. Their role is to "execute punishment" by means of magicalcraft, but they are not used in their "original meaning" in modern times.

The heir to this family is also a woman.

■the Earth family

They are responsible for judging whether the land is good or bad, and for performing rituals to appease the spirits of the land. They take the lead in putting up barriers over a wider area or spellbinding devices in cities.

■the Gold family

They have a wealth of knowledge in the fields of pharmacy and chemistry. Because of their mastery of academic knowledge, they also knows a great deal about astronomy and calendars. The knowledge of this family has been passed on to the Ninja. Weapons using gunpowder, spiritual barriers with traps, and other weapons and techniques used by ninja are based on the knowledge of Onmyo-Do.

■the Water family

In this family, where the author Narimichi was born and raised, the original role of the family was to protect important people. They are good at prediction, spirit removal, spiritual barriers, and other arts to protect people. their mission is to protect important people who are needed in Japan by averting disasters through precognition, sealing off spiritual beings that bring misfortune to people and land, and preventing the intrusion of negative forces through the application of spiritual barriers.

■the head family

Although they do not have specialized expertise, they have an overall high level of skill in the knowledge and art of Onmyo-Do. The relationship between the six families is equal, but when they hold joint rituals and ceremonies, the head family often takes on the representative role. Currently, the 26th generation, Abe no Seimei, is active in Kyoto.

The heirs of this family are possessed as guardian spirits by the Onmyojies of the successive head families, but the great Onmyoji, Abe no Seimei, has never been possessed before.

The structure of the spiritual world as captured by Onmyoji.

When a person dies, the spirit leaves the body. Then, after remaining in this world for 49 days, it travels along the spiritual path to where it is supposed to go and enter into nirvana . Buddhism teaches that the dead remain in this world for 49 days and then go to the after life. After that, the spirit will go to a place be thought the "waiting place". The period of time spent there varies from spirit to spirit. It reflects how they lived and what they did before their death, and the more pure they are and the more they have done good deeds for people and society, the shorter their stay in the waiting place will be. After spending the required period of time there, they take on the role of becoming the guardian spirits of the next living person.

Every person has guardian spirits from the time they are born. It is common for a person to be possessed by one main guardian spirit and an average of three to four sub-guardian spirits. Some people have more, some less.

The main guardian spirit remains the same for life, but the sub-guardian spirits changes every few years. During the time when the sub-guardian spirits is being replaced, the main guardian spirit protects the person alone, which inevitably lowers its protective power and makes the person more prone to injuries and accidents. In Onmyo-Do, this period is called a "Yakudoshi(bad or unlucky year)". Nowadays, a certain age is generally set for each male and female in the year of bad luck, but it originally varies from person to person.

As a sub-guardian spirit, it encourages a person's human growth while guarding various people every few years. On the other hand, the spirit is also working towards spiritual growth. We are destined to climb the stairs of growth one step at a time, both while we are alive and after we die.

When we have completed our role as a sub guardian spirit, we go to the next waiting place and become the next main guardian spirit to protect people for the rest of their lives. When we have finished watching over them, the next step is for you to be born anew as a human.

We who are alive now must have grown a little more human than in our previous lives. By repeating such a cycle, we increase our spiritual growth little by little.

The Onmyoji family lineage belongs to a different cycle from this reincarnation cycle, where generations of Onmyojies continue to protect their descendants, the potential Onmyojies. They will continue to be Onmyojies for as long as they live and after they die.

When a person commits suicide, the main guardian spirit of the person is erased from existence and removed from reincarnation as a punishment for not being able to protect the person. The person who commits suicide will not be able to go to the waiting place where he or she should go after death, and will have to spend about five times as long in this world as he or she should have spent in this world, with suffering.

For example, if your life span is 70 years and you commit suicide at the age of 30 years old, you will spend five times your remaining life span, or 200 years, immersed in the painful memories of your death.

If this situation continues for a long time, the person will lose the sense of who he is and where he is. Even if he is able to get where he needs to go, he often forgets who he is and becomes a mass of negative emotions. They may even become one with other spirits and become a strong evil spirit. Suicide is an act of killing one's own Gods-given life, and also an act of erasing the existence of the next spirit that was to be born as a human.

What does Onmyoji think of spiritual barriers?

A spiritual barrier is a boundary line that separates the other world from this world. By enclosing that boundary in a polygonal shape, it is a spiritual wall to confine gods and evil spirits, or to keep away bad beings.

In Japan, God is not necessarily seen as a good being. God is thought to have both good and bad energy. The judgment of good or bad is based on human standards, and from God's point of view, everything is right. For example, let's say a human being wishes for rain to grow crops. God might grant the wish and make it rain, but he might also bring typhoons and floods. Rain is a blessing for humans, but floods are a disaster. That is why Japanese shrines enshrine both gods that work for good and gods that harm humans.

To worship a god, we have to confine them to a shrine. Since gods are free, they move to any place depending on their mood. Humans didn't want the bad gods to go out, and they wanted the good ones to stay in place. Spiritual barrier was the beginning of what was used to keep the gods in one place.

There are countless spiritual barriers created by successive generations of Onmyojies all over Japan. Of course, not only Onmyojies, but also priests, monks, and other related people have left behind many barriers. There are also barriers made by Western magicians. If we notice, we live our lives moving back and forth within a myriad of spiritual protective walls.

The most obvious example is the sanctuary of a shrine or temple. Torii gates and gates of temple  play the role of a boundary, and many people may feel that the atmosphere changes completely as soon as they enter the premises.

In addition to the barriers that are intentionally placed by people with a certain purpose, there are also barriers that are created by accident. Glass and mirrors are effective in containing spirits. When glass buildings are accidentally built at certain intervals, there are cases where barriers are created and spirits are unintentionally trapped there.

How Onmyoji saw the world

Narimichi had toured the holy places of the world before he took over the job of Onmyoji. In conclusion, it was the same everywhere in the world regarding the spiritual path and the existence of spirits. The treatment of spirits in Japan is also applicable overseas. In holy places such as Sedona, Uluru, Machu Picchu, etc., there are no spirits or evil spirits, and the aura is tense and clear. There are an atmosphere where humans are not allowed to approach. However, the altar where the sacrifice of Machu Picchu is said to have been made is extremely high in energy. From there, a pillar of light ascends to the sky like a ladder. The energy of the Blue Mountains in Africa is also high. The energy of Mont Blanc and Mt Fuji also.

What is the spiritual path?

The word "spiritual path" may give a bad impression, but in reality, this is not the case at all. In old Japan, the existence of spiritual paths was confirmed, and stores and houses were built along them. This was because people were inspired by the spiritual path and would gather there. So offices and stores can easily attract people and prosper if they are located near a spiritual path. The length of the path is such that it can be walked in a day at most, since it is a route to the spot where one can ascend to the other world, not need a complete go around of this world.

However, in the case of ordinary dwellings that are meant to be inhabited by humans, there is a disadvantage in that they become noisy when the streets of spirits and people become too crowded.

If there is a house on the spiritual path, the most likely cause is a poltergeist. The cause of a poltergeist is the "mischief" of spirits passing through the spiritual path. The louder the reaction of the living person, the more amused the spirits will be. Think of the spirits as not so different from living people when they are moving along the spirit path. Some of them don't even know they are dead. And if there is something unusual in their path, they will want to touch it. Spiritual pathways do not avoid houses, so it does not matter if you are in a room or not. Basically, the spirits are just amused by our reactions. However, there are some "wild spirits," and while not all poltergeists are harmless, there is no need to fear them more than necessary.

A spirit path is like a tunnel surrounded by walls. The walls are about the height of the first or second floor of a building. So poltergeists on higher floors are not caused by spirit paths.

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