THE ANIMA OF STONES

May the reign of the Emperor continue for a thousand, nay 8,000 generations
And for the eternity that it takes for small pebbles
To grow into a great rock and be covered with moss.

Japanese national anthem taken from 10th c anthology of poems

Anima 1

Stones are objects of worship in Japan.
Stones and water, trees and mountains are all thought to posses the same spirit of ANIMA as people. They share a divine force that gives them vitality and humanity according to Shinto beliefs.
Stones in nature are sometimes marked, sometimes stacked, and sometimes quietly honored for the spirit they possess.

Anima2

Anima3

Stones are sometimes incised like this tribute to the great 17th century haiku poet Matsuo Basho, (named after our black dog?!) who walked through the deep north and wrote the poems included in his classic The Narrow Road to Oku.

This handsome rock sits above the old village of Karuizawa incised with his beautiful calligraphy.

In the morning
The snow lies thick on the ground
Not only people
But horses seem to be elegant

Anima4

 

 

 

Not far away, these classic sages stand guard by a graceful river and invite meditation, contemplation and the peaceful thought that rivers inspire.

 

 

Anima5

 

 

 

 

Stones inspire deep thought. This Jizo san in the garden welcomes people to the house and invites them to share his gentle calm.

 

 

 

 

 

Anima6

 

 

 

 

 

Another saintly stone kneels in prayer in his bamboo nest and wears the changes of seasons in silent acceptance.

 

 

 

 

Anima7

A new green cape of moss has grown around this saint in prayer.
I hope it will keep him warm in the cold snowy winter.

Anima8

 

 

 

 

Receiving thought filled inspiration from above.

 

 

 

Anima9

 

 

 

 

 

 

If stones could talk
What would they teach us?

 

 

 

 

Anima10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anima11


Silent meditation

Contemplation
Ecstasy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anima12

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are they thinking?

 

 

 

 

 

Anima13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stone mystery deep in thought.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anima14

Nature has its way with lava stone walls giving them rich
green coats of moss in the rainy days of summer.

Anima15

Beautiful moss! Nature’s own design.

Anima16

Stones can be playful.
Children try their hand at rock painting – an old tradition in Japan. In Kyoto the stone gods in roadside shrines are repainted every year and given bright new faces and make-up.

This bug seems to enjoy the brilliant fresh colors.

Anima17

 

 

 

 

Stones point the way to our house in the woods.

 

 

Anima18

Anima19+

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anima20

 

 

 

 

 

Stones provide a shapely canvas for young people with rich imagination and the free thinking lively colors can encourage.

 

 

 

 

Anima21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anima22

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anima23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anima24

The clever artists finished the day off with some wonderful body painting.
I was not spared!

Anima25

Anima26

 

 

 

 

Small stones seem to have a character within that can be drawn out with paint.

 

 

 

Anima27

 

 

 

Sometimes small stones serve as chopstick rests, sometimes they are simply for smiling.

 

 

 

 

Anima28

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stone statues dot the land and provide places for farmers and townspeople, mountain men and seamen to press their hands together to pray.

Yesterday as we were driving to Saku in Nagano Prefecture for supper, we passed by a stately triad of tall stone Shinto saints. They gave out an aura of godliness that I couldn’t miss in passing. After centuries of standing there, they still have power and protection to give to passersby.

Ta No Kamisama, are Gods of the Field who overlook the wellbeing of the crops and those who grow them. They used to be seen everywhere, but have steadily disappeared into the trucks of antique dealers, no doubt, as the fields are no longer farmed as religiously as they were.

In Kyushu, Ta No Kamisama, above, often hold rice paddles invoking a fertile harvest. Other stones are not so easily identifiable. I simply treasure them for their warmth, their compassion, their humanity. Although in the Shinto religion, human images are not frequently represented, when they are they have a vitality and compassion to them that I for one can easily relate to. Their presence gives reassurance of eternity and peace in a world of endless change turmoil.

 

 

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2 Responses to THE ANIMA OF STONES

  1. Barbara Gattermeir says:

    The peace is even conveyed by e-mail…Thank you for a beautiful, thoughtful start to my day!
    Barbara in Kansas City, USA

  2. Barbara says:

    Beautiful, all of them. The moss is luminous, even in photographs you can see the glow it gives off. The Jizo statues are my favorite.

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