Goddess Gardens A to Z: Amaterasu – Sun Garden
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”
– John Muir
We begin our adventures in creating Goddess Gardens in Japan. Amaterasu comes to us from the Shinto Buddhist tradition. Her name means shining heaven. She rules all other gods and goddesses and protects and unifies the people of Japan. Not surprisingly, her emblem is a rising sun (as it appears on Japanese flags).
Magical Garden of the Sun for Honoring Amaterasu
At one point in her mythological cycle, Amaterasu hid in a cave (this may have been a symbol of Winter or perhaps an eclipse), feeling that the world had become too cruel and barbaric. All the gods and goddesses begged her to return with life-giving light, but Amaterasu was not about to be swayed. Then Uzume, the goddess of merriment arrived stressing how serious things had become across the Earth. She stood outside Amaterasu’s cave and began to dance humorously, shouting all manner of things to coax Amaterasu out. Uzume succeeded with the help of a mirror that showed Amaterasu the beautiful light she was keeping from the planet. Amaterasu emerged, Winter has vanished, and the light returned.
With this story in mind, we turn to Amaterasu to make a glorious garden of sunshine. In many traditions, the sun represents ongoing blessings, something we can all use more of! Amaterasu’s magickal attributes include love, fertility, kindness, blessings, education, family or tribal unity, wisdom, peace, and charity.
Magic Plants Sacred to Amaterasu
As a sun goddess, Amaterasu’s plants may be aligned with vibrant solar power. These include carnation, chamomile, chrysanthemum, juniper, marigold, rosemary, and sunflower. Bear in mind if you use sunflowers that they’re very tall. Put sunflowers toward the back of your garden where they won’t block your view or create too much shade for plants surrounding them.
If you wish, you can include a few lunar plants too (Amaterasu was the sister of a moon God). Another alternative for an Amaterasu garden dedicating the land to growing edible items, because she taught humans how to cultivate food.
Patterns for a Magic Garden Honoring Amaterasu
A simple circle has been used to symbolize the sun for ages. If you feel a little more creative, make the image of a sun in splendor (that is, with arms reaching outward clockwise, releasing positive energy). Create the border for this garden with fist-sized rocks gaily painted with orange, yellow and red hues.
Alternative patterns for your garden design include a kite or an arrow, both of which are Amaterasu’s emblems. The kite can be fashioned pretty simply by making a diamond-shaped border.
Magical Correspondences for Stones, Minerals, Crystals, and Shells
Amber, carnelian, plain quartz, sunstone, tiger eye.
A neat idea is piling some of these stones into a cairn-like structure as a tribute to Amaterasu’s story.
Color Magick in a Garden Sacred to Amaterasu
The sun’s colors are also those associated with the Fire Element, namely yellow, yellow gold, red, and orange. Any plants, stones, or borders with these colors work fine.
Decorative Magickal Elements
Consider a mirror ball or mirrored wind chimes (creating dancing music) or woven fabric items such as small flags (Amaterasu wove garments for the Gods) You can also use an iron garden spike topped with a glass sun or a votive-styled candle holder (an ignited flame honors the Goddess).
Magickal Cardinal Direction for Amaterasu’s Garden
In magick, the sun’s direction is that of the South, where her power is most noticeable. In Feng Shui much depends on what aspects of the Goddess you want to stress. Look to the East for family unity; the West for fertility; the South and Southwest for passion and to the Northeast to nurture learning.
Magic Garden Adaptations
Roundish planters set or hung in sunny windows welcome Amaterasu’s warm embrace. Add some sun catchers nearby to literally “capture” and distribute her positive energy. Marigold is an excellent choice in plants, as it’s very hearty and comes in both yellow and orange.
Making the Most of Magical Gardening: After the Harvest
Items from Amaterasu’s garden are best harvested in August, the month associated with her. Marigold is an edible flower. Toss it into salads, soup, and wine. It yields a tangy flavor and brings a smile to most faces. Blend Chrysanthemum and Carnation with Marigold into a beverage and use it on a Solstice observance.
One-third of a cup of each of these flowers dried and powdered, blended with a pinch of rosemary, makes a wonderful incense for honoring the Sun, the Fire Element, or for celebrating any solar festival. Similarly, you could steep a few of each flower’s petals in chamomile tea to be used for an energizing potion or a suitable libation to Amaterasu.