Faith and Prayer

Due to the traditional, inherited nature of Shinto, many practitioners do not have what would be described as ‘faith’. Instead, they follow the customs due to national identity rather than any personalized spiritual experience. Shinto is so deeply ingrained into the Japanese psyche that it can be hard to even know where to start from a Spiritual point of view.

My Personal Experiences in Faith

Since first becoming a devotee of the deity Inari, my faith has only grown. I think a big part of this is down to the type of relationship I have with her. Its mostly casual, though I do feel I know when its appropriate to be formal. Usually my daily prayers begin with changing offerings, a formal prayer (a norito) and then a casual ‘chat’.

I also meditate at the shrine and also before bed and enjoy the overwhelming friendliness of Inari-sama. At times, I felt it was rude to ask the kami for anything, especially Inari. It wasn’t long before Inari told me to stop being so silly and just ask! So I prayed for financial stability, for good health and for the kami to guide me on to the correct path.

Inari
Illustration of Inari by Ashley Stuart

2014 has already been a huge year for me. My faith in Inari has increased tenfold and I feel her everywhere in my life. If I am having any problems I know that Inari will be there – I am her child and she would never let me go without.

I also have a small ancestor shrine in my home to my late grandmother; a relative I was very close to and I really feel that she has been somehow absorbed into the force I call Inari/Kami. I am a believer in a great Universal energy and that all deities and spirits are part of this. In Konkokyo, we call this energy by the name Tenchi Kane no Kami, the god/spirit of the Universe. All energies come from and return to this great kami.

My Blessings from Inari

Some recent examples of where Inari has helped me include when I was really struggling for money; I needed £500 in order to pay off a hotel for a holiday and the date was looming. I was becoming increasingly stressed and work wasn’t flowing in (I am a self-employed artist). Inari told me to not worry about this, and ensured me that the money would be there when I needed it. So I just lived day to day, and towards the end of the month, close to the date, large orders just came from nowhere. In the end, I had the £500 plus more. And I cannot thank Inari enough.

Other events seem to happen when I carry my omamori from Fushimi Inari with me (a gift from my good friend Gary). Buses seem to always come on time, I find exactly what I am looking for on that day, and other good things happen. I always put them down to the kindness and generousity of Inari.

A particularly strange incident that happened involved a power-cut. After a really stormy night, our lights went out. We walked into the living room where my kamidana was, and there was light emitting from Inari’s candles. These candles had been blown out at least 30 minutes before, and yet here they were in full flame. Surely Inari!

This event also reminds me of a spiritual dream I had at the age of 14 in which I was controlling flames in a room, and one candle at the time was particularly bright. When I approached this candle, the others extinguished themselves and a kind and calm voice surrounded me. It was an energy that felt like a huge warm hug. This voice – I knew it was what others called God, and what I now call Inari, or Kami.

Image
My home kamidana to Inari, including kitsune statues.

 

The Kindness of Inari

Finally, the most recent event happened in the midst of preparing for a convention. I was very stressed and had not changed the offerings for several days. Finally, I cleaned the kamidana and changed the offerings and prayed for help with money. At that EXACT moment, and order came through for £175 – after days of nothing.

That event in itself was overwhelming and I felt like crying. I know that no matter what happens, Inari will be here to guide me and love me. I have to remember that Inari will not let me starve, or be on the streets, It goes hand in hand with positive thinking – by combining these together, I feel that this is the basis of my faith.

I hope to write more on this topic in the future as my life and faith unravels!

I also hope that you enjoyed reading this and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

Be well!

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