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As most people who know me know, my main pagan background is in Buddhism. Buddism is one of two main religions in Japan. The other is Shinto.

I have not filled out my pantheon yet, as I'm still researching what fits me. But something recently popped into my mind. Why are there no major oriental tradition wiccans?

It does make little sense for a few very good reasons, the greatest of which is compatibility.

Shinto has "kami", which are godesses, gods, elements, spirits, and ancestors. It is, in other words, animistic and polytheistic, which is most paganism and Wicca especially.

In fact, the main kami is the Sun Goddess, Amaterasu. Compare this to other traditions where you'll mainly see male leadership (Ra, Zeus, etc.), which makes Shinto stand out in the crowd as a tradition with it's female supreme kami.

In fact, it stands far above any other tradition, because its still actively practiced in its home country, and was even the state religion up until the end of WWII.

But more than that, most traditions are historical based because they have no modern counterparts to say "you're doing it wrong!". Shinto, on the other hand, is a modern religion that stand back from its practitioners. You can worship any kami you want, people often build their own worship altars at home, honor dead ancestor spirits with their own version of "cake and ale" (usually by placing fresh fruit on a shelf inside and above their front door), hold festivals, use talismans for success and safety, have both male and female priests and priestesses, etc.

The worship is very individualistic, and of all traditions, this one you can actually go and visit fully functioning shrines and has a fully documented history and mythos.

According to the Wiccan creation story, the Goddess and God put witches into every culture. Japan is one of the few countries that have fully embraced a Wicca compartible religion. If a Wiccan priest/ess were to explain what they do in Japan, that person would be seen as holy, not ridiculed as some kind of satan worshipper.

Christians have thrown countless missionaries at Japan, and have made little to no progress in a country that mostly speaks english, is a major ally, and is viewed by themselves and outsiders as not being a very "religious" country. One would think Japan would be low hanging fruit for conversion. But Shinto and Buddhism have proved pretty immune to the hellfire-brimstone message because they cannot believe that their dead ancestors that they honor are actually in some kind of hell.

This christo-resistance is a major advantage as well, I believe, because every other historical tradition was swallowed by either Christianity or Islam. It shows a resiliency to adapt with time as well as few "overlap" points that invading religions take advantage of to say, "see, we're not that much different."

I will be researching more, and blogging my findings.

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Comment by Desert Rain on November 29, 2009 at 10:15pm
Thank you. I can see how solitaries would use parts of many other pagan religions. But I'm kinda curious why there are no larger tradition-line covens based on these other religions. Most have been slowly moving outwards from Britain to Celtic, Norse, Roman, Greek, and Egyptian. Certainly Hindu and Buddhism have had contributions, mostly philosophically.

Folk Shinto is this rich shamanistic equivalent to the Cunning Folk, and I'm going to be focusing on this group a lot as they still practice centuries old witchcraft.

Many of the historical religions spend a lot of time on scholarly work, and trying to sort out the Christian influences that came into the area and altered practices, art, and literature. I think it's just brilliant that Japan has sat back for the past 4000 years, developing their religious practices, compiling them 1400 years ago into a solidified mythology, and only being influenced by other oriental sources, almost "pure" from Christian and Islamic influences that swept the west during the proceeding periods.

By comparing them to say, Celtic or Norse, one can find similarities to what is "witchy" and filter out what is "christy". It makes a great standard of comparison to use a culture that was sheltered from the "Messiah meme". The lack of crusades, holy wars, or invaders of foreign religion mean that the literature, art, culture, and architecture has remained largely untouched and unblemished; a true living history, protected by empirical order.

It's similar to finding an Egyptian "island" that is still building pyramids and mummifying the dead. The Hindus and Buddhists were influenced not just by Christians, but by such empires as Kahn and Alexander. Not that I'm invalidating any of the other traditions, but finding something of a purer strain makes it so much easier to see what changes came by influence and what came from pressure, persecution, and cultural mixture from the "big 3". I'm especially interested in the Minjoku-Shinto (folk). To think that there are clans practising unbroken witchcraft for hundreds of years under no persecution, but rather official endorsement! I just read that one shrine is run by a priesthood passed down through over 100 generations from a single family line. Absolutely incredible!

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