Amaterasu, whose name means “Shining Heaven,” rules the heavens and brings warmth and light to
the world. She is the Japanese Shinto goddess responsible for cultivating rice fields, creating irrigation
canals, and teaching mortals the arts of weaving, farming silk, and cultivating food. The great sun
goddess was so radiant at her birth that her parents placed her in the sky where she could shine in the
celestial realms. But, alas, her life­giving rays disappeared for a time after her jealous brother Susano­ o fell into a rampage and began to destroy Amaterasu’s creations. He trampled on her rice fields, left
excrement in her temples, and tossed a flayed piebald horse through a roof, killing several weaving
women. Amaterasu retreated from the violence by finding refuge in a cave. There she hid herself in
protest, causing the world to fall into a wintry plight. Plants began to wither and people began to
deteriorate as darkness gripped the land in cold talons. The gods became alarmed at the dire situation
and began to devise a scheme to lure the sun goddess from her cave. The 800 gods gathered around
the cave entrance, hung trees with jewels, and placed cocks near the threshold. The erotic goddess
Uzume adorned herself with bamboo leaves and began to dance in a manner that created uproarious
laughter and cheer. During Uzume’s performance, one of the gods placed a mirror in front of the cave
entrance. Amaterasu became curious at the growing ruckus outside her hiding place. She carefully
opened the cave door, and there she gazed upon the most beautiful reflection she had ever seen. Amaterasu had never seen herself before, so she was spellbound by her own shining countenance in
the mirror. She left the cavernous womb and allowed her brilliant rays to spill upon the landscape. She
rejoined the company of the gods and reclaimed her place in the sky. The gods banished Susano­o
from the heavens, and life and fertility were restored to the land. Amaterasu’s worship is still honored
today, and the Japanese imperial family traces their heritage to the sun goddess.
Imagine standing within a damp, chilly tunnel. Darkness feeds your fears as you try to discern a
means of escape. Focus hard on a crack in the rock ahead and see a flicker of light. A stream of light
expands and permeates the dark cavern. Feel the light beam warm your fingertips and travel up your
arms as you begin to move forward. As you lengthen your strides, feel the light continue to travel
through your body until it fills your being completely and dissolves the fortress of claustrophobic
darkness. You see an image in the light, and as you squint you can make out your own countenance.
It is a smiling reflection of yourself. You look confident, bold, empowered, and beautiful. Walk into your
reflection and feel yourself absorbed by the positive solar energy. You feel alive, energetic, brazen. With this new outlook, continue to walk forward into a beautiful, fertile landscape that unfolds before
your eyes. You have left the tunnel behind and are now breathing in the fresh, balmy air. Stretch out
your arms and breathe deeply; as you breathe out, lower your arms and feel yourself emerge, feeling
more confident and alive. Allow yourself to return to your conscious body. By recognizing the power of
your own inner beauty, you will exude an external beauty and energy that will enable you to live more
happily and confidently.