Isaac Meyer

Historian, teacher, podcaster

Episode 27 – The Way of Yin and Yang

This week, we’re discussing Onmyodo, the mystical study of divination based off of the theories of yin and yang (in-yo or on-myo in Japanese). We’ll be covering the entire history of the practice, including its most famous practitioner: Abe no Seimei. We’ll also be discussing the modern fate of Onmyodo and its practitioners the onmyoji.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Hayashi, Makoto. “The Development of Early Modern Onmyodo.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 40, no. 1 (2013).

Hayashi, Makoto. “Editor’s Introduction: Onmyodo in Japanese History.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 40, No 1 (2013).

The Kokugakuin Encyclopedia of Shinto: Shinto and Onmyodo

Miller, Laura. “Extreme Makeover for a Heian-Era Wizard.” Mechademia

Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)

The Five Elements. This diagram also shows the interactions between each element.

The Five Elements. This diagram also shows the interactions between each element.

 

The front gate of the Seimei Shrine, built to commemorate Abe no Seimei.

The front gate of the Seimei Shrine, built to commemorate Abe no Seimei.

A fountain inside the Seimei Shrine. Note the five-pointed star, representing the Five Elements of Chinese traditional thought. This symbol was also the mon (heraldic emblem) used by Abe no Seimei.

A fountain inside the Seimei Shrine. Note the five-pointed star, representing the Five Elements of Chinese traditional thought. This symbol was also the mon (heraldic emblem) used by Abe no Seimei.

An Edo-era print by the artist Yoshitoshi depicting one of the legends of Seimei's life. In this image, Seimei's mother is leaving him, and is revealed to be the fox spirit Kuzunoha. Kuzunoha would, according to legend, later impart Seimei with some of her power.

An Edo-era print by the artist Yoshitoshi depicting one of the legends of Seimei’s life. In this image, Seimei’s mother is leaving him, and is revealed to be the fox spirit Kuzunoha. Kuzunoha would, according to legend, later impart Seimei with some of her power.

A traditional depiction of Abe no Seimei.

A traditional depiction of Abe no Seimei.

A cover of the modern Onmyoji novel series, featuring the modern reinterpretation of Abe no Seimei.

A cover of the modern Onmyoji novel series, featuring the modern reinterpretation of Abe no Seimei.

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1 Comment

  1. Matt

    Thanks for your great work on this series! A minor correction for this episode is that the roles of yin and yang are reversed: yin is the female/dark principle and yang the male/light.

    Hope you can do more episodes on the different streams of thought and practice that flowed into Shinto. Were there any other connections to Taoism or regional folk religions of the mainland?

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