Signs of the kami can appear literally anywhere; in our dreams, in our homes, out and about, even in the London Underground. Yes, you read that right.
It seems unlikely that a kami would let their presence known in such a busy, urban (and occasionally smelly) place as the London underground. As a country boy, the thought of descending down into those cramped tunnels sends me into a sweat. In fact I was in London just a few days ago and of course had to use the underground.
I hate the place. It’s cramped, people are rude and there is a thick atmosphere of distrust among everyone. You may think I’m being rather rude about the place but it is simply not for me. Give me the countryside any time; I cannot imagine having to commute on the underground trains on a daily basis.
As I was staying over in London for two nights, I had taken my ‘travel shrine’ – a cardboard box that a tarot deck came in. Inside I keep an omamori for Inari Okami, two small fox figures, incense, a tea candle, a lighter, my Rider-Waite tarot deck and a photocopy of Inari Norito in both romaji and kana. On my bag I always keep another omamori from Fushimi Inari Taisha, around my neck a magatama jewel and around my left wrist some mala beads. As I suffer from social anxiety I always want to feel as protected as I possibly can.
I ended up on the underground at rush hour. The escalators and tunnels were crammed full of commuters trying to rush for their trains. The air was thick and humid despite it being February. I felt myself starting to panic – the familiar feeling of sickness, trembling and an overall electric feeling to my skin. I gripped my magatama necklace and prayed silently to Inari Okami for protection and calm.
As I got down into the winding tunnel for my platform, I turned a corner. Right in front of me was a large poster on the wall – a red fox looking at me with knowing eyes. It was a finalist photo of some kind of photography contest (later I found out it was the Wildlife Photographer of the Year). Instantly, I knew it was Inari showing me this in this place and time in order to calm me. And it worked. I felt a sense of relief as I got into the train, which was surprisingly quieter than I had expected.
In the same journey, about half an hour later, I began panicking again. I think it was a mix of the busyness of the crowd and the heavy air that made it hard to breathe. Travelling down yet another escalator, a poster for Fantastic Mr. Fox caught my eye. Once again I felt that Inari Okami had heard my plea for help.
Signs like this are commonplace in my life. You may think that I am looking too much into it or simply being silly. But to me, the fox has always been the biggest symbol of Inari Okami and it has often appeared in places I did not expect. When I see an image of a fox when I am upset or anxious, I feel it is a soft greeting from Inari Okami, a kind of ‘It’s okay, I’m here‘ from the kami. Of course everyone receives different signs from kami, it just so happens that the primary sign, and the one I always notice immediately, is the fox.
And if it’s a coincidence? If it’s not truly a sign from the kami? Then I don’t mind, because in that particular moment, that is all I needed to restore my faith in Divine protection, to feel that Inari Okami is continuously in my life and protecting me.
I’m interested to know about what particular signs my readers associate with their chosen deities – perhaps an animal, flower or smell? If you would like to share your experiences please comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for reading!