Inari faith has always been very diverse and comes in many forms. However, I had a dream which was very involving and I immediately consulted Inari-sama as soon as I woke.
In the dream I both was, and was observing a large fox youkai. It was a bright, fiery orange with yellow legs and a jinja-type kitsune mask on it’s face. It was able to change it’s size from a regular fox to absolutely huge just by thinking it. In the dream, this fox was referred to as Inari.
As the fox, I spent a while trying to get to a cluster of hokora and jinja up in some wooded mountains. On the way, I encountered two other youkai who tried to stop me before eventually following me. They were also red and orange in colour. One was in a human woman form, the other a large cat-like animal.
When I got to the shrines, I went around collecting and searching for offerings. These shrines were slightly different to traditional ones:
- Instead of sakaki, most of them had dried or green rice grass in large vases. Rice grass was also scattered around the floor, tied to the walls and such. People brought the grass as offerings, as a thank you for the harvest.
- The altars were much more colourful and decorated than in tradition. Offerings of the grass, drink and food were placed all over the place.
- There was a huge round mirror in the centre of each shrine. Similar to the traditional kagami, but about 3-4 feet in height.
- There was no order for prayer; everyone was busy trying to bring their offerings to the shrines, sometimes pushing past each other, dropping grass all over. There were people praying in the traditional quiet way but also whole groups of people loudly shouting at the altar in hopes to be heard by the kami.
The belief system as I understood it was:
- Inari was heavily associated with the element of fire, and therefore change.
- Inari was referred to as ‘the creator of all life’.
- Each shrine was thought to have it’s own individual Inari, but others believed that these individual Inari were messengers to the much bigger and more powerful Inari.
- It was very much a folk and agricultural faith – the people believed that bringing offerings, dancing, drinking and generally making a noise around the shrines would bring them good crops, fortune, marriages and such.
- Inari was primarily seen as a fox youkai, but people didn’t seem to be sure. They were afraid that if they did not honour Inari, it would cause disaster and drought.
As the large ‘Inari’, I went from shrine to shrine, knocking things about and generally showing my presence. I shook an entire bus of school children who were all dressed as miko, bringing offerings. They were frightened but felt honoured that they had experienced the power of the Inari. I threw grass around and knocked over vases. It was received with loud cheers from the worshippers, and an increase in noise and singing.
This dream, although odd, felt like a message of sorts.
I feel that Inari-sama wants me to somehow make Inari worship more accessible to those outside of Japan, perhaps by making a website of sorts. Inari has always appeared to me as a large fox, although I know she is not a fox – I feel this is because I am generally more interested in animals than humans, and she uses this fact to get closer to me.
I feel that she wants me to play on the fox association to help others find Inari, and thus gain more followers. I have made a special request that if she wants me to do this, to show me a sign in the next few days.
However, when asking for confirmation via tarot, I recieved five of swords. This indicates to me that perhaps it was not Inari, and that is was instead an actual youkai trying to lead me from my path. This could turn others against me and hurt my relationship with Inari.
Therefore, I am waiting for a sign from Inari themselves before proceeding any further.