!! As you know the Kingdom (and demon) at the core of ‘Ninth Planet’ in The Pearl Territory is called Mara. I have no idea why I’ve chosen that name, but then I googled… and found out:
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Japanese folklore humors us with stories and tales about scary, powerful demons and monsters that represent EVIL and are set out to terrorize humans that do wrong in their lives. Fictional or not, Japanese Buddhists firmly believe in these spirits who attack humans with impure thoughts, negative behaviour traits and unruly desires.
“Be careful when you cast out your demons
that you don’t throw away the best of yourself.”
Folklore also tells us that these spirits are human beings that have suffered a terrible life or death – from unfaithful husbands, dead babies to family betrayal. These demons are out for vengeance and to make others suffer for their misfortunes. Whether you believe in these legends or not, their stories will leave you diving under the duvet in fright…
The wolves wait for you, little lamb…
One of the most infamous Buddhist demons and the only non human being to appear in Buddhist scriptures is MARA. Also known as ‘Lord of Death’, Mara’s gender remains debatable in Buddhist writing. Mara represents the temptations that distract and delude us and is well known amongst Buddhists for his wicked ways during the Buddha’s enlightenment. Mara believed that the seat of enlightenment belonged to him so Mara set out to tempt and attack Siddhartha Gautama – the soon to be Buddha, as he meditated.
Mara brought his three beautiful daughters to strip naked and seduce the Buddha, but they failed!
Next, Mara sent armies to attack the Buddha but Siddhartha remained still and untouched. The next morning, Mara was gone and Siddhartha achieved enlightenment and became the Buddha.
Another famous demon in Japanese folklore is Yamauba, which translates to “mountain hag”. They live deep in the Japanese mountains and forests and pray on travellers passing by. They disguise themselves as ordinary kind, old women offering food and shelter for the night but once their prey is fast sleep, they turn back into their wicked selves and feast on their guests. The story behind these ugly demons starts with tales of young women fleeing from accusations of crimes into the wilderness to live out their days in exile. Over time, they transform into Yamauba.
“Darkness will always be its own master.”
There are also alternative stories involving families leading their elderly mothers or grandmothers deep into the words to starve due to extreme poverty and famine and not being able to feed them. These abandoned old women get angry and revengeful as they transform ready to feed on humans.
Fast-forward to modern day society and many people believe these stories to be just that – stories. Tales you tell your disobedient children if they misbehave or wander off unsupervised, “Yamauba will get you if you run off!”
Many believers apply these tales to their daily lives and attitudes. For these people, these demons are frightful reminders to do only good things if you want to keep these demons and spirits away.
“There’s no use wasting energy being afraid of the devils, demons and things that go bump in the night… Because ultimately we’ll never encounter anything more terrifying than the monster among us. Hell is where we make it.”
As one reads more and more into the ancient demons and spirits of Japanese folklore, a pattern starts to emerge. They’re mostly women! It might be mythology’s way of saying how ‘demonic’ women are even as humans and a warning to men. Treat us badly and we will make sure we get our revenge.
Why do you think most demons are portrayed as women? 😬😬
Next post – “The Pearl Territory”, chapter 7 – Goe #journal