O-Inari-sama, provider for those who are starving,
Please lead all of their children out of their clutches.
Every. Single. One.
May they spend all their last days in loneliness,
May they be all alone on their deathbeds,
And may their Heaven be Hell to them,
With nothing but empty chairs.
Thank you for helping to save me from them.
Today I read a Q&A that went something like:
Q. Is it possible for one of my fantasy harpies to be transgender when they're an all-female species? Isn't that like a human who thinks he's an elf???
A. Of course it's possible, because gender isn't the same as physical sex. Write your own fluff to explain if it makes you feel better.
This is going to sound melodramatic, but the answer that my heart was aching to hear was "who are you to tell [PLAYER] what body their character would prefer?"
Reminder: The application period for the sci-fi Fate RPG is still going. Please check out the application thread to find out how to apply to be in it.
Now, then. Here's a question and answer from an AMA, or "Ask Me Anything," thread on an internet forum:
Q. Does [your girlfriend who used to be a miko, or Shinto shrine maiden] have any opinion on all of the cosplayers wearing her sacred vestments to look cute?
A. She doesn't care at all. Also they weren't really "sacred vestments" to her so much as a uniform...like a person at a fill-up station or a convenience store. She kinda likes Touhou, or at least she thinks the characters are cute. [...] She thinks Reimu's outfit is cute, and definitely better than what she had to wear.
-- [WARNING: NSFW / sexist / Reddit link] IAmA guy whose girlfriend was a miko (Shinto "shrine maiden") AMA
Sometimes, I get the feeling that it's the people who shame others for finding meaning in Japanese stories, symbols, and mythology, who are the ones that are actually racist. And possibly ageist, since a lot of the media that portrays these things came to North America in the form of "cartoons," "comic books," and video games, which aren't okay to like because they are "for kids."
Meanwhile, real-world Shinto shrines are actually using their connections to manga and anime to attract visitors. Via Green Shinto, an English-language article in a Japanese newspaper explains:
Some may see it as a trivialisation of sacred space, but priests and anthropologists counter this with such statements as, “Since ancient times, Shinto shrines have not been exclusive. It’s good if they are talked about and become attractive destinations.”
The ema with anime characters on them may strike some readers as weird and merchandise-y. But whatever your feelings about mass media and commercialism, I don't feel like it's a good thing to shame people for liking them. And I feel like when English-speaking people police each other for liking Japanese media, folklore, and/or religion, it doesn't come from a place of respect for those things. It comes from a desire to control, and to punish, and to keep racial boundary lines from being crossed.
Cosplay and other forms of self-expression can be used to give offense and to caricature. But I'm pretty sure that Square-Enix execs aren't offended when people in North America write Final Fantasy fanfic, and the priests at the Fushimi Inari shrine aren't upset about foreign tourists buying ofuda. If they are, they'll just have to console themselves with our money.
Today we went down to the games store to play BattleTech. There's a small but loyal group of fans who play the original skirmish minis game there, in its modern incarnation which doesn't look out of place on the shelf even if its rules are still 80's-tastic.
For the uninitiated, BattleTech is basically what happened when North American military history enthusiasts got ahold of the first Macross Saga anime VHS cassette tapes, and officially licensed its mecha designs for a tabletop "wargame" of the kind that was state-of-the-art back then. Most people aren't into that kind of thing, so you're more likely to have heard of the MechWarrior series, which are PC and console games set in the BattleTech 'verse.
Over the decades, BattleTech has had tons of lore written for it, of a sort which is actually kind of refreshing coming from Warhammer 40,000. Because while "40k" fetishizes neo-feudalism, BattleTech deconstructs it, in much the same vein as Analogue: A Hate Story. The giant "mechs" shooting at each other are largely a backdrop for stories of political intrigue and interpersonal drama, each of which serves to underscore just how dysfunctional societies are in their time and have been throughout history.
Case in point: The recently released House Kurita Handbook, which we're dying to get our hands on, describes an interstellar realm which deliberately regressed to be an echo of feudal Japan ... or at least, of the parts of it that future space settlers idealized. Including state Shinto shrines devoted largely to warrior ancestors and the Coordinator, and not so much to nature or traditional gods.
Our personal BattleTech character -- we create one for every game -- is a shrine maiden at one of the few which enshrine Inari Ōkami, in our headcanon. Because this is a mecha anime, some of the miko are entrusted with the shrine's ancient BattleMechs, a "lance" of four with widely varying capabilities. They are some of the few women who were allowed to pilot these vehicles before Theodore Kurita's military reforms, and over the years they have been subordinated so much to the male-only DCMS that they are not even permitted to use live ordnance.
( Read more... )
Author's note: This is a stand-alone story, which rewrites the ending of Christine Love's visual novel Analogue: A Hate Story to be more consistent with its sequel, Hate Plus. It is also the next-to-last chapter of a complete fanfiction adaptation of Analogue, and contains spoilers for it. The route taken is (female Investigator | *Mute | love interest), and this story attempts to explain how the "love interest" part happened, largely using dialogue from Hate Plus which felt genuine but seemed chronologically out of place.
Content note: All the potential triggers you'd expect from a conversation with *Mute.
( Read more... )
Mythic is a roleplaying game, or a game about taking on the role of a character. The character you play as in Mythic is a creature of legend, from Chinese dragons to Biblical seraphim. You can choose pretty much any kind to play as, and you can make your character's abilities true to historical lore or base them on movie or video game characters.
In order to use your mythical powers, you need to draw on sources of Faith, which can be anything that affirms or is part of your Mythos -- a set of beliefs about how the world works, which all of your powers are based on. A fey creature might commune with a sacred forest, for instance, while a guardian angel draws strength from the prayers of a child. Meanwhile, a woman with "fake" fox ears and a tail might carry a mysterious jewel at all times.
The one thing that all Mythic characters have in common is that they appear to be fully human (or object, or animal). Some of them actually are human, at least some of the time. But whatever you normally look like, through an act of will you can manifest your true nature for a short time, inspiring awe and leaving no doubt as to what you actually are ... at least, to anyone familiar with the stories that make up your mythos. It's up to you what this looks and sounds like, from the infernal heat and damned wailing that heralds a demon's ascent to the shredded clothes and ear-splitting howl of a werewolf's transformation.
While your nature is manifest, you can use your powers without spending faith, and you can draw on an additional reservoir of power to do things no ordinary person can. But the more you draw on it, the worse the consequences are for you and the people around you. You may become a "corrupted" version of yourself, accidentally kill or injure a person you care about, or even break the foundations of reality.
( Read more... )
There are two ways to get someone to contribute to society, for varying definitions of "contribute" and "society."
One is to require it of them, and to deprive them of their wants or even needs if they don't perform as demanded. The other is to give them such abundance that they cannot help but share.
Everything that I've seen suggests that the latter is much more effective, and that nearly everyone uses it whenever possible. They reserve the former method for people they don't like, or that they feel entitled to exploit because they do not see them as people.
This site is hosted on Dreamwidth, fandom enclave extraordinaire, so let's talk about fandom to start with. "Pirated" shows, lovingly subtitled by their fans, helped turn anime from an art style into a major Japanese export. Fandom could not get enough, and paid generously both through buying official and licensed products (once they became available) and by creating fanwork such as cosplay.
I used to be a professional writer, before things went south for me in that department. My best work, both in "pageviews" and in self-perceived quality, was what I was most passionate about, because I wanted so much to share with people what I'd learned. Whether because I was excited about it, or because I was incensed and wanted to share my moral outrage, or raise awareness of an issue.
Sometimes I needed a deadline to get me to write. But when my work became all about deadlines, and the supervisors who had stood up for me mysteriously went absent, and new rules kept me from writing essays like the ones that had won me awards and made lots of money ... I actually shut down from stress. I couldn't do it anymore, not and deal with my sudden personal / family crises at the same time. It wasn't until I felt secure with my partner's financial support that I could coax myself into writing again, to help my partner with expenses and to reward myself with a few games and toys.
I contributed the most to free and open-source software when I felt the most valued by its community, especially when they paid my living expenses as part of the Outreach Program for Women. I was so grateful to my sponsors and mentor, and even though I was living with untreated major depression I pushed myself to work on GNOME. Not just to give back to my benefactors, but because I believed in GNOME's mission and I wanted underprivileged girls to have a free OS of their own.
When the cheques stopped, the program ended, and community interactions showed me how little the free software world valued both women and "women's work" outside of anomalies like the program, I was surprised to find out there was nothing to keep me devoted to them. And that I liked Windows 8 a lot more than free software OSes, and that Microsoft, even as a for-profit company, was sharing a lot more with people like me than the free software "community" was.
Share the wealth
Now I'm surrounded by toys and games in abundance, and the one thing I most want to do is make something worthy of them, and of the people who gave them to me. I want to use the talents that I seem to have, to make artwork like fanfic and models and RPG books, and share them with those who appreciate them.
I play single-player video games, and trim plastic models, and read books curled up in my den, and it makes me want to give back. Not because of duty or forced gratitude, but because it's a natural expression of how I feel. I have to write things that continue the story. I have to share screenshots and work-in-progress photos, and enthuse about things that excite me, and find people to be excited with.
I feel so inspired, I have to share and create.
I think that's how it is for most people.
I think people who don't, or won't, or can't, at least not in socially acceptable ways, don't deserve to starve or be homeless.
After re-reading some blogs on Tumblr where other Inari worshipers talk about her, and reblog traditional artwork and prayers, I have a lot of thoughts that I need to get out.
I see Inari through the following filters:
A distrust of organized religion. I was burned very badly by Mormonism, the religious corporation that I was raised in. I'm wary of anyone who makes promises on behalf of a god ("Do this and you will be blessed!") or tells you what personal gnosis is okay and not okay to have.
An otherkin identity. I see myself as less of a fox therian and more of a "foxwoman" or "spiritual fox archetype," which is a confusing distinction even to me. But I feel less of a connection to what I see as "human religion," and more of a connection with the foxes that feature in stories that humans tell. I see them as people and identify with them, and I often ask myself why these humans told this story and what the foxes in them were actually feeling.
An extremely personal relationship. For me, Inari is first and foremost the being I've prayed to my whole life, who I feel started answering my prayers in my childhood when the Mormon god was too busy or self-important. I feel she has guided me through my whole life, and has encouraged me to do things that help me and affirm my self-worth. I feel that part of the reason she does this is because I'm a part of her who will return to her after I die, and she feels personally responsible for what happens to me and what kind of experiences I will bring back to her.
(I would like to note that some people appear to believe that Inari is basically the Lifestream, which would make everyone part of her if it were true. Others believe she is more than one kami.)
So despite having personal gnosis which basically makes me Inari, or at least a part of her, I'm really uncomfortable with traditions that prescribe ways of relating to deities, as opposed to suggesting them. I feel like a relationship with deity is equally important to the deity and her petitioner, and I feel that most established, written-down, preached-about ways of relating to deity aren't meant for the deity's benefit but for the people's. The only question is which people it's meant to benefit.
So when I read about Shinto religious practices, or practices done under the auspices of Shinto-identifying organizations, I don't see them as "the right way to pray to the kami [deities]." And when I read things people teach about Inari's nature, I don't see them as true just because a person believed them before I was born. I perform triage on religious beliefs, practices, and iconography, sorting them into bins marked "sacred," "interesting," and "uninteresting," and I do so shamelessly.
Because you can't control how a deity reveals herself to you, if you are the kind of person who has such experiences. She can reveal herself to you through a shrine, or a statue, or a thousand-year-old prayer, or a ten-year-old video game. Something will just seem to make sense, or make you feel wonder and awe. Like it was a sacred thing that was made just for you, and you're privileged to have experienced it.
I don't feel that anyone is obligated to respond to that feeling in a particular way, whether it's a deity or a flesh-and-blood person (or both) who's approaching you. You don't have to go out with someone just because they asked you, even if they and your family and friends all think they'd be good for you -- not even if you feel attracted to them. If you do go out with them, you don't have to go to dinner and a movie just because that's what everyone does. There is no book of rules (or The Rules) that defines every situation and makes sense for every person to follow. The people who say otherwise have something to gain from your believing there is.
I don't know how much of that there is on Tumblr, especially in the Inari-worshiping circles. There's one blogger I won't say the name of here, though, who's received institutionalized permission to enshrine an "official" kami in the States, and regularly posts things like their translations of prayers, or their recipe for Inari-zushi, or instructions on how to approach Inari.
I feel uncomfortable with things like this, not because I think they are doing it wrong but because I am really quick to internalize the notion that I am. And I don't think it's fully my fault. I think there are a lot of people who are really concerned with doing things the "right" way, whether they want to or not, because of how they were raised or a sense of propriety or empathy / scrupulousness. And I think they need to be taken into account when you're talking about stuff like religion or relationships, every time you discuss these things, so that they don't confuse "what works for you" with "what's right for them."
Where by "you" I guess I mean this blogger, who I'm too nervous to confront directly. *cringe*
All of which is to say that I personally identify as Shinto, and as an Inari worshiper. Not because another one would necessarily recognize me as such, but because they're the words that make the most sense to me, to describe my internal landscape.
Inari, and much of her iconography, and the feelings I get when I pray to her in my own way, are sacred to me. I practice my personal "way of the gods" without a human community; I actually see humans the way I think they would see foxes, as kami to be appeased, venerated, or avoided as appropriate. And when I get a sense for how to live my life in a way I feel pleases Inari, I try very hard to make it clear that I'm talking about my personal spirituality, and not prescribing The Right Way To Live.
I am not okay with making any absolute, authoritative statements on behalf of a god. Not even when I feel that, to some degree, I am her.
So, I got to thinking about the ways that I try to reverence Inari, and wondered if I could summarize them in a few lines the way they do D&D deities' teachings in the rulebooks.
Here's what I have so far:
Never turn away someone who asks you for food.
Honour those who bring you your meals. Pray for Inari's blessings on them.
Never waste food if you can help it.