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As of a few hours ago, we evolved from "girlfriend" to "fiancée," and our Societal Acceptance increased by 2 points.

Now it's time to figure out what tabletop games to play at the wedding, and what models should be the cake toppers! We already have ours picked out, of course.

A painted metal model of a kitsune shrine maiden, wearing goggles and carrying a staff and a lantern.

Coral Leafbreak was painted by the [tumblr.com profile] kamitale studio artist.

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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.

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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.

BattleTech returns to its anime roots, with this amazing fan-made animation. Click here if you can't see the video.

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.

Until now!

Read more... )

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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... )

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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... )

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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.

About us

~ Fox | Gem | Rei ~

We tell stories, paint minis, collect identity words, and share them all with our readers. If something we write helps you, let us know.

~ She / her ~

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