Monthly Poem and Pictograph in EL
and about spiritual world in the Hitomaro's era (December 2005)


. . . .
This is an EL (Earth Language) experimental page to enjoy
the image of a haiku/short poem originally in English/Japanese.
When you can't see the Japanese parts, please don't mind and just skip those parts.
地球語の文字や文字絵を用いて詩的表現や翻訳を試みる実験のページです。

The year 2005 is going to finish. What was your 2005 like?
For this time, how about shaking our souls by imagining the ancient world,
when Kakinomoto-no Hitomaro flourished (the end of the 7th through the beginning of the 8th century in Japan)?
An essay follows after the Hitomaro’s Tanka translations.

今年も終わろうとしています。あなたの2005年はいかがでしたか?

新しい年に備えていにしえを想い魂ふりしようと、今回は柿本人麻呂のこの季節の有名な短歌をとりあげます。
この背景から日本文化のルーツを想う下の拙文もあわせてご覧いただき、
ご意見をお聞かせ願えればうれしいです。


Original Japanese Tanka by Kakinomoto-no-Hitomaro
東(ひんがし)の野に炎(かぎろい)の立つ見えて
かへり見すれば月かたぶきぬ


The original sound:
hingashi-no no-ni kagiroi-no tatsu-miete kaeri-misureba tsuki katabukinu

English translation:
in the east on the hills, dawn light rises,
and the moon is going to set on the other side

EL translation:

--------------------------------------------------------------
{ preposition, upper direction} : above (〜の上に(の)
  { ,}: east (東)
{ { nature, swollen}: mountain, small}: hill(丘)
(grammatical symbol): the subject indication mark (主語表示記号)
(a picture-like compounded ideogram): light (光)
{preposition, time, back}: before (preposition) (〜の前の)
{ sun rising time}: morning (朝)
: verb mark meaning that the  subject becomes in the condition shown by the following character/phrase;  or the subject does the following action (動詞符)
: existence, be (在)  : appear (現れる)
(grammatical mark): conjunction "and" (そして)
: (grammatical symbol for prepositions); to show the following ideogram(s) modifies the front word or the predicate in the sentence (前の語またはその文の述語を修飾していると示す前置符)
{ opposite, { abstract concept, (facing to)}: direction (方向)}: opposite direction (反対方向)
(sometimes circle/a half circle ...) (a picture-like ideogram): moon (月)
{ verb symbol, heading to}: be going to (今にも〜しようとしている)
{ space,}: sinking sink (vi. with gd )(沈、D動詞:沈む)

Spiritual World in the Hitomaro's Era

According to the book “The theory of early Man-yo” by Shirakawa Shizuka (2002, Chuko-Bunko 857), Hitomaro (late 7th –early 8th century) was a poet, who served for ceremonies of the royal family; and this is the third Tanka (short poem) of one of his masterpieces: “The poem of the winter hunting in Akino wildness” including a long verse and four short poems. These verses were not for just private sketching of a hunting event, and also had the ceremonial and magical purposes.

In Japan, the paternal succession system for Tenno* is continuing since the beginning of recorded history. In 686 (in the western calendar), The Sumerogi (ancient word for Tenno), Temmu passed away. Soon his son, prince Kusakabe died also. So Temmmu’s wife became a middle reliever Tenno Jito to wait for the growing of her little grandson Karu (later Sumerogi, Mombu). This winter hunting was the initiation ceremony for Karu to be the succession prince when he was eleven years old.
(* Tenno is often translated into Emperor in English, but I think it’s not the proper word for it, and use this Japanese term as is.)

As most of the ancient world had a ceremony to shake and renew spirits of lives usually around the winter solstice when the sun became the weakest, the ceremony to take over Sumerogi was also traditionally held in this season staying up all night. This hunting ceremony was for the consolation requiem for the Kusakabe’soul and for Karu’s succession from his father in the Akino wildness where Kusakabe had used to hunt. In the ritual, they stayed up all chilly night to pray concentrating into their ancient time. At the break of dawn, the succession was done; this Tanka expresses that moment. The moon was going to set symbolizing the leaving of the late father’s soul…

The author Shirakawa tells that collecting wild grasses to cook and eat was also a kind of magical ritual as well as staying all night in the wildness in this era. The theory solved my questions why a Sumerogi stayed out at night and picked grasses in some Tanka in the Man-yo poem book. Also I recognized how meaningful the Sumerogi customs were in Japanese culture.

I’m still appreciating to eat wild grasses, starting from my starving childhood after WW2. The custom saves my economy to continue the EL project, but it’s not the only reason. When picking grasses sprouted out of the earth, and tasting each particular flavor, my heart is filled with appreciation of mercy of the nature. Differently from commercial vegetables; also I feel like thousands of years flow into my body with them.

I only have a few experiences of staying up under the night sky. In wildness when only moon and stars are the sources of light, I was very sensitive for a dim sound and scent. Lying still with those senses, I felt like my soul was floating in the eternal space far from the daily life, forgetting life or death, as if I had been there thousands of years ago too.

Even a person of today feels that way; in the seventh century, why couldn’t the practices of picking wild grasses and staying out at night be magical methods to be away from personal interest and to contact with far/late love’s/ancestor’s soul or infinite nature? I believe that these customs had been practiced for thousands or tens thousands of years among human beings; and humans could survive by sharing that eternal dimension and connecting to the origin of their lives in their souls. An important ceremony of old Japanese shrines even now makes the ritual fire by rubbing between wooden pieces. This practice also recalls us the origin of human creation. Also the present Tennno family is raising rice and silk worms in the ancient ways in the courtyard every year as important ceremonial practices.

Thus Tenno (Sumerogi) was the existence to practice old traditional ceremonies to connect with the origin of being to play Nature for people’s harmonious lives. Therefore 125 generations of one blood family could have kept their position. Unlike the English culture that has always sought frontier, Japanese culture has kept the consciousness to touch with the origin, I think.

In Japan, they have discussed about making changes in Tenno’s paternal succession law or not, because the family has no male direct descendant. But I think it must be the first thing to clear the historical meanings of the Tenno tradition both inside and outside of the nation before deciding the succession way. The translated word Emperor makes foreigners easily think that Tenno has mighty power. Japanese people were also cheated into that way in their history. I read a theory about the importance (?) of keeping clearness of the original Tenno’s Y-chromosome. But I guess ancient people more trusted to intuition. In the succession ritual like above, imagining spiritual combining with an opposite sex might not be easy, that’s why the paternal succession might become the tradition.

In ancient times, explorers drifted against the Japanese islands from the west and south over the ocean. It was needed to unite various peoples into a nation to build a new stable country. For that, sharing the consciousness of the origin of lives must be effective; also it has supported to sustain people’s lives in the limited lands. Contrary to it, Native Americans were in the huge continent, while having the similar culture: they have respected the original spirits of each land and each other’s also. So the tradition had kept hundreds of tribes without big wars. After being invaded, even now, they appeal for world peace standing on their tradition. Recently I was thinking like that while joining in their Peace Walk touring Ohlone shell-mounds and sacred places.

By Yoshiko McFarland
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人麻呂時代の世界から想う日本文化の根

白川静著の『初期万葉論』(2002 中公文庫857) は、著者の中国古代文化の知識とさまざまな万葉文献とを照らしながらこの歌の背景を明かしています。これによると、人麻呂は皇族のおそばで儀式を支える詩人でした。そしてこの歌は、長歌と短歌4からなる「安騎野の冬猟の歌」中の3番目の短歌で、それは単に催しを詠んだ私的な表現ではなく、次のような儀礼歌だったそうです。

西暦686年天武天皇が崩御、すでに太子として後継ぎが決まっていた草壁皇子もまもなく冥界に旅立たれ、天武の皇后が中継の持統天皇として孫の軽皇子(かるのみこ、後の文武天皇)の成長をお待ちでした。この冬猟は、11歳の軽皇子の立太子のイニシエーションとして持統天皇7年目に催された儀式でした。

他所の古代世界でも蘇りの魂ふり祭りはたいてい1年で太陽が最も弱くなる冬至のころですが、天皇霊を引継ぐ儀式もまた、この季節に夜を徹して行われるのが伝統でした。この猟は、天皇になる前に死を迎えた父、草壁の鎮魂と、軽皇子の天皇霊受け継ぎを目的に、かつて草壁皇子が猟をした安騎野の荒野で行われた儀礼でした。寒い一夜を眠らず古を念じて過ごし、夜が白んで御霊の受け渡しのなる瞬間を包む天地をこの歌はうたいあげているのです。月は、新しい命を揺すぶって去る父霊を象徴して沈んでゆきます。

白川氏はこの時代、野で夜を過ごすのが呪術だったほか、野の草を摘み食べるのも呪術だったと述べています。これまで万葉集をのぞくとき、なぜ天皇が草摘みや仮の草庵で夜露に濡れたりなさるのかと、不思議だった疑問が解けると同時に、日本文化における天皇(すめろぎ)の意味深さにも気づかされました。

私は、食糧難だった戦後の子供時代からはじめて、今もよく草を摘んで食べます。この習慣は、今地球語を続ける経済を助けてもいますが、それだけが理由ではありません。地面を割って己で生え育ちながら永年いのちを伝えてきた草を摘むとき、そしてそれを味わうとき、ただただ自然のありがたさに心があふれます。買ったものとはちがって、体の中に何千年もの時間が流れこむ気がします。

山中の空の下で夜を過ごした体験はわずかしかありませんが、明かりが星と月だけの下では、かすかな音や匂いにとても敏感になります。繊細な感覚をひらいて横たわっていると、日常から遠く生と死の境界さえおぼろな、数千年前にもそうしていたような、悠久の世界に引き込まれます。

現代人の私ですらそう感じるのだから、初期の万葉びとにとっては、草摘みや旅寝が、小さな私情から離れ、思う相手や祖先の魂や自然と、永遠の中でつながるための呪術に十分なりえたのでしょう。そしてそれは急にその時代にはじまったのではなく、おそらく何千年、何万年も昔から、ヒトはそのような悠久の次元を共有し、いのちの源につながりながら、手を携えて生きのびてきたのでしょう。神社で儀式の火が木を擦り合わせて起こされる習慣も、人類の最初の創造の喜びを無言で今に伝えます。また、天皇家は現在も原始的な稲作や養蚕の作業を毎年されています。

このような命の源につながる古い伝統を儀式として実行し、民へのご加護を自然神に祈る役が天皇であり、だから125代も一父系で存続できたのではないでしょうか。常にフロンティアを目指してきた英語文化とは対照的に、日本文化は、つねに根に原点を意識してきたところにあるのではないでしょうか。

父系天皇制の改変問題が話題の今日ですが、誰が継ぐかの前に、天皇制の歴史とその意義を国の内外で再認識し、間違っても儀式的な権威を再び「権力」と取り違えないことが第一だと私は思います。天皇がEmperorと訳されると、権力をもつと思われがちだからです。父系制継続の根拠に、オリジナルY染色体の継承を挙げる説も聞きました。けれど、このような霊の引継ぎ儀式を想うと、幽界の霊との結び合いには同性同士でないとやりにくいからという気もします。

大陸や海から到着した多人種の吹き溜まりだった古代日本の国家建設には、多様な民を一つに結び同化する必要がありました。それには、いのちの源に共につながる意識を深めるのが効果的、またそれは、後世狭い国土の平和維持を支える芯にもなりました。比べて、アメリカ先住民は、広大な大陸にあってもこれに似た束ねのしくみをもち、それぞれの大地に染み込んだ部族の祖霊に敬意を払いあうことで調和を保つ伝統を築いていました。そして侵略された今もその伝統を踏みしめながら世界に平和を呼びかけています。最近私は アメリカ先住民の聖地と貝塚を訪ね祈る平和Walkに参加し、彼らとともに歩き祈りながら、こんなことを思いめぐらせたのでした。

By Yoshiko McFarland

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