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Wizards and Rain

7 September 2013

A fascinating post at http://heritageofjapan.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/the-japanese-rain-doctor… … the rain doctor was a shaman, a rain sorcerer used to bring bountiful harvests and intercede with the gods to manipulate successful outcomes in major events. He was also used to reverse bad luck and bad events. He was the leader during sacred dance and as such, influenced the gods. He was also able to exorcise demons and diseases, pray for rain when in drought, and so forth.

The rain sorcerer dance has survived in the same form with southern Chinese mihgrants to other parts of Asia. One of these involves the veneration of Emperor Yu, the first ruler of the Xia dynasty (around 2000BC). Yu was associated with a great drought in China (lack of monsoon rains) which also affected contemporary Egypt and Mesopotamia (and the Indus civilisation too). Xia's origins are contemporary with the end of dynasty 11, and the end of Ur III, when famine and drought caused upheaval and political change. It is worth bearing this in mind when reading the post as we are not dealing with a regional event but a global event that affected all those countries reliant on the monsoon system for their agricultural bounty. The ritual also involved a sword, a double edged blade engraved with a zig zag pattern, a star motif associated in China with the Great Bear constellation. Again, we have an intriguing link with ancient Egypt as the Great Bear alignment is a feature of the Stretching of the Cord ceremony that took place every time a new temple or major building work took place, aligned to the Bull's Thigh (the Great Bear or Big Dipper). It is interesting to note this ceremony was performed in order to assure there was order in the cosmos – and chaos did not reign. The implication is that at some stage chaos did reign and the Bull's Thigh was not at the appropriate station or northern location, and this is where legends surrounding Emperor Yao come in (as described in Worlds in Collision for example). Paul Dunbavin placed Yao at around 3000BC but others variously at 2300BC, or later. These locations are also strongly associated with drought and famine and civil upset and presumably all involved dislocation of the monsoon rain system. Hence, the association in the Japanese tradition with the sword and the Great Bear is not specific to the beginning of Xia but is a wider connection, or a recurring feature. The concern of the Egyptians with aligning their new buildings with true north suggests that at some stage in the past the axis of rotation had altered, a theme that is part of the Emperor Yao legend.

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