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Tea and Deities

As you may already know, tea and folklore go hand-in-hand. There is something mystical and profound in every single cup of tea - and we wanted to find out the deities and goddesses behind it.


Inari Okami


Inari Okami is a Shinto deity prevalent in Japanese culture. Inari may be male or female, or androgynous - no one really knows. along with that, Inari may also be five different kami (spirits) rolled into one.


Inari is the deity of food, and is related to all food and drinks - including tea and sake.


The name Inari translates to 'rice load', which is why the male aspect of this deity is seen carrying a big basket of rice on his back. Due to the fact that rice was a measure of wealth in Japan for many centuries, Inari was also the patron for prosperity - and along with that, actors and prostitutes, as their shrines were usually near the pleasure quarters.


Often depicted riding or travelling alongside white foxes, this Shinto deity is often believed to be a kitsune (fox), or a spirit in the shape of a shapeshifting fox spirit. Inari Okami is so popular that approximately one third of all shrines in Japan are dedicated to them. Typically, Inari shines have deep red buildings, long rows of gateways, statues of foxes both inside and outside, and the hōshu-no-tama (a pear-shaped emblem with flamelike symbols).


Inari Okami deity
Credit: Ashley Stewart, inprnt

Guan Yin


It is said that Guan Yin only agreed to become a goddess if she was allowed to return to earth to help the mortals - and as such, she is known for rescuing lost travellers in distress. In the tea world, she is commonly associated with oolong.


Guan Yin is also referred to the Goddess of Mercy, and is the physical embodiment of compassion. Her name is the shortened version of the saying, 'one who sees and hears the cry from the human world,' or 'she who always observes and pays attention to sounds.' This is partly because of the amount of worshippers that call on her in times of fear, uncertainty, and despair.


The story says that in China's Anxi in the 1800s, an impoverished tea farmer named Wei was killing himself trying to work to provide for him and his family. One day, he found himself in front of a neglected iron (Tie) shrine for Guan Yin, where he began to clean away all of the dirt and debris to return it to its former glory. Following that, the goddess rewarded Wei with a small, green shoot, and instructed him to take care of it. Taking the shoot and planting it in his tea field, it produced a crop that was great enough to care for him, his family, and his whole community. To show his gratitude, the farmer called this variety TieGuanYin - meaning, Iron Goddess of Mercy.


Guan Yin Goddess, Kuan Yun
Credit: Light Force Network

Huchi-Fuchi


Huchi-Fuchi is the Japanese goddess of the hearth, heating the water that allows the tea to be brewed. Her name translates to 'Grandmother Hearth', with her full name being Apemerukoyan-mat Unamerukoyan-mat. She is also known as Iresu Kamuy, Unchi-Ahchi, and Kamay-huci, and she is among the most important kamuy of ancient Ainu mythology.


It is said that the intricate Japanese tea ceremony was partially made to honour her, as she was known to intercede with gods on behalf of the mortals. Basically, she is keeper of the gateway between the world of humans and the world of kamuy.


Her themes are harvest, energy, cleansing, and health, and her symbols are tea, teapots, and cups. To invoke her energy, all you need to do is simply light the stove.


Huchi is said to keep our internal fire burning in order to give us the necessary energy for completing whichever tasks are at hand. Along with that, her fires help to cleanse the human body and protect is from disease.

Credit: “Huchi-Fuji” by Kris Walherr


Brigid


Brigid is the Celtic Goddess of the inspiration and flow of fire and water. She is also the patron of the three main Celtic skills: poetry, healing, and smithcraft.


Brigid is one of the most popular goddesses in modern Paganism, going by names such as Bride, Brid, Brigantia, Ffraid, Fiery Arrow, Bright One, and High One.


It is due to her connection to fire and water that she is associated with tea - of course, these two elements are necessary to creating even a single cup of tea. Along with that, she has a connection to roots, leaves, herbs, oils, and people, and it is said that her cloak can cover the land.


This combination means that she is often celebrated on Imbolic (February 1st) as the goddess of springtime and new growth. This is when she traditionally transforms from the Cailleach, her winter crone form, to the Spring maiden, with her footsteps bringing back green to the slumbering earth.


Credit: Earth Spirals

And so, have you guys ever felt the presence of one of these lovely deities during your tea ceremonies? Or do you now plan on invoking them..?