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Fwd: [PMJS] Meeks on Miko

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  • JL Badgley
    I thought this may be of interest, given questions I ve often seen about Miko. I m interested in the article quoted, and I ll have to see if I can find it.
    Message 1 of 2 , Oct 1, 2012
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      I thought this may be of interest, given questions I've often seen about
      Miko. I'm interested in the article quoted, and I'll have to see if I can
      find it.

      -Ii
      ---------- Forwarded message ----------
      From: "Ross Bender" <rosslynnbender@...>
      Date: Oct 1, 2012 5:58 AM
      Subject: [PMJS] Meeks on Miko
      To: <pmjs@...>

      Lori Meeks, in her recent article "The Disappearing Medium" makes a strong
      argument that in medieval Japan the miko were not marginal figures, but
      rather were well-integrated into the religious and institutional life of
      the great temple and shrine complexes, and that some had quite high status.
      She demonstrates that they played a large variety of roles, as healers,
      exorcists, transmitters of oracles, spirit mediums and more. Particularly
      interesting is her description of their importance in the development of
      art forms such as kagura and imayo. IMHO this is a very important article
      which should break ground in opening a discussion of the role of these
      women (and some men) in premodern Japan. (I need to point out that she does
      not discuss my favorite miko, the nameless woman who gave an oracle from
      Hachiman pronouncing Taira no Masakado as the "New Emperor.")

      "The Disappearing Medium: Reassessing the Place of Miko in the Religious
      Landscape of Premodern Japan" (2011) History of Religions, 50:3.

      Meeks opens her essay by remarking on the great splash made by Carmen
      Blacker's "The Catalpa Bow" in 1975. Shamanism was much in vogue in the
      seventies. Mircea Eliade's classic "Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of
      Ecstasy" had appeared in 1964, and Hori Ichiro's "Nihon no shamanizumu" in
      1971. Hori and Kitagawa discussed "shamanistic Buddhism" in their works of
      the late sixties. In popular culture, "The Teachings of Don Juan" was
      published by UC Berkeley in 1968 and became a best seller. I remember
      watching Jim Morrison, of The Doors, explaining that he was a shaman in a
      TV interview during Woodstock.

      My question here is the appropriateness of "shaman" as a translation for
      "miko" or "kamunagi". Meeks touches on the question, titling one of her
      sections "The Shamanic Consultant", and using the term rather freely. In
      the past there has not been much hesitation about this translation.
      However, Eliade, using the male Tungusic or Siberian shaman as his classic
      model, dismissed the miko in Japan as a weak female form of shamanism, as
      mediums rather than shamans.

      The term "shaman" is thrown around very freely these days. As Meeks points
      out, it is anthropologists who tend to discuss the phenomenon, rather than
      historians of religion. To give just one example, Laurel Kendall uses the
      term "shaman" in her studies of the Korean mudang, and it seems to fit.

      Meeks raises many interesting questions, but for now my question to the
      list is whether "miko" = "shaman", or should it be translated simply as
      "medium."

      Ross Bender
      http://rossbender.org/japan.html

      --
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      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • the.lady.phoenix@gmail.com
      I ve always translated it as Preistess. As that seems to fit better. They are more then mediums and shamans are usually part of a less structured
      Message 2 of 2 , Oct 1, 2012
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        I've always translated it as Preistess. As that seems to fit better.
        They are more then "mediums" and "shamans" are usually part of a less
        structured religious structure then the mikos are part of. The term
        Priestess long predates the terms shaman or medium.

        Also Mikos are exclusively female. A Miko is a "Shrine Maiden" a
        maiden is a woman. The Kanji for Miko are;
        Mi=Shaman,Oracle, Medium, Priest/Priestess, diviner, sorcerer/socereress
        Ko=child, little, young, young woman
        Depending on which source you use for translation. Translating
        languages is more of an art then a science as anyone will tell you.
        Call a christian religious leader a shaman or medium and see the
        reaction for a good time. They prefer priest, if you want the truth
        from the horse's mouth ask a real Miko what translated Title they
        want. Though looking at the few official websites I could find from
        Japan it is most often translated as Shrine Maiden.

        S

        On 01/10/2012, JL Badgley <tatsushu@...> wrote:
        > I thought this may be of interest, given questions I've often seen about
        > Miko. I'm interested in the article quoted, and I'll have to see if I can
        > find it.
        >
        > -Ii
        > ---------- Forwarded message ----------
        > From: "Ross Bender" <rosslynnbender@...>
        > Date: Oct 1, 2012 5:58 AM
        > Subject: [PMJS] Meeks on Miko
        > To: <pmjs@...>
        >
        > Lori Meeks, in her recent article "The Disappearing Medium" makes a strong
        > argument that in medieval Japan the miko were not marginal figures, but
        > rather were well-integrated into the religious and institutional life of
        > the great temple and shrine complexes, and that some had quite high status.
        > She demonstrates that they played a large variety of roles, as healers,
        > exorcists, transmitters of oracles, spirit mediums and more. Particularly
        > interesting is her description of their importance in the development of
        > art forms such as kagura and imayo. IMHO this is a very important article
        > which should break ground in opening a discussion of the role of these
        > women (and some men) in premodern Japan. (I need to point out that she does
        > not discuss my favorite miko, the nameless woman who gave an oracle from
        > Hachiman pronouncing Taira no Masakado as the "New Emperor.")
        >
        > "The Disappearing Medium: Reassessing the Place of Miko in the Religious
        > Landscape of Premodern Japan" (2011) History of Religions, 50:3.
        >
        > Meeks opens her essay by remarking on the great splash made by Carmen
        > Blacker's "The Catalpa Bow" in 1975. Shamanism was much in vogue in the
        > seventies. Mircea Eliade's classic "Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of
        > Ecstasy" had appeared in 1964, and Hori Ichiro's "Nihon no shamanizumu" in
        > 1971. Hori and Kitagawa discussed "shamanistic Buddhism" in their works of
        > the late sixties. In popular culture, "The Teachings of Don Juan" was
        > published by UC Berkeley in 1968 and became a best seller. I remember
        > watching Jim Morrison, of The Doors, explaining that he was a shaman in a
        > TV interview during Woodstock.
        >
        > My question here is the appropriateness of "shaman" as a translation for
        > "miko" or "kamunagi". Meeks touches on the question, titling one of her
        > sections "The Shamanic Consultant", and using the term rather freely. In
        > the past there has not been much hesitation about this translation.
        > However, Eliade, using the male Tungusic or Siberian shaman as his classic
        > model, dismissed the miko in Japan as a weak female form of shamanism, as
        > mediums rather than shamans.
        >
        > The term "shaman" is thrown around very freely these days. As Meeks points
        > out, it is anthropologists who tend to discuss the phenomenon, rather than
        > historians of religion. To give just one example, Laurel Kendall uses the
        > term "shaman" in her studies of the Korean mudang, and it seems to fit.
        >
        > Meeks raises many interesting questions, but for now my question to the
        > list is whether "miko" = "shaman", or should it be translated simply as
        > "medium."
        >
        > Ross Bender
        > http://rossbender.org/japan.html
        >
        > --
        > You are subscribed to PMJS: Premodern Japanese Studies.
        > To post to the list, send email to pmjs@...
        > To unsubscribe, send email to pmjs+unsubscribe@...
        > Visit the PMJS web site at www.pmjs.org
        > Contact the group administrator at editor@...
        >
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        >
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