It is traditional to burn incense as an offering to spirits in many traditions, but some Eye of Horus Staff and readers have discovered our incense selection is drawing some new familiar spirits… Pokémon. It seems there is a pokémon stop just a few steps from the front door to our store. Admittedly, these aren’t the familiar spirits we are used to, but we really do support diversity. Rather than discourage visitations, we have decided to welcome them into our store and even have gotten some photos of them exploring the store. We also think, though this is a game, we can learn a thing or two about nature spirits and incense and archetypes.
Incense Lures Them
We think it’s our incense section at the front of the store that lures the Pokémon in. There’s stick, cone, dhoop and traditional resin incense and herbs which make that front corner a favorite location. We aren’t sure if they are drawn to the three different types of Nag Champa (Blue Satya, Golden Nag, or Red Shanthimalai), or the Sage Bundles, or the traditional Japanese Incense sticks.
Japanese Incense Ceremony
Seriously, though, cultures from around the world have used incense as offerings and to draw in good energy and spirits for millennia. We carry incense from around the world. All over, various floral and spice scents are used, but different areas have different prime “notes” for the region. Frankincense is sacred in the middle east, Sandalwood and NagChampa in India, Amber in Europe, Sage in America. But in Japan, they take their incense very seriously. Kōdō (香道, “Way of Fragrance”) is the name of the Japanese tradition of incense burning. Kōdō is counted as one of the three classical Japanese arts of refinement, along with kadō for flower arrangement, and chadō for tea and the tea ceremony.
Elemental Spirits Aren’t a New Thing
Pokémon originated in Japan and have migrated here. We take the point of view that these characters are simply commercialized archetypes of nature spirits, and anyone familiar with the elemental spirits will see parallels with some of the “types.” There are eighteen different Types of Pokémon which include Normal, Fighting, Flying, Poison, Ground, Rock, Bug, Ghost, Steel, Fire, Grass, Water, Electric, Psychic, Ice, Dragon, Dark and Fairy. Each has their own unique strengths, representing the various gifts and aspects of the world in which they inhabit; not unlike the Earth, Air, Fire and Water, the four elements used in western magic magic and mysticism, and represented in the four suits of the Tarot. We think this is why this Jynx is visiting our Tarot Demo Station… Not only is it a Psychic Type of Pokémon, but the symbols of the Tarot are no doubt familiar.
Pokémon are a cultural Phenomenon with Ancient Ancestors
In western Europe, there was a tradition of Fairies, in Scandinavia there were Land Wights and Huldre. Many of our stories, which began as tales of interaction with natural forces and deities, have echos in modern art and cartoons. Pokémon seem like a similar thing to fairies, though with a broader scope. Though, since Pokémon come from Japan, the creators draw more on their own culture for archetypes. The indigenous practice and beliefs of Japan is Shintō, which literally means “the way of kami” (kami means “mystical,” “superior,” or “divine,” generally sacred or divine power, specifically the various gods or deities). In Shintō all the deities are said to cooperate with one another, and life lived in accordance with a kami’s will is believed to produce a mystical power that gains the protection, cooperation, and approval of all the particular kami.
So, yes, we welcome Pokémon in our store, and people outside “capturing” them, with the understanding that the games we play do affect our outlook on the world, not as profoundly as spiritual practice and interaction with the deities and spirits of earth-based religions, but as an opportunity to celebrate the diversity offered in these characters and to use as a springboard to further understand our own cultural paradigms. It’s also okay to have fun every now and then.
We also think, that when you are out walking, you should turn off your phone now and again to experience the sacred mystery and diversity of the elemental, animal and earth spirits our western culture has either demonized, demoted or forgotten. Step away from the game and into the mystic.