Three years after finishing CLAMP’s Tokyo Babylon series, I still feel that Seishiro handicapped his bet. I mean, come on, how could the winner also be the judge? How fair could that be? If you bet someone that you won’t fall in love with them after a year, of course you’re not going to fall in love… or at least, if you’re as heartless as Seishiro, you’d never admit it.
After all that, how could he not love Subaru?
One of the fascinating things about CLAMP’s works like Tokyo Babylon, X/1999 and xxxHolic is the onmyouji, like Subaru. Wizards are fun, but onmyoudo puts a whole new interesting twist on magic.
Onmyoudo is traditional Japanese esoteric cosmology. In rougher words, onmyoudo is Japan’s answer to the wizard. Their practices are based on Shintoism, Taoism, and Buddhism. During the Muromachi period (1336-1573), essential texts were destroyed and schools teaching onmyoudo were closed. However, onmyoudo can still be found in Japanese literature and media, like CLAMP’s Tokyo Babylon. Some individuals as well (even in the West) are also trying to bring back onmyoudo.
So what makes an onmyouji?
- Vegetarian. Every creature, from the smallest ant to the largest elephant, is important to the world. Partaking in death can leave the body with impurities.
- Cold showers. Before major magic working, they take a cold shower to cleanse themselves of any impurities.
- Natural order. In the West, magic is used to dominate and often to create chaos. An onmyouji uses their magic to bring order to a small pocket.
- Nature-oriented. They’re close to nature. Everything in nature possesses a spirit, called a kami.
- Sees beyond. Yes, onmyouji are some of the special few that can see demons, kami and other supernatural wonders. They see worlds beyond the ordinary. It can be a birth gift or something to be trained or developed.
- Not every thing’s a demon. Most spirits are actually human emotions. Human emotions can leave imprints on the world to the point where it can be mistaken as a ghost. If the person who left the imprint is still alive, then helping them realize (and overcome) those emotions will help sort out the problem, along with a simplecleansing ceremony. (If you’ve read The Ghost She Least Expected, you can see that kind of thinking in Yuri over the Western thinking of Cain, who automatically believes it’s a ghost.)
- Understands first, attacks second. If it is a spirit, the first step is to communicate. If a ghost, spirit or demon haunts a place, there’s a reason. These reasons can range from the spirit just wanting to live in the place to very specific reasons.
- Ofuda. Ofuda are magic in calligraphy form – a paper talisman. They can be used to create wards or attacks. Have you seen Sailor Moon? Mars uses ofuda (they’re the pieces of papers she throws around).
- Shikigami. Witcheshave cats as familiars, like onmyouji’s have shikigami – spirits that they can summon to aid them. Subaru’s shikigami is of a bird, but they can be of any shape – demon, animal or human.
Those are just a few of the things that make a onmyouji. There’s a lot more to learn, but these are my favorite. If you’d like to learn more, visit Onmyoudou Awakenings, an English website for Western people interested in becoming onmyouji.