Culture and Cosmos is a peer-reviewed academic journal in the history of astrology and cultural astronomy published in association with the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture, School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology, University of Wales Trinity Saint David

Vol 18 no 2 (Autumn/Winter 2014 will be published in July/August 2016. Vol. 19 (2015) will be a double issue featuring the proceedings of the 2013 Sophia Centre conference on Celestial Magic and is scheduled for publication in September/October 2016. Vol. 20 (2016) will be a double issue featuring the proceedings of the 2014 Sophia Centre conference on the Marriage of Heaven and Earth.

Volume 10

Seven Stars of Heaven and Seven Shrines on Earth: The Big Dipper and the Hie Shrine in the Medieval Period

Meri Arichi


The belief in Sannō, the kami of the Hie Shrine, evolved under the strong influence of Tendai Buddhism during the medieval period. Esoteric scriptures and ritual manuals related to astronomy and astrology encouraged the association of the seven stars of the constellation of the Big Dipper with the seven principal shrines at Hie. The hierarchical grouping of shrines in three units of seven suggests the theoretical input from the Buddhist monks of the Enryaku-ji to the development of the shrine. However the connection of stars and shrines was eradicated after the separation of temples and shrines (shinbutsu-bunri) carried out by the Meiji government in the late 19th century, and little evidence of star-related rituals at the shrine remains today. This paper examines the iconography of the Hie-Sannō Mandara from the Kamakura period in the collection of Saikyō-ji, and considers the significance of the Big Dipper in the context of the Hie-Sannō belief from visual and textual sources.

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