Protection, Jizo, Mothers and Children
Recently my husband and I went to visit my son and daughter-in-law who are expecting their first child shortly. The energy in their home is alive with making way for the new baby girl. The Baby shower has brought them gifts to supply them with all the necessities and more, for the arrival of this special being. It feels as if the world is narrowing around them to support mother, father and child as she makes her journey from the safety of the womb to the outside world.
When I was walking in Kyoto, Japan in 2006, I saw small stone statues shaped like children or depictions of Buddha. These are depictions of Jizo (地蔵/womb of the earth) and made in the image of Jizo Bosatsu, guardian deity of children and travelers; they are also known as the ‘earth bearer’. We also see them depicted holding a baby in their arms.
While many of these may seem like mischievous forest sprites, moss-covered and popping up from between trees, wearing a red hat, at the most unusual locations, their real identity tells a different story. Jizo Bosatsu is a kind and patient deity, and so the statues do fine with standing under rainwater, sometimes being eroded and covered in moss. Jizo statues are made out of stone, which is said to have a spiritual power for protection and longevity that predates Buddhist beliefs. These jizo statues come from the Zen Buddhist tradition.
These small stone incarnations greet us along the trail, bringing protection and power when we need it. And where there is a jizo, you may also find a small tower of stones nearby. These towers of stones are similar to the rock stone piles that resemble hiking cairns that have been placed by people in the US at various nature sites. You may have seen one yourself.
Another purpose of the jizo is to protect the spirits of children who have passed away. Part of my gift to my children and the baby was to give them a jizo statue holding a baby in its arms. This deity will help protect the baby in the womb and the mother carrying the fetus. Offering this to them felt like a holy transmission.
Today, I also think about all the infants, toddlers and small children who are not vaccinated against Covid, the suffering they have to bear, and the possibility of carry over effects in the future from the virus. I think doing everything we can to protect these helpless little babies is an option we have, and so I encourage anyone who knows a family in this situation to gift them a jizo statue. If you have a child, a grandchild, a niece or nephew consider purchasing one online and telling the parents about this.
May all children be blessed
May they be safe and free from harm
May they be healthy and strong
May all children be loved.