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Ogi Japan: Meteorite Worship Then and Now

Way back in 2003, in this very meteorite forum, I wrote:

If only all meteorites could be as rich in tradition as the Ogi meteorite. When this shower of four stones fell on the Japanese island of Kyushu, the 14kg of meteorites were carefully collected and preserved in a family temple, protected by priests for over 200 years. In 1883, the British Natural History Museum was able to acquire four kilograms of Ogi, and 120 years later a crusted fragment made its way to me.

Recently, a small piece of Ogi was offered for sale and that got me thinking about my own piece of Ogi. Then I realized that my earlier Meteorite Times article made only a passing reference to my sample and that was also 18 years ago. Even worse, Ogi was just one of 13 wonderful witnessed falls and historic specimens highlighted in that story. So with Ogi out of the safe and in my hand, I thought I’d share a few more pictures and a bit of backstory.

In the tome Worship and Folk-Lore of Meteorites (1900), Oliver Farrington wrote:

Ogi, Hizen, Japan. – Two stones which fell here, according to one account, December 10, 1744, were used for more than 150 years as offerings annually made in the temple in Ogi to Shokujo on the festival of that goddess the 7th day of the 7th month. The belief among the Japanese was that the stones had fallen from the shores of the Silver River, Heavenly River, or Milky Way, after they had been used by the goddess as weights to steady her loom. One of these stones is now largely preserved in the British Museum.

The journal article is available here if you have JSTOR access.

 

Ogi
Ogi is a city located in the central part of Saga Prefecture on the island of Kyushu, Japan.

John Burke (1986), wrote in is monumental work Cosmic Debris: Meteorites in History:

An annual festival celebrated the rendezvous of the goddess Shokuja and her consort, who are identified with the constellations Lyra and Aquila and separated by the river of heaven, the Milky Way. No bridge spans the river, but on the festival night a huge jay spreads his wings across it and permits the two constellations to meet. Stones, once used to steady the loom of Lyra, the weaver, fell from the shores of the Milky Way to earth.

Ogi is classified as an H6 chondrite that fell on June 8, 1742, two days earlier than Farrington noted in his article. Ogi is one of my favorite meteorites, and historically and culturally it has few peers. But is it worshiped today? Well, worship might be too strong a word. Worship is defined as “the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.” And a deity is a god or goddess. So far its not looking good for Ogi. But a synonym for worship is adoration, and adoration is “a deep love and respect.” So today, in 2021, 280 years after it fell to earth, I think its safe to say Ogi still has some worshipers. Me? I fall squarely in the adoration category.

Until next time….

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