Jizos are bodhisattvas primarily associated with the dead, and particularly are protectors of women and children. A bodhisattva is a person who attains enlightenment (released from the fetters of the cycle of birth and rebirth), but chooses to be born again to help others achieve enlightenment. Mizuko is technically translated as "water child", because certain Japanese Buddhists believe that "existence flows into being slowly, like liquid". Mizuko is the name used for miscarried, aborted, and stillborn babies. Mizuko jizos are unique to Japanese Buddhism.
I developed a fascination with the mizuko jizo after losing S. (You can read a thoughtful and touching article on the topic here, written by Peggy Orenstein after she had suffered her second miscarriage while working in Japan). I now have a little collection scattered throughout our home; in flower pots, on the kitchen window sill, by the door to greet me when I return from work. They are little talismans that bring me peace and connect me to the watery, floating, ethereal in-between world I imagine S occupying when I think of this tradition.
I now have one more to add. Such a treasured gift, for me and for my little water baby. Thank you Angie. Your compassion and talent have brought gifts to many through so much grief.
|A mizuko jizo for S|