Gods are supernatural beings worshiped for having control over the fate of humans' fortunes and well-being.
Origin & Duties
Gods must fulfill the wishes of humans, having different natures (such as war, poverty, learning, marriage, economy, etc.). Their original wishes can be put into categories, such as conceding wishes related to fortune, calamity (dark wishes), etc. The latter isn't definite as Yato, a God of Calamity who murdered people, tried to move away from that and redefine himself as a God of Fortune who prevented threats. Going as far as to show that they aren't so connected to their birth wish and can become a different kind of God than they were before.
As protectors of human fortune, Gods must kill ayakashi; corrupted spirits that influence negative thoughts in humans, causing them to commit sins and terrible acts, including suicide.
Most gods are identical to humans in appearance. However, this is not true of all gods. Notable exceptions include: Inari, who has fox ears and tails (but still looks mostly human). Stationmaster Tama, who is the spirit of a calico cat. Kunimi's unnamed first master, who appeared in the form of a palm-sized, faceless paper doll.
Gods also differ in age. For example, Yato was born as a child but aged until he reached approximately his early twenties. Bishamonten has the appearance of a woman in her late twenties, and Tenjin that of an elderly man. Ebisu has been shown as a child who grew into a man in his mid-thirties or forties, but has recently been reincarnated into a small child. He'll most likely age until he is in his mid-thirties.
Though some individuals consider that Gods are helpless without Shinki, the most powerful ones have particular skills such as transformation, creation of special items, enhanced physical prowess, etc.
Gods have common abilities, including:
- Creation of Shinki: Gods can take in wandering souls of humans who have died through tragic accidents or before they were ready to die, bestowing them new names. The souls - now shinki - can transform into objects such as weapons, though the shape and specific abilities will depend on the master. They can use the shinki to slay humans, ayakashi, shinki, and even other Gods.
- Divine Possession: Gods are capable of controlling a human body by temporarily substituting/taking over the soul. As possession is performed, one could catch sight of two notable visual changes, such as a personal mark or their eyes. In OVA 2, it is explained further that Gods used to possess humans in order to fulfill a specific purpose or spread the word of their religion and existence. Usually, the one being possessed is a devout follower, a priest, or priestess.
- Teleportation: Once Gods have their own shrines, their connection to Heaven allows them to teleport there freely.
- Near Invulnerability: As shown in OVA 3, most means of killing a human won't work on a god. For example: Yato got struck with a large blow using an iron bar and bleed, but woke up the next day fine and healthy. He was poisoned with a strong fertilizer, got shot by bullets and an arrow at his head, burning him alive and even drowning him by throwing him off a cliff. However, none of these had any effect on him aside from temporary pain.
- Gods also seem to be invulnerable to shinki techniques, although this has only been stated in references to particular abilities rather than as a general rule. The spell Resound is shown not to work on gods, and it is said that borderlines are not able to kill a god (although they can be used in tandem to entrap one).
About a God and Shinki
Responsibilities of God to a Shinki
After taking a shinki as his/her subordinate, the god bears the responsibility of taking the burden of all the emotions the shinki has and sins it does. The burden the god bears is in the form of stabbing pain on the back of his/her neck. Other than stabbing pain, the area of the god's neck will also become infected by impurities, called blight. If the shinki continues to commit sin and no action is taken against it, the blight will spread all over the god’s body, causing the god to slowly degrade and die. A god is to provide basic necessities for the shinki (shelter and clothing to be precise; other things like food, drink, entertainment, etc. is optional). It is also important to train shinki if they are still new. If any of these responsibilities are ignored and the shinki notified them, gods can be punished by the heavens.
Responsibilities of Shinki to God
A shinki is responsible to obey his/her master at all times and control their emotions. It is unethical for a shinki to bow down on a god when it is already serving another, being considered rude towards the god it is supposed to serve.
Most important, a shinki controls him/herself from falling into temptations that lead to committing sins. This is because the name bestowed onto him/her is actually connected to the god’s life. Therefore any kind of disturbance - intense emotions, sins committed, death - will be sensed by the god in the form of stabbing pain. If it is perpetual, eventually blight. It is once assumed that when a soul becomes a god’s shinki, the god and the shinki become one in mind and body, therefore the pain should go in both directions. However, it isn't so; the pain will only transfer from the shinki to the god owner because the shinki is previously human, who has been applied with the concepts of good and evil, sin, heaven, and hell. On the other hand. Gods aren't restricted by this concept and therefore are free to do as they please. Once a god feels a blight due to his/her shinki’s doing, appropriate action should be taken against the offending shinki. Usually, a ritual called the purification ceremony is performed against the shinki, making it confess all of its sins. Depending on the severity of the offense, the shinki will have its name released and banished, or worse killed by the owner god. However, the decision to release the shinki’s name and banish it is up to the owner god. For example, Yato didn’t release Yukine’s name even though he nearly killed him with the sins the shinki did; while Tenjin released Miyu’s name and banished her on the spot when she cut her own wrist once.
God's Greatest Secret
A god's greatest secret ("Kami no Himegoto, 神の秘め事) is a shinki's real name from when they were human. When a god names a shinki, the name bestowed by the god seals the memories of the shinki's human life, including their real name. The god sees these memories upon naming the shinki and must keep them a secret. If a shinki learns their real name, the posthumous name given by the god is destroyed and the shinki becomes instantly corrupted by negative thoughts caused by the memories of their own untimely death. At this point, the shinki's soul is beyond redemption and a purification ceremony won't work, so the god's only option is to slay the Karma Ayakashi.
Gods have a strong instinctive aversion to revealing any information regarding a god's greatest secret, but they aren't entirely physically incapable of it, as demonstrated by Nora goading Yato into revealing Sakura's real name to her, despite his internal objections.
A god's greatest secret also can be revealed by Father's technique "Liberation" while wielding Nora, as was done to Tsuguha. Nora herself seems to be immune to a god's greatest secret, as she is able to discuss it, invoke it, and witness it to no ill effect. Whereas it is stated that if normal shinki become aware of even the existence of the secret; their curiosity about their pasts becomes all-consuming until they degenerate.
A God's Death
How a God dies
Gods are born to fulfill the wishes of people, so they will die once they lose purpose and stop receiving wishes. This is because their existence consists of fulfilling the wishes of the people, so people will remember them if they succeed. However, if Gods don't interact with humans over a long basis or don't fulfill a number of consecutive, lingering wishes that allow them to be remembered. They won't be remembered by humans and thus will die. This is because once people forget a God, this means they no longer have use for them, and therefore their duty is done.
However, this doesn't mean a God needs numerous followers to remember them in order for them to survive: Yato has survived for centuries through his father who has lived for centuries through a method similar to divine possession and being the only human to vividly, fully remember him. He is Yato's lifeline because if he dies, Yato will most likely die.
Another way to kill a God is when they don't have shinki to use to defend themselves against ayakashi, which can attack and corrupt a God, blighting them until they die. When their shinki commit a sin and feel guilty, their guilt and negative emotions blight their God, and if proper actions aren't taken the God can die. Other shinki can kill Gods when used by other Gods, as shown when Bishamonten nearly came close to killing Yato using her shinki, and Yato is said to have used Nora to kill Gods.
The only exception to this rule is Izanami, the "mother" of the first Gods and goddess of the Underworld. She is a rare existence of a God, in which she cannot die because she is the ruler of Yomi, so she will continue on living so long as life and death exist.
Gods can in fact get ill, though this seems to be due to the condition of their shinki. While, at times, shinki feel sad or upset or angry, it doesn't immediately blight the God but does make them feel ill. Some examples being: Bishamonten felt dizzy and nauseous when her child shinki started to cry. Yato felt a pain in his heart when Yukine was depressed over the issue of Hiyori forgetting them. He felt ill again when his shinki suffered over Suzuha's death, etc. This may imply that while sins can blight the God which can spread and kill a God, negative emotions such as sadness and anger can hurt and make a God fall ill but nothing more.
There are special medicines to suppress illness for Gods, as shown by Kugaha. Bishamonten's previous doctor - who gave her medicine to make her feel better and even temporarily make her blight go away. Similarly, Ebisu was shown injecting himself with some sort of medicine that temporarily stave away his blight caused by him naming and controlling ayakashi.
Even if a God is killed, the God will be resurrected through "Reincarnation" if they are remembered. While they do retain the majority of their base personality, they lose all their memories from their previous life.
Lower God vs. Recognized God
As Gods can be born from any wish, there are many Gods that have existed. However, many die because they are low Gods, who are forgotten once they have completely fulfilled their duties or fail to fulfill the wish. In contrast, more well-known Gods are easier to remember such as Ebisu, Bishamonten, Okukinushi, and Tenjin, who will be reborn even if they die.
To be recognized and accepted by the heavens, Gods are required to have proof of having their own shrines. Once accepted, they can attend meetings where they remain anonymous as they discuss the events that concern them. They can also attend festivals held in heaven, have their own plot of land, sell merchandise without getting into trouble, and go to and from heaven.
Heaven is the current faction and home of most Gods in Japan, though they didn't used to be and had waged a war with local Gods to achieve their power.
The top Gods consist of mainly extreme, vicious gods who will do whatever it takes to preserve their power and ensure all Gods are loyal to them, even killing local Gods and giving them shinki loyal to them to ensure the reincarnations of the local Gods become loyal to the heavens. There are some exceptions, including the members of the Seven Gods of Fortune - the most popular Gods - and Amaterasu, the highest-ranked goddess and God of the Sun.
List of Known Gods
- Yato (a.k.a Yaboku / Amagiri no Mikoto)
- Kofuku (a.k.a Binbougami)
- Ōkuninushi (a.k.a. Daikokuten)
- Izanagi (mentioned only)
- Mizuhanome-no-Kami (mentioned only)
- Rabō (Deceased)
- Stationmaster Tama
- Uka-no-Mitama (a.k.a. Inari)
- Yato-no-Kami (mentioned only)