In order to describe him, I need to first explain about what he was. He was “Onmyoji” in the Heian Era (794 – 1192 AD) of Japan. I had unexpected problems selecting the best English description for onmyoji. The best definition I can give after my study is a shaman coupled together with functions of an astrologist, an exorcist, a medium, a prophet, a seer, and a sorcerer. In the Heian era of Japan, onmyoji was a formal position in the imperial government. In addition, they were doctors, healers, and spiritual advisors and consultants for emperors. I believe that Egypt and China had the same or similar positions in their government in ancient times. Seimei Abe was the first one of his kind and founder of his position in Japan.
Seimei Abe was born in 921 AD. It is said that he died in 1005 AD, at the age of 86. 86 seems like extraordinarily long life as in his days the normal life-span was 40 – 50 years old. It may not be abnormal to have a long life if he had lived for 86 years. His life is known from an official document of that age. However, his name appears in many Japanese folklore stories. If a historian carefully kept a record of folklore, it seemed to be that his life was more than 300 years serving almost every emperor in the Heian Era.
We can find many of his legends in folklore. When he was 15 years old and just a trainee, he accompanied his master to see the emperor. When he was walking along his master’s cart, he recognized ghosts marching on the street going in the opposite direction. His master was sleeping in his cart. Seimei woke him up and told his teacher the ghosts were marching. His teacher spelled the words and avoided the marching ghost.
Later, when a mistress who could not be an empress consort cursed an emperor, Seimei used a reverse curse and saved the emperor. This incident gave Seimei fame and an unchallengeable position. As it is said, when a curse is reversed, the cursing person would be brutally harmed and usually killed, but Seimei managed to save the cursing mistress. However, the mistress killed herself later because she was ashamed by her own selfish conduct.
Seimei’s residence was positioned in the protective direction of the imperial palace. Folklore says that his house lit up at night and opened it’s gate in the morning, despite that, as his position, a person would never do these actions by himself and his house did not have any sign of a servant. He could kill frogs and turtles without touching them. He could bring them back to life later. Some myths even say that his mother was a white fox whom his father saved in a mountain.
Seimei has been gone in the history a long time ago. However, there may be still someone, today, who could do what he could do. He or she just would not show it to the public. Such a person may be your next-door neighbor.