The Fall of Doku Mamushi — How the Serpent Shattered its Fangs
Millenia ago, when the world was young and unformed, the Seven Lucky Gods sat around a fire to tell tales of their wondrous creations. Ebisu told of the countless fantastical fish he had filled the vast oceans with, Benzaiten spoke of the beautiful birds he had gifted musical melodies that rode the morning air, and Fukorokuju boasted of the ambitious seed of language he had placed within the hearts of all creatures, mankind most of all. But as six gods took turns to speak of their incredible feats, the seventh god — Bishamonten — stayed silent. For his had been the hardest task of all. He was the god of war and it was his burden to stop evil from spreading throughout the world.
So he had created a vicious snake from the oily vines of a swamp tree — which he had named the Doku Mamushi — and set it down to feed on all the chaos and sickness that spread as the world grew. But the snake was sly, and had slipped away into the grass after the deed was done, lost from sight. Bishamonten’s heart was heavy on that day around the fire, for he had foreseen in a vision that the immortal serpent would become consumed by the very evil it had gorged on. He knew that as it grew more powerful, it would seek to plague all sentient creatures — urging them to commit dreadful deeds that would blacken their souls.
So once his six brethren had gone to sleep, dreaming of all the fresh wonders that the new day would bring, Bishamonten took Daikokuten’s large mallet of commerce and a piece of glimmering light plucked from the north star and set to work forging a coin in the flickering flames of the fire. He worked in silence until the morning sun rose on the horizon, and when he was done, he had created the most glorious and beautiful of tokens. The God then crushed it in his mighty fist and flung it into the sky, where it would circle the earth like a comet, before raining back down millennia later — when most needed.
For the coin fragments would eventually be found by pioneering men and placed in their shirt pocket, above the heart. And whenever the Doku Mamushi tried to bite them to spread its misfortune, its fangs would instead shatter on the mighty token. Man would be protected from the viperous serpent and could live a life free from tyranny and corruption. But for those who did not find the token, the serpent would wrap itself around them and rest, using their sins to renew itself, ready to bite again.
And so would the cycle repeat, just like the serpent consuming its own tail.