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A beautiful example of the everyday sacred

Posted by Erik on April 8, 2008

Here’s a very cool video of a Japanese farmer making a new shimenawa (the braided rice-straw rope that marks out the sacred in Shinto tradition) and shide (zigzag paper streamers) at the New Year (these items are often replaced at this time, both for spiritual reasons and because, being made of straw and paper, they are fairly ephemeral). Shimenawa are always seen at Shinto jinja (shrines), and they may be hung in or outside homes as well, either inside at the kamidana (household shrine, lit. “god-shelf”) or outside to decorate for a festival or other special occasion.

The reasons I call this an example of “everyday sacred” should be obvious. No priest is needed to bless the work or its result, and if there are any prayers associated with the process they’re not obvious from the video (I don’t recall learning of any in my reading; if anybody knows of such, I’d be interested to hear about it). He’s just sitting on the front step with the kids running around playing, rolling his straw on the ground and the bed of his pickup, using what appears to be a screwdriver to poke the shide firmly into the rope… and at the end, he has a sacred object. This is the sort of thing that I think Jeff Lilly was talking about recently in his posts on “organic religion” and the future of paganism.

(hat tip to The Old Tokaido for the video link)

Edited to add: BONUS LINK: how to make a cardboard kamidana (great craft project for classrooms)

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