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Switch to Forum Live View Substitute for a Kamidana?
6 years ago  ::  Aug 30, 2008 - 7:45PM #1
Mind_Zenith
Posts: 19
Well, my friend isn't shinto per se: she's from the Kurozumikyo religion. But there might be something of use in her practices:

Firstly, her 'kamidana' is an old coffee table with a cloth, the caligraphic words "Amaterasu-Omi-Kami" in a small frame, and some offerings in front of it, such as salt, water, incense, and sometimes rice.

Apart from that, I usually see her leaving offerings at trees and praying over them. She says that prayer is very important to her religion, and probably spends most of her free time in intense prayer.

Hope that helps :]
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6 years ago  ::  Mar 04, 2009 - 8:52PM #2
Katsuninken
Posts: 67

Anything with a door that can enclose your goshintai should work just fine. I use a cabinet and raffia as my shimenawa.


There's a norito that you can use to purify and bless things for dedicated ritual use. The one at sered-texts.org is unfortunately the Basil Hall Chamberlain translation, which is terrible. Fortunately, you can cheat by looking up the O Harahi no Kotoba at Amazon.


It's found in Shinto Norito: A Book of Prayers by Ann Lewellyn Evans on page 7. What's great about this book is that it gives the prayers in English, Romaji and Nihongo. But because it's only a preview, you only get access to a few of the rituals this book offers.


Though the book doesn't mention it, a bell is generally used, and don't forget to undergo misogi first!

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3 years ago  ::  Jun 30, 2011 - 12:02PM #3
astrogaijin
Posts: 7
My question is basically the same so I didn't see the need to start a new thread.

My question is, can I have a kamidana without some of the things that normally go on it?

Ex- I don't have access to ofuda or sake
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3 years ago  ::  Jun 30, 2011 - 3:41PM #4
Katsuninken
Posts: 67

Jun 30, 2011 -- 12:02PM, astrogaijin wrote:

My question is basically the same so I didn't see the need to start a new thread.  My question is, can I have a kamidana without some of the things that normally go on it?   Ex- I don't have access to ofuda or sake




I did not have any of the "traditional" altar elements until only a few years ago, as I had no access to any of the supplies at all. It was not until a coincident visit to a shrine in Honolulu while I was there on a field biology trip that I got a kamidana proper. I still don't have a shinki set, but I think the dishes I use suffice nicely.


Before I knew where to get the "proper" supplies (and I put that in quotations because anything is proper for use as long as it is dedicated for the purpose of being an altar item), I used whatever served the function. My kamidana was a curious wooden cabinet I found at an antique mall. That altar table was a huge black trunk that I used to store the items I had collected for my altar. It was really just a hodgepodge of things that to me seemed appropriate for using in a sacred space.


As for sake, I don't drink, so I do not perform in libations. I do have Mirin here for cooking purposes. Sure sake and rice are "traditional" offerings, but if you don't have it, offer what you do have. Intent is the point. Some of my offerings even today are the same kinds of things I offered up when I first started out as a scraggly pre-teen - I would wander out somewhere and come across something so amazing, like a field of brightly colored wildflowers, that it would just stop me in my tracks and fill me with awe. It's moments like that that I feel I have experienced the Kami, so I collect things from those experiences, lay them before my kamidana, and sit full seiza just to say thanks.


Is it "traditional"? No, but it works for me. I feel a meaningful connection with the Kamisama through what I do, and personally I think that's all that really matters. I also believe you should go where the kami are. Home shrines are fine, but praying to the kami in their living room instead of yours is much better.

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3 years ago  ::  Jun 30, 2011 - 5:23PM #5
astrogaijin
Posts: 7
Thanks, I will keep this in mind. Also, is there anything that can be used as the cabinet (can't think of the real name) for the altar?
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3 years ago  ::  Jun 30, 2011 - 8:07PM #6
Katsuninken
Posts: 67

Jun 30, 2011 -- 5:23PM, astrogaijin wrote:

Thanks, I will keep this in mind. Also, is there anything that can be used as the cabinet (can't think of the real name) for the altar?



Anything with doors that can contain the shintai is perfectly fine for use as a kamidana. I once used a small jewelery cabinet because it already had a mirror inside. My kamidana currently rests on a two door white DIY cabinet I bought from Wal-Mart. I can't afford anything fancy, and this was the right height and had enough space for the implements I wanted to store underneath, including books.


If you are looking for that one special, unique... something... to serve as your kamidana, I can't suggest strongly enough a visit to an antique mall, thrift store or flea market. I have found some pretty amazing woodcrafts there that would fit the bill just fine. Anyone that would qripe about how it's not traditional or proper misses two points: 1. Not everyone has access to the "proper" stuff, and even if they did, who is to say what is proper and what isn't anyway, and 2. It is traditional in Shinto to destroy shrines every so often so you don't get attached to the things or the place and to be reminded that the Kami are there whether the shrine is or not. In fact, the Grand Shrine at Ise is destroyed and rebuilt every 20 years just for this purpose, and it's a big deal. It also employes the ideal of giving new life to old things by recucling bits of the old shrine into the new.


Shrines, spirit houses and kamidana are symbolic. They are a place for you to invite the Kami into a space and for you to focus your mind on them in order to form a meaningful connection with them. What you use and how you use it is transitory and irrelevant.  The Kami are and will be, whether you have a "proper" kamidana, or even a shrine at all. For some people though, having all the traditional trappings lends substance and depth to their practice. If you happen to be one of those, there are plenty of places on line where you can get consecrated salt, kamidana, shinki set, ofuda, shimenawa, kagami and anything else you want to adorn your sacred space with. To be honest, though, all you need is intent. The rest will fall into place.

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3 years ago  ::  Jun 30, 2011 - 8:22PM #7
astrogaijin
Posts: 7
Thanks, I'll have to take a big look around my house to find something. I don't really care if it's traditional, close enough is ok in my book.
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