Posted by: aediculaantinoi | December 16, 2012

End-of-Year Purification at Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America

Today was the end-of-year purification ceremony at the Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America. This ritual is considerably less involved than many of the other major festivals of the year, but still very effective indeed.

The biggest difference in this one compared to others is the use of the jibari gohei before the ceremony begins to purify one’s entire life and all of the misfortunes of the previous year. This is a stick with two gohei on it, of which a much larger version usually sits at the very front of the inner shrine, often behind the mirror, as a kind of focal point for the ceremony. (I wish I had a photo, but I can’t find one easily at present…) Later in the ceremony–during which the great prayer of purification is said facing the gathered people, not the inner shrine–the jibarai gohei and everyone/everything else is purified by “the purification of cut paper,” which is to say, liturgical confetti. (Quite a bit of it stuck to me this time…and when I got home and took my shoes off, about nine pieces were on the bottom of my socks!) Oftentimes, this ceremony has a mochitsuki after it, but the mochi-master was not there this time, unfortunately.

I obtained a few things for the coming year as well. We are leaving the year of the Water Dragon and will be entering the year of the Snake now–though I’m not sure what element this snake will be. (I will have a niece born in this particular Snake year!) Given the ever-increasing importance of the Serpent Path for me and my practices, I thought it was rather interesting that the year the Serpent Path has been first discussed on a wider public basis is the Dragon year, and immediately following it is the Snake year. (Of course, that’s always the order, but anyway…!?!) A long time ago, I heard that the Snake is sometimes seen as the beginning, and the Dragon as the end, because a fully-matured Snake is a Dragon. (But then again, I’ve also heard that Asian dragons start out as carp, and there’s no year of the Carp to my knowledge…!?!) In any case, there we are…

And, all of the Snake items sold by the Shrine have these very interesting white snakes. No, Shinto is not a religion of late 80s heavy metal, dear friends…

snake ema


  1. I’m a Wood Snake!

    • Cool! Is that what this year is? (It couldn’t be…unless you’re around 60 years old, which I don’t think you are…!?!)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s