Yesterday Rhyd Wildermuth, PSVL, and I went to the Tsubaki Grand Shrine of North America in Granite Falls, WA. This is one of the only official Shinto Shrines in North America. Please take a moment to look through the Shrine’s website to learn more about it’s history and to look at the pictures.
I know a little bit about Shinto and feel quite an affinity with the Shinto animist world view and many of its practices. However, I had never been to a Shinto Shrine and what I experienced was overwhelming and profoundly beautiful. If you can manage a trip to the Shrine, go.
The three of us went on official Many Gods West business. We each of us received Oharae, a purification blessing, as well as asked for blessings and success for Many Gods West. The ceremony was unlike anything I’d experienced, and yet full of elements I recognized: chanting, drumming, prayer, order, cleansing via a variety of mediums, certain colors and patterns. And lots of patient sitting. I actively enjoy moments when I can just sit in silence. Unfortunately my brain seemed to need to vomit up every thought it has ever had, yet that could not distract me from the powerfully serene and firm demeanor of the priest and the sense that the dust was being shaken off my spirit.
After the ceremony we walked around the grounds and…. my heart was broken. The grounds are spectacularly beautiful. It isn’t a dramatic beauty. It is the beauty that comes from every plant, drop of water, and pebble being welcomed and loved. The property radiates happiness and peace, as if the spirits and plants come to rest in harmony just as the humans do. I felt as if this is what Pagan and Polytheist radicals are working toward. Not a world devoid of humans and our labors, for there was a car, buildings, electricity, etc. on this land. But we aim for a world where humans work in concert with other-than-human beings, both material and noncorporeal entities. It was a land that exemplified power-with, not power-over.
I want this world.
I want a world where the rivers sing. Perhaps not with sounds that our ears hear, but with the music that my spirit and physiology responds to – thrilling with each unheard chorus. I want a world where deep and profound peace prevails in both humans and the land.
This experience, and the purification ceremony particularly, stirred up some powerful psychic matter and caused some mighty intense dreams last night. Today and tomorrow I will continue the purification work, for my own health and for the success and benefit of Many Gods West and its attendees.