View Full Version : Religious or spiritual significance of animals in the dojo

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09-29-2014, 10:23 AM
A long time ago I once heard it said that animals could carry with them kami, or Shinto spirits. Therefore, if an animal appears at the dojo, it should be treated with particular respect, considering the kami to be a distinguished visitor of the dojo.

I don't know the origin of this belief, but I think it's interesting. Does anyone know if there any custom to view animals in this way, or to treat them differently in a dojo or places of Shinto significance?

I haven't heard this belief expressed by anyone since, but it sure seems nicer than the indiscriminate crane fly swatting to which I've sometimes bore witness.

Thanks in advance for any insights.

09-30-2014, 01:48 AM
I'm not familiar with Shinto specifically, but the idea of animals as representatives or incarnations of spirit beings is common in shamanistic religions worldwide. Even more so when the animal in question appears in a consecrated space, or is associated with the guardian spirit of a person or location.

Several religions also view animals generally as having souls like humans, just at a different stage of development. This is the underlying rationale for religiously-motivated vegetarianism, for instance.


09-30-2014, 02:05 AM
When I trained in Hapkido the Sensei was a Buddhist and no killing of insects was permitted inside the Dojo for the same reasons that insects cannot be killed in thier temples and have to be relocated outside.

Another point is that the founder of Aikido was of the Omoto sect which is not the same thing as Shintoism although there are various parallels, so looking up information in Shintoism may not provide you the answer that you are looking for.

10-01-2014, 07:35 AM
we practiced in an old building from 1960s surrounded by a large wooded lot. we shared with lots of animals. there were some mice. we set out the traps. got a few. then they disappeared. few months later, while i was dusting behind the shomen, a big black snake stuck its head out. chased it outside. 'em tasted like chicken with lots of bones. stopped wondering about where the mice went. there were roaches. bug sprayed. there were bees. left them alone. bought some honey. killed some spiders inside. left the one outside alone. a deer shown up on regular basis with its two little ones. watched them play in the grass and wondering why i had an urge for venison. went for a big juicy hamburger instead (why call hamburger when there isn't any ham involved? same with hotdogs). one must live with nature, right at the top of the food chain.