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Old 05-17-2004, 01:38 PM   #7
Fred Little
Dojo: NJIT Budokai
Location: State Line NJ/NY
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 632
Re: Dedication of Kamiza


za = sit or seat, same as suwar(u) in suwariwaza

dana = shelf

kamidana and kamiza are often used interchangably, though there are nuances of difference.

narrowly speaking, the shelf on which the shrine is placed could be regarded as the kamidana, while one might view only the place within the shrine where the consecrated objects rest as the kamiza, or one might view those objects themselves as the kamiza.

in the case of a waterfall, special rock or tree which is regarded as a holy site, kamidana doesn't strictly apply, though the natural object itself might be referred to as a "kamiza" or 'shinden"

in addition to its specific application to the shrine itself, kamiza also has the broader meaning of "seat of honor," the seat closest to central feature of a room, whether butsudan, kamidana, or tokonoma. another broader meaning might refer to the entire area immediately proximate to the central feature. so the meaning of kamiza, kamidana, and shinden are all very context dependent.

generally, as dr. bodiford notes, home shrines and the like do have an object (or objects) procured at a specific shinto shrine and/or blessed by a shinto priest, certain routine rituals are conducted to keep the shrine "alive and clean" and thereby keep the connection back to the main shrine "alive and clean."

otherwise, what we're talking about is likely to be just a little home-brew rootwork with a Japanese stylistic influence. such things may be done well or badly, with or without respect. there are lay traditions within shinto, but those practitioners grew up in a shinto cultural matrix with its own patterns of transmission, which is a rather different thing than adopting/adapting shinto practices to another cultural context with very limited knowledge and information about what is being adopted and whether or not the adaptation is appropriate. without the involvement of an priest, institutional initiate, private initiate, or self-initiated shaman/ness, setting up a shinto shrine is problematic.

for my part, i feel fairly strongly that the use of ritual texts, ritual objects, and ritual practices drawn from differing cultural backgrounds is something about which one should be rather careful, both out of respect for the root tradition, and respect for whatever potentialities they are intended to make manifest, psychologically or otherwise.

by way of comparison, consider that one might have a kitchen that has been organized and maintained according to jewish dietary law, but without the appropriate involvement of a rabbi, it's still not kosher, and it's not right to say that it is kosher.

none of the above is a comment on the sincerity of the original poster or his instructor. rather, it is intended as a gloss on the issues raised by the question. i hope that the gloss is useful to the general readership.

i have not included information on shinto in america (and thus, information in english) simply because i have no personal familiarity with the practitioners who are out there, though they're fairly few and easy to find.

hope this helps,

fred little

Last edited by Fred Little : 05-17-2004 at 01:43 PM.
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