What is now looked upon as form and words, just as ki is looked upon as this "magical" energy, could have been at one time teachings to actually accomplish specific things in regards to kami, just as many are learning that aiki is a concrete teaching to change the body.
I don't know much about anything, especially shinto or kami ... just some musings I thought I'd toss out there.
I liked this last part. It reminded me of something that occurred to me about science and old ladies trying to keep their houses warm in winter. The old ladies do all kinds of things to "keep the cold out". They imagine cold as an actual thing that creeps into their house through all the cracks and areas that aren't protected from it. You could say that this is a scientifically inaccurate way of looking at cold.
But it works.
Another way of writing 人 hito
(person) is 霊止 hi-to
(spirit + stop). As the reverend pointed out, hi
can also mean sun.
To die is shinu
死ぬ which can be written 霊去 shi-nu
(spirit + leave) which has the feeling of the spirit "going back".
From here, things get very deep.