re: Ground Blessing
From: Robert W. Tom (be417freenet.carleton.ca)
Date: Fri, 20 Mar 1998 15:47:31 -0600
on Fri, 20 Mar 98 
dme [at] pollux.cs.uga.edu (Dan Everett) wrote:

[snipped]

>    some sort of "ground blessing" ceremony at our site. 
>    Does anyone have suggestions/stories to help us?


Hello Dan;

Congratulations on your upcoming project. Perhaps the following
excert from a description of the Shinto Ground Blessing Ceremony
(SGBC) will be of interest to you.

Although you may not find the SGBC entirely appropriate for your
situation, as is generally the case with any ceremony, it is not so
much what a ceremony entails, but the fact that rituals are
enacted, thereby giving the event meaning.

=========== SCANNED (but not spell-chucked) MATERIAL ===========
from "Japanese Houses: Patterns for Living " by Kiyoyuki Nishihara

" In almost the dead center of the rolled site, they drive a stake.

It is not clear whether this stake is intended to be a relic of the
sacred shin-no-mihashira or whether it merely indicates the place
on which the building will stand. 

Around the stake in a square will stand four bamboo poles with the
leaves still on them. Generally, the rough square is about twelve
feet to a side.

>From each of the poles, all around the square, is draped a straw
rope with folded white paper ornaments woven into it. The rope
and the ornaments designate the enclosed area as a sacred place.

All these preparations set the stage for the solemn celebration of
the ceremony. 

In the center of the square will stand a small altar on which are
pure white porcelain vases filled with the leaves and branches of
the sakaki, a tree sacred to Shinto-ism. Before these vases stand
the offerings of rice, sake, vegetables, and fish, in variety and
quantity according to the affluence of the man build mg the house.

At last the priest in pure white, or sometimes in gold and purple
over white, and wearing a tall black woven horsehair hat and black
lacquered wooden shoes of a particular kind, enters  the grounds,
and all the people standing around bow low to him. 

The priest reads the ritual (Jiorito) then turns to the earth
itself and addresses to it a long, low, humming recitation to
invoke the god who will protect the house site. When the deity has
been invited, it is safe to build a house on the land. The priest
then turns to the four corners of the square and from a small box
sprinkles bits of white paper and rice in each direction to
symbolically drive out evil spirits. He again addresses himself to
the earth in a low humming voice to ask the deity to return to its
home. This concludes the ceremony.

All of the people attending then drink the god's sake from the
altar, and construction can begin on the following day.

Once the ridge pole, the highest member of the structure, and
all the basic structure of the house is finished, we hold another
ceremony called the tate-mae. In Europe, a similar ceremony using
a crown with colored streamers occurs, but here in Japan we use
a small piece of wood on which are painted a number of black ink
stripes and from which hangs a folded paper ornament similar to
the shide. This is attached to the ridge pole. In some cases, to
symbolically chase away evil spirits we also affix to the pole a
fully drawn bow with an arrow fitted to the string.

When the ceremony is over we take down the bow, but the painted
wooden strip and its folded paper remain to be a constant prayer
for the safety and protection of the house. Since preparatory
cutting and fitting of the beams and columns are completed
beforehand, it only takes one day to put everything up. As the sun
sets on the day of the tate-mae, the owner of the house and the
carpenters are able to sit under the completed structure, drink
sake together, and sing songs in prayer for the success of the
remaining construction work."
================ END OF SCANNED MATERIAL ========================

--
Rob  Tom
---------- * ------------
be417 [at] FreeNet.Carleton.ca
Kanata,  Ontario,  Canada

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