Kotodama (言霊)

Kotodama (言霊 – literally ‘word spirit/soul’) is a Japanese belief that a strong power exists in words and names. This means that reciting particular words or sounds in ritual can invoke kami, purify oneself and influence our mind, body and soul.

Kotodama is a very important concept in Shinto and also in Japanese martial arts and other practices such as Reiki.

Because these words and sounds are believed to have magical energy it is very important to recite them in the original Japanese. This may seem daunting to many non-Japanese, but the language itself is very phonetic and a romanized (romaji) script can be read if one is unable to read the Japanese script (kana and kanji).

Here is a video on the pronunciation of Japanese syllables:

Check out their other videos too, they are an excellent learning resource if you wish to delve into studying Japanese!

It is believed that the kami are better appeased this way and there is something about reciting words which have been used for hundreds – if not thousands of years. You will surely feel the energy and power of these words as you recite them.

Norito should always be recited in Japanese – though you may also read the English for a better understanding of the prayer. There is an excellent book on norito here which provides us with both the romanized, English and original Japanese of many norito. The book also explains to us the practices around norito and how to prepare oneself for prayer and ritual.

I hope that you find this short post interesting and will go ahead and start using kotodama in your spiritual and every day life to empower your life and yourselves.

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