Oharae-shiki is an important Shinto festival held on the last day of June annually and is also known as the Summer Purification Rite. This festival is , according to Fushimi Inari Taisha, ‘to purify us of all sins unintentionally committed since New Year’s Day. The impurities are transferred to doll-like figures, which are then released in rivers and the sea to carry the impurities away.’
This is a cleansing in which we rid ourselves of the kegare (‘defilement, pollution‘ – 穢れ, 汚れ) that we have obtained during our normal day-to-day life. For many, we cannot attend the elaborate and formal festivals in Japan and so we celebrate at home.
Here are some ideas of what to do and how to celebrate Oharae-shiki at home outside of Japan:
Decluttering your work place and home can have an amazing effect on your psyche! Getting rid of things you no longer need helps keep your home clean and your mind clear. To avoid pollution, take as many things as you can to a charity shop or gift them to others.
Make sure to also clean any kamidanas and altars, replace old decorations and foliage and to replace offerings. I usually replace shide (the paper ‘zig-zags’ found on kamidanas) at this time of year.
Take a cleansing bath in the morning or evening of Oharae-shiki. I like to use epsom salts, essential oils and also purified salt offerings from the kamidana, no soaps. If I don’t have a bath I’ll have a shower on the coldest setting without using shampoo and other products. I perform misogi shuho in the shower this way, an important Shinto ritual that is done usually outside in natural bodies of water. You can find some intructions on shower misogi here at the Tsubaki Grand Shrine of Amercia Faceboo page.
Many people who are Shintoist are also Pagan, Buddhist a member of another faith. If you don’t do misogi shuho as suggested above, you could always perform a purification ceremony based on your personal beliefs. It is also an excellent time to perform other spiritual tasks such as cleansing crystals and ritual items.
Midsummer has only recently ended and we’re moving towards winter. However some seeds are perfect to plant this time of year; French beans, cucumbers, lettuce, beets, corn and some winter vegetables. Ask the Kami or your personal deities to bless the seeds, praying for a successful harvest.
It is also a great time of year to collect plants and dry them if you do spellwork.
Make Goals For The Next 6 Months:
As we are six months into the year it’s a good time to review any goals or resolutions you created at the beginning of the year. I make about 4-6 goals monthly and then break them into smaller tasks. I find that this helps me a lot with getting things done, including spiritual tasks. It’s a great feeling to look back on past goals and see where my life is heading.
This time is perfect for setting goals to achieve before the new year. They can be any type of goal too; work, personal, health, even reading that book you’ve been meaning to! It’s not really Shinto or spiritual but it is a great idea for this time of year.
So what are your plans for Oharae-shiki? Do you celebrate it at all?
For me I’m going to take a bath, set goals and declutter. I might take some photos for this blog if I’m not too caught up in it all!
I hope everyone is having a lovely summer thus far!