paganism, Shinto

The East Tennessee ‘Shinto Shrine’

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Oh boy. So this video has been making the rounds in the Shinto community and it’s… something. What it isn’t is Shinto. There are so many issues with this ‘shrine’ and I’m going to talk about some of them here.

Firstly I want to make it clear that gatekeeping is not something that really happens in the Shinto community; if you’ve done something that is seen as ‘wrong’ in Shinto then you will more than likely get a light nudge or correction from an ordained priest or experienced practitioner. Most people are open to questions on the proper practices according to what Shinto it is you’re practising.

However, this video presents Shinto as something that is so far removed and so appropriative and offensive that it’s concerning. If someone new to Shinto was looking up information and came across this video, I’d be worried that they’d take it as truth without any further research. This is a great example why it is incredibly important to always double check what you see on the internet.


Now let’s talk about the video in question. The ‘caretaker’ of the shrine seems to have a very basic understanding of Shinto but constantly contradicts himself and seems to make a lot of things up. He states various aspects of his shrine as Shinto when in reality they are the opposite; very offensive and should never be included on the grounds of a Shinto shrine.

Much of what this man says is false information and seems to be a mix of Shinto, paganism and plain just made up ideas. This is certainly not Shinto in any form. Moving into the ‘shrine’ allows us to see that this most definately isn’t a sacred place of any kind but instead an eclectic and eccentric home filled with various collections of gothic and religious artefacts.

One of the biggest problems with this site is the hundreds of death symbols around. There are collections of skulls, vampire-related things, gothic dolls and other such items. None of these are anything to do with Shinto and in fact are very offensive to the kami. Death is a bringer of kegare (pollution) and one of the purposes of true Shinto shrines is to cleanse oneself of kegare, not attract even more. At some point, he shows a room with haunted dolls and such and declares that it is ‘compatible with Shinto’. It is also stated there is a graveyard in front of the Shrine which is pretty horrifying.

Of course, people who practice Shinto can also be pagan, christian or any other religion. But Shinto should never be integrated with other faiths and it is always advised to clearly separate Shinto kamidana or shrines from those of other faiths.

Although from the video it is not confirmed, it seems this shrine lacks any form of priest or goshintai (sacred item that the kami resides in during ritual). These are the absolute basics for a Shinto shrine. Priests must be licensed by the Jinja Honchō (Association of Shinto Shrines) or an equivalent body in their own sect. Most importantly, they must be recommended by an existing Shinto priest.

His use of the terms ‘initiation/initiated’ and ‘elders’ makes me feel this is much more a pagan shrine than Shinto, and perhaps he liked the Shinto aesthetic. If he had really studied Shinto for that long, he would be aware of all the conflicting problems in the shrine. Further to this, he states that halloween is a big celebration in the shrine when in reality, halloween is not a holiday celebrated within Shinto.


Final Thoughts

This shrine is an excellent example of cultural appropriation when it comes to the misunderstanding of Shinto beliefs and values. As I don’t personally know this person, I don’t know if he understands that this is offensive and not Shinto. As a shrine in it’s own right, it would be pretty cool if only he removed the Shinto aspects and didn’t refer to it as such. I feel that this is a pagan shrine and that the man enjoys different cultures and so wanted to combine them. I could certainly see this being a shrine to death, ancestors or pagan deities associated with such.

The actual purpose of the video was to investigate the paranormal at the shrine. I am a believer in the paranormal and honestly, no wonder this place is haunted. The hauntings most likely have arisen from the amount of kegare and offense caused to the kami and other spirits there. The most likely way to curb these hauntings would be to remove or completely separate the Shinto aspects from the shrine.

So if you watched this video, please know that this is absolutely not Shinto. This is misinformation, offensive to the kami and there are many good resources online to learn about actual Shinto.


Some more posts on this video and why it is problematic:

Livingwithkami: https://www.livingwithkami.com/post/186020452895/solets-talk-about-this-video-i-was-really

Shinto, Religion of the Forest: https://www.facebook.com/groups/224216070927645/

 

 

2 thoughts on “The East Tennessee ‘Shinto Shrine’”

  1. Thank you for having such a gentle but firm view on this. I like the explanation in this post more than some other post I have seen on the same topic.

    1. Thank you, I don’t like to jump to conclusions about what other people know about Shinto, and this person may not even realise what they are doing is seen as wrong. There is no need to attack them and hopefully he will take on board the criticism that other practitioners have brought up!

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