chapter  3
19 Pages

Births, Marriages and Deaths

In the private or family life of the individual, just as in the corporate life of the community, one of the most powerful springs of action is the urge to ritual purity; consequently, there are many prohibitions and taboos laid on pollution. The highlights of the community's ritual year are, by and large, the critical seasonal junctures when the spirits are present, either voluntarily or through the invocation of those who serve them. On both counts, the simple fact of the crisis, and the propinquity of the kami, it is imperative to purge all aspects of pollution by a series of preparatory rituals of fasting, self-denial, and positive purification. The same is the case with the life cycle of the individual or the household, for the cycle is marked by a series of crisis points -the onset of menstruation, marriage, childbirth and death; careful purificatory preparation must be made to meet these critical moments and the various pollutions and taboos which they entail are to be treated with the utmost circumspection.