Archive for August, 2009

縄 Let Loose

Bujinden nawa

On Tuesday night, Hatsumi Sensei talked about the concept of 縄の空間, nawa no kuukan, or the rope space. He alluded to the ritual use of rope in Shinto practice, and said that an alternate reading of the kanji 神, kami is nawa, homophonous with the Japanese word for rope. He said we bind ourselves to the kami with the nawa. Some months ago, he told us about 縄の関節, the joints of a rope, something which Shawn talked about on his Shlog

The concepts that Soke leaves hanging in space are opportunities and provide lines of research, and this nawa/kami idea got me looking. Curiously, there doesn’t seem to be any verification by either the people knowledgeable about Shinto or any dictionary. That doesn’t mean that he’s wrong. I just can’t confirm it. Whatever the case, he got me onto a line (pun intended) of research about the meaning of nawa.

Starting at the beginning, 古事記, Kojiki, the ancient record of Japan’s mythic past and the early imperial line, opens with the generation of gods from which Japan descended. Among the first gods is 神結びの神, kami musubi no kami. The verb 結ぶ musubi means both bind and produce, and in this context, the deity is a “Divine producing deity”, a procreative force. The logic of this is apparent – bind two creatures together and you get a third one.

At Ise, there are two rocks, called 夫婦石, Meoto-ga-seki, The Spouses, which are bound by a massive 注連縄, shimenawa, a rice straw rope of the kind usually used in Shinto to mark the boundaries of sacred space or living things like trees and sumo wrestlers. From the beach, you can watch the sun rise between the stones.

Sensei reminded us the other day about the fact that things are not as seperated as they seem. There is not one, and yet not two. Musubi is at once the binding of two things and the outcome of that binding.

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