shiyakujin no hokora
A Book of Little Traditions
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ToCshintô and minzoku NEO-shintô

shintô and minzoku NEO-shintô – 08 / 30 / 2016
shintô しんとう 神道
shin (that which inspires feelings of reverence, awe, gratitude, fear/terror)
tô | dô (way, path, teachings, the way of proper conduct)
shintô (indigenous-based* spiritual practices engaged in by many Japanese)

❖ Also called kami-no-michi
kami-no-michi かみのみち 神の道
kami (that which inspires feelings of reverence, awe, gratitude, fear/terror)
no (possessive particle)
michi (way, path, teachings, the way of proper conduct)
kami-no-michi (way of the kami)

* "The main channel through which many of the earliest religious forms of the Japanese people were handed down and preserved — the indigenous spirituality of Japan and the people of Japan", but that phrase rather misses the mark as, in reality, shintô is a complex weave of ancient and modern practices; local customs; indigenous folk religion; folk magic; unoffical expressions of organized religions by lay people; and foreign Buddhist, Esoteric Buddhist, Religious Daoist, Confucian, and Neo-Confucian practices and ideas. All of which were subject to multiple medieval and modern rescripts as they were reinterpreted to support the prevailing power structures. In point of fact, while these may have been used to define modern shintô, they are not defined by shintô, but exist independent of it. shintô is also not monolithic as implied, but because of its many different cultural roots, instead exists in almost as many variants as there are practitioners.

shintôshinja しんとうしんじゃ 神道信者
shin | kami (that which inspires feelings of reverence, awe, gratitude, fear/terror)
tô | dô | michi (way, path, teachings, the way of proper conduct)
shintô (kami way, indigenous-based* spiritual practices engaged in by many Japanese)
shin (faith, truth, fidelity, trust)
ja (someone, person)
shinja (follower, adherent, devotee)

❖ shintô followers
❖ shintô practitioners
minzoku みんぞく 民俗
min (people)
zoku (customs, manners)
minzoku (folk customs, folkways, ethnic customs)

"minzoku" refers to the practices and beliefs of the commons – the common people of a region considered as representatives of a traditional way of life and especially as the originators or carriers of the customs, beliefs, and arts that make up a distinctive culture. Folk customs are based on the Five "E"s: Existential, Experiential, Experimental, Empirical, and Event Oriented.
NEO-shintô ネオしんとう ネオ神道
NEO- (new, recent, from Greek neos / written with katakana)
shin | kami (that which inspires feelings of reverence, awe, gratitude, fear/terror)
tô | dô | michi (way, path, teachings, the way of proper conduct)
shintô (kami way, indigenous-based* spiritual practices engaged in by many Japanese)

NEO-shintô has several meanings: it can refer to one of the many Japanese, shintô-based new-religions; or as in the case of minzoku NEO-shintô, it can refer to a mixture of Japanese minzoku shintô, and European and American Heathenry and Neo-Pagan practices. As minzoku NEO-shintô is existentalist, which particular mixture is up to each local community.
minzoku NEO-shintô – minzoku NEO-shintô is mainly concerned with Folk Religion and its Little Traditions, and borrows from the Great Traditions only those elements that fit in with those Little Traditions. It's a mixture of Japanese, European and American folk practices. In this, it is a reflection of the movement of many, in the new religions, towards thinking in terms of a global village. With the advent of the internet and social websites, it has become commonplace to have daily interactions with people living in other countries, even those on the other side of the planet. Through these interactions we're becoming more aware of the differences in cultures, and we're being forced to re-examine many of our basic assumptions.

Looking at the cultural components of minzoku NEO-shintô: one is Japanese, one is Northern European, and the other is American. If you're wondering how these can work together without doing violence to each other, it's in large part because they are all composed of folk religion practices. That is, the vast majority of people engaging in these practices are all pretty much concerned with maintaining local: social structures, cultural integrity, and the transmission of practices to the next generation. In other words, living their lives; getting through the day to day challenges. These groups are not concerned with "deep" theological thoughts; they're more worried about those things immediately around them: shelter, food, clothing, raising their children. It's this focus on common everyday human concerns and a growing awareness of the similarity purposes, if not forms, that allows these groups to syncretize their diverse practices and come up with a form that satisfies everyone.
Folk Religion – A religion as practiced by the commons — the everyday people — and on a local basis; part of what are referred to as the "Little Traditions". It's not a religion as taught in the seminaries, universities, or on a national or international basis; these are part of what are called the "Great Traditions".
Great Traditions – The practices and beliefs of the ruling elite; focused on the state, how it came to be, and why it should be maintained. They tend to be formal, dogmatic, slow changing – except when the ruling elite are deposed, and are made explicit in the forms of scripture and document; the mythology of the state.
Little Traditions – The practices and beliefs of the commons; focused on the local concerns of family, social responsibilities, occupation, and health. They are informal, flexible, changeable and usually implicit; the mythology of the commons.
A clarification on the use of the terms: Great Traditions and Little Traditions
Humans, being what they are, have a tendency to think of great and little in terms of ranking, with great meaning superior and little meaning inferior. This NOT how they are used here; instead they refer to the size of the group following them. Neither is "better" than the other; neither is "superior" or "inferior". They should be thought of as in (yin) and (yang), as being complementary parts of a whole. The Little Traditions give birth to the Great Traditions, which in turn serve to fertilize the Little Traditions giving rise to new Little Traditions and new Great Traditions.

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