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Ritual Elements for Shugenja/Preists

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Ritual Elements for Shugenja/preists

Ema: a wooden tablet or plaque found at shrines and temples. The front contains a picture or blessing. On the back a person writes a prayer or wish. Next, the Ema is hung on a rack with dozens or hundreds of similar tablets. If the petitioner is lucky, a kami or bosatsu (shinsei spirit) answers the desire written on the tablet. If unlucky, a kansen answers the desire….
Gohei: A Shinto wand. When a priest of the Kami chants the Kami’s names and shakes the wand, it is believed that the person becomes purified of any evil or corruption. The want is made of sacred hinoki cypress and is tipped with many tassels of specially folded white silk paper.
Magatama: comma shaped beads. Long used in Shinto worship, magatama are believed to symbolize the primal essence of the world. Commonly made of Jade, but obsidian is not unheard of. One of the Three Imperial Regalia is in fact an egg-shaped variation of the magatama.
Mayoke: a palm sized talisman or amulet, believed to dispel evil spirits or any misfortunes that accompany them. They often come in a cloth satchel with a prayer within.
O-mikoshi: a portable shrine, where a kami resides when it manifests in the world. O-mikoshi are carried in a litter-like fashion during matsuri festivals by 10-100 men in happi coats and loin-cloths. The purpose of this to encourage the kami to inhabit the shrine based on the spirit of the load bearers put into the effort. O-mikoshi tend to vary from being very basic to quite ornate, depending on the local. Often the tend towards the later; a single shrine about the size a large cart can cost thousands of koku, laced with soft silk scriptures and adornments.
Shiemenawa: A thick hemp twine rope with folded white silk paper tassels at intervals used to demarcate a sacred spot or the gate way to one. In the ancient Rokugani past, this represented a white serpent, which was sacred. Of course, after the problems with the Chuda, Imperial priests have modified this somewhat to quietly ignore the serpent aspects while still maintaining the use of the object, so as not to offend the Kami.

Shinseist Ritual Elements
Bonsho: One of the most recognized Shinseist artifacts, this is a copper temple bell, usually 4-6 feet tall. The bell has no internal clapper, but is rung when a monk swings a wood log suspended on two chains at the bell. Often run during Festivals, this bell is rung During the New Year Joya no Kane Ritual, in which each temple rings the bell 108 times, representing the 108 sins of mankind.
Gofu: a wooden plank wrapped in a slip of paper or a rectangle of paper stuck to any surface of a building or shrine. Planks typically have long prayers written on them, while papers have likenesses of a deity or creature upon them. Said to be more powerful than mayoke at keeping evil or bad luck at bay.
Hamaya and Hamayumi: Arrow and Bow. Yamabushi often use these specially prepared weapons in performing an exorcism. Many festivals in Rokugan also use such weapons in annual purification and exorcism of sacred spots. They are also very useful in harming Shadowlands creatures and Bloodspeakers, to they are painfully aware of…
Juzu: Shinseist prayer beads. Resembling a rosary with a tassel on the end, juzu are often made of bodhi woof or bodhi seeds, but jade (often by Crab monks) and other materials are not unheard of. Juzu keep track of the number of times a sutra has been chanted.
Kyoten: Sutra books. Folded accordion style like most Rokugani books. The contain the wisdom of Shinsei, allegories, commentary. And teachings.

Markers: These take many forms and are considered very bad luck to desecrate.

Gorinto: Wooden planks bearing the shinseist posthumous name of a deceased. Often found lining the walls of a Shinseist temple or in family shrines, butsudan, in homes. They are broken, burned, erased upon the thirty-fifth, fiftieth, or hundredth anniversary of a persons death by and ordained Shinseist priest. To do so at any other time is to cause the spirit to lose their way and become a lost soul or worse.

Dosojin: Stone Obelisks or humanoid statues that mark the grounds of ancestral kami sacred to local inhabitants.

Mokkan: Wooden tablets in the Shinto tradition of naming various kami.

Senko: Incense. Prepared in many different ways (the Dragon being the most varied), senko is made with spices and herbs mixed with flammable salt peter. Used in Shinseist rituals to help focus the mind. Special types of incense are used at prayer markers of the deceased to pray for them.
Shaku-Jo: Five ringed staff. The definitive symbol of travelling monks and senior monks, the rings help monks focus the mind and symbolize the Five Realms of the Cosmos. The Sixth Realm is represented by the staff which ritually strikes the earth, our realm. It does well as a staff weapon in a pinch.
Tepatsu: Shinseist Alms Bowl. Many monks are expected to forsake all earthly goods, as they represent earthly attachment, thus desire. Typically this will be the only possession of a monk aside from the Robes on their back.


Esoteric or Fallen Shiniest Ritual Elements

These items are rarely seen out of some of the more Esoteric sects of Shinseism influenced by the Ivory Kingdoms, twisted Shinseist sects that follow broken paths of enlightenment, or the corrupted followers of the Shadowlands and Fu-Leng.

It is thought that the items date from a time from before the Fall of the Kami when bloody practice was far more common among the tribes of Rokugan, both terrifying and intriguing to behold. Some Sects state that Shinsei taught them how to purify the remains of a fallen brother to allow them to consult their spirits to assist on the paths to enlightenment (there have been instances of older masters speaking through aspirants during meditation when using the items. At least that what it seems to be....)

Most of the implements are crafted from human remains. On one level, the represents the impermanence of the mortal shell in the endless cycle of rebirth. On a level more mystical, the remains imbue certain Shinseist rituals with more power. Not to mention Shadowlands rituals. Typically a Gaki or Yorei of a particularly vengeful spirit is bound into the Shadowlands implements.

Dojre: Vajra (Daimond Thunderbolt): This ritual object represents complete stability and order and is always paired with a ritual dojre singing bell representing Ying and Yang Energies. The Dojre is the double ended “thunderbolt of Enlightenment” causing sudden and irrevocable changes in perception, leading to sudden awareness of the true nature of reality, often experienced only by saints and mystics. This is often referred to a as the “Great Death” by Shinseist preists, and the “Great Awakening” by followers of the Shadowlands.

Kangling: Femur Trumpet: made from a human thigh bone, this item is used by the faithful to drive away wraithful spirits and by the fallen to summon them. Regardless of the use of the item, even regular Shinsei praciticioners are circumspect in the usage of the kangling as the unenlightened would tend to think (incorrectly, but reasonably) the priest perhaps is a Shadowlands practicioner. The Kangling can be used as ritual element to summon Gaki, Oni, and Yorei. The Kangling is played using the left hand while pounding a damaru (a hourglass shapped drum made of two human skulls) in the right hand.

Kapala: Skull Alms Bowl: It is rather uncertain exactly where this tradition started among the Shinseists, but it has raised more than one eyebrow among the Rokugani that do know, in spite of no Taint ever being found in the ritual itself by the few shugenja who have observed the highly secretive rituals (often under threat of bodily harm if the practicioners had known about it). Highly ornate Kapala have gold and silver inlays with the dome carved with important ritual symbols, used often to aid in Prophecy and Clairvoyance. Fallen monks use it for the passing of blood and other body fluids. Sealed by ritual, the bowl has the good and evil karma of the dead owner. The karma is easily transferred to any handling the bowl, often with ill results for the untrained.


The Three Imperial Regalia of Rokugan

With the Fall of the Kami and the establishment of the Hantei Dynasty, symbols of Imperial Power had to be forged in for recognition of the Hantei's right of rulership to be evident to all. There had been much contention over the attack on Lord Moon by the O-Kami, but Lady Sun could not truly blame Hantei for wanting to protect his brothers and sisters. In order to show her blessing upon the founding of the new Empire of Roguan, she had gifted Hantei a mirror made of a polished substance not unlike jade named Yata no Kagami (The Mirror of the Eight Handed Flower) from which her light could shine and that the Hantei could reflect upon the Wisdom of the Higher World's, as well as keep track of their family line.

The tale behind the Second Imperial Regalia known as Ame No Murakumo No Tsurugi (Sword of the Gathering Clouds of Heaven) aslo called Kusuanagi No Tsurugi (GrassCutting Sword) is much darker tale as it is the former property of Susa-No-O , the Raging God of Thunder, given over to the Hantei after the thunder god lost a Wager against Hantei during the formation of the Empire, as Susa preferred the chaotic mess of the various tribes as opposed to the more organized Empire. While handing the blade over to Hantei, he silently prosribed a curse upon the weapon, that the Sword would indirectly doom the Hantei Emperor once every few generations, but other wise lend it's power when needed. There is some speculation as to what exactly happened in Heaven when Lord Moon found out about the Curse upon the blade, but a majority of Susa-No-O's portfolio was passed onto Osano-Wo when he came into being. The most popular answer Legend is that Lord Moon had Susa stripped of his titles and locked away in Toshigoku for his Treachery.

Fortunately (or unfortunately), the curse chose to manifest itself early on, due to the rather tempestuous nature of the curse. Sadly this caused the death of 4 of Hantei the Fourth's siblings and family, but given the rather unusual circumstances involved with their deaths, suspicions arose over the nature of the sword itself. While unable to unearth the curse itself, it was divined that the sword was restless much like it's previous owner and could possibly turn upon the Hantei if not given proper respect. After much debate as to what could be considered respect by the blade, it was decided to make it on of the Imperial Regalia to be viewed, but not actually wielded, during important ceremonies, and brought out only when absolutely needed. This policy appeared wise during the time that Kusanagi was in the Empires possession.

The Last of the Regalia is referred to as Yasakani no Magatama (The Necklace of Immortal Jade), also called the Gyoku. It is a rather large necklace composed of unique variants of Immortal Jade (red, black, white, yellow, and green) carved into the shapes of magatama beads. It was rarely missing from the various Hantei's side or proximity during their early reign up until the Advent of the much reviled Hantei the XVI, when they along with Kusanagi and the Mirror disappeared from the Imperial capitol, Otosan Uchi.


Yata no Kagami : The Mirror of the Eight Handed Flower is rather plain in appearance, but notable for it's high polish that never seems to go away, as dust and other filth seems to slide off it, with the back decorated with early Rokugani script and magatama

Ame No Murakumo No Tsurugi: There is much speculation as to how Kusanagi was forged, but the most popular legend has it being forged in the heavens by Shiba after catching a shooting star (his skills at forging weapons, or even paying attention long enough being open to question) as an attempt to forge a sword shortly after the concept had come into being. As a result the sword is not of the popular Katana form , but of a much earlier form referred to as a Jian, or straight sword. As a design, it is rather plain, but it is notable that it does not appear to have degraded over time, and it is of such a fine edge that few objects on the earthly plane could resist it's fine edge. The handle is forged of a mysterious dark jade that occasionally have flares of green script which while similar to Rokuganese, are as yet unidentifiable.

Yasakani no Magatama: As one might expect, The Necklace of Immortal Jade does have the properties of Immortal Jade and should be treated as such with the following modifiers.

The sight of necklace causes Fear 6 in all Tainted creatures, (Shadowlands, Shadow, or any other being with Control of other than Tengoku) as it represents the purity of Heaven. Failures to pass a fear test will cause the tainted to run in terror aware from the bearer of the necklace.

Secondly: the necklace causes purification of water of ALL impurities within 100 feet due it's nature


Peasant Items

Hachimaki: (Headband) Worn Across the forehead, typically emblazoned with a bold Kanji of a Desired quality such as “Persistence”, “Perfection”, “Stamina”, etc. Designed as a possible ward against evil spirits.

Mawari-Dohroh: (Revolving Paper Lantern): a item of the Lower Castes which has notably spread through out the Samurai, particularly in area's afflicted by unnatural spirits, as there have been too many instances of the lanterns revealing hidden threats to be ignored. It is thought that that the first of the lanterns was designed by one of the first practicioners of Onmyodo in the Crane lands who assisting the Crane in tracking particular vexing mujina and yorei for banishment.

Tohroh-Nagashi: (Paper Lantern Boat) During the Time of the Festival of the Dead, these small paper boats are said to carry the Visiting Spirits of the Dead back down stream to their homes in the spirit world. Some Clans have been known to place the ashes of loved ones within these boats for burial.

Wara-Ningyo: Straw Doll. Old wives tales state that if you take a lock of hair from an enemy and put it into a small straw doll made to look like that person, you can exact revenge. Four nights in a row, those seeking retribution pound nails into the Doll, pinning it to a Tori Arch or Shrine Gate. On the fourth night, something horrible is supposed to happen to the victim. While dismissed by most Samurai Caste as rubbish (as direct causation is hard to prove), it is seen as a declaration of a threat and most Bushi will respond accordingly



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