Reflections of August

A tumultuous month, but one of growth. As September begins, the fire inside that was being whipped in the wind, will now begin to glow brighter and brighter. It will be needed for the inevitable Winter after the Fall.

This past month was a time of new beginnings. Like a seed that has been planted in the soil, it will take time to see a big change, but you can feel the sense of something new, of something different. You can feel something stirring, changing, and will someday evolve into something much greater. This is the way I can describe August of 2018.

In Japan, August is the month of ancestors and spirits. It was Obon season, a time to show appreciation to those who have gone before us. As beautiful and fun as Obon is, it also gets people thinking about spooky stories. Visiting haunted houses, and ghost story telling, called “Kaidan” 怪 Kai (mysterious, strange, bewitching) 談 Dan (telling, talk) arepopular Summer evening events people love to do.

This year was the first time our shrine did an overnight Kaidan event. With a party of about 10 people, including myself, we enjoyed good food, drinks, games, storytelling, and afterwards, the guests slept over at the shrine. It was a wonderful time we are definitely going to do next year. But the thought that struck me throughout that time was;

“This is what a shrine should be! This is the heart of a shrine, isn’t it? To be a part of the community, to connect the community, and to support the community.”

After the event, the other clergy here and I determined, we should try to do more new events like this. When people are sincerely happy, Kami-sama is also happy. It’s a win-win situation.

Since then, I had been working more on shrine projects, and also starting to get back into Youtube videos and vlogs. I think, the more people know, the more I want them to feel welcome.

We also all agreed it would be good to open our shrine not only for fun events, but for people in need within our local community. People in abusive, troubling, or critical situations, we want to have our doors open for.

In fact, just last night, one person was in such a need. My partner handled the situation and kept the person company, even though they came to the shrine after hours. We set up for them to sleep over at the shrine and let them rest, and my partner was there to talk to as well.

Experiencing that last night really moved me as well, in a similar manner to the Kaidan event, but on a deeper level. To see it happening, to help this person, made me so happy in a way I can’t describe. In the words of my sensei, my teacher, back in Toronto,

“If I can help even just one person sincerely, I am happy.”

I really understood his words then. Sometimes his teaching was hard to understand, but last night, I got a glimpse of the true meaning. If our shrine could help even one person in such a time, I feel so humbled and grateful.

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As per usual, we held three ceremonies this month which went smoothly.
 This morning, we held our September 1st ceremony which also went well!

I am also in the process of being formally registered as a priestess of the Yokosuka shrine. All this time, I had been formally a priestess of the Toronto shrine, working at the Yokosuka shrine. But I have been approved by my sensei and the Head Priest here to be formally a clergymember here, so I’m very thankful.

Next article will be about using special tools for preparing offerings and sacred items for Kami-sama, and how it is important to be very focused when doing such. I touched on it a little bit in my posts on other social media, but I definitely want to go into more detail.

Thank you for reading!

  • Olivia Bernkastel
    Associate Priestess at Konkokyo Yokosuka Shrine

The worship hall of our shrine