New vases for the shrine

altar

I’ve made a shrine/altar to Inari Okamisama just outside my house. It’s not a proper kamidana that Shintoists in Japan would normally use to venerate the kami (I explain why here), so I haven’t felt it necessary to procure items for it made especially for use in a kamidana. I present my offerings to Inari in tiny dishes originally designed for burning incense, rather than dishes made especially for this purpose purchased from a Shinto shop. As I’ve been trying to save money on big life milestones, such as our wedding and buying a house, it seems prudent to “make do” with cheaper substitutes rather than purchase a full kamidana kit of shrine items. I feel that Inari, as a deity of money, would understand that!

But one thing that the shrine has been lacking for a while is small vases for making offerings of plants. Vases can be expensive, so rather than look around and purchase the perfect set at a high price, I’ve been waiting patiently for the right set to appear at the right price. And just before the wedding, I managed to find a suitable pair.

I actually found a set of three small vases that were quite similarly shaped to those you might find in a kamidana, and were completely plain and undecorated as they should be, in a local charity shop at a low price. Shinto purists might find it rather disrespectful to the kami to present them with something secondhand (the purity of newness is hugely valued in Shinto), but I felt that as my purchase was helping to benefit a charity (as well as the environment by recycling something unwanted), the kami would see this in  a favourable light. The vases were three different colours – white, silver and chocolate – which isn’t ideal as traditionally the two vases in a kamidana should both be white, but I thought the silver wouldn’t be a bad substitute so I’m currently using the white and the silver.

Usually one would offer sakaki, a type of Japanese evergreen, in these vases, but as this isn’t readily available in Britain, I use whatever plants and flowers I have that seem appropriate (the ones I used here were cuttings from a bunch of flowers my Aunt gave me before my wedding, from here own garden).

I’ve not ruled out buying a full indoor kamidana set in the future, but I’m going to wait until the time feels right. Until then, I’ll keep on venerating Inari in my eclectic Western pagan manner!

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