Archive for the ‘Visions’ Category

My New Animal Spirit Shinai

July 12, 2007

A friend told me this story.  -Cory

I was in London, it was nighttime and I went to see Rescue Dawn at the “cinema” with some friends. I had my shinai with me, maybe because I had just come out of kendo practice. After the film, we left for the airport – I think it was Stansted. It was either after our flight or right before it when I realized I had left my shinai at the theater. I wanted to go back and get it, but my friends – who were suddenly all Japanese and unfamiliar – convinced me that would be impossible. I was flustered, but they seemed totally unconcerned. One member of the group suggested we all go back to his place, where I’d be able to get a new and improved shinai. I was confused, but everyone else seemed to understand.

We finally arrived at the house after a long walk. I was exhausted. We all made our way to the kitchen, where one of the girls started preparing a meal on the stove. It looked like spaghetti. Meanwhile, everyone began preparing me for some kind of ritual. I was brought to the corner of the kitchen, my back to the wall. My clothes were taken off and my wrists and ankles were bound so that I couldn’t move. I was given some kind of anesthetic. I entered a state of panic as my whole body went numb. Nonetheless as I looked at the faces around me I knew that I was in good hands. Suddenly the girl who had been at the stove came towards me with a big skillet full of steaming spaghetti and sauce. She threw the scalding food directly at my chest and I fell on my back.

The recipe must have had magical qualities, because as I lay on my back with the heap of spaghetti on my chest it started to take shape. Slowly it formed into a sphere, a floating ball, hot, full of energy, like a young planet. My friends, who had been so reticent, suddenly flooded me with instructions. One girl handed me a thick straw. I was to puncture the sphere’s crust with the straw and begin inhaling. Another girl hovered nearby with some kind of device that I couldn’t describe. A guy explained to me that this sphere contained various animal spirits that could imbue my new shinai. My task was to suck out an entire spirit and carefully breathe it out into that weird device.

I was ready. I inhaled and a thick smoke filled my lungs. The device was placed before me and I exhaled slowly. A pink humanoid shape wriggled free, out of my control, and escaped into the air and disappeared. It had looked really impressive. The people around me said that this was a famous ancient warrior, and was too powerful for me to contain. They encouraged me to try again. I could see through the sphere now and aimed to suck in a silver horse spirit. Again, I was unable to capture it. The process continued, with new colorful and proud-looking spirits escaping me. Finally all that remained in the sphere were a few small amphibious creatures. I breathed in a bright green frog and exhaled it carefully into the device. I had completed the ritual.

Despite the frog spirit’s small size, everyone cheered and congratulated me. Someone handed me a new shinai, and it glowed faintly with that same bright green color. I was disappointed that I had not been able to secure a better spirit for my shinai, but at the same time I was pleased. This was a rite of passage, and with my new shinai I would be able to further my training. The blade was warm in my hands. I held it firmly and opened my eyes.