Onmyoudou Awakening





The Graceful World

Many things were used by onmyouji over the years, and many more things were enjoyed in their own ways as well.  From holidays and observances to spells and chants, these things are still essential knowledge to any aspiring onmyouji.  Although each onmyouji may not use them or observe them in the same way, they are nonetheless important knowledge to have a cultural and historical base in onmyoudou.

~An Onmyoudou Calendar~

January 1-3 - Oshougatsu
This is a New Year's celebration, which is arguably the most important festival to many in Japan.  For three days there are festivities, many of which are related to eliminating the negative energies and inauspicious holdovers from the previous year, laying its bad luck to rest and hoping for good fortune to come.

During Oshougatsu, various special foods are eaten, games are played, and regular work is not done.  This time is so crucial that almost all energy is dedicated to things securing positive energy for the upcoming year, usually involving one's own household.  For many this includes relatives, but that is not necessarily always the case, especially nowadays.  Family has become what perhaps it should always have been, defined by the bonds of love that bind any who become close, whether they are bound by blood or not.

Namahage is also done during the New Year's celebrations in some locations, with certain members of the community dressing like traditional oni and visiting children and families, especially newcomers to the area.  The costume generally consists of a straw garment and a mask, and the oni make a great deal of noise and roar; they're usually well-received although some children genuinely do get scared!  However, the custom is not to cause fear or panic, but instead to make a general kind of welcome and make sure that the children will be good during the following year.

February 3 - Setsubun
During this similarly oni-related ceremony, soybeans are roasted and then scattered from the threshold of a home while chanting the phrase 'fuku wa uchi, oni wa soto!'  Translated this means 'in with good luck, out with oni!'  This symbolizes the desire for good luck...rather than the presence of beings believed by many to cause bad fortune by their presence alone...in the following year.  Oni are driven out until the next Setsubun, when they return and the ritual is repeated faithfully.

February 11 - Kenkoku Kinenbi
This day celebrates the historically-regarded founding of Japan under the first official emperor, Jimmu.  This emperor was and is believed to have descended directly from divine lineage.

March 3 - Hina Matsuri or Momo no Sekku
This festival is also known as the Dolls' Festival or the Girls Festival, during which hinaningyou, special dolls, are set up to represent a classical imperial household.  These can range from the simple and quaint to quite elaborate fare.  Legend maintains that if the dolls are not taken down by midnight after the festival ends, however, the girls in the house will either not marry or marry late, and thusly this festival is chiefly done in households with unmarried females as the reason the dolls are displayed is to bring these women good luck in love and romance.

March 21 - Shunbun no Hi
Somewhere around this day falls the spring equinox, also known as the vernal equinox.  It is important for various reasons in various cultures both over Japan and all over the world, and it is a time of great and bountiful energy.  This can be used to advantage, but it can also be overwhelming to some.  However, others find it a time of unsurpassed serenity and insight, focus and ability to focus.

In some parts of Japan it is the chiefest and final day in a week-long observation that evolved from a chiefly Buddhist influence, which observes the remembrance of those who have passed from this life and marked by visits to grave markers and, occasionally, family reunions.  It is called Higan and matches a similar observation in September.

During the equinox it is common to consider Spring in full swing, and during this time many years the sakura, or cherry, blossoms have also reached the full-bloom stage, called mankai.  In Japanese culture the sakura is viewed as a romantic metaphor, representing many things; the beauty of the sakura is almost indescribable while it is in full bloom, but it fades quickly and disappears for another year.  Huge orchards of sakura trees are often occupied from February to April by eager enthusiasts who typically bring blankets to set their picnic lunch on, and eat with friends or family.  Vast amounts of alcohol are also consumed during this time, traditionally.

April 8 - Hana Matsuri
The festival of flowers is held in commemoration of the birth of Buddha.  This is an especially important festival for those who adhere to Buddhist traditions, and the statues of Buddha in homes of those who revere him (as well as temple statues) are typically anointed with a special tea for the occasion.

April 29 - Midori no Hi
While this holiday is not a traditional holiday in the purest sense of the word, its purpose is admirable and its intentions pure.  It marks the beginning of Golden Week, a holiday week in Japan that is very highly regarded, especially by children.  More importantly, however, it urges everyone to appreciate the nature around them and to be mindful of the environment.  Emperor Showa began this holiday, which originally celebrated his birthday; it became Midori no Hi because of his passionate love for nature and his understanding of the need for conservation.

May 5 - Kodomo no Hi
Although called Children's Day, this day is actually more accurately called Boys Day.  The male equivalent to Hina Matsuri, on this day dolls in samurai outfits are displayed and colorful carp windsocks, called koinobori, are flown for each male child in the household.  The carp is supposed to symbolize great strength since it must fight against the stream itself to succeed, and this strength is hoped for in these children.

July 7 - Tanabata
Tanabata is a romantic star festival that also may be held on August 8 in certain areas.  During this festival, people will write their wishes on colorful pieces of paper and hang them from bamboo trees.  It is believed that these wishes will come true.  Some compose their wishes in the form of tanka poems, a classical style of Japanese poetry.

The festival derives from a story of a shepherd corresponding to the constellation Kengyu and a princess corresponding to the constellation Shokujo.  These two fell in love but were unable to meet, forbidden to do so except on Tanabata.  It is on this day that they meet in the Milky Way.  However, if it rains they must wait until the next year, so rain on Tanabata is inauspicious, especially for romantic matters.  Tanabata is a hopeful festival for the fulfillment of wishes and especially those related to romance.

July 20 - Umi no Hi
A relatively new festival, this celebration relates to the seas and oceans, and indeed all water, reflecting on its gifts to the world and the need to care for the water too.

August 15 - Obon
One of the most introspective and thoughtful times of the year, Obon occurs just as summer is winding down but reaching its hottest temperatures, and outdoors festivals with booths and festivities such as fireworks are common.  During this time many people return to their hometown if they live in a city, as many larger cities do not hold Obon celebrations due to the congestion of the waterways.

It is believed that, during Obon, the spirits of those departed may return to the world of the living to visit.  Because of this many things are done to commemorate the occasion and make it more grand, such as visiting and upkeep of family graves, bon odori or Obon dances to welcome, celebrate, and send off the spirits, and then the custom known as shoro nagashi, where paper lanterns are set afloat on a river to the sea, to guide the spirits back to the world of spirits.  If someone in the household or family has passed away during the previous year, other special things may be done to honor the memory of those who passed.

During Obon there is a great abundance of spiritual and supernatural activity, but most of it is benign.  Due to the nature of Obon, many people find it supremely introspective and feel the need to contemplate heavily during the celebrations, even as they enjoy themselves outdoors and indoors.  At this time historically it was customary to tell stories of ghosts and the supernatural; this was done all during the summer but culminated in the festival of Obon.  The underlying reason behind this is believed to be that the scary stories caused sweat, which subsequently cooled off those telling stories!

September 13-15 - Otsukimi
Tsukimi, respectfully called Otsukimi, refers to the viewing of the Moon.  Traditionally it was done on several days during various months, and it is still done by some in August, September, and October.  Some even observe it during the other months of the year, but the harvest Moon in September is typically the most vivid; this Moons escorts Autumn in, and as the sky becomes cooler and the energy of the world quieter, the Moon's light and beauty are most stunning at this time.

Although it is recommended traditionally that Otsukimi take place on the dates given, a full moon is preferable to any other phase and it is recommended moreover that Otsukimi take place during a full moon.  Because of this, it is advised that you find out the full moon closest to these dates and hold Otsukimi then.

Otsukimi is typically commemorated by making Moon-shaped mochi, Moon-shaped dumplings, and Moon-viewing noodles (noodles topped with a fried egg or round, Moon-shaped tofu) while gazing upon the Moon's beauty.  Pampas grass or other decorative grass may be arranged in a vase, and offerings of harvested goods are typically given unto the Moon during Otsukimi.  Traditional music is usually listened to, and quiet company or solitude is preferred.  Artists, during this time, gather inspiration by the Moon's mysterious energies and potent powers, drinking in creative spark for their work.

September 23 - Shuubun no Hi
Typically around this day is a celebration of the autumnal equinox, another day of powerful magic and energy like its spring counterpart.  For most intents and purposes the two days are more or less the same other than the seasons they usher in.  Whereas the spring equinox was more of a time of awakening of energies and a lively, youthful burst that grew into Summer's ebullience, the autumn equinox is a time of the last flickering of the fire begun with Spring, before it fades to embers to weather out Winter.

As with Spring, this day also marks the last day of a week-long Buddhist commemoration of the departed, and family reunions and maintenance of graves are again commonplace during this time.

November 3 - Bunka no Hi
This day is set aside to celebrate and maintain the rich traditional culture of the past.  Ideals of love and free thought are encouraged through cultural activities, and typically awards from the Emperor himself are given to those who work to maintain cultural standards that might otherwise be lost to time.

November 15 - Shichi-Go-San
On this day girls of three and seven, and boys of five are taken to shrines in order to receive blessings.  The roots of this practice lie in traditional beliefs related to these numbers due to the auspicious nature believed to be inherent in odd numbers.

November 23 - Kinrou Kansha no Hi
On this day of thanks for labor's fruits, gratitude is shown for the hard work of others and the harvest that has by now been totally gathered.  Offerings are given to deities on this day, especially ones associated with fertility of both people and crops.  Naturally harvest deities are high on this list.  The Emperor takes part in a ceremony on this day that is dedicated to rice deities of the harvest.

December 31 - Omisoka
As more or less a preparatory celebration for Oshougatsu, Omisoka nonetheless has many traditions of its own to assist the observances of the New Year.  In various ways cleansing is performed during Omisoka of the body, the spirit, and the home and area.  In temples on this day, bells are rung 108 times according to tradition.  Many preparations are made for Oshougatsu celebrations, and this is a time of great excitement in anticipation for the New Year.

It is said that staying awake all through the night and seeing the first sunrise of the New Year will give longevity to any who do it.  This has become a widespread practice now and is done by many people as their way of ushering in the New Year personally, giving them the whole night to consider the past year and its departure.

~Chants of Onmyouji~

Although chants are not viewed as essential or even necessary by some onmyouji, others swear by them and would not do without them.  The purpose of chants is to attune the body, mind, spirit, and so forth by the vibrations produced through them.  Some people find it satisfying simply to chant elongated vowel sounds or isolated syllables, whereas others repeat certain words and phrases for the desired effect.  Admittedly those of a more Buddhist leaning are more likely to use chants in order to achieve effect.

'om mani padme hum' - Perhaps the most well-known of all chants, this one is used often for both beginners and advanced practitioners of meditation.  The meaning of the chant has reference to the jewel in the lotus, which refers to the fact that the lotus is born of mud but not held down or soiled by it.  It is said by many that the simple recitation of this mantra may bring great serenity to one and one's surroundings; it need not even be actually said but instead may be thought or meditated upon.  To attune with the things surrounding by understanding this mantra also has been said to strengthen its potency a thousandfold.

'akuryou taisan' - Usually said emphatically, this is less of a repeated chant than it is a verbal command to accompany the use of ofuda or to activate a spell.  The purpose of the words is to disperse wicked or malevolent spirits or entities, or to stop them from coming to a certain place.

The word 'taisan' by itself means disperse, so any word may precede it to be used in a similar way.  While a verbal component is not necessary in most cases, it may nonetheless improve the effectiveness of a spell, exorcism, or dealing with an entity or being.  In the case of anything with 'taisan', the verbal component may energize you and those who hear it, and the power of these words may assist your purpose.

~Mudra of the Nine Cuts~

This is one of the most well-known chants and procedures, although many do not recognize it by its name.  Mudra are hand gestures that are thought to have originated in Indian mysticism, which also influenced Buddhism both in India and abroad.  Each of the nine 'cuts' pertains to a different area which that cut may hold power over, and each cut represents a certain sphere of thought.  Together they are considered quite a formidable spell indeed, as the appropriate mindfulness necessary to put potency behind each symbolic syllable signifies a truly strong being indeed.

The mantra altogether is 'rin pyou tou sha kai jin retsu zai zen'.  Each syllable has a specific mindset and mudra to it, which is usually what is seen in anime and manga series being quickly displayed by exorcists, onmyouji, Shinto priests and priestesses, and sorcerers of all kinds.  It is sometimes followed up by the verbal command 'akuryou taisan' and similar such things, and it is believed that the kujikiri, or 'nine cuts', can be applied to nearly any magical working.

More a focus of powers towards a certain goal, if one is mindful of the goal and understands the purpose of the various mudra, surely that goal will be empowered and strong indeed.  Because of this, the kujikiri is widely-used for all purposes.

The mudra for rin is hands folded, with the middle fingers extended against each other.  The thumbs may or may not be folded.
Its mantra is 'on bai shira man tou ya sowaka'.
Rin deals with strength, and not just physical strength.  The strength of character, of optimism and the ability to be happy also come from the strength here.
image of rin

The mudra for pyou is hands folded with thumbs and index fingers extended, with like fingers against each other; middle fingers curl over the index fingers and meet.  The thumbs may or may not be folded.
Its mantra is 'on i shanaya in taraya sowaka'.
Pyou's particular sphere is energy direction.  This has been used in more than one instance for a character in manga or anime to direct his or her spell or magical energy, and this is more or less the purpose of the mudra.  But do not forget, this may also assist you in directing energies within yourself.
image of pyou

The mudra for tou is hands folded with the last two fingers extended into the shape of a v, with like fingers against each other.  Thumbs are extended, while the other fingers are interlocked inwards.
Its mantra is 'on jiretarashi i taraji barata no oh sowaka'.
Tou's sphere is harmony, and with everything.  This deals with things outside and inside oneself, so it is helpful in many ways and on many levels.
image of tou

The mudra for sha is hands folded with index fingers, thumbs, and little fingers extended and against each other, with other fingers interlocked inwards.
Its mantra is 'on hayabaishira mataya sowaka on no oh makusanmanda'.
Sha heals and has great power over healing oneself and others.  Those who use the mudra understand that healing is a much greater power than destroying life, and sha heals on every level.
image of sha

The mudra for kai is simply interlocking all fingers, basically folding the hands.
Its mantra is 'basara dankanon aganaya inmaya sowaka'.
Kai assists in empathy, but moreso than jin it deals with foreknowledge of potential dangers.  With kai one can reach out and sense danger in the immediate surroundings, even if it has not yet arrived.
image of kai

The mudra for jin is hands folded with all fingers interlocked inwards, with thumbs extended and together.
Its mantra is 'on hirota kisha nogajiba tai sowaka on chiri chi ibaro'.
Jin assists with understanding of others' thoughts and feelings, as well as obscuring of your own.  With the use of jin it must be made clear that conscientious and responsible use of this power is the only way that any onmyouji should proceed.  Irresponsible intrusion into the feelings and secret thoughts of others is not to be done by any serious onmyouji.
image of jin

The mudra for retsu is the index finger of the left hand pointing up, with the fingers of the right hand curled around it.  The right thumb is pressed against the outside edge of the nail of the pointing finger.
Its mantra is 'taya sowaka'.
Retsu deals with one's space and time, usually time a bit moreso.  Using retsu, one may achieve some control over the passage of personal time.
image of retsu

The mudra for zai is palms forward, fingers extended and spread.  The thumbs and index fingers of both hands should be touching each other to form a triangle between them.
Its mantra is 'on chiri chi ibaro taya sowaka'.
Zai encourages greater communication with and understanding of nature and the world surrounding, which in turn allows ease in working with nature to the advantage of the onmyouji.
image of zai

The mudra for zen is the right hand covering the left, and the two thumbs either touching at the tip or folded.
Its mantra is 'on araba sha no oh sowaka'.
Zen is enlightenment, bringing together the other eight to a fulfilling whole.
image of zen


Ofuda are rectangular pieces of paper imbued with enchantment and painted with symbols and designs.  There are vast types of ofuda in use even today, for almost any purpose.  The word 'fuda' means 'token' and has also come to signify 'card' (most typically in 'hanafuda', a popular card game).  In many ways the meaning of 'card' is most applicable to this, since essentially ofuda are rectangular strips of paper much like cards.

The methods for designing ofuda vary so sharply, and many methods are lost to time.  It seems that almost every study of onmyoudou has its own way of creating ofuda and what the symbols mean, and so an attempt to definitively assign meaning to these would be an exercise in futility.  However, there are standards that can be applied even to something so diverse, in order to make it a little simpler.

ofudaTo start with, most ofuda are rectangular.  Most are taller than they are wide, much like a large bookmark.  They can be made out of any material, although many prefer to make them out of rice paper, which has sacred properties.  Rice paper, a thin and nicely-textured paper, can also be easily attached to surfaces when dampened on the blank side with simple water.  Rice paper is sold at most craft supply stores and can be bought in reasonably-priced pads or the more attractive rolls, which are especially useful if you intend to do much work with ofuda, shime-kazari, and shikigami paper components.

There is no particular type of ink or paint that must be used for creating ofuda, and likewise it is unnecessary to be an expert at shodou, Japanese calligraphy.  All that is necessary is that the onmyouji be mindful of the purpose of the ofuda, and that this ofuda be used for that purpose.

Most ofuda are simple affairs and quite straightforward.  It is unnecessary to use arcane symbols or designs unless they have meaning to you as this will only complicate the design and may interfere with the effectiveness of the ofuda.  If you cannot manage to write in Japanese, write in English.  It will change nothing as long as the intention behind the ofuda remains.  As with many things, it is not the instrument being used, but the person who uses it.

Ofuda may be applied in a variety of ways as well.  The most common way is to attach the ofuda to what it is supposed to affect.  This may be done by dampening the blank side and pressing it against the object.  This can also effectively seal something inside an object or cause an object (perhaps a lively one) to become dormant until the seal is broken.  The ofuda need not even be directly attached to anything and can be suspended over a door, to protect a room from being entered by a certain force.  Directional ofuda can be hidden behind picture frames and under tablecloths in a room, to secretly guard it from hostile forces.  Ofuda may also be burned to release the energies in them; this may be used alongside sealing energies into an ofuda to disperse the energies so that they will be free to reform into non-negative things.


Spells and enchantments are part and parcel of ofuda and many of the other responsibilities of an onmyouji as well.  It is important to choose symbols and methods which have actual meaning to the onmyouji rather than what is recommended by someone else.  If it works for someone else, it may not work for you.  On the other hand, it may be perfect; it is up to you to experiment with these things and try to find what will suffice.

Shapes and designs often play a large part in design of spells, and many are important almost universally.  For example, the simple circle is most commonly seen as an element of protection or sealing; a shimenawa wrapped around the trunk of a sacred tree denotes it as sacred and helps preserve the energies within the tree.  Many sorcerers still use a circle to this day in spells and magical workings, in order to protect themselves and the world around them from possible unforeseen consequences of this work.

In some ofuda, a 'roof' is used to surround the symbols, beginning with a 'T' shape at the top and going into a large rectangular shape without a bottom.  Within the shape is drawn symbols relating to the spell.  At the bottom of these, many have lines of circles that are connected depending on the nature of the spell and the needed focus for it.  This may match hand gestures that are 'air-writing' in kanji for a specific purpose.  Some ofuda feature a five-sided star at the top as a symbol of elemental balance and protection.  However, this differs from onmyouji to onmyouji and cannot be reliably discussed.  Regardless, the designs are there chiefly to provide focus.  A skilled onmyouji can do without them or make due with what he has.

To cite an example, in one story an onmyouji used a tube of lipstick to design a protective kekkai, or barrier, on the ground.  It served its purpose to defend her against negative forces attempting to assault her and the person she protected.  It didn't matter that she had used no special supplies or preparations, because she was skilled enough to do what she did decisively.  Essentially almost all physical components of any spell can be explained away as simple window-dressing.  However, to many they do serve an important purpose in that, assisting focus and making the onmyouji feel more capable and secure.

As well as this, it may be easier in some cases to use physical components such as ofuda to remind you of the purpose of your spells.  If you seal a jar full of potentially negative energies without an ofuda and later forget it was sealed, you may mistakenly unseal it and unintentionally cause your hard work to be negated.  As well as this, physical charms and enchanted items serve an excellent and useful purpose in that they can be charged with a spell and keep that charge, even if you forget about them.  You are able to charge them (and recharge if necessary) at any time, typically when you are feeling well and energetic.  Then you will not have to worry about performing a spell when you really don't feel capable of doing so.

However, on the other side of this, losing a magically-charged item can be disastrous if there is too much reliance on it.  Be sure either to create a backup or take great care not to lose it, and in any case never rely heavily on any external objects.  It will be difficult to follow this all the time, as there will be objects you find yourself growing great affection towards.  But if you find this happening, then simply remember that extra care must be taken with these objects so that you do not lose them.

Spell-casting is done in a variety of ways, again as many ways as there are onmyouji.  Some prefer to meditate upon the purpose of their spell, then cast it simply.  Others prefer making a ritual out of it and lighting candles or a fire and incense.  Still others cast spells at the moment they are needed, whispering quietly to themselves as they hold the first two fingers on both hands together by the undersides and focusing themselves before sliding the fingers apart; the sound can be a potent magical sound, much like that of the shime-kazari.  Others use the 'air-writing' method, wherein they trace the shape of a symbol (sometimes a geometric shape, sometimes a particular kanji) in the air before them, giving it energy and sending it as a spell towards their focus.  It again depends on the particular onmyouji as to whether he traces the symbol so that it faces him or so that it faces his target.  Many geometric symbols will be symmetrical and this will not matter, whereas kanji will often have a particular direction to face.

It is again up to you as onmyouji to decide what will work best for you.  Simply taking something verbatim from any resource will likely not work for you as well as something that truly suits you and is tailored to your personal needs and preferences.  Because of this it is advised that you continue doing extensive research into the subject, trying various methods until you find the most suitable method.


Omamori are charms now commonly found in most Shinto shrines for purchase.  These are charms made up of a consecrated item sewn inside a small embroidered pouch, typically with the purpose of the omamori embroidered onto it, and sometimes the name of the shrine as well.  These are simple to make using fabric remnants and inexpensive embroidering thread, but unless you know how to sew it may be advisable to find someone who can help you.

The first step is consecrating an item.  It should be relatively small since omamori are not large themselves.  Some shrines use wood, others use paper, still others use other substances they prefer.  Again, it matters not so much what you use as what you do with what you have.  Consecrate the item and then make a small rectangular pouch around it.  Sew the pouch up and then sew it shut.  If you are good with knots, you can tie the drawstrings in a decorative knot, then tie the ends in a knot to form a loop.  This will make it easier for people to wear or hang in places where they need the omamori's energies.

As you become more skilled in making omamori, it's a simple matter to add distinctive touches such as embroidery or other things like beads or patchwork designs.  There is no need to feel constrained by the traditional design, although it is advisable that omamori be kept relatively small so as to be most useful and portable.  It is not essential to embroider them with their purposes, but it does help in keeping them organized as to which one serves which purpose.


Omikuji is a traditional form of divination still in use at shrines today.  With it you reach in and take a long, thin piece of wood from a container, then you are given the fortune from the corresponding compartment.  There are many variations on this, but essentially it is the same basic concept.  You can easily create this yourself by making very good, good, average, bad, and very bad fortunes, then create a system of random choice such as straws, decorated hashi (chopsticks), toothpicks, or even slips of paper.  You can even make several fortunes for one choice, making it even more versatile.  Play around with it and try to make it as diverse and flexible as possible, to improve its accuracy and to make it more applicable.


Shime-kazari are zigzag pieces of folded paper that are typically used on wands or woven into ropes.  The wands can be called shime wands or gohei, and the rope is called shimenawa.  Shime-kazari, sometimes simply called shime (or shide), are easily folded from any paper.  As before, rice paper is preferred by some for its sacred qualities.  It is also very affordable and works well in rolls.  Whatever your preference, shime are easily made.

Simply take a rectangular piece of paper and fold it over in the middle folding shime-kazariso that it is wider than it is long.  Then make three cuts, dividing the paper into four equal parts.  The first and last cut should go from the top of the paper towards the bottom (do not cut all the way), and the second cut should be in the middle, from the bottom towards the top.  Again, none of these cuts should extend all the way across the paper, just most of the way.  We don't want several pieces of paper, it still must be folded as one.

Then all you do is, starting at the left and keeping the paper together, fold the next strip down.  Keep doing this until you have a zigzag, and there is your shime!

Shime, like brooms in the traditional magic of the West, correspond to an air element and are typically used for purification.  Shimenawa, like torii, often denote the sacred and are often put on torii to denote the boundaries of sacred premises.  The sound of shime blowing in the wind makes a soothing 'shh, shh' noise that it is believed pacifies negative energies and disperses them.  Shime-kazari should be replaced when they become weathered or exhausted from negative energy, but with careful usage they can last for years.

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