Basic Terms of Shinto 神道基本用語集

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Text Pollution. Thought originally to have meant an unusual condition. Some scholars interpret it to mean the exhausting of vitality. In Shinto, it is regarded as inauspicious, the source of unhappiness and evil, and as an impediment to religious ceremonies. Pollution is removed by avoiding participation in religious matters and social life for a certain period of time, and by performing ceremonies of exorcism or purification (harae). Until the middle ages, the death of humans and domestic animals, childbirth, menstruation, eating meat, and sickness, were all regarded as sources of pollution. Today emphasis is placed more on mental or spiritual pollution. See also tsumi, imi, kibuku.