Page:Occult Japan - Lovell.djvu/167

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151
INCARNATIONS.

themselves suddenly into clouds of opal smoke, that, surging, floated off, and then slowly settled down. Through the flame the maeza passed the written sheets emblematic of disease; passed them as usual to and fro unharmed; till, letting each stay still a moment there, it caught and was carried up into the crannies of the room. Many ills of life thus vanished into thin air.

Other things were likewise passed through the flame to gain like virtue; each man thus purified his rosary, with which he afterward rubbed what part of his body he wished to be pure and strong; and finally the gohei itself, for quintessence of purification, was taken from the altar, purified by the fire, and put back in place.

This finished the first service. The incense altar was then removed, sheets of paper were spread on the mats in its stead, and the gohei-wand was taken from the shrine and set upright in the midst. Plain paper! plain pine-wood! plain pilgrim dresses! Truly the neutral tints of self-effacement as near nothing as symbols can well show; the very apotheosis of vacancy.

All the performers except the nakaza