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Mourning the Unborn DeadA Buddhist Ritual Comes to America$
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Jeff Wilson

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195371932

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195371932.001.0001

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“We Need to Free Ourselves”

“We Need to Free Ourselves”

Adaptations of Convert Mizuko Kuyō

(p.79) 3 “We Need to Free Ourselves”
Mourning the Unborn Dead

Jeff Wilson (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents a detailed description of a mizuko kuyō ritual performed at a convert Zen monastery in Oregon. It then proceeds to a full analysis of the ritual. Numerous changes can be seen in the process of adapting these rituals from a Japanese to an American convert context. Among the most important is the addition of sewing circles, wherein participants manufacture offerings for their mizuko and express their feelings about abortion and other pregnancy losses. The ritual is reoriented along psychological and vaguely Protestant lines, changing it from a rite to benefit fetal ghosts to an exercise in self-healing for the mother.

Keywords:   mizuko kuyō, pregnancy loss, psychology and religion, water baby, Zen ritual

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