A form of witchcraft in which a nobleman, warrior, or priest puts a spell on a fox or snake in order to obtain power over his victim. Also, a spell used by a Buddhist monk to summon demons called dagini or dakini to help a selfish person obtain power and wealth over others.
Though powerful, the spells do not always work as intended. In The Tale of the Heike, the ambitious Major Counselor Narichika performed Dagini Rites to pray for his promotion to a higher position of authority in the emperor’s government. First he hired one hundred monks to perform a seven day reading of the Great Wisdom Sutra, which caused three turtledoves in an orange tree overlooking a Buddhist shrine to peck each other to death—a bad omen. Next, Narichika spent seven nights at the Kamo Shrine, where he prayed to the Dagini for his promotion over his fellow majors. Finally, he hired a Buddhist monk to shut himself up in a hollow tree outside the Kamo Shrine to perform the Dagini ritual for a hundred days but the tree was struck by lightning in the middle of the ritual and the monk was scared out. Despite his attempts to engage evil spirits to do his bidding, Counselor Narichika was passed over for the promotion, possibly because his rival, the powerful leader of the Taira clan, Kiyomori, was using a more powerful version of the Dagini Rite.
According to the story, Kiyomori was suspected of employing an evil form of the Dagini Rite by using a witch animal to subdue or harm his rivals and steal their wealth for his own use. To accomplish this he hired a shaman or evil priest to tame a fox (a dog or snake can also be used) by feeding it treats of human food and then turn it into a witch animal completely under the control of the shaman and his demon idols.
Witch animals associated with Dagini Rites could become invisible and attack their victims without being detected, causing sickness or death. Witch animals could also be trained to go into a victim’s house and steal valuable items, including money and jewels, and bring them back to its master.
Japanese Mythology A-Z – Second Edition – Written by Jeremy Roberts – Copyright © 2010 by Jim DeFelice – Publisher : Chelsea House Publishers