Demons At work

“It is not often that a human being gets through life without learning by experience how great a "power to injure" is contained in a single drop of boiling water. For this reason an article in the Wide World Magazine, on the Hot Water Ordeal of the Shintos, will appeal to most people with double force. 

It takes place in a peaceful looking temple. Some thirty priests, in gorgeous raiment, conduct a long and elaborate religious service as a preliminary to the ceremony. In front of the temple, in a square bounded by bamboos, two iron cauldrons are set up over crackling wood fires. Drums throb, banners flutter, priests chant, and coolies flit to and fro as attendant spirits on the leaping flames, the hissing, spluttering water.  

When all is ready, the devotees who are about to undergo the ordeal appear upon the scene, clad in white. After various preliminaries they seize bamboo branches tightly fastened together, dip them into the boiling water, and then drench themselves with a scalding shower-bath by means of those branches. Again and many times again this performance is repeated, till all the water in the cauldrons is used, the devotees dancing a wild dance all the time, and coming out of the ordeal unhurt, unscalded. The high priest, in his robes of white and gold, gives it as his opinion that the boiling water, if used in faith for a religious purpose, loses its power to hurt.” 

September 5, 1901 EJW, PTUK 573