Musuhi (Life-producing spirits) (むすひ)

Musuhi, a concept embraced in Shinto, refers to a spiritual influence that produces all the things in the universe and helps them develop and complete their cycle.
Musuhi can be spelled in Chinese word as '産霊,' '産巣日,' '産日,' or '産魂.'

It is said that the prefix 'musu' comes from the word 'umusu (産むす)' meaning 'to arise spontaneously,' with the letter 'u' being removed. The word 'musu (生す)' in the phrase 'koke musu (苔生す)' (moss grows, or to become old like moss grows) has the same origin. The suffix 'hi' represents spiritual and mysterious influence. In Shinto, it is considered that all the things in the universe are produced and develop by the power of 'Musuhi'. Musuhi is one of important briefs in Shinto, and the meaning of Musuhi was discussed by the study of Japanese classical literature after the Edo period.

There are many deities whose "shinmei" (the name of god) contains the word 'Musuhi (Musubi).'

Among the Zokasanshin (Three gods of creation), two gods have the word 'musuhi (musubi)' in their names: Takamimusubi and Kamimusubi. When Amaterasu shut herself in "Ama no iwato" (Cave of heaven), Takamimusubi ordered legions of deities to lure Amaterasu out and brought her back whereas Kamimusubi resuscitated Okuninushi, who had been murdered. From these episodes, we can understand that gods whose names contains the word 'Musuhi' were endowed with power to reinvigorate diminishing souls (in other words, a symbol of life force).

Among eight gods who were enshrined in the "Hasshinden" (eight shrines) in the Imperial Court, five gods have the word 'Musuhi (Musubi)' in their names. Those five gods are: Tamatsumemusubi, Ikumusubi, and Tarumusubi, in addition to the above-mentioned two deities, Kamimusubi and Takamimusubi.
Tamatsumemusubi (玉積産日神) and Tamatsumemusubi (魂留産霊) described in "Kogo-shui" (History of the Inbe clan) are the same god, and the word 'tamatsume (tamatome)' has the meaning of 'to fix a spirit to the body (repose of souls).'
The word 'iku' in Ikumusubi and the word 'iki' ('life,' or 'breath') have same origins, whereby those words are used to admire the influence of Musuhi. The word 'taru' in Tarumusubi refers to a state in which a place is filled with the influence of something (being sufficient).

Kagutsuchi (The kami of fire) is also known as 'Homusubi.'
After giving birth to Fire God Kagutsuchi, Izanami died from burns on her private parts. Raging against the accident, Izanagi (the husband of Izanami) stabbed Kagutsuchi to death, but a host of gods were born on this occasion. Homusubi has the word 'musubi' in his name because he is a god who can produce a host of deities. From this point, it becomes clear that Musuhi can also be defined as a symbol of the continuity of life in that a host of lives are produced even after death. Continuity is, in other word, 'musubi (a knot, or connection). A similar episode can be seen in the description of Wakumusubi in Chronicles of Japan. Wakumusubi also produced abundance of grain and so on after his death.

As the third definition of 'Musubi,' the word 'musubi (掬び)' can be included.
The word 'musubi (掬び)' has the meaning of 'to take a sip of water from your palms, which you fold like a bowl.'
Shinobu ORIKUCHI explains, 'The action of 'mizu o musubu' (to take a sip of water from your palms, which you fold like a bowl) is to take souls and spirits into human body and unite them. Humans who carry out this action can exhibit tremendous power.
In fact, to let souls and spirits get into water and to let them get into human body are the techniques of Musuhi.'
This action is also referred to as "misogi" (purification ceremony).

[Original Japanese]