Shugendo is a form of magic performed by the Shugenja of the Silverstars, whose power is granted by the Kami. It is practised in two main forms, the nenshugendo, or masculine path, and the joshugendo, or feminine path. Though not an absolute rule, almost all male shugenja follow danshugen, while almost all females follow joshugen.
Beyond this distinction between the male and female aspects, there is also an elemental separation between the various powers of shugendo. There is some disagreement about the exact nature and number of elements, but one of the most popular divisions is the five elements of earth, air, water and fire, each of which has its own strengths and weaknesses, and the elemental void, which is distinct from each of the other elements, and is only used by powerful shugenja. Both danshugen and joshugen will tend to primarily focus on the element that most reflects their own personality, and this will greatly affect what powers they can call upon.
Danshugen works through the exertion of the practitioners will over the powers of the Kami, coercing their power to the desires of the shugenja. This results in more explosive demonstrations of the kami's power, both figuratively and literally. While joshugen will tend to affect things already in the world, danshugenja will shape the power of the kami into new creations, whether calling up fire and lightning, summoning creatures and oni to do the shuenja's will, moving objects with their mind or bending time itself. Danshugen tends to focus on shorter, sharper, more obvious effects.
As opposed to danshugen, followers of joshugen attempt work with the Kami, allowing themselves to be more a channel or vessel of their power, rather than the controlling, driving force. It tends to provide softer, gentler powers, including healing the sick, divination through the use of trigrams, and binding and exorcising spirits. Occasionally, kami (particularly those associated with the fire element) will show their wrath in a more tangible manner, but for the most part the work of the joshugen tends to be quite subtle.
Historical Shugenja (OOC)
Shugenja were the 7th century practitioners of the Japanese religion of Shugendo. They were sometimes known as yamabushi “one who lies/hides in the mountains”. Yamabushi began as yamahoshi, isolated clusters (or individuals) of mountain hermits, ascetics, and "holy men", who followed the path of shugendō, a search for spiritual, mystical, or supernatural powers gained through asceticism
In their mountain retreats, these monks studied not only nature and religious/spiritual texts and images, but also a variety of martial arts. Whether they felt they had to defend themselves from bandits, other monks, or samurai armies is questionable, but the idea of studying martial arts as a means to improve oneself mentally and spiritually, not just physically, has always been central to Japanese culture, beyond the specific tenets of one religious sect or another.
As their reputation for mystical insight and knowledge grew, and their organization grew tighter, many of the masters of the ascetic disciplines began to be appointed to high spiritual positions in the court hierarchy. Monks and temples began to gain political influence. By the Nanboku-cho Period, in the 13th and 14th centuries, the yamabushi had formed organized cohorts called konsha, and these konsha, along with sōhei and other monks began to take direction from the central temples of their sects. They assisted Emperor Go-Daigo in his attempts to overthrow the Kamakura shogunate, and proved their warrior skills to be up to the challenge of fighting professional samurai armies.
An ancient Japanese religion in which enlightenment or oneness with Kami is obtained through the study of the relationship between Man and Nature. Shugendō literally means "the path of training and testing." It centers on an ascetic, mountain-dwelling lifestyle and incorporates teachings from Koshintō, Buddhism and other eastern philosophies including folk animism. Shugendo practitioners are the most direct lineage descendants of the ancient hijiri of the eight and ninth centuries. The focus or goal of shugendō is the development of spiritual experience and power.
Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yamabushi