Crimson Sacrifice Ritual
The Crimson Sacrifice Ritual is the primary ritual of Minakami Village. Enacted every few decades or so, the ritual involves twins (usually around the age of 15 years) as participants. Only in extreme cases are twins younger than 15 years used (as in the case of Akane and Azami Kiryu).
The inhabitants of Minakami Village believed that twins were one being whose soul had split in two at birth. The act of strangling one's twin was thought by the villagers to reunite their souls, thereby becoming "one" again, as before birth. Strong energy produced by the ritual's performance appeased the Hellish Abyss, thus preventing the Repentance from occurring.
By Minakami Village beliefs, the first-born twin was considered the younger twin and the second-born the elder, believing that the elder twin graciously allowed the younger to be born first, as they were weaker and could not survive as long in the womb.
When it is time for the Twin Shrine Maidens (or Altar Twins) to prepare for the ritual, they are moved into the "Twin Houses." This name is given to the Kiryu and Tachibana houses, since they are connected by a bridge and underground cavern. The twins will live there in seclusion until the ritual.
When they enter the houses, they undergo a purification ceremony to become priestesses. The twins dress in white kimonos, tied right over left, the traditional Japanese way of dressing the dead.
The elder twin strangles the younger, while the Veiled Priests rhythmically tap their staffs. The red mark left on the strangled twin's neck becomes a Crimson Butterfly that will watch over the village. The Mourners then throw the body of the killed twin into the Hellish Abyss in order to appease it. If the ritual is successful, then the Abyss will be placated for approximately 10 years. Not all rituals are successful, as in the case of the Tachibana Twins. When a sacrifice is not successful, another set of twins must perform the ritual again one year later. The act of killing one's twin and becoming one with him/her is what gives the ritual its potency; that is why Sae's solitary sacrifice is a failure.
There are some discrepancies as to where the ritual takes place. While the general concept of the ritual is for it to take place on the rock slab in the same room as the Hellish Abyss, trailers, game artwork, "Eternal Ritual" on the ghost list and the file photo Facing Twins suggest the room before the Abyss could have also been used previously as a location to perform the ritual.
Sometimes, the ritual may not be successful. There are many reasons why the ritual should fail; the twins may love each other too much to be a suitable sacrifice (such as the Tachibana twins), or the ritual may be performed incorrectly (such as in Sae's case, where she was sacrificed alone). In the case of a failure, another ritual must be done almost immediately (a year or so) afterwards if the Repentance is to be avoided.
The surviving twin is called the Remaining, whose duty is to protect and watch over the human world. If the ritual is successful, the Remaining will have a butterfly shaped bruise on their neck. In some cases, the trauma of having killed a sibling causes the remaining twin's hair to turn white. A Twin Deity Statue of the Shrine Maidens is erected somewhere in the village.
The sacrificed twin becomes a Crimson Butterfly, a protector of the village.
Sae's ritual, the last Crimson Sacrifice Ritual, was a failure due to Sae being sacrificed alone rather than at the hands of her twin sister. As a result, the Repentance occurred and the Darkness flooded from the Hellish Abyss, sweeping Minakami Village from the map. Most of the villagers died as a result of the Darkness.
The Crimson Sacrifice Ritual has also been referred to as:
- The Crimson Ritual
- The Visible Ceremony
- The Forbidden Ritual (秘祭)
- The Endless Ceremony
- Twins' Ceremony - alternative, non-fatal form of the ritual.