Shamanic Worlds of Korea and Northeast Asia, 1-3





Mudan’s Gifts



Gut Worlds



Shamanic Worlds of Manc^uria



Shamanic Worlds of Si-c^uan



Jeju Family Rite



Healing Dynamics



Worlds of Evil



1. (pp. 3-28) Korean Mudan’s Gifts for Her People

p. 2 seek, and ye shall find

"She or he ... commonly has dreams of contact with gods and spirits ... . She may wander in the mountains, sometimes finding ... the buried tools or clothes of a deceased mudang. One of the women ...

found a rock that she had seen in a dream. She preserves it on the altar of her home as a sacred treasure."

{Finding a stone in the waking world a stone which one hath seen in a dream is a common vocationary experience introducing persons into shamanhood in Californian Indians’ personal experience. Such a stone would be retained as a sacred relic.}

p. 3 mudan’s abilities

"The term "shaman’s gift" customarily refers to a shaman’s extraordinary abilities to enter visionary trance, perform physical or psychic feats, deal with gods and spirits, or heal."

p. 4 religious rites

"A rite may be performed ... outside in nature before a spring ... or a strangely shaped mountain rock. The action may take the form of ... beating gong before a low table set with simple food offerings.

A full-blown gut, however, ... is performed by a band of colorfully dressed mudang and musicians before altar tables piled high with rice cakes and fruit, beneath pictures of numerous deities."

p. 5 instance of the motivation for being consecrated as mudan in a naerim-gut

"A married woman ... had experienced years of physical illness, mental difficulties, and marital problems. ... Finally, the woman consulted a mudang, who judged that her problems were due to the "spirit illness." She could be cured, the shaman said, only by having a Naerimgut and becoming a mudang."

p. 8 instance of dreams leading to vocation as mudan; naerim-gut & marriage

"he had a dream : A white-haired grandmother descended from a mountain near Seoul, handed him a paper on which were written thirty syllabic characters, and told him to pick out one. ...

In another dream, a white horse came and swallowed him up into its belly, where he could see its bowels. Once out of the horse, he began riding it ... . From the next day on, he wore only white clothes. ...

One day, a white-haired grandfather came to him from the highest mountain in Korea ... . ... At that moment two long streamers of white cloth descended from the heavens to make a ladder. He took this as a command to ascend, which he did, rolling up the cloth ladder behind him. In the sky, he saw two majestic kings, who told him he can water flowers and should hurry back down to earth. Without more ado, someone kicked him out of the sky; and he landed on a white sand beach, where he found thirty syllabic characters.

... the man had a Naerimgut performed and became a mudang. ... Serving a god called Thirty Spirits, the deity of the beach characters, he kept his new-found peace of mind. ... he married; but he never slept with his wife."

p. 9 spirit-illness leading to naerim-gut

"A person tormented by the spirit illness in Korea may suspect that the affliction marks a call to become a mudang, but she or he resists the call ... . Finally, however, one acknowledges the need to submit to fate and undergo the Naerimgut, the Rite for the God’s Descent. ... a Korean initiate commonly undergoes initiation ... to seek healing".

p. 12 promise made in the naerim-gut

"Officiant : What will you become?

Initiate : I will become the people’s mudang.

Officiant : What will you do as the people’s mudang?

Initiate : I will live for those, who are mistreated and victimized".

pp. 17, 23 simban-priests on Jeju Island

p. 17

"rite on Jeju Island to call back a man’s "lost soul." Thoughmost mainland shamans are female ..., on this island most are male shamans called simbang ... . ... the officiating simbang ... used ritual knives to press the seventh vertebrae, where the soul is thought to return. He sprayed a mouthful of water on the man’s head in a gesture of purification."

p. 23

"the simbang ... does a dance holding bamboo sprigs with white papers attached, apparently to attract the gods ... . ... The simbang themselves are said to act as helpers of gods or spirits ... . At one point, all stand; .. and the simbang places symbolic clothes of the god on the table of offerings as a further sign that the god is present. His or her presence is verified by


divination in the form of tossing knives, old coins, and little cups until they land in a favorable combination."

{In Bon divination, the priest tosses dice until they land in a propitious combination.}

pp. 25-6 rites for the dead : in southwestern Korea, and in Seoul

p. 25

"In the Southwest death rite called Ssitgimgut, Rite of Cleansing, the mudang summons the departed souls of friends of the deceased and prays to ... the god Jeseok to bring the family peace. ... she performs the Gopuri, Knot-Loosening Rite, a dance to loosen loop knots loosely tied in a long white cloth ... . Dressed in pure white ..., the shaman slowly and gracefully swings the loop knots free to the accompaniment of sorrowful music and chant. The word go (loop knot) forms a pun with go (... bitterness), and the knotted loops symbolize the bitter tangles of frustration and regret that life can leave bound ... . The symbolic dance gesture evokes the hope that death will bring release from life’s pain and frustration. Indeed, it is thought to achieve such release, accomplishing what it signifies as a sacramental action. {The gesture is an instruction to the death-deities to set the dead person’s soul free from such frustration.} The mudang goes on to cleanse the soul of the deceased by brushing with water a human-like figure ... . {This is done as an instruction to the death-deities to cleanse the dead person’s soul.}

p. 26

Finally, in the Jildakgeum, Cleansing of the Road, a long white cloth is stretched out lengthwise to become the path to the other world. ... mudang send off the deceased, ... as they pass along the cloth white paper symbols of the dead in a graceful dance." {This is an instruction to the death-deities to conduct the dead gracefully into the Otherworld.}


"At the end of a Seoul death rite, the Jinogwigut, a mudang leads the deceased to peace dressed in the elegant royal robes of the psychopomp spirit, Bari Gongju, the Abandoned Princess. She escorts the deceased to the "good place" in a graceful, slow-paced dance ... before a "gate of thorns" to the other world". {To wear the psychopompess-goddess’s robes will serve to help confirm the instruction to that goddess to guide the soul of the dead person via the Thorny Gate into the Otherworld.}

p. 27 arranged by the living : marriages amongst souls of the dead

"A gut ... includes the posthumous marriage of the soul of an unmarried man with that of an unmarried woman out of the notion that a person needs to be married".

{Not only is arranged marriage for the dead practiced in China; but it is also known to tribes in southern India.}


2. (pp. 29-58) Dramatic and Gut Worlds

pp. 49-51 caelestial mansion for the dead; attempt by a death-fiend to lasso the dead

p. 49

"A mudang adds ... to an East Coast Ogwigut for the dead ... a comic interlude in which she depicts the building of a mansion for the deceased in the sky. First she fashions tools, mimicking a blacksmith in stylized gestures.


He gets injured in the process, ... with ... deformities".

{The smith-god Hephaistos is likewise depicted as crippled.}

p. 50

"Mouth grotesquely stuffed with rice cake, ... a rapacious villain ... tries to lasso the soul of the deceased ... .

{The villain-god involved in lassoing may be associated with the god Varun.a}


The family of the deceased gleefully fends the Messenger off in mock battle ... . ... .

p. 51

... believers ... can shudder with fear at the approach of the Messenger, laugh at his antics ... . ... The world of gut laughter ... provides cathartic release".

{Both the shuddering and the laughter are able to entertain the deities who are watching the performance on their own behalf. Such entertainment will furnish its rewards, delivered to mortals by those deities.}

p. 55 a lullaby for a baby

"lullaby expressing a mother’s love and the wonder of birth :

... lullaby, my love,

Where have you come from, where have you been?

Did you fall from heaven, sprout from the earth?

Have you come wrapped in the summer clouds that hide steep peaks?"


3. (pp. 59-87) Shamanic Worlds of Manc^uria

pp. 60-1 pantheon of the Fu clan of Manc^u ("each clan worships different gods or spirits.")

p. 60

"The main god is the Sky God,


who changes every 500 years.

{"Heaven raises a Sage-King every five hundred years. When Confucius came along, he was supposed to be King." ("R&FS")} {This 500-year cycle is the Kec^ua Pac^akutek.}


The female sky god Abakaihehe and her son, the sky god Abakaienduli, originally created human beings ... .

p. 61

There are eight groups of disciple gods or spirits ... :

Changbai Mountain,

the Sungari River (Songhuajiang),

the Ussuri River (Wusulijiang),

Mohe (a small river at the northern tip of [Manchuria]),

the Russian peninsula {island} of Sakhalin, and

the East Sea."

"R&FS" =

p. 61 parts of the body wherethrough deities enter shamans

body-part of shaman







animals (Wild Swine, Hawk, Snake)



p. 61 Manc^u shaman as a healed patient

Shaman’s "performing the ritual dances" : "He had become a shaman after being healed from a physical problem, and he meant that he was performing an act of worship."

pp. 71-2 Manc^u shamans’ garb

p. 71

"The shamans’ garments are ... including two headdresses decorated with peacock feathers

{Peacockfeather-adorned headdresses are likewise characteristic of jhankri (Nepalese shamans).}.


and three mirrors used by shamans to deal with ghosts (gui). ... .

p. 72

... the two principal shamans put on their shaman headdresses, blue shaman skirts, and waist bells."

p. 72 Manc^u walking by deities

"A horse is walking on water, like a dragon;

{Divine horses which gallop on water are known in Irish mythology.}

The gods walk fast, on clouds."

p. 73 Manc^u spirits invited by drumming

"We drum to invite the spirits,

The spirits of scholars to the east,

The spirits of soldiers to the west."

p. 73 Manc^u shamans’ journey into the Netherworld

"According to the chant’s ... geography of the spirit eco-system,

the shaman encounters on his way

the God of the Underworld and many spirits and ghosts (gui); and

he must cross the Yellow River in the Sky. ...

{"Yellow Heaven has actually presided ... over the whole of history, starting with the very creation by P>an-ku and Nu:-wa ... . (One is reminded of the Gnostic ... demiurge.) The poet therefore travels to heaven and prostrates himself before Yellow Heaven" (SS, p. 26).}

The second shaman then takes up two large steel chopper blades. Wielding them in the air ..., he dramatically opens the gates of heaven and the underworld (Tiantang diyu)

SS = Jonathan Chaves : Singing of the Source: nature and god in the poetry of the Chinese painter Wu Li. U of HI Pr, 1993.

p. 75 Manc^u spirit-possession of shamans by deities

"five gods ... appear one by one and possess on of the shamans.

First comes the Wild Boar God;

then the Prince of the Underworld;

third, Emperor Tang Taizong;

fourth, a god called Xianfeng Xueli, a general under Tang Taizong;

fifth, the Hawk or Eagle God, Ying. ...

These gods come at noon, others at other times. ... .

... the Wild Boar God is seen to possess the first head shaman, who begins to shake strongly and, arms raised, gets rather stiff. ... It is said that the green-faced Boar God was born in Nanjing, grew up in Gulou, and has now come to the ritual site. ...

The same shaman is then ... possessed by the horned God of the Underworld, who can drive away disaster. A mourning cloth used at funerals is hung from the shaman’s neck, while those around him call out. ...

Next there appears Emperor Tang Taizong, who reenacts through the shaman the sorrow that he felt when he learned that one of his generals (not Xianfeng Xueli) had been killed.

Fourthly, General Xianfeng Xueli is ... to possess the second head shaman ... . According to the accompanying chant, the god wears white clothes and rides a white horse. ....

In the fifth and final episode, he then waves his arms and jumps lightly around as the Hawk God."

p. 76 Manc^u fancy drumming

"the two chief shamans go out into the courtyard and display their fancy drumming skills before the crowd of spectators. They each twirl two thin drums, balancing one on one of their fingers, in what is taken as ... a manifestation of shamanic power".

p. 77 Manc^u sacred dances

"the two chief shamans perform a sequence calling upon five gods :

the spirit of the famous Han general Guanye;

one of the many Chinese child gods;

the Fire God, Huoshen;

the Golden Flower God, Jinhuashen; and

the Tiger God.

... these ... gods ... favor the night. So they take the ritual stage at this time.

Summoning the Fire God, the two shamans do a dance with burning joss sticks.

As the Flower God, they dance with paper flowers that ... are said to exude fragrance throughout the whole world.

As the Tiger God, the first shaman plays with a cub in the form of a man lying on the floor. He then prowls around ferociously on all fours ... . He lets out roaring sounds while holding a prey in his mouth in the form of ... two steamed buns stuck on the end of a short stick."

p. 77 "The Korean tiger is ... messenger of the Mountain God;

a dragon ... animal to the Korean god of rivers and seas; and

the Snake god has traditionally been worshipped on Jeju Island."

pp. 79-80 Manc^u curing of patients by expelling sickness-ghosts (/ban/ ‘ghosts’ (p. 79) {– cf. Siberian /buni/ ‘world for souls of the dead’})

p. 79

"The ghosts are said to stand for five illnesses that are hard to cure : stomach gas, side cramps, leg cramps, and, more seriously, lung and intestinal diseases. They are thought to be eager to be together with gods and humans, but their presence is unwanted. If they get angry, however, they can bring harm ... . Together with the drumming shaman, the ghosts enter the room ... . ... The shaman, or ... rather the god possessing him, fights them. ... One of the ghosts awkwardly tries his hand at twirling a drum in contest with the shamans, but he is not match for their drumming skills. It is said that the mirrors in the shamans’ headdresses reflect the ghosts and that they [the shamans] use the mirrors as well as fancy drumming to deal with them [the ghosts]. ...

p. 80

Finally, the shaman fights off the ghosts, thrashing at with bits of straw. The ghosts appear reluctant to leaven, but in the end they are driven away. ... There is a Chinese proverb that it is easy to summon gods, but not easy to send them away".

pp. 82-3 deities of the Oroqen (Elunc^un) on the river Amur

p. 82

An Oroqen shaman "described a vision of his god as a twoheaded bird".

p. 83

"the gods worshiped by the Oroqen include not only

the Mountain God called Bayn Achaan (Bainagia), but also ...

the Sun God, Dilaqia;

the River God, Mudoulihan;

the Fire God, Gulongta".

p. 84 Oroqen funeral

"The first rite include the shooting of two arrows. One is shot toward the west to send the deceased where he or she cannot disturb the living .... . ... Funeral rites also include ... a paper boat, spirit money, and an offering of liquor ... . As in Korea, the dead person is imagined as taking the boat to the other world and using the money there."


KOREAN STUDIES SERIES, No. 45 = Daniel A. Kister : Shamanic Worlds of Korea and Northeast Asia. Jimoondang, Seoul, 2010.