Hi-ah Park – 01 Meeting the Sanshin
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
What was your earliest memory of Sanshin?
From very early childhood, I loved mountains. My memory of childhood is playing in the tiger cave near my neighborhood. Often there, I lost time and space while my family was looking for me. One day I climbed into the mountain deeper than usual, as if somebody invisible being was guiding me into the unknown world, and I found a big tree surrounded and piled with lots of stones. There unknowingly I bowed to the ground after respectfully placing stones on top of the piles. Definitely that was my first encounter with Sanshin.
Of all the Sanshin in Korea, why do you think you are relating particularly to Tangun?
During my illness before my initiation, I had several visions. In one, I saw Tangun, the Korean heroic founder of the nation who later became Mountain Spirit, sitting in a meditation posture within a yurt and wearing a red hat and robe. As I gazed intensely at that figure, we became one; then I saw myself sitting as Tangun. This clear vision of Tangun convinced me to visit my homeland after an absence of 15 years. I didn’t have any specific plan for my visit. However, from its start, everyone I met and everywhere I visited turned out to be connected somehow with shamanistic practices. I was introduced to Kim Keum-Hwa, a well known Hwang-haedo manshin (a western province of Korea) viewing a video of one of her shamanic rituals. I couldn’t believe my eyes: I saw Kim Keum-Hwa wearing the same red robe and hat I had seen in my Tangun vision of a week prior.
A week later I was introduced to her. When Kim came into the room in her house where I was waiting, we both shuddered. She told me she had the sensation that her spirits wanted to talk to me. She brought a divination table and started to pronounce oracles: “Rainbows are surrounding in all directions. The fruit is fully ripe and can’t wait anymore!” She told me I was lucky to have surrendered to the spirits’ orders and to have come to her. Otherwise, she said, I would have died, like an overripe fruit that falls onto the ground and rots. Kim continued to explain that I had disobeyed two times previously and, consequently, had to go through unbearable pain and loneliness and near-death experiences. She warned that I should not resist anymore–the third time, there is no forgiveness. It was absolutely essential that I undergo the naerim kut without delay. On a more positive note, Kim told me she saw double rainbows stretched around my head, celestial gods surrounding on me. She said that warrior in me was so strong that I would want to stand on the chaktu, sharp blades. She predicted that, in the near future, I would be a famous shaman, and I’d travel all around the world. Then she set a date for the initiation–June 23, 1981. In less than two weeks, I was transformed into a new shaman.