Hi-ah Park – 04 The naerim kut
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Could you describe some more details about the initiation?
The Korean term for initiation is “naerim kut.” This aspect of the ritual is concerned with the descending spirits and identification and presentation of the deities that have already made their presence known through possession of my body.
At the initiation ceremony, the minyong was placed leading onto the upstage portion of the house as a bridge between the heaven and the earth. To test my psychic ability and to determine if I could identify the deities who had descended on me, my Godmother and her assistant shaman, who serves as a messenger, sat at the end of the minyong, in a sense ending in heaven. A straw mat was placed downstage. Each question asked by the head shaman was repeated by her assistant. Instead of answering the questions directly, I began dancing. Then, kneeling down on the straw mat, I answered the questions orally. The dance seemed to heighten the trance state so that my answer came without thinking as if I know everything already.
The first question was, “If you become a shaman, through which gate will you enter?”
I started singing in an occult nature, previously unknown to me. Again I danced until possessed and knelt down to wait for the next question.
“Which spirit is entering you?” she asked.
I answered, “Elwol Sung Shin and Okhwang Sangchae, spirits of the Sun, Moon and Stars and the Jade Emperor, are entering.”
“Then reveal your true nature and find the symbolic paraphernalia of these deities,” she ordered.
I stood, and walking upstage, grasped the Il wrol dae, sun and moon stick, a pine branch which I took from the cliff at the mountain, bundled together with a bronze mirror and covered with a white long sleeved gown, the costume of the deities.
After I danced, she asked me another question, “Which spirit did you receive this time?”
My reply was, “I received Sanshin, the spirits from the High Mountain and Sa Hae Yong Wang Nim, from the Four Direction Deep Ocean.”
“Why did you receive it?” she asked.
“I obeyed the order from Tangun, the founder of Korea. He has told me to help infertile couples, to counsel parents and their children to love each other. Through him I am guided to heal sickness and help those in poverty to find prosperity. Lastly, he advises me to engender love and respect among all people.” Acknowledging my remarks, the head shaman invited any other spirits that might be present to enter me, and the Deity of the Seven Stars, Chil Sung, Big Dipper; Taegam Nim, the Spirit of High Nobility; Chosang Nim, Spirit of Ancestors; and Obang Shinchang Nim, Warrior of the Five Directions, came through.